Transitioners from all over the country convene in Chicago

Earlier this month, we held two new trainings, Train the Trainers and the first Transition THRIVE training to be held in the US.  Naresh Giangrande and Sophy Banks, from Transition Network in the UK led the charge and facilitated a remarkable training experience. We were treated to the sights, sounds and creative projects of the Chicago area.

Training the Trainers and a Food Forest Tour

Participants from around the US and Canada all met in Chicago, the windy city, on the banks of that natural wonder, Lake Michigan, to rigorously dive into the training material. Naresh Giangrande and Sophy Banks, from Transition Network in the UK led the charge and facilitated a remarkable training experience. In the evenings and on our one precious day off we enjoyed fine local cuisine, dips into that majestic lake, Chicago's extraordinary outdoor events - Ribfest, Downtown Sound at Millennium Park, "The Bean" or Crown Fountain (two 50-foot glass block towers at each end of a shallow reflecting pool where everyone was cooling off from the heat), Impressionist art at the Art Institute of Chicago and field trips to The Plant or Growing Power's Iron Street urban farm. Here several of us toured with Erika Allen (Post Carbon Institute Fellow), witnessed the amazing food forest growing profusely over mulch on the concrete parking lot of a refurbished truck depot. With bees on the roof, mushrooms incubating in suspended sacks and a bubbling aquaponics system - it is possible to believe that an abundant future is very plausible. 

Congratulations to the 14 brilliant and talented individuals who successfully completed the Train the Trainer course and officially became Transition LAUNCH Trainers! Photo above right: Our 14 New Trainers: Back row (left to right): Jon Freise, Dylan Ryals-Hamilton, Dakota Butterfield, Simon Dennis, Mark Juedeman, Fred Brown. Middle row (left to right): Susal Stebbins, Steve Chase, Sarah Zahner, Leonie Croy, Pamela Boyce Sims, Jaquelin Rivet. Front row (left to right): Rebecca Blanco & Beverly Pitzer.

Chicago Trainers

Photo (above): While we were in Chicago, we also had the opportunity to hold a Transition Trainers gathering. Chicago, July 17th, 2012. Back row (left to right): Dylan Ryals-Hamilton, Carolyne Stayton, Don Hall, Susal Stebbins, Jon Freise, Jaquelin Rivet, Fred Brown, Sally Ludwig, Mark Juedeman.  Front row (left to right): Scott McKeown, Tina Clarke, Sarah Zahner, Ken Shaw & Leonie Croy. (Missing from photo: Steve Chase, Dakota Butterfield).

Transition THRIVE: Deepening, Connecting, Learning, Sharing

Several days later we were met with another contingent of leaders who participated in the first advanced Transition training in the US - Transition THRIVE. Again Naresh and Sophy led us through 2 full days of exercises, models (such as the dog-nostic) new developments (like the REconomy Project in the UK) and presentations by trainers extraordinaire, Tina Clarke and Fred Brown. After eight contiguous days of deepening, connecting, learning and sharing we left our eighth story dwelling for points far flung - to bring insights and tools to Transition Initiatives in our regions.

Transition THRIVE Chicago


Greenrise Uptown Learning Laboratory

Our generous hosts, the Institute of Cultural Affairs, shared their "Greenrise Uptown Learning Laboratory", (the largest non-profit service center in the Midwest) with Transition US. Programs at the site are colorful, varied and always in motion. Some of these include medical and dental clinics for homeless and low-income persons, a drop-in center for troubled women, support activities for new immigrants, and job placement/training services. It is also the home for an intentional residential community which is creating a "green culture” and establishing an energy efficient eco-system that aims to take the entire building off of the grid. We were in good hands. 

ICA is also home for Transition Chicago and Transition Uptown and is unleashing the remarkable Accelerate 77 project that aims to IDENTIFY current sustainability initiatives in all of Chicago’s 77 community areas; CONNECT them with one another to inspire new ideas & practices, self-consciousness through peer interchange; and ENGAGE residents in systematic learning, planning, and collective action. It is anticipated that the project will thereby ACCELERATE environmental sustainability in a bottom-up fashion driven by practical action, expanded imagination, and greater organizational capacities among local groups. Interns from several college near and far are participating in data collection. Keep an eye on this project and its phase one culmination on September 15 with the "Share Fair".

What was it like?

To get a sense of what it was like, here is a great video of Naresh talking about the Transition Movement and one here with Sophy talking about Inner and Outer parts of Transition.  Imagine this, plus exercises, small group sharing, skits, song, humor, connection and great food - and you will imagine correctly the memorable Transition experience we had in Chicago. Look to those who participated in the coming weeks and months to share tools, stories and knowledge. 

Together we are building our capacity to make meaningful change in our communities!

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