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Forming an initiating group

Number: 
4
An early meeting of the formative Transition Town Totnes initiating group, over a shared lunch

Challenge

Starting a Transition initiative can feel like an overwhelming task. How can this be made into a manageable process for one person or a group to kick off?

Description

Once a group of people have come together and decided they want to start a Transition initiative, the best focus for that, that we have found so far, is the concept of the initiating group. The work of the initiating group starts the core activities of Transition...

Read the full description...

Solution

An initiating group serves to kick the Transition process off, its members acting as the early pioneers who network and lay good foundations, until another group takes over the reins of what has become an established and wider-reaching Transition initiative.

Full description

with input from Sophy Banks

Once a group of people have come together and decided they want to start a Transition initiative, the best focus for that, that we have found so far, is the concept of the initiating group.

The work of the initiating group starts the core activities of Transition:

  • Building partnerships
  • Awareness raising
  • Visioning
  • Reskilling
  • Practical activities
  • Attending to the well-being of the group and the people in it.

Use the tips in Coming together as groups (Starting out 1) as an aid to setting up this group to work well together from the outset.


A list of skills your initiating group might need . . .

from the Transition Training materials:

  • Facilitating meetings: agenda, facilitation, decision-making, communication skills.
  • Running talks: designing and facilitating processes – time for conversations, feedback, digestion.
  • Publicity: press releases and media, website, designing posters and flyers, blogs.
  • Managing information: email lists, website, ‘to do’ lists.
  • Event organising: booking rooms, DVDs, speakers, projector and screen, refreshments, facilitator, etc.
  • Organisational skills: finance, legal, insurance.
  • Public speaking: at events and talks.
  • Networking: good connections with existing organisations and people in your community and wider.
  • Leadership: taking responsibility and following through. This may be many people or just a few.
  • Relationship and people skills: passion and commitment, humour, flexibility.
  • Sensitivity: to both the community and the group.
  • Celebrating and appreciating: the work of individuals and the group.

Bring together people with enough diverse skills that they cover most of those above. People who know people and are well connected in the community are vital. Ask who’s missing, and talk to them about whether Transition interests them. Check on the Transition Network website to see if there are other groups near you to connect with or for mutual support. You can also see on the site events and projects that other groups have done, if you want inspiration.

What if Transition doesn’t really take off, in spite of the best efforts of your group? Don’t be discouraged if it just doesn’t seem to gain any meaningful traction – perhaps it’s not the right time for your area, or the model and ideas don’t suit the way your community likes to work. Find positive ways to use your energy in existing groups, or do the one project that inspires or interests you the most!

In The Transition Handbook, it was suggested that an initiating group would “design its demise from the outset”, and some initiatives, such as Transition Forest Row, who used their Unleashing to tell everyone who had come that they were now handing the initiative over to whoever wanted to drive the process forwards, have put this into practice. For some it has worked really well – the initiating group’s work ended at a launch, or an Open Space event at which new working groups were formed, and it then handed over running the Transition project to a new structure. For others the process is more gradual – as new groups form, new people join the group, and the initiators take a step back or move into a different role, perhaps finally getting to do that practical project they wanted to do, or organising a specific working group.

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