Thursday, November 19, 2009

ReEnergize Summit

I'm leading a workshop on "Community Engagement: The Transition Town Model" at the ReEnergize Oklahoma Summit this Saturday at the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond. Here's my handout for the Summit (the non-illustrated version), basically a quick explanation of Transition Towns.


Community Engagement: The Transition Town model

Transition Initiatives focus on increasing the sustainability and resiliency of a community in order to prepare for the challenge of climate change and the inevitable worldwide decline in oil production. Transition Towns work as a community catalyst: helping citizens envision and create a more fulfilling, healthy and satisfying way of life while using less energy and fewer resources.

The Transition Town model is inclusive (non-partisan), proactive and positive, and non-prescriptive. The model uses creativity, playfulness and empowerment to encourage people to participate in the work of creating resiliency - the ability to withstand systemic shocks while still maintaining basic functionality. One key strategy in creating resiliency is re-localization, which can have many tangible benefits to a community and appeals to people across a broad political spectrum.

The “12 Steps” of the Transition model aren’t necessarily a linear progression, but more of a general order. The steps can overlap and iterate, and are designed to be flexible so that any Transition Initiative group can use what works best for their locale. The 12 Steps (which are described in detail in Rob Hopkins’ The Transition Handbook) are:

1. Form an Initiating Group
2. Raise awareness of the key issues
3. Lay the foundations by networking with existing groups
4. Great Unleashing
5. Form groups focusing on various ways to build sustainable, resilient communities
6. Use “Open Space” to engage and empower the community
7. Develop visible practical manifestations
8. Facilitate the Great Re-Skilling
9. Build a bridge to local government
10. Honor the elders
11. Let it go where it wants to
12. Create an Energy Descent / Energy Transition plan

The Transition Town framework incorporates many different kinds of activities that can engage people who have various stages of knowledge about the environmental and energy issues, as well as differing levels of psychological readiness for change. These activities emphasize empowerment and working together, and include visioning, educating, celebrating, building, learning skills, working with community institutions, and planning.

If you are interested in using the Transition Town model, we recommend reading The Transition Handbook, by Rob Hopkins, as there are key differences between the Transition Town process and other, perhaps more familiar, forms of outreach and engagement. Transition Town OKC will offer “Training for Transition,” which will teach participants how to start their own Initiative, in March 2010. Stay posted for updates and events, or sign up for our newsletter, on our website

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