A Transition Feedback Loop: Asking Some Tough “MATH” Questions

JOIN US FOR AN IMPORTANT TELESEMINAR – “The Maturation of a Social Movement: A Regional Response to a Critique of the Transition Movement”

Date: December 4, 2014 - 11am PST/2pm EST - Please read more, register online, or view Teleseminar Syllabus

Blog post submitted by Pamela Boyce Simms, KD2GU (Ham Radio Callsign), Certified Transition Trainer, Convener, Mid-Atlantic Transition Hub (MATH)

Public scrutiny and feedback are welcome and essential. Learning, a broader reach, and the healthy evolution of the Transition movement are fueled by constructive feedback. Transitioners know that they don’t have all of the answers. Creating a global web of localized resilience-building initiatives is a massive, open-ended social experiment, emphatically punctuated with a question mark. So, listening deeply and responding to feedback can help the Transition movement hone the appropriateness of its actions in the scintillating alternative-creating adventure on which we’ve embarked. 

In its critique, The Transition Movement: Questions of Diversity, Power and Affluence, The Simplicity Institute tactfully sets a mirror before the Transition movement; offering Transitioners an opportunity to take stock of their eight year resilience-building journey, and consider pathways forward.

The Mid-Atlantic Transition Hub (MATH) welcomes this opportunity to self-refine by coalescing regional Resources Persons to engage with issues raised in the critique in a monthly teleseminar series. An overview of the series: The Maturation of a Social Movement, A Regional Response to A Critique of the Transition Movement, will be offered on Thursday, December 4th at 2:00pm EST.

The Mid-Atlantic regional network, comprised 100% of engaged Transitioners in seven states, generates pragmatic, positive alternative-building activism in response to climate change, resource depletion and economic contraction. Teleseminar listener feedback contributes to keeping our work grounded; providing public perspectives on strengths, deficiencies; potential pitfalls and windfalls that exist within, and lay ahead of the Transition movement.

MATH will fold listener feedback into the ongoing process of building out an ever-adaptable operating system for its regional network. Feedback helps MATH:  1) enhance fluidity of communication, and the responsiveness of our regional work to needs as they arise, in the moment at several scales, 2) affirm and create practices that sustain Transitioner vigor, enthusiasm, and passion for the work region-wide, 3) cultivate a voracious Transitioner appetite for self-transformation and self-awareness in order to gauge ongoing operations effectiveness.



The Simplicity Institute accurately depicts the Transitioner demographic group as predominantly white, educated, post materialist, middleclass, small community people. This information isn’t offered as inherently good or bad, but as the prevalent, de facto reality within the movement. That being said, we in the Mid-Atlantic region, which incorporates the most highly diverse and population-dense corridor on the planet ask: How does that Transitioner demographic reality impact the reach and relevance of our work? Awareness of the juxtaposition between who currently populates the Transition movement, and the demographic mix in the Mid-Atlantic region prompts us to explore:

·         Whose resilience are we concerned about, and to what end? i.e. Transition to what, where, by whom, for whom?

·         Should Transition be more explicitly concerned with social justice?

·         Does inclusion in Transition mean assimilating others into our way of viewing the world?

·         How do we encourage diversity without “othering” and perpetuating social stratification?

·         How might we fold community power dynamics conditioned by ethnicity, gender, and socioeconomic stratification that shape relationships into our work?

·         How can we honestly look at, and skillfully work with various levels of vulnerability between communities, and competing interests within communities?

·         How might we address the facts that :

o   resource depletion and climate change will effect various groups in different ways?

o   relocalization may not be equally as applicable to everyone?

o   some people are more adaptable than others given that there are aspects of change that have more to do with historical power than place?

Conversely, lowest common denominator attempts at all-inclusivity could dilute the intensity of the movement’s impact by valuing “the stretching process” in and of itself over meaningful change.

Power & Control Dynamics //vs// Non-hierarchical Balance

·         Is there too much top down steering of the movement through the Transition Network, and/or national hubs which runs counter to the grassroots driven modus operandi? (This is juxtaposed to the need to preserve cohesion, coherence and some semblance of mainstream recognition.)

·         Is relocalization capable of solving political as well as environmental problems?

·         Are we making a strong enough distinction between: “Unhealthy Localism:” romanticized insularity, isolationist, protectionist exclusion (to be avoided) and, “Healthy Localism:” inclusive, intentional, open, relational, linked to other places, groups and movements (to be embraced)?

·         Can acts of resistance and micro-transformation destabilize macro-systems?

·         Can we dispassionately analyze political power without becoming embroiled in politics? 

·         Co-option, i.e.: 1) Underestimation of the adaptive capacity of the current system: Transition’s non-confrontational approach may take so long that the existing system adopts, waters down, twists and manipulates the rhetoric, e.g. “resilience” without shifting any underlying structures or hierarchies. 2) use of the resilience argument to back away from government (and populous’) responsibility to help those in need.

Affluence…..or NOT ~ Consumption Patterns ~ Taboo Topics

Do Transitioners with one foot understandably in “old-paradigm think” and the other anchored in new ways of seeing the world, gingerly side-step the latent tensions around issues which might alienate people from our “big tent” movement?

·         Are we addressing head on the fact that CONSUMER CAPITALISM created our current predicament; with all that the loaded term means ideologically to Americans; and the reality of downsized material consumption lifestyles on the horizon?

·         Can self-organizing Transition communities “ignore capitalism to death” by building a new economy in the shell of the old?

·         Are we skirting the issue of ecological damage wrought by continued meat consumption, and if yes, what is the projected impact of continuing to do so?

JOIN US FOR AN IMPORTANT TELESEMINAR – “The Maturation of a Social Movement: A Regional Response to a Critique of the Transition Movement”

Date: December 4, 2014 - 11am PST/2pm EST - Please read more, register online or view Teleseminar Syllabus


Newsletter Signup


User login