The Transition Ethos shines through!
As soon as the Saturday sessions of the Transition Conference 2012 start, you can tell that this is not just any old conference. It sounds and feels different, it looks different. People are welcomed with the suggestion that they take a moment or two to fully arrive, have a few deep breaths and focus on the reason they are there.
We get invited to form circles of four participants and are reminded what an ancient form of meeting, talking and sharing this is and how the circle facilitates listening. We share our intentions for this event and listen to what others have to say. And listening is what this conference seems to be mostly about, bearing witness to other human beings’ stories. Hearing peoples’ tales while queuing up for lunch, listening in to conversations by the tea urn, the noise at times is almost deafening.
It can get a little overwhelming, the greeting of familiar faces, meeting of old friends, listening to what everybody has been up to. But it’s been great to put faces to voices previously only heard over the phone and to meet my fellow social reporters. Although I’ve never met some of them, I feel I know them from their writings and can greet them as if they were old friends, we are a community.
Sophy Banks explains the “How to” of Open Space and remarks how the process is very similar to that of Transition itself; creative, connecting, working with the energy that is right here right now, balancing structure with freedom. Open Space is where the participants take over the conference: they propose the topics or questions, take charge and host the conversations. You can move between groups, bring ideas from one to the other or stick with the same discussion for the duration. It’s lively and intense, never boring.
The sense of empowerment is strong. You don’t come to a Transition conference to be told by the “experts” how things should be done, you come to be inspired by the countless stories of people from all over the world and so far it’s been a five course meal and it’s only Saturday lunchtime!