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Transition Culture - an evolving exploration into the head, heart and hands of energy descent

Naresh Giangrande introduces the Transition Launch Online training

Transition Network's Transition Launch training, the training designed to support people getting started making Transition happen where they live is now up and running.  Developed in partnership with Gaia University, it's a fantastic new opportunity for people who, for one reason or another, struggle to find the time to do the training, but would still like to obtain the insights it offers.  You can read more about it, and find out how to sign up and take part, here.   To find out more about it, we spoke to Naresh Giangrande, one of its creators, and started by asking him to give us a potted history of Transition Training, and how it came to exist.   

"I guess it evolved because so many people started arriving in Totnes as soon as we started doing this Totnes project, wanting to know what we did and how we did it. You were writing the book and we thought "wouldn’t it be great to give people an embodied experience of what Transition is like, or what it is, or what this process is?" So Sophy Banks and I set up the training in late 2007 I think.  

Immediately there was huge demand. We just kept doing trainings and they kept selling out. We realised pretty early on, within about 4 or 5 months of delivering this training, that it was a really great event. It brought people together; it gave them a sense of what Transition is. It gave them a whole lot of content and material but it also helped bring groups together and also networked groups in different parts of the country. We gave people a sense of the depth of the vision that we were trying to communicate.  

Launch Online banner

Fairly early on in the process we realised that the two of us couldn’t deliver all the training that was necessary, particularly because a lot of people were coming from overseas to do the training. We thought that doesn’t really fit in how we see ourselves and how we see what Transition is: that local thing but we just had to travel all the time. So what we decided to do was train other people to do this, which we did in mid-2008 when we did our first ‘Train the Trainers’ which enabled other people to deliver this training. 

Then because we were getting such interest from abroad, in late 2008 – early 2009 we went on our world tour where we went to 7 different countries. We did Transition Training, and we trained different trainers in the US, Japan, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Hong Kong. Since then we’ve had another 6 or 8 ‘Train the Trainers’. We now have trainers in 24 different countries, the training had been delivered in 28-30 different countries. It’s something that’s spread all around the world. It’s a compelling, interesting, fun and enjoyable 2 days and it’s 2 days that are jam-packed with content, maybe even a bit too full. We think that when people have done the training it gives them a reasonable chance of setting up a good Transition Initiative.  

What different trainings have been developed? 

The first thing we added was 'Effective Groups', which, although we don’t see it as a core training, it emerged fairly quickly as an important piece of what initiatives need to work well. We were getting a lot of messages from people that it was the group process that was difficult in their Transition Initiative. Nick Osbourne developed his 'Effective Groups' training which addresses all the issues that you need to be competent and to run good groups, and also addresses things such as what happens when there is conflict, and deal with it creatively. That was something we did to support Transition Initiatives. The overall mission of Transition Training is to support Transition Initiatives to do Transition well. 

We did the Effective Groups, and that was followed on by what we call the Thrive Training, which arose because people started groups and then they’d either reached places where they didn’t know what to do next or they felt there were some difficulties - some people were expressing that it would be great to have a training.  "We’ve set it up, we’ve got working groups going, we’ve doing all these projects, but what next, what else can we do? It would be great to have a training that helped us vision and empower us to move on, on this path of Transition". So we set up Transition Thrive which is designed to do exactly that, to help groups either iron out some of the difficulties they have or move on to their next steps.  

How did Launch Online come about? 

It came about because the technology enables us to do high-quality trainings online now, and I guess there’s two reasons really for why we want to do the launch training online. The first is accessibility, to make it accessible to more people, and the second is to explore how to use the technology that’s out there that can enable us to create really high-quality trainings, and explore whether by doing a different format we can create something that is as, or maybe even more successful at enabling and supporting Transition initiatives and Transition groups around the world.  

Let me just explore the two bits of it. At the moment, if you want to do the Transition Training, the only format it’s been developed in is over two days, mostly over a weekend. Most people just can’t afford to take that time out because they have children or businesses or whatever. It’s also quite expensive to travel and find somewhere to stay. So in order to make it more accessible we thought it would be better to be able to do the training wherever you are in the world; you just have to be able to log on online. You don’t have to leave your house.  

We’ve cut it up into little bitesizse chunks, so the course is going to consist of 8 weekly webinars. Once a week there’s going to be a webinar on a Tuesday night in the UK, You can just log on to the webinar and you can listen live and be part of the training. The technology now enables you to ask questions.  

The second bit is that this technology gives you the possibility of creating something that we can’t do face to face. Which is that first of all, we cut the material up in to bitesize chunks, so we’ll cover one topic in each of these eight weekly webinars. These webinars, the first one will be the introductions and cover the context issues and the second one will be the introduction to Transition. The third one will be awareness raising and so on. By cutting it up into bitesize chunks, people can get a real sense of what this particular piece is, and then over the next week will have a chance to mull it over.

The webinar will be put up online, they can listen to it again, and get any of the bits they didn’t get the first time. There’ll be also a private space for participants to share and ask questions, the content providers will be there to answer questions and to guide people to put up additional resources. There’s a whole week to chew over and mull over each piece of the training. Also ideally, especially if you’re already part of an Initiative, you could try it out and come back either later in the week or the next time and say "I tried this and this is what happened, what else could I have done or how could I have done that differently?" 

It’s a great way to integrate learning into doing and to trying it out. For that reason I think using technology in this way could be a very powerful way of delivering this training.  

What will people get out of it? 

First of all, I guess it puts out a pretty complete vision of the starting out phase of Transition. It gives you a really complete sense of what Transition is. It also enables you to meet other people who are doing Transition, and for many people that’s a real bonus. Maybe they’re living somewhere or they don’t have anybody else who’s interested in this, they’ve thought about where the world’s going they’ve read things about climate change and they want to make a difference. So having this training enables them to come together with other people and have a couple of days to really explore these ideas in depth.  

It gives people a sense of the depth of the vision of some of the inner work that we’re doing and how we weave that into the training. In a way, that’s been the