Transition Culture

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

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22 Sep 2010

Does Your Transition Initiative Have (Or Even Want) An Office?

Adrienne Campbell from Transition Town Lewes checks the email in their office...

As I am working on drafting these various patterns, or ingredients, of Transition, I will no doubt from time to time chuck questions at you… today I would love to know whether your Transition initiative has an office, or whether it even wants one.  Does your initiative run from a collection of virtually-linked kitchen tables?  Have you deliberately decided to remain light and nimble and officeless?  Or do you have an office, or some other space from which you operate?  If so, how do you fund it?  What happens in it?  What benefits has it brought?  Please share your stories, I can’t guarantee they’ll all end up in the final document, but I’ll try my best!  Thanks folks….

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


Shaun Chamberlin
22 Sep 4:45pm

No office here at TTK, and not yet felt any desire for one. The big public meetings happen at local venues who offer us space for free (often the local University), and smaller meetings (e.g. steering group) take place at people’s homes.

A copious flow of email and phonecalls keeps us all in touch, with a fortnightly e-newsletter to the mailing list.

22 Sep 6:01pm

“a place of doing” is what i would choose, kitchen table or in the car with the kids, just think TRANSITION…..

Bart Anderson
22 Sep 7:10pm

We’ve still in start-up mode in Transition, so we’re meeting in people’s homes and in spaces offered by allied groups. As Shaun said, email and the web enable us to keep in touch.

I think that the absence of an office and bureaucracy is a plus. Corporations have been going in this direction for some time; we should learn from them.

Maybe at a certain point it would be useful, but I would like to postpone that move for as long as possible.

Bart / Transition Palo Alto / Energy Bulletin

Phil Slade
22 Sep 7:20pm

Are our organisers missing the point here.
The public need to be able to access their local Transition people face to face on a daily basis.
I would suggest liasing with the Empty Shops Network or similar, to put Transition onto the High Street.

Simon Redding
23 Sep 11:26am

The main issue here is having someone to staff an office. With evening/weekend volunteers, it’s difficult to be able to guarantee presence – without that guarantee, it’s better not to open, as turning up to a closed office is a worse experience for the public than only being able to contact by phone.

Guaranteed presence requires a full time volunteer or a paid member of staff, and in a startup phase (as many transition initiatives are) this isn’t always feasible…

23 Sep 11:27am

No need for an office at the moment but lots of need for secure storage!

Peter Wardley-Repen
23 Sep 4:10pm

Great idea from Phil, there, and I would echo his (her?) comment re face-to-face contact. But so far, we in Trawsnewid Llandrindod Transition get by without an office. Our meetings are held in our local wholefood cafe and publicised on our website and via the local listings magazine, among other places. Anyone is free to come along or contact us via email or through the cafe.

Personally, as a professional webbie, I’m keen to get the electric dialogue going, but others in the group (and in the local public-at-large) don’t seem so keen. So at some point, an office would probably come in useful.

Bart Anderson
23 Sep 7:42pm

To build an organization that can last through difficult times, I think it’s important to keep the overhead low. In our area, the cost of renting a storefront is astronomical.

There is a tendency in movements to concentrate on the outward signs — non-profit status, a storefront, record keeping. Money has to be raised to support the paraphernalia. A hierarchy must emerge to be responsible for all this. Maintaining the organization itself takes up a greater and greater percentage of resources.

So the more I think about it, the more I come to the conclusion that it’s important to postpone an office, etc. for as long as possible. It’s much more important to build relationships, activities, attitudes. The invisible infrastructure, without which all the rest of meaningless.

Transition Palo Alto

Kate Clark
23 Sep 10:15pm

I prefer to keep Transition a verb, rather than a noun. So meetings can happen at local businesses, our offices, in public, wherever. It would be nice to have a central location to gather, but I almost think it would be nicer if it was a really Transition-y kind of business (like the staging area for a local food garden nursery, or around the potbellied stove in a local/regional dry goods store.

Joanne Poyourow
28 Sep 12:07am

Transition Los Angeles doesn’t have an office. I wholeheartedly agree with Bart Anderson about keeping overhead as low as possible for as long as possible.

Over at the Transition U.S. blog I’ve written a piece about “Resilient nonprofits” which includes Transition Los Angeles’ premises-free status. This approach stems from our understanding of the significant role Economic Contraction is playing as the third great crisis with which we must cope in this Transition era (see Stoneleigh talk )

As far as Phil Slade’s assertion that the public need face-to-face access on a daily basis, in five years of operations we have not had any trouble with saying “meet us at the community garden on Thursday afternoon” or “can we handle that matter at our reskilling class on Saturday morning.” In our experience having an ongoing web presence, prompt email replies, and an ongoing chain of meeting opportunities on the calendar has been very effective.

Our various Transition groups in the greater Los Angeles area meet in church halls and classrooms, yoga centers, community gardens, private homes, library community rooms, and coffee shops, to name a few.

The initiators of Transition South Bay LA gather in a specific coffee shop at a given time, which is publicized on their website for people to join in.

Transition San Fernando Valley developed creative “Market Circle” events which are great for new initiatives. No premises needed — they gather at the local farmers’ market. If 3 or more people show up, they have a meeting. If no one shows up, you simply do your vegetable shopping and go home.

Phil Slade
3 Oct 10:23pm

No office,well try to provide a mailing address or Post Office Box (pleasantly anonymous) for people that want to write to you or send you paperwork
“Not everyone has electronic communications”, if you had an office you might write that on the wall.

ps. for Office (closed door) read Drop-In Centre (open door)

John Tennock
8 Oct 10:47pm

We haven’t yet experienced the need for an office as an administrative base. Until we build up our numbers our main focus is on outreach to the community. We have purchased a marquee for market stalls and equipped it for tea and coffee, and for showing movies on a (solar powered) laptop. We have set up a voting system on our web-site so that our management committee can vote on-line without having to meet. The idea is to keep the meeting energy for ACTION meetings rather than ADMIN ones. We have a regular monthly booking for the meeting room at a local library ($11.00 per month) Our PO Box is seldom used but good to have for ‘official’ correspondence.