Saturday 25 February 2012

The power of visioning

Today's blog is cross-posted from the Social Reporting Project, which this week has been reflecting on some of the Tools and Ingredients in The Transition Companion. Kerry Lane looks at Ingredient #7, Visioning, as one of the key Starting Out points for initiatives.

An Inspiring Low Impact house in Wales

Visions are the stories that we tell ourselves, the narratives we live by, they are so integral to our lives that it takes a collective effort to reimagine them.

I really can do no better than Rob's summary of the challenge associated with this ingredient:

Not being able to imagine a lower-carbon world is a huge impediment to designing and realising it.

I believe that the reason so many people become paralysed by the 'depressing' films Ann talked about on Wednesday is that they just cannot imagine an alternative to our current society, particularly one rooted in the reality of their local area. This is what Transition Initiatives enable, the collective imagining of a low-carbon future for their local area. And once you have a vision you have something to work with and towards.

It is no coincidence that advertisers have been using visions for years to sell their products, they are after all masters of human psychology. Whether it is harking back to an imagined golden age or playing on what we want from a better future - how many adverts can you think of that play on the idea of community, of being more connected? Visions and stories sell. Futerra, the sustainability communications gurus, recognise this in their top ten tips with #5 Only Stories Work.

Transition is one of the few environmental initiatives that has recognised this and has harnessed the power of visioning for positive social ends rather than for selling consumption. It gives us a joint future to work towards, one that we can start creating right now. You could argue that most Transition projects are the result of visioning of one sort or another. Armed with knowledge of the issues from the awareness raising and inspired by what others are doing, visioning lets our amazingly powerful imaginations get to work on sculpting local solutions.

Transition UWS
Vision is what is missing in my current Transition Initiative. The students and staff cannot imagine a low-carbon future that they want to be a part of. I suppose part of my job is to try and facilitate a community vision, but our funding constraints (which will be explored more in the Funding week led by Marella in March) make this quite difficult. Visioning is not really something you can force on people, you have to make a space and process where it is possible, but it is essentially a voluntary activity.

It is the inspiring visions cocreated in Transition Norwich that have kept me engaged in Transition through the group turbulence brilliantly described by Charlotte on Tuesday and through my relocation away from my initiative. In Transition Norwich I was involved in developing the resilience plan (energy descent action plan) that is effectively the next step up in visioning and we started by all contributing our individual visions, which were woven together into a rich tapestry of our communities vision.

It is my vision of being part of a Transition community, creating a low-carbon society, sculpting the job I want that keeps me hoping, keeps me creating, creates my future.

We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make the world.

Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine and at last you create what you will.
George Bernard Shaw

Kerry Lane

Original post on during week on the Ingredients and Tools from The Transition Compansion on The Social Reporting Project

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