Transition Culture

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

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11 Sep 2009

Why We Need Formal Agreements for National Transition Hubs

handdocHere is the response to the previous post.  These are offered in the hope that they inspire some kind of a discussion/debate around this.  Please feel free to contribute and share your thoughts.  In case you missed it in yesterday’s post, you can read the MoU document that is the subject of all this conversation here.

“Dear Natalie and other Transitioners in New Zealand who gave feedback on the MoU document.

Many thanks for your input into this, and for your honest and constructive feedback – the cheerful disclaimer applies just as much to Transition Network’s attempts to support national hubs as it does to the rest of what we’re all doing, and we completely accept that we’re bound to make lots of mistakes. Before addressing your specific points, I want firstly to address the general sense that comes through that somehow the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) is written so as to formalise some kind of ‘central control’ or a top down approach, and which questions the need for such a document to exist at all. Natalie says that she struggled with it and found it tedious and boring to read; I must say at this stage that unlike other Transition Network documents, this MoU was not written as a riveting read, that was not its aim! It is a practical attempt at clarifying how the establishing of a recognised national Transition hub organisation might work in practice.

Natalie asks, perfectly naturally, what the original purpose of the document was, and whether there is actually a need for it. We think that there is, and I’d like to start by setting out where it came from. Early on in the evolution of Transition Network, we were approached by someone who wanted to start a national Transition hub who had been involved in the relocalisation movement and felt that Transition was therefore their natural territory. We came to feel, as our conversations evolved, that they really didn’t see Transition in anything like the way we did ; it also became clear that they weren’t actually involved in any on-the-ground Transition activity. We felt that it would be counter-productive for them to set up a national Transition hub. We do feel that there is a vital role in ensuring that national networks have the support they need, and that they are the sole, recognised such organisation in the country, and that they actually have emerged from, and represent, the communities and individuals on the ground.

Given that that was our first experience of an approach from someone wanting to form a national Transition hub, it left us somewhat wary. We felt that it was vital that there were some kinds of safeguards in place to ensure that at the early stage, the people who called themselves “Transition Wherever” were actually involved in transition work and understood and supported its guiding principles. In the same way that the criteria for local initiatives are designed to avoid reinventing of wheels and the making of common and avoidable mistakes, we thought that something similar for national hubs would also be useful. We decided that we needed some kind of clear process to support people coming forward to create national hubs.

We also wanted to avoid a situation (which has also happened elsewhere) of a group picking up the idea of “Transition Wherever” and excluding those who are active on the ground, building instead a little powerbase for themselves. We felt it was essential that the initial founding blocks were put in place in the most skilful way possible. In the US, applications for formal Transition status were coming through to us initially, and for other countries too. We felt that it was important that this function was handed over, but that it was done so skilfully, and in such a way that those taking it on felt supported, not burdened.

It might be useful to state what this MoU is not. It is not written in any sense as something that Transition Network imposes. It is written as something that supports the work people are doing on the ground in the country in question, and tries to avoid the National Hub organisation making mistakes that we have made ourselves and/or observed elsewhere (like the criteria for ‘official’ Transition initiatives). It also tries to ensure, in as much as anyone can, that another group of people don’t start up something similar; in effect it ensures that the Hub organisation is seen as having a status of being official. Underpining it is our desire to support people’s creativity and passion. If it turns out that it doesn’t do that, then we will want people to tell us why it doesn’t so we can improve it.

Natalie questions clauses such as the one that suggest that the National hub “involve Transition Network in discussion regarding alterations to its constitution or scope of operations” (4f) and the one that suggests that the two organisations “collaborate on any international funding bids that involve the respective countries” (4n). Both of these are, however, offered as a support role, not something that will be imposed. We are often asked about constitutions and for our advice, and also asked to collaborate on and support international funding possibilities.

