Video Conference for 1st TS meeting
Thanks to the power of the internet, folks from Transition groups across Scotland joined in with a video conference using www.zoom.us technology to video-chat about the development of Transition Scotland and the first set of actions to help us get underway.
Present were, Alan, Maria, Philip, Martin, Eva, David and Pamela. Cheesy grins all round. SMILE for the CAMERA !...
What a great low-carbon use of technology to get us chatting and able to see each other without the need to travel such long distances.
In true Transition Style, we started with a check-in, Inviting each person to reflect on how they were feeling, what they were up to or what kind of mood they were in. A refreshing way to give everyone time and space to talk about themselves and to set a respectful scene were we could appreciate and support those who needed the most hugs...
The main focus of the meeting was to review progress on the Transition Network funding which we had been granted earlier in 2017. This money was to help us maintain and refine our web presence (domain names and website content), to design and deliver a survey of all of our followers and supporters to find out where they were at, and what potential there is for folks to join existing groups or to form new ones. We also discussed the practicalities of introducing elements of Sociocracy into our practices to ensure everyone gets an equal chance to comment on new policies/procedures/etc, and finally we also spoke about the planning of a Transition Scotland Gathering later in the year in Dunbar.
Its early doors for TS, but the basics are there. We dont have to travel to meet and agree things, and we can benefit from remaining in contact on a regular basis to support each other and to support the development of our Scottish regional hub for the Transition Network.
If you would like to get involved then we have plenty of space for new faces. Lots of activities going on and much to do for 2018 and beyond.
Watch this space for news of the Gathering, dates, times, venues, costs, expenses options, etc.
Hugs to all - Transition Scotland's Core Circle
I first heard about the Transition Network when I watched the film “Tomorrow” by Mélanie Laurent and Cyril Dion in December 2016. At that time, I was searching for an internship to complete my bachelor of applied foreign languages in France and what was important to me then (and now), was to invest my time and energy into something that would help create a viable future for our planet - which is such a major issue today.
The Transition concept struck me as a very interesting approach to resolving today's problems of climate change and ruthless globalisation and when I received Transition Black Isle's approval to my request for an internship, I was glad to have the opportunity to experience how a Transition Initiative works in real life. The internship started in early June 2017 and for three months, I was kindly hosted by two TBI members and supported by Martin Sherring, TBI's convenor at that time. As the directors of TBI were well prepared to host an intern and had already thought about the different activities that could be given to a potential intern, I had the chance to work on a beautiful project which resulted in the creation of a very nice and useful website, featuring local produce on the Black Isle (www.blackislelarder.org).
My work included detailed research about local enterprises, a lot of communication work, the arranging and filming of interviews with local farmers and also some photography for the website. It was three intense months where I learned amongst many other things:
To work with a voluntary organisation certainly requires a lot of enthusiasm and independence as supervision might be limited, but it is also very rewarding and leaves you with a valuable experience. This is why I would recommend an internship within the Transition Network without any hesitation.
In May, Eva Schonveld and I had the opportunity to attend the international Transition Hubs gathering in Santorso, Italy (not far from Venice). It was preceded by an Inner Transition training organised by Transition Network’s Inner Transition coordinator Claire Milne, together with Madelanne Rust-d’Eye, a body-based psychotherapist, and Peter Cow, specialising in social permaculture and the 8 Shields work.
The theme for the training was how we create regenerative group cultures. Much of it was learning by doing, and we spent a large part of our first day identifying and creating “the container” which would help us feel safe and comfortable enough to be able to be honest, understand each other, express empathy, and ultimately feel the self-sustaining creativity that can emerge in such an environment. So we introduced ourselves, played a couple of games, agreed on group rules, stated expectations and made agreements with the group, but also with ourselves, about what behaviour we would like to see.
Peter introduced the acorn model of group leadership of the 8 shields, where people take on qualities and actions of the eight directions of the compass to help spread out and share the support needed for a well-functioning group:
As more people stepped in to take on these different roles and tasks, the pressure on our three facilitators obviously decreased, but it also created a shared sense of responsibility, and things did seem to just happen of themselves at times.
Madelanne brought a very interesting piece on how our nervous system works, and influences our behaviour in a group. The part of the nervous system we want to be in, the Social Engagement System, regulates our digestion etc. – it makes us feel relaxed, safe, and able to interact with others. However, our nervous systems haven’t changed since the Stone Age, which means that our everyday reality of traffic, big workloads, noise, verbal or online disputes, deadlines (etc. etc.) often trigger our fight or flight response, without us having the opportunity to act on it. So we can find ourselves with a lot of energy built up inside coming from our nervous system wanting to respond to its perceived danger by attacking back, or running really fast and far. But we very seldom do that, leading to conditions of anxiety, stress or burnout. So if we can give ourselves the opportunity when working together to move, shake things off, make noises, breathe, and practice simple things that automatically push us back towards the Social Engagement System, such as eye contact, physical touch, etc., we will probably see much more productive meetings.
We also spent some time looking at empathy – our ability to feel and deeply understand others. As such, it is a quality of presence that can help people’s nervous systems to feel safe and relaxed, leading to creativity naturally arising in the group.
My experience was that when somebody listened to me and repeated what I said in their own words, trying to understand without making suggestions, I could take my ideas further and together we arrived at ideas that were much more exciting and fun than if I had just kept my thoughts to myself. The suggestions was that if this empathetic environment can be created in a group, there are no limits to its creativity and regenerative capacity. Connected to this is how we give and receive feedback. How do we communicate with each other, and how do we become aware of how our responses affect the other person? The statistic of the day was 5:1 - we need five positive feedbacks to one negative to feel good, appreciated, and constructively develop. We discussed practices to create a safe and supportive way of giving feedback, such as agreeing on formats for feedback beforehand, discussing emotions and related needs, opening meetings with regular gratitude rounds, creating structures to give the group regular permission to express feedback so it doesn’t come at an inopportune moment.
We spent an afternoon experimenting with a version of the theatre of oppressed, which we called theatre of cooperation. We played out a scenario I think many of us can relate to, where members of a Transition group have too much to do, there aren’t enough people, and they struggle to recruit more members. Trying to intervene and set the destructive dynamics of the group right, it became clear to us that the best intervention would have been to have spent time and efforts creating a healthy group culture in the first place, rather than trying to save already stressed out group members or replace them by new.
My conclusion from the training is that Inner Transition is not only the touchy feely emotional heart stuff that some feel very comfortable discussing, and others feel shy or nervous about, and is often left on the shelf of “nice things we’ll do when we have time”. What I realised is that Inner Transition is the backbone of creating a healthy, creative group culture, which in turn is vital for sustaining our Transition Initiatives and their role in local communities. So often, our groups rely on the efforts, stamina, and courage of individual volunteers. Without that backbone, no wonder we can suffer from stress and burnout, conflict, miscommunications, mission drift, stagnation… And the right time to do something about all these things is not when they occur, but create practices that reduce the likelihood of them in the first place.
So, ending on a practical note – how can we do this? Claire has some plans to develop a year long investigative journey into what Inner Transition can look like across the world, so keep your eyes open for that. We resolved during the course of the Hubs gathering to create an Inner Transition community of practice, where there will be an online meeting once a month to connect with others thinking about Inner Transition, and share what we are doing. And perhaps, if we have enough energy and time and motivation, we could look into having an Inner Transition training and sharing event in Scotland soon. What do you think?