Monday 28 March 2011

A Welcome Message

I’m starting off my three day slot this week with pictures from some of the events in Transition Norwich and Sustainable Bungay which we’ve held over the past ten days. I’ll speak about the events themselves in more detail in the following posts.

First I want to say something about Welcome. One vital component for a successful Transition event (or group) is that people are made welcome. This includes everyone from the people in the group themselves to the people coming in the door.

Some people have a knack for communications, or for organising events and making sure everything goes smoothly behind the scenes, or understanding how systems work, building websites, designing newsletters and leaflets, chairing meetings, speaking about peak oil and climate change. I have a knack for making people feel welcome and I never considered it at all important until I got involved in Transition.

But it can make a real difference. If you’re coming to hear Nicole Foss’ aka Stoneleigh of The Automatic Earth) talk about Making Sense of the Financial Crisis in the Era of Peak Oil and all the tough deep challenges it implies for the future, you're more likely to be receptive if you're relaxed and have been made to feel at home. Particularly if you don't know anything about Transition. I know how I feel when I'm greeted warmly at an event and the difference when there's no one at home (or on the door).

Key to the success of any Transition group or project is an awareness of each others' qualities and skills. If you start with your own it’s far easier to be generous about other people's. Then everyone can get on with what they’re good at. Wanting to do what someone else is doing, have what someone else has got, or having unrealistic (and often grand) ideas about ourselves and what we could be doing stops good things happening.

As Nicole Foss stated in her presentation on Friday (a great talk with over a hundred people - organised by Christine and Charlotte, chaired by Tully), Business as Usual in a world with diminishing fossil fuel reserves and spiralling debt is not an option. This means finding ways to make the inevitable process of downshifting something worth wholeheartedly engaging in, rather than a descent into a grim twilight zone of contraction and competition.

That's easy to write. But it takes effort and practice to get used to a more communal way of living after all these years of fossil-fuelled individualism. To work together in a harmonious way. That's what the essence of Transition is about for me. And the more people on board the merrier. So welcome...

Pics: Eloise and Daphne hang the welcome bunting at Sustainable Bungay's Spring 2011 Give and Take day; Molly welcomes people to Transition Norwich's Stoneleigh presentation last Friday; Nick and the cat making themselves at home at Save Bungay Library's Telling Tales event on Saturday

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