Natalie asks, entirely reasonably, exactly what form the support that Transition Network has given to Transition Towns Aotearoa over the years. By my understanding, (and James may well correct me on this), we have given support and input in discussions about constitutions and structure, had a number of conversations with James about different aspects of his work, I have given a few virtual presentations to different events and done Q&A with Transitioners there, I wrote a section for the Au/NZ edition of Transition Handbook and sent a questionnaire around NZ groups as part of that, Naresh and Sophy of Transition Training came and ran the training and gave some talks, and we have produced and made available various materials, including the upcoming film ‘In Transition’, which includes footage from New Zealand. Clearly we haven’t been actively inputting into the various local initiatives, but I would certainly hope that we have played an active (albeit, by necessity, distant, and certainly secondary to the work of James and others) role in the emergence of Transition in New Zealand. At the same time, we have learnt a great deal from your work there, the models and processes you have created.

Natalie refers to the approach set out in the MoU as ‘Old World Thinking’. She argues that it has more to do with protecting a ‘brand’ than building a grassroots network. I think, on the other hand, that actually there is something important about Transition retaining some degree of integrity and meaning as a term as well as some overall coherence as a movement. Whether you choose to call this branding or not is a matter of choice, but for me there is something important here. We have reached the point (in the UK at least) where the Government is taking an interest, big organisations and a range of other groups are starting to seriously engage with Transition. If anyone, anywhere can call their Government practice, their business, their organisation, a ‘Transition’ business, without that meaning anything, then I think we lose something precious. I don’t think of it in terms of a ‘brand’, rather it is about ensuring that the term has meaning and has integrity, and I think this MoU sets out clearly that we want to be cautious about who uses it to describe national hub organisations.  My feeling is that this is to everyone’s benefit who is genuine about using this process to build community resilience.

Transition Network does not make a habit of trotting around the globe telling people what they should and should not doing, and I would be very surprised if anyone who runs a national hub has ever felt like that. To the best of my knowledge (and I stand to be corrected), those running hubs find the Network a useful source of information and support. Peter Lipman, Chair of the Network, sits on the board of Transition US and is an observer to the board of Transition Scotland Support, which they both find very useful. I would welcome some reflections from those running national hubs as to how useful, or otherwise, they have found the support provided by Transition Network. The new Transition Network website will also prove to be a hugely useful tool in enabling networking and exchanging of ideas and experience between local, national and international Transition groups.

We also feel that our role is useful, when it comes to training and consulting and so on, in ensuring some kind of quality control. However, if the fear is that Transition is going to take to a role of being a great ‘enforcer’, that couldn’t be further from the truth. What we’re trying to do in the MoU is balance the need for coherence, so that we remain a movement in a meaningful sense, with the absolutely crucial, fundamental need for all of us to be free to participate fully, without hierarchical constraints, in building our movement together. We do realise that reflecting and trying to accommodate that kind of dynamic tension in a document can, perhaps almost inevitably, end up feeling rather clunky and unsatisfactory.

Finally, as to the question of what happens if some places sign it and some don’t, I don’t know – it is a fascinating question. It is our hope that that doesn’t happen, as it confuses things and, I would feel, is not necessary, given what I have outlined above. It is a question for debate though, and one I close this response by throwing open for discussion.

With very best regards and thanks,


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


Marcin Gerwin
11 Sep 6:06pm

It seems to me that the debate about Transition Hubs is one of the defining moments for the Transition movement – it’s not a small matter at all. It is about becoming a corporate-style international NGO or staying a grassroots movement of independent initiatives. What Natalie says between the lines is actually a declaration of independence, what she says is: “We, the people of New Zealand will decide what is best for our communities”. I fully support that.

I understand Rob’s desire to keep high quality of initiatives that use the brand “Transition”. I understand the wish of integrity. I’m just not sure if the focus on the brand and replicating the pattern is the right approach. It seems to me that keeping the spirit alive is esential. Our initiative in Sopot is informal just for this reason. I’d rather the Transition movement was a group of people heading in the same direction and learning from one another, rather than a formal NGO focused on meeting the criteria developed by the headquarter.

Sure, national hubs are important, but perhaps the scope of their work could be decided upon by the local initiatives in each country?

Alastair Gill
11 Sep 6:27pm

I believe the integrity of the ‘Transition’ phrase or branding is paramount given the rapid viral growth of the initiative.
The importance of protecting such phrases is easily identified by unfounded adoption of the phrase ‘Green’ or ‘Eco’ by marketing companies internationally.

