Transition Sebastopol's Metamorphosis

Thanks to Carolyne Stayton with contributions from Scott McKeown for this recap.

The time had arrived for Transition Sebastopol to go through its metamorphosis - the stage at which a new governance form emerges. Not such an easy process but one through it's inherent labor emerges as a much stronger expression of the whole.

Although there had been an active cluster of Working Groups (12 of them!) there was no clear pathway to the inner circle or Core Group. Nothing mysterious here, just a bunch of committed hard working folks who by this time were used to working together and could get an amazing amount of logistics covered with ease and elegance.

As can happen in group process, if decision-making and governance structure is not crystal clear some folks can begin to perceive (rightly or wrongly) that they don't have equal voice or power. On the other hand, the Core Group was under appreciated (they were really handling a lot of admin tasks like setting up and cleaning up after events, ordering/showing films, responding to inquiries and keeping the website and database maintained...etc.). With those kinds of rumblings in the wings and our favorite facilitator commissioned (Adam Wolpert), the day of metamorphosis began.

Who was invited to participate in this evolutionary process? Anybody who has ever participated in a Transition Sebastopol Working Group (forming, organizing, planning or doing any event or project)

The groundwork for the day took the form of a number of pre-meetings with current leadership and the facilitator to suss out the various issues and needs. The intent of the metamorphosis was clarified: Develop the new governing and administrative structure and agree to a decision-making process. The agenda was carefully crafted to give space for presentation, process and participation. Visuals were developed. Roles for the day clearly defined.

Where did we end up? With an agreed decision-making process and an interim leadership group comprised of members of the Core Group and Working Groups. Their charge? Developing a proposal for a realistic, equitable governance structure by June 21st. With the first phase of metamorphosis complete, a hand-off made, new voices in play and a shift in power dynamics Transition Sebastopol successfully negotiated one of those organizational bumpy places between initiation (forming) and performing.

Hot tips from this process!

  • Commit a skilled facilitator to help.
  • Make sure he/she really understands the dynamics and issues as well as the goal.
  • Have him/her interview or hear from representative voices.
  • Set the intention of the day.
  • Set ground rules of respect, listening, and self-facilitation.
  • Frame the issues clearly.
  • Provide opportunities and processes for participants to be fully engaged.
  • ...Then watch with wonder as the day unfolds.

In the natural progression of every Transition initiative there comes a time where the work and
purpose of the Initiating Group is complete and for a new core leadership structure to appear.
According to the Transition model, over time the core team evolves so that it eventually it is comprised of...
"representatives of each of the working groups, so that the decision making within the
initiative is being driven by the people who are passionately putting in the work on the ground." (From the Transition Handbook).

met·a·mor·pho·sis [met-uh-mawr-fuh-sis] –noun, plural
1.Biology. a profound change in form from one stage to the next in the life history of an organism, as from the caterpillar to the pupa and from the pupa to the adult butterfly. a complete change of form, structure, or substance.
3.any complete change in appearance, character, circumstances, etc.
4.a form resulting from any such change. 

Thanks to Ben Zolno for the great photos! View the full set here

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