Transition Culture

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

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I no longer blog on this site. You can now find me, my general blogs, and the work I am doing researching my forthcoming book on imagination, on my new blog.

22 Jul 2011

Seeking your stories about how your Transition group stops to reflect

A Fishbowl conversation at the 2011 Transition Network conference, Liverpool.

The ingredients in the forthcoming ‘The Transition Companion’ are nearly done, but a few have spaces we need to fill, such as this one called ‘How are we doing?’ and I’d love to add your stories to it.  It looks at the value of initiatives stopping to evaluate what they are doing, reflecting honestly before adjusting what they are doing and continuing.  They might use Open Space, World Cafe, Appreciative Inquity, Fishbowl, or any range of other things.  I’d love to hear your stories, in no more than 300 -350 words. about your Transition initiative’s experience of doing that.  How many people came?  What did you do?  What did you learn from it?  You could either post below or email me at rob (at)  To get your thoughts flowing thus far, here is the main text for that ingredient.  Thanks!

All projects need to reflect on their progress, be honest about their shortcomings and listen to constructive criticism. If they can’t do these things, they will begin to lose connection with reality.

In the swirl of keeping your initiative moving forward and doing exciting things, it is easy to stop asking if the process is moving in the right direction, in a healthy way. Stopping regularly to ask ‘How are we doing?’ is an essential safety check.  This can take place on a range of scales. Adding five minutes at the end of each meeting to discuss how effective it was and how it could have been better run can be very useful. For a more in-depth process, you could plan a day for assessing how and where things are going.  Shortly after the publication of its Energy Descent Action Plan, Transition Town Totnes (TTT) held a day to consider how those actively involved in the initiative had found the project and where  they saw it going next.
A more public reflection can also be good. TTT also held a ‘How Are We Doing?’ evening, which invited the community to say how they were finding the
process. It began with each of TTT’s working groups giving a three-minute report on what they were doing, and on projects that were under way. An ‘Appreciate Enquiry’ followed, which asked ‘What is going well?’, ‘What could we do differently?’ and ‘What concerns do we have?’ The evening yielded
useful insight that fed back into the initiative.  Sometimes tools such as a Fishbowl can be very useful for this kind of reflection.

Put time aside regularly to evaluate how your initiative is doing. These evaluations could be either internal or public events that offer the opportunity for honest appraisal of your work. Make sure the ideas generated and the information gleaned are made widely available and acted upon.