The phrase has already been adopted by UK Government in its long term proposals for achieving a low carbon economy.

Steve Hinton
11 Sep 6:41pm

As one of the groups that have signed the MOU (Transition Sweden)I’d like to explain our thinking or at least my interpretation of why we worked on the MOU.
1) If TT UK are going to spend their hard-earned donations and use their time on supporting our hub, there needs to be a framework of an understanding between us. Putting it down in, discussing it, ensures clarity on both sides and demonstrates the breadth and depth of the agreement.
2) Similarly, our steering group is asking a lot of our member organisations and partners. For them, they need to know that TT UK is backing us up and to what extent before they commit THEIR time and resources. So a formal MOU gives our partners security we will actually get assistance from the UK and it is our organisation that has mandated contacts with the UK. This is even more important when the two organisations are separated by the north sea and cultural differences.

So there you have it: clarity and security.

Shane Hughes
11 Sep 10:11pm

I think the tension that this MOU tries to grapple with and is seen in many of the discussions on this blog is;

how to balance maintaining the integrity of the transition ideas whilst letting it go where it wants? or How to continue with a working formula without it becoming just another ideology prescribing and limiting.

I think the MOU is a good idea but an understanding is something we should come to jointly.

Was the draft sent as a fixed version? Even if it’s the least controlling, most beautifully worded document on the planet, if it’s fixed, it is likely to be, to some people and in some way, disempowering, feel controlling and be met with mistrust. Perhaps infinitely more important, the document struggles to evolve and adapt to local circumstances.

However, sending a draft MOU for discussion enables hubs to gain from TN experience, no more wheel inventing. Keep the MOU, they can be a really important mechanism for discussing all the sticky issues early on in the relationship. Conversely, not having a MOU or having a fixed MOU doesn’t encourage dialogue and not discussing areas of potential tension will invariably come and bite you on the backside later on.

So my proposal would be;
– have a MOU
– invite those who already have one to jointly rewrite adapt based on localalities
– send example drafts to people wanting to set up hubs
– use as the basis to come to an agreement (or not)
– perhaps even have some simple principles or criteria to guide TN in this agreement making process.

as you go on you have a larger pool of example MOU’s to send to people wanting to set up hubs. I think this will feel more liberating for the recipient and the sender won’t have to eternally try to write the perfect document because there probably isn’t such a thing.

James Samuel
12 Sep 3:25am

Thank you Rob, for posting Natalie’s comments in full. While the MoU went out to a group of 12 people for their comment (here in NZ), it was really only Natalie who took the time to dive in deep and question elements of it.

When I saw her comments, I took the time to carefully read each point and compare it to the particular section or sub section in the MoU and I found I resonated with the points she had made.

Sometimes silence is taken as consent, yet my conversations with others who had been sent the MoU was that they felt somewhat overwhelmed by the scale and wordiness of it, and were grateful that someone else had taken it on with some seriousness.

When Natalie put TT Lewes’ principles at the end of her feedback, as an example of a simpler approach to agreeing how we work together, I felt relief. I sense that through using a simple statement, clearly focused on principles rather than details, I could imagine having a way to refocus how we work together (whenever that was necessary), without having to resort to infinite details in a lengthy document that uses almost legalise language.

We have two eco villages on Waiheke Island where I live. The first uses a very lengthy docuument to guide how the residents work together, the second a document that fits on two sides of an A4 page. While they have different focuses and I don’t want to denegrade either of them for the valuable work they both do, it is my obesrvation (judgement), that the second of these has achieved more, is more pro-active, and spend less time discussing the details, but gets on with the job at hand.

Given so much work that has already taken place in New Zealand, using, celebrating and respecting the transition model, I wonder if we need to spend any more time pondering details of a document that describes how NZ relates to the UK?

With all due respect, we havent had one yet. Do we need one now?

Gotto go now, and plant some vege seedlings, Spring is coming.

12 Sep 4:15am

Dear Rob,

thank you very much for engaging in this dialogue and opening it up for others to join in. I agree with Marcin above that we may have reached a defining moment in the Transition movement and it’s important to have this conversation, I think.

