16 Jan 2008
Ted Trainer’s Q&A Part Five.
**7. What are the problems being encountered? Is there resistance? What groups don’t like what’s happening? Is the corporate world hostile, the supermarkets?**
There may be, but I haven’t encountered any yet. Indeed, I would interpret such a response as being a failure of the process, as it should, from the outset, not be possible to interpret a Transition Initiative as confrontational or threatening. Richard Heinberg has described Transition Initiatives as being “more like a party than a protest march”, and to encounter strong resistance would indicate to me a failure of engagement.
I would hold that it is perfectly possible to address peak oil and climate change in such a way that they create a sense of a collective call to adventure, and that resistance is a strong indication that the issues have been presented in the wrong way. I don’t know what the supermarkets and the corporate world make of it (if they’ve even heard about it at this early stage), but the Transition Network is starting to explore approaches and tools for working with them too, to look at what a Transition business might look like.
Issues of oil depletion affect everyone, and the corporate world is as bereft of and hungry for solutions as everyone else. There may be some groups who are indifferent towards Transition Initiatives, but I have not found any to be hostile. One of the core principles of the Transition process is that of inclusivity, in the sense of the need to generate a response and a mobilisation akin to wartime. This can only happen with a process that doesn’t seek to blame, to point fingers, to emphasise difference. Given that, to engender antagonism is not a successful outcome.
Problems encountered that I am aware of tend to come from other areas. There is the perennial question of funding, which isn’t really an issue for the first year or so of a Transition Initiative, but in time becomes more of one. There are challenges around designing models that can actively support what can rapidly become large initiatives. There are the problems for those used to ‘running’ projects of letting go of it at various stages, and trusting its ability to go where it needs to go. In a nutshell, the problems encountered are those of unresourced communities attempting to do what is really work that central Government should be funding but isn’t.
In World War II in England, the Government set up Local Agricultural Committees across the UK, who, among other things, ran courses and talks in village halls and offered practical gardening advice to what became by necessity a nation of gardeners. Transition Initiatives are similar to this, but their focus is much broader: they are the only organisations on the ground preparing communities for a problem that the Government doesn’t yet acknowledge, but when it does, whatever response it starts to put in place will either be Transition Initiatives or look very like them. Perhaps others reading this might want to raise problems they have encountered, but that would be my take on Ted’s question.
18 Jan 8:25pm
In Kinsale we experienced our first minor moment of what I will call unacceptance (resistance is too strong) last November after a presentation to the Town Council. We reminded them of all the things we’d achieved in the past two years, told them what we hoped to achieve in the next year and said we’d be looking for more funding. Most of them were very enthusiastic, but afterwards we gave each councillor an info pack containing our new flyer, press cuttings and a flyer for a screening of ‘Escape from Suburbia’. One councillor very obviously threw his pack onto the table before he left the council chamber. All other responses, from a wide range of people, backgrounds etc. have been very positive.