Transition Culture

An Evolving Exploration into the Head, Heart and Hands of Energy Descent

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18 Nov 2008

Transition Training Goes on Tour, Blog #1

So yesterday we waved Naresh Giangrande off from Totnes on the first leg of the Transition Training Tour, with Sophy Banks set to head off to join him next week.  The next four months are a very ambitious attempt to meet some of the demand for training arising around the world and to create a pool of trainers that can support it.  They will be blogging regularly here at Transition Culture, and here is their first post by way of setting the scene. 

Its only a year since we ran the first Training for Transition in Totnes in the front room of the office. Now we are embarking on our most ambitious project yet, to bring the training to other parts of the world. Sophy and I are travelling for the next four months giving talks, delivering trainings, meeting with people doing amazing things, and training others to deliver this training in the USA, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, and probably China. And no we aren’t cycling or rowing or going by airship (sorry George Monbiot). We thought long and hard about the pros and cons and what swung us behind the idea was that many were coming from all over the world to do the training it made sense to us to have two of us travel rather than hundreds coming to the UK. I couldn’t swear that January in New Zealand didn’t enter at all into our thinking.

It was and is a hard decision as many of us in transition know, to live in the existing paradigm or live by your principles. How do the two meet and how to live with integrity? The enthusiastic response from all over the world has added to our conviction that we are doing the right thing.

The training is a mix of the practical, theoretical, and the experiential. What confronted us when we sat down to design this two day fundamentals workshop in transition was how to you train someone to do something when you don’t know what it is your are actually training people to do. Training someone to be a doctor or a mechanic or an accountant, we know what each of these professions do there are clear competencies that they would have to know to be good at their profession. However with Transition, the field is so wide, just about anything can be included, and no one knows what a Transitioned Town looks like because nowhere has yet transitioned from an advanced industrial society into something sustainable.

So how do you train someone to do something that is unknown and unknowable? Our formulation is to create a weaving. We weave together the inner and the outer, the personal with the social and the political. We weave together the theoretical with the practical, and information with experiential. We have designed the course to provide both a broadening and deepening for those who attend. To broaden people’s understanding of the times we live in and the conceptual thinking that underpins transition, and to deepen people into their own dreams and experience, reflecting the profound nature of the work.

We are bringing something tangible and intangible to other parts of the world, and most obviously we are bringing hope. I guess the message you are not alone is what we bring, along with the ideas, thoughts, and practice of all those who are embarking on this path of hope and inspiration. We are all inspiring each other, and certainly I am inspired by all that I see happening, all that participants bring with them on the many trainings we have facilitated.

Some of the feedback we have received from the training is of the richness of the meetings that happen with other participants – for many a relief from the sense of isolation they reside in during their regular jobs, with family or friends who don’t share their worldview. I was talking to a journalist from the Times this morning who commented on how Transition Towns created hope in people who feel the futility of doing things on their own.

We think of our tour as acting like the bumblebees in Open Space – bringing ideas from one place and learning as they go, cross-fertilising evolving projects and discussions. Our intention is to bring the combined wisdom and practice of the Transition field to other parts of the world, and carry with us the ideas and wisdom of those who we are meeting and training. It feels an immensely satisfying and privileged role in these extraordinary times.

Sophy Banks and Naresh Giangrande

You can see their full schedule here.

Comments are now closed on this site, please visit Rob Hopkins' blog at Transition Network to read new posts and take part in discussions.


Jane Buttigieg
18 Nov 8:46am

Really great that you are taking this to other continents. I attended this training with Sophy and Naresh in Bristol at the start of November 07 when it was all new stuff, and found it really gave me a good base on which to start thinking and doing. Glad you’re not using rafts and roller skates to do this! Looking forward to reading the blogs.

18 Nov 9:15am

Three of us from Transition Ely took the training in Norwich earlier this month, it was truly inspiring, well worth doing.

May the message spread far and wide

18 Nov 3:23pm

I throughly enjoyed the training so am glad to see it spreading world-wide.

Regarding flying, to me the idea is not that we NEVER fly, but that we fly when it is essential. Although short presentations and meetings can be made as easily on-line or by video-conferencing, I think it would be hard to maintain the safe space people need to address their own feeling without the facilitiators present. It makes a huge amount more sense for two people to do a world tour than for loads of people to make long distance return flights.

You could come back from China overland though? That could be an adventure.

Bob Thorp
18 Nov 3:52pm

I didn’t know we needed training! In Keighley we’ve read the handbook, read round, drawn on years of experience doing just about anything and everything and just started getting on with it! Have we missed something?
The flying debate is a pointless diversion. But surely it must be possible to spread the training methodology via internet, notes, video etc…(is this resource already there) so that others can pick it up, this would be useful for the whole whole trundling host bumping along the road……

18 Nov 3:56pm

Enjoy, don’t get too tired, and take note that you have to program another Italian training (and training for trainers) in June 09.