Thanks also for posting my comments in full. Whilst they may appear provocative in part, I can only repeat what I said at the start: I very much honor the work you and others have put into all this in the past and I think it’s extremely valuable. We need to think about all this carefully.

As for your reply: Thanks for explaining how the MoU came about. You mention some bad experiences about people wanting to create national hubs that were actually about something else or out of touch with the local initiatives. I can see what you mean. However, I still wonder whether this issue can’t be resolved in a slightly different way, eg. by setting out clearly those very guiding principles and the content of what transition is about in a joint declaration (rather then regulating the relationship between the network and the hub in detail). Applying transition principles here would mean to me to focus on what we have in common, rather than on what we don’t – and being inclusive. If we can get agreement on what Transition means to us in principle, the process, ways and means of interaction can arise naturally from this.
– As for potential “abuse” of power or the Transition brand: could we not let our actions speak for themselves? Rather than trying to anticipate all the potential things that may go wrong or trying to prevent them – could we not just get on with our positive work – and disregard those who try to abuse it? If this is a grassroots movement, the “grassroots” will chose who they are drawn to and will only follow those whom they trust and feel supported from. Am I being too idealistic to think we can let this happen? Someone abusing power structures, I would expect, will lose the grassroots support – and then: who do they govern over?

These are just some thoughts. I hope this dialogue will continue and am excited about the good things that will come from this.

Warm regards,

12 Sep 4:48am

I’ve heard that New Zealand is a magical place, and I sincerely would like to see it someday (perhaps on a slow boat?), and perhaps that magic extends to human nature there in your country as well.

Unfortunately, human nature here in the States is not so benign, at least among commercial interests.

We’ve already seen a high level of greenwashing here, often through taking over the use of a word or phrase and diluting its meaning until it means nothing at all. “Organic” was like that, until some level of regulation was imposed (although certainly not perfect!), and “natural” still is (to the point that the only thing you can be certain about something claiming to be natural is that it isn’t). Now, as reports, “local” is under attack by corporate assimilation, by companies which most certainly are not local.

So I do really worry about Transition remaining unsullied without some level of protection. I’m sure that as soon as corporate US understands the spread and appeal of the Transition movement they will attempt to co-opt it. I don’t doubt that the US could see Transition stores and Transition kits and Transition snacks and Transition whatevers, if care is not taken. Greed is just too strong here, and if there is a buck to be made by misusing a popular movement, it will be.

I do trust the excellent people I am working with on Transition to do the right thing and let it go where it goes, but these early adopters are pure of heart. Others aren’t (I’ll take this opportunity to apologize for the economic devastation coporate and financial America has inflicted upon the rest of the world), and some structure is necessary to bar them from getting their fingers into this, perhaps our last best chance.

James Samuel
12 Sep 11:08am

Back from planting some tomato, Jeruselum artichokes, lemon grass and daikon. Re-reading your post Rob, I thought I should offer a few responses to some of the specifics.

Thank you again for opening this up for discussion. For clarification, I don’t think there was ever any intention to question the motives of yourself or anyone else involved in crafting this MoU. And neither is there any fear that the Transition Network is trying to centralise control. Your service to the Transition is consistent and deeply appreciated, and expresses more than words, your motives.

You referred to various interactions we have had over the last two years since the Transition work began to get traction in New Zealand. I am grateful to you for your responsiveness to my requests for participation in various events. Having you come in for skype video talks and Q&A’s has positively affected the many people who have attended them. These and various phone calls I have had with you and Ben have been helpful – particularly in the early stages of the work taking hold here in Aotearoa/NZ. The transition training was a service that the attendees paid for and fits in a different category, and the Aust/NZ edition of the handbook was a commercial venture initiated (by the publisher I assume), and was something many of the communities here also, like yourself, contributed to, as a way to help get the word out.

Maybe this MoU is for people who approach the Network wanting to form a national hub. In our case (NZ) I was not motivated to form a hub. I was simply wanting to serve what I saw as a desire to build local resilience in response to an awareness of Peak Oil and Climate Change as real challenges. I saw people stepping up and wanting to serve in their communities. And I saw people recognising (as I had) the potential in the Transition model to help them. And I saw that these responses could benefit from some support and communications coordination.

