Note: 13 April 2011:
We are editing all of the patterns as part of the book editing process. There have been plenty of changes which mean that we have taken them off the site temporarily so we can start from scratch. This may take a couple of months.
Thank you to everyone who added their thoughts and comments; the patterns will be back as 'ingredients' and 'tools' and 'projects' in a few months.
So what exactly is a pattern?
(thanks to Jerry McManus for this concise and eloquent description)
"Patterns can best be understood as proven solutions to common problems. It might help to think of “pattern” as just another word for “we’ve seen this problem before”.
Naturally, it follows that the more people who solve the same problem the more likely it is that they will arrive at roughly the same good solutions. Not identical solutions by any means, everyone’s situation is different, but solutions that have enough in common that you start to see, well, patterns. And, what do you know, look at all of those really smart and creative people out there that are doing a really amazing job of solving many of the same transition problems. Every day, all over the world.
Now here’s the beauty part, if you can find a way to capture that knowledge and experience then you might have something REALLY useful to people who are just as likely to hit the same problems that everyone else did. Useful not because you are presenting it in the form of a recipe to be followed blindly, but presented in the more general form of “when you have a problem like this, then use a solution like this”.
This allows people the freedom to adapt that solution to their particular situation, using whatever resources are available to them."
Other people have called them building blocks, ingredients, recipes and also “A Collection of Ideas and Solutions for Setting Up and Running a Successful Transition Initiative”.
Whatever you choose to call them, their purpose, function and application should become pretty clear once you start reading a few of them.
Take a look at the patterns
Before you launch yourself into the patterns, please read the 'guide to patterns' (opens in new window so you can read it in parallel) which will explain a great deal and make your understanding and input much better.