After your Training in October in Monteveglio we have 4 new communities starting the Transition process.

I hope to see you soon again.
Thanks for all you did here in Italy.

David Johnson
18 Nov 7:54pm

Naresh & Sophy – We look forward to welcoming you to Portland, OR. Safe travels.

Cindi Landreth
19 Nov 2:11am

Safe journeys, Naresh and Sophy! I will meet you in San Fran! Anticipation is high – it is hard to wait.

19 Nov 12:35pm


Having read the book when it first came out and having also done the training, I think that that the experience of meeting other TTers and of being able to address your own concerns is invaluable.

On the other hand, just grabbing it and getting going is better than sitting waiting for a training to come up.

And it is only suggested that two or three people in the group do a training and pass it on. I think Leeds are trying to set something up, so you would be close enough to that if anyone is interested.

Bob Thorp
19 Nov 5:45pm


Cheers, I’ll get in touch with Leeds. Two of us are going to Transition Cities also.

Rick Dubrow
19 Nov 6:39pm

I sure hope you’re purchasing carbon offsets for this air travel (and this goes for all of us attending the trainings via any carbon-based mode of travel). Although it’s not perfect, carbon offsets help to pay the true cost for our choices, as opposed to externalizing the damage onto the planet. I, for one, want to pay the true cost for the trainings, which shiould include the cost for these carbon offsets!

See you in San Francisco!!!!

Michael Brownlee
20 Nov 9:54am

Hi Sophy and Naresh! Bon voyage on your historic journey. We have been holding a huge space for your arrival here in the U.S. and your very important work. It’s time for Transition to sweep across this nation! See you in San Francisco…

Stefan Freedman
20 Nov 10:02am

Hello Sophie and Naresh,

I’m heartened to see the good work you’re doing and that you have a busy workshop shedule travelling worldwide. Wondering if you can squeeze in an extra workshop (or even 2) for Easter next year in Lewes.

I’m co-ordinating a “Transition Arts” festival from Fri 10th – Tues 14th April. Ideally I’d like to include your 2 day workshop on training for transition (open to all) and also the one day workshop for transition activists on giving talks.

The optimum dates would be Sat 11th + Sun 12th April for the training and Mon 13th for “giving talks”. But the dates are flexible within the period of the festival.

The festival will include info and displays about energy and the environment, participatory workshops (art, dance, voice, personal myth, compassionate touch etc) and evening entertainments on a human scale (contact and networking rather than a huge anonymous audience).

If you’re potentially interested I need to know, please:

What is your fee?
What do participants normally pay?
What is your optimum and maximum number of people?

Looking forward to hearing back from you,

Stefan Freedman
Co-ordinator for Transition Arts Festival, Lewes.

Sami Grover
21 Nov 12:13pm

Any plans to visit North CArolina? I know there is plenty of interest in Transition around these parts.

david markson
22 Nov 9:25pm

Hi,I also don’t feel too comfortable regarding the flights across the world, when computers make information so accessible and informative – how about live video conferences?. There seems to be so much to do just on a national level, my intention is to become more informed so as to pass the Transition message on to my family and friends who seem largely ignorant of the movement.

Josef Davies-Coates
24 Nov 5:22pm

Are there any videos of the trainings that have happened so far?

Hopefully at some point there will be whole online video howto put together.

Graham Burnett
24 Nov 6:15pm

Bob Thorpe Said; I didn’t know we needed training! In Keighley we’ve read the handbook, read round, drawn on years of experience doing just about anything and everything and just started getting on with it! Have we missed something?

I don’t think the training is essential, you can indeed just get on with it, but just like the Permaculture Design Course, its very helpful and gives whole other dimensions to the awareness around Transition, especillay the second day which focuses more on the ‘inner’ aspects of Transition. As i’ve frequently argued, the physical aspects of transitioning to a low energy/low carbon culture is p*ss easy, its the psychological/head stuff around embracing change that is going to be the challenge, and the course does get into this territory, for which alone I’d highly recommend it.

Bob Thorp
24 Nov 10:43pm

Graham B.

I’m not sure about your thesis here. Having the vision of a garden with fewer laurels and more fruit trees and veg was a doddle, I was ready to fully embrace this change; hand winching stonking great stumps out with neighbours was a different matter. I had to internalize several pints of Timoth Taylors which thankfully is Keighley’s very own fully localised (but not yet socialised) brewery (well the water at least is local). The whole day, however, did result in great feelings of inner well-being, until Rachel got knocked out of X factor that is – no justice.

Mike Andrews
25 Nov 9:43pm

Dear Sophie,

This might be a useful contact for you and Naresh
part of wecansolveitorg

Wishing you every success,