Since the first Transition Towns workshops in October 2007, the idea has taken hold and the numbers have continued to grow. Some initiatives have have chosen to connect to the UK and get “official” status – thank you for processing these, but many continue to progress their work without particular concern for the “official” title.

Given that New Zealand doesn’t have a Transition organisation (no legal entity has been created), I will sit on the sideline and watch how the dialogue develops in case it moves, as I not so secretly hope, in a direction that is rather well described in this talk by Clay Shirky, about organising without organisations.

In service and gratitude,


12 Sep 1:40pm

Hola from chile. I am a kiwi living in south America contemplating how we form a national hub here to catalyse the momentum we have created in the last 12 months. And so I feel this conversation about MOU´s is timely.
I fully agree with Natalie that the TT approach to this is characteristic of old world thinking, that can only effect and old world response.
I think it useful for us all to look towards Señor crofts model for creating necessarily successfully outrageous projects, and to the chaordic model developed by dee hock and utilised by the Chaordic permaculture institute and gaia university. We would also do well to look towards the roots of our movements in the planning discipline, to fully comprehend the theory we are seeking to implement…and unlike the planning discipline to do it in a way that doesnt reinforce the status quo. This is inherently tricky.
In this great participatory turn we are faced with the significant challenge of implementing simultanesouly top-down and bottom-up approaches, the comprehensive master plan and incremental satisficing. But this is the bread and butter of the TT movement no?
So my suggestion…take the MOU as a first draft, throw it away and go back to the drawing board in confidence that good things take time. we are co-creating something powerful here that is far beyond the capacity or vision of Rob, Natalie and the TT UK, NZ or the god old USA. Our role is to stand beside groups of people in the crafting of shared visions, this is design leadership, in design conversation….to create the space for our collective wisdom to emerge. How to do that at a national and international level is another thing.
However we to have all of the tools and technology available to realise an international process for developing a purpose and principles and a set of universal protocols together. This is important work that should allow us to think collectively at a global level and to open the way for national and regional autonomy. We should try to get it right the first time around by practising what we preach…and in time the new zealand national hub will be faced with the same dilemma when it comes to speaking for regionally and locally autonomous transition hubs. Lead the way Rob and the UK, put some of those resources to work for the good of us all.
te querido mucho, from Chile.

Jim Weber
12 Sep 1:45pm

So that we all understand and live by the basic principles of the the Transition Movement, I agree that a MoU is needed. A lot of thought has been put into the existing document. It probably could be tweaked a little, but I wouldn’t put a whole more energy into it, as it seems to be working here in the US. We need to get on with building resilience. If other localities have a problem with it, maybe they should just do their work but not call themselves a Transition Movement.

Juanita McKenzie
12 Sep 9:01pm

I think this discussion is great and very necessary from an imformative and historical point of view as it is indeed a crossroads for the transition movement.
What will happen is obvious though. “The beast will not be contained” The very attraction of the TT model is the freedom, and inclusivity it demonstrates. This will continue to happen with or without a MoU, so I think we all must be prepared for some to sign up and some to just get on with the job of transition without feeling the need to sign up or even knowing there is a document to sign up to. Our experience here in NZ was to have a very popular news programme report that there were 6 transition initatives nationwide when in fact there were 40 at the time though the majority weren’t bothered with going down the “offical” route but were just getting on with the job. TT Lower Hutt is an example of one such group that is getting on with creating a TT Expo, opening a Transition Centre and creating events that link us all with groups working towards the same goal. We do this all without feeling the need to “sign up” to anything.
The TT Lewes document expresses perfectly the way we have worked and will no doubt continue to work.
I doubt that anyone within the Transition movement would want to “shut us down” because we are not official and so I think we must accept that “the horse has bolted and must run free” Would we want to shut it away again? Fear of what might or might not happen should not be our guide. Let it be freedom and trust!

