Joanne Poyourow's blog

As we enter the season of Earth Day events, and Transition Los Angeles finds itself and its pods invited to or hosting (count them) SEVENTEEN events over the course of the next week-and-a-half, it might be handy to have some "elevator talks" handy. 

Elevator talks are the answer to how you would explain Transition in about 30 seconds, for instance explaining it to a fellow passenger in an elevator in the time between when he hops in at one floor and hops out at the next.  Advertisers are quite polished on the concept;  people's attention is fleeting, and you have only those few brief seconds to hook them in to your idea.

Earlier this week I spoke about the Transition movement as a guest on Southern California's leading National Public Radio affiliate.  It was a big opportunity that came to us completely out of the blue.  The show is archived (the producer tells me "in perpetuity"), so you can listen to it here.

In preparation for the show, the host described her audience to me as "fairly mainstream."  She said it would be the first time most of her listeners had ever heard about the Transition movement.

The host's introduction is quite remarkable.  She reveals her personal journey, starting with a disclaimer that she never considered herself to be "radical" or "a hippie."  But as she became aware of issues like global warming, peak oil, and environmental devastation, she began to make changes in her lifestyle.  She describes driving less, growing a few vegetables, and thinking differently about consumerism.  I think that her candid statement gives validity to the journey many listeners might be on as well.

October 10, 2010 is the "global work party" for global warming solutions.  It is the latest move from our friends over at 350.org.  And in my opinion Transition Initiatives (TI) are perfectly situated to take major action.  Begin plans now to host a local project in your hometown, and have your TI be the hosting organization.

Why?

Firstly, #7 of the 12 Steps of Transition is physical projects.  We TIs aren't "talk shops." We're about real action and real preparation.  Finally 350.org has gotten around to real, physical, solution-oriented projects.  Let's partner them and host local sites.

How do we juggle parenting our children with the work we know we must do to facilitate a livable world for them when they are grown?

In Part I of this three-part post, I considered things from a Transition Initiative’s point of view – what we could include in our programming to welcome kids into our circle. In this segment, I’ll discuss issues specific to parents of young children – children below school age. This falls into two general categories: at T.I. meetings, and in the home environment.

At Transition Initiative meetings

Despite all that I wrote in part I of this post, it’s likely the members of your steering group who don’t have young kids won’t spend much time thinking about how to involve kids in T.I. activities. That will be up to you, the one who is in the parenting life-phase.  As you design it for your own needs, you will open your T.I. to other families.

How do we juggle parenting our children with the work we know we must do to facilitate a livable world for them when they are grown?

In this first of a three-part post, I’ll discuss what Transition Initiatives can do to be more welcoming to parents and children.

This past weekend I had a telephone conversation with one of the board members at Transition United States. As moms, we naturally swapped stories about our offspring. I realized that we have a void within the Transition movement as far as stories about parenting.

Here in the U.S., when we think about the term "diversity," perhaps the first thing that comes to mind is race.  A second thought might be ethnic culture.  Thus it came as a surprise to me to see that a UK-based post seeking diversity projects included "faith groups." 

Maybe it's like "petrol" versus "gasoline" ... another one of those UK/US differences.

If you asked our core team here at Transition Los Angeles whether we're a diverse group, our answer instantly and unanimously would be "we have quite a ways to go."  Like many other initiatives within the Transition Network, we're still grappling with that crowd-of-white-faces issue. 

But when I started to think about the UK diversity project's definition, I realized that Transition Los Angeles already has quite a bit of diversity to celebrate and experiences to share.

For Winter Solstice, I attended a warm and wonderful fireside ceremony lead by a Native American healer at the site of one of our Los Angeles local Transition pods. As part of this ceremony, we were invited to release the year passing, and to presence dreams for the year ahead.

I thought back over the whirlwind year of setting up Transition initiatives here in Los Angeles. In Dec. 2008, we were hosting Los Angeles' first Transition training; in Jan 2009 we held the first core team meetings of the group that became the Transition Los Angeles City Hub.  We had yet to meet many of the people who are vital and active today.

Within the circles of Transition initiators and steering groups across the country, a question recently circulated: How have you avoided the pitfall of merely creating an organization, and what has been successful in the goal of creating a movement?

At first, I laughed, because here in Los Angeles it has always felt more like a small circle that is representative of a movement, and we seem to have our greatest difficulties when we try to get people together for "organization" topics!

NOT AN ORGANIZATION

Certainly, I've personally railed against the idea of creating traditional-style not-for-profit organizations to do this Transition work. In this time of economic contraction, traditional style not-for-profit organizations don't work very well. The format seems doomed. One Transition initiative (sorry, I've lost track of which one!) wrote on their materials:

For the people, by the people -- no members of this Transition initiative are funded or paid for the work they do for their community. We rely on the power of the people, inspiration, time, skills, and donations.

If we're truly aiming for a movement --rather than an organization-- this is what it will look like. Roll up your sleeves, get down to work, neighbor shoulder-to-shoulder with neighbor.

photo

Solidarity

  1. union or fellowship arising from common responsibilities and interests, as between members of a group or between classes, peoples, etc.: to promote solidarity among union members.
  2. community of feelings, purposes, etc.

It's so foreign to our American experience that I had to look it up in the dictionary to get it right.  In a session from Copenhagen's Klimaforum, May East (of Findhorn, Scotland and Sao Paulo, Brazil) asserts that lack of solidarity is precisely what is missing in our communities in the developed nations of the northern hemisphere.

We use the word "community" a lot, and we readilly agree that we don't have tight-knit "communities."  But when we boil it down, what does lack of community mean?  May East identifies it: lack of solidarity.

Our local Transition initiative in Los Angeles hosted a vigil this past weekend as part of the worldwide actions organized by 350.org   These actions were coordinated to take place during the weekend midway through the Copenhagen climate talks. As a 350 organizer, I have been watching the news services and the 350.org site for mention of progress.

The photos from the weekend were breathtakingly beautiful.

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