Report back: International meeting of national Transition Hubs

Forty-one representatives from 20 national Transition "hubs" met in Copenhagen, Denmark, September 9th through the 12th 2014 hosted by the remarkable Danish contingent of the Transition Network. Here are the countries that were represented:

Belgium, Brazil, Croatia, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, and USA.

The meeting began outside of Copenhagen’s Central Station where old acquaintances and new boarded a chartered bus bound for the town of Vig in the Danish countryside. On the way, Cristiano (from Italy) and Nenad (from Croatia) set the tone by leading us through a humorous but informational decision-making process using Sociocracy – a process thread that continued to weave through our 4 days together. Humor too, was a steady and bright thread that provided additional texture to our gathering.

It was our good fortune that due to Transition Denmark’s successful gift circles, a participating monk made the Vig Ashram available for our gathering. Not only did we all have beds, meeting spaces and land to roam upon, we were fed sumptuous vegetarian meals and plied with a tremendous array of baked goods from their on-site bakery. In fact, when we left 2 days later 4 large trays of cakes accompanied us and provided fortification during our next 2 days. So in all fairness, cakes too, provided a dominant sweetening thread in and through all of our breaks, on all of our days.

It is really something quite extraordinary to be a participant in a gathering of 41 people, with only a handful of native English speakers. Yet we all used English as the base language. The attention, the listening, and the passion to get ideas across, seemed heroic at times. As a respite, sometimes the room would burst into a number of languages as Spanish, French, Italian, Danish, Hebrew (or other language) speakers took opportunities to relax into their mother tongues in a beautiful symphony of connection.

The network of national hubs has a “family” working group which was born 2 years ago at the gathering in London. This view of the world of Transitioners as family creates a heart-warming center to this work. That center was very much present in our national hubs gathering and extends through its on-going connections, working groups, and tasks. It is the glue that holds it all together. Of course some fine minds, good facilitation, musical interludes, appreciative hugs all help too.

So what did we do together in these four days? On day one we reported about what was happening in the world of Transition in each of our countries. Niamh from Ireland talked about their Transition Village projects where they set up demos in town squares for a few hours (or a day) to educate and fan curiosity. Nenad from Croatia told of the funding they secured to start and run one Transition Town for the rest of the country to see. Juan from Spain told us of the community-building power of the national gatherings they’ve held. And one of our hosts from Denmark, Bjarne, told of the traveling Transition road show they are starting. Other country updates will be in a more conclusive report being put together by the keepers of the history (those whose role it was to capture and collate all that transpired). For some immediate gratification you can watch this video of mini interviews that Rob Hopkins took.

Because it was a full moon we ended day one with a circle dance called the Elm Dance. This dance is set to the haunting melody and words of a Latvian song of healing and was used outside of Chernobyl in the forests affected by radiation. It had a deep effect on us too as during the dance we began to call out places in the world that need healing.

Day two: Through several open space sessions, we dreamed of the possible issues we might want to engage in over the next year.

On Day three our setting changed. Instead of the tranquility of ashram in Vig we met in the center of Copenhagen at "Papiröen" which means Paper Island, one of several islands situated among canals along the inner harbor. Papiröen has a sort of food court with caravans inside of an old warehouse (an ideal site for that evening’s party!). With cakes from Vig to fortify us during the day, and with a can-do attitude, we created a meeting space inside of the adjacent parking garage. This consisted of using Papiröen’s folding deck chairs and blankets, tacking up butcher paper along one wall and circling up for that day’s work: Clustering the issues from the day before into themes and beginning the process of looking at which ones might benefit from collective action.

One thing about meeting in a parking garage is that the setting itself provided its own share of humorous moments. There was the wide variety of perplexed looks by those using the garage to park their cars. A bicycle tour that was taking a shortcut through the space hushed into silence. And speeding through several times a day, were motorcycles. The most humorous moment was likely provided by the driver of a garbage truck. After making a tremendous amount of noise that we could not speak over, the driver noticed us as he passed by one of the open entrances. He backed-up, got out, came over and said he just had to take a photo, took out his camera and snapped the picture, gave a little chuckle and drove away. It seemed quite a toss-up which was more unusual - him taking our picture or us being circled up in the garage. Mauricio from Norway suggested perhaps he had come from the future…

Day four: Amidst the chills of this particular day, we agreed to next steps and made plans for the following year. These included work/exploration in the following areas:

  1. Transition stories – telling and collecting stories
  2. A group to create a process for choosing the location for next year’s meeting
  3. Latin American coordination with documents and materials in Spanish and Portuguese
  4. Working group focused on system change and theories of change
  5. An inner transition core group
  6. Capacity-building working group
  7. New support offer for Transition Initiatives through Transition Network
  8. Communication principally through TN’s website (being redesigned) and through widgets that will be coming available.
  9. Organizational co-design /structures
  10. Connections
  11. Transition (R)evolution
  12. Coordinated activities leading up to COP 21 (the next climate summit in Paris Dec. 2015)

Now all of us have returned to our homes but remain united in our shared experience, our memories, and our appreciations of each other. We look forward too, to a year of tasks, opportunities, and sharing until next year, when we meet again.

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