Kenrick Chin
13 Sep 2:40pm

I have to say that I agree with both Rob and Natalie. Thanks for posting TT Lewes principles. This is a good starting point and it is very important that we do not drift too far away from these guiding principles. The TT movement is rapidly expanding globally and as others have already mentioned, it is at a very defining moment. If we take the time and effort to do this right, we can make the difference that is needed in the world. With the right presence, visibility and size, TT will take front stage and governments around the globe will have no choice but to take notice. In Canada, our public broadcaster, CBC, has aired the coming of TT at least three times this past year.
This rapid growth will become a tremendous burden on TT UK. TT US is taking off like a California wildfire and we are witnessing in Ontario, Canada, the creation of a regional hub quickly becoming reality. It would be a great achievement to see the same occur in India and China and other places around the world.
Every TT Initiative will have and should have its own issues and flavour. It is not necessary to have HQ dictating how we should function. On the other hand, we do need a MoU that will promote coherence, global branding, and a single unified front to tackle the global challenges we face.

I will repeat what Grifen has written above…

“So my suggestion…take the MOU as a first draft, throw it away and go back to the drawing board in confidence that good things take time. We are co-creating something powerful here that is far beyond the capacity or vision of Rob, Natalie and the TT UK, NZ or the good old USA. Our role is to stand beside groups of people in the crafting of shared visions, this is design leadership, in design conversation…to create the space for our collective wisdom to emerge.”

… and with this I whole heartedly agree.

Daring Donna
13 Sep 9:00pm

Hmmmmm breathing into this beautiful dialouge as the sun raises above Rangitoto and the Tui sings outside in the Kauri tree, I give gratitude for my blessings of living in Aotearoa.

I have been supporting TT Aotearoa since it was taken up here and am so thankful for the work Rob and his team has done in the UK. You guys rock and are so inspiring. I lived in the UK for a few years and it is such a different country.

Some will love the MoU and enagage with it, some will go along with it because its there and everyone does that in the TT movement and some will oppose it and most in Aotearoa that I have shown it to have disengaged with it and got on to setting up the Farmers Market, planting out another community garden, fixed up the old bikes around town and given them out, cleaned up the streams and rivers, swapped food, used their time banking credits to have a hair cut, presented another film ……..

Lets see what happens, by pushing this through, continuing to dialouge,re writing it, disengaging from it and doing your own thing – all is possible (and more) Blessings to you all for the fantastic work you do, in your minds, on the ground and in the world. Rock on the next evolution.

Aorhanui Daring Donna

Andy Kenworthy
13 Sep 11:25pm

Hello all,

This seems to me one of many serious ‘scale’ discussions going on in the world of permaculture and TT at the moment, which I think is a healthy sign of our advancement.

Our experience here in NZ has been almost amusing, and may be informative. It seems to me that at

I have a few thoughts to offer:

Keep it Chaos:
It seems to me that at almost every stage of development in NZTT we have sat back and almost said: “okay, the fun’s over, we are so big now that we have to get ‘properly organised’”. Then, with James’ guidance and the wisdom of others involved we have really looked at it and decided it wasn’t necessary after all, and the fun has very much continued. It’s as if we are have been programmed by the status quo world to think “well, all this self forming stuff is all very well, but…” and that MoU’s, funding applications, staff etc are ‘the right way to do things’ at larger scales. I think part of the deeper magic of TT is this very way of self-forming – it is a way of exploring new ways of doing things, without bureaucracy.

Co-option by ‘getting serious’:
I would question whether producing this kind of MoU in response to govt and big business interest is not in fact just another form of ‘co-option’. Okay, it may make it harder for them to steal the ‘brand’, but they will have prompted us to think of it as a brand in the first place and respond on that basis, and maybe altered something fundamental about it in the process. I would say it is now time to hold our nerve, and keep to what TT has become in all its rolling chaotic glory, if big business and govt find this hard to understand, pigeonhole or deal with then so much the better. It is time for them to move towards us, not the other way around.

Big business is small change
Would ‘Transition Cola’ or ‘the McTT burger’ really change what we are doing in any meaningful way? TT is not set up to oppose big business so much as replace it, in a way what corporations choose to do at this stage is not especially relevant to us.

Greenwash is better than not washing at all:
It’s easy to be entirely negative about ‘greenwash’ but it is also a reflection of the enormous achievements which have been made in the ethical and environmental movement that business have to even pretend to care. There was a time when they didn’t have to. The very term greenwash has also been co-opted by those who would slow up progress – it feeds cynicism and mistrust. There are a lot of businesses out there who are making genuine moves towards sustainability, even those who could have been accused of greenwash in the past. I know in my own life I have talked about the way I should be living long before I started living it – the talking it up was just part of the process of stepping up.
The core terms are not co-optable:
I am concerned about the idea of trying to ‘protect’ the term Transition – surely every person or community has their own transition to make? Peak Oil and Climate Change are the key terms – and they are protected by science, not by MoU’s. Our work is defined by what we do, not what we say we do.

Participation, not membership:
I don’t think TT would lose momentum or struggle to get participants in any case – the reasons for participating are practical, immediate, and interpersonal. They don’t have much to do with perception about the terms used. I would question the value of anyone’s involvement if it was largely on the basis of how ‘cool’ or righteous the term/brand was. But I personally don’t think anybody’s real involvement in TT is based on that.

Best wishes

If in doubt, garden

Nick Towle
14 Sep 12:07pm

G’day all,

From experience here in Australia I can see there is a need for a process that supports and maintains the integrity of the Transition concept and those who wish to adopt the general approaches.

At present I am not feeling a strong sense of cohesion among Transition initiatives across Australia. The commitment of established groups to supporting others is not clearly reflected in action.

I am seeing a number of groups that initially subscribe to the transition approach, recognising the need and urgency of addressing peak oil and climate change, but have evolved to become ‘transition’ garden clubs or similar. Andy’s comment of “If in doubt, garden” seems to be a default option within groups that are not supported with strong leadership and lose touch with the underpinning awareness and principles from which the movement was born. (I know this wasn’t the meaning in Andy’s post)

Would an MoU improve this? probably here.
Taking responsibility for what is developed in the name of Transition is important.
Regional leadership and support, at least in the formative stages, seems very valuable.

I appreciate the MoU is an attempt to define a mechanism for ensuring that national Transition Networks have developed their own processes for maintaining the integrity of Transition initiatives, and offer vital support keep the potential ‘transition garden clubs’ on track. Perhaps not all countries will buy into the MoU but a mutually agreed process still seems very valid.

Thanks for initiating the discussion.
Yours for the future, Nick T

15 Sep 9:22pm

I for one had no problem with the MOU. I even welcomed it. To me it provided more connection, a tangible way to hook up to a larger whole. The MOU is a light touch. It really is. Or am I assuming the lens of the country in which I live where we are so keyed up, revved up, tightened up and ready to burst a gasket that the MOU seems very mild, benign and somewhat…soothing. Well yes, I am looking through the lens of the USA. To me from here, the MOU simply offers some clarity and, saying it again, connection to a larger whole. I do not find it onerous, in fact, what fun – I get to talk with Ben once a month (a bonus not previously mentioned). I find the criteria to become a Transition Initiative easy to bear as well.

I think behind each is the offer to connect (have I said it enough) to the greater movement. Yes, that can be done without becoming “official” but how much more noticed, powerful, remarkable, countable, influential could we be if we connect the dots? Yes, we don’t have to become “official” in order to find each other (although it really does make it easier) and we don’t have to become “official” to do the work of building localized resilience, but what is the downside? After all, isn’t all of this about working together? Maybe I am missing a hot button about independence but again, speaking from the culture of the US were we have probably gone to the farthest reaches of independence I see that we have a profoundly deep urge to experience community again.

Can’t we retain the creativity and autonomy of chaos yet give ourselves enough structure so we can be seen as a significant global pattern?

I was dismayed by Juanita’s post that the news reported there were only 6 Transition Initiatives while she indicated there were 40 at the time. I don’t know, but “40” sounds significant, “6” could be easily dismissed. I suppose there are advantages to keeping under the radar of mainstream news but I think we need to be found. There are a lot of people who are looking for what Transition Initiatives have to offer.

I agree with Mark and will not repeat his thoughtful remarks here about the somewhat prickly texture of the USA. I think that through this discussion I can see that the MOU (or MOU-type of thing) may be different in different countries based on different needs, the timing, and the people involved. But for what I see would help in the US, at this time, with the people I have come to know who are involved in Transition work here on the ground the MOU as is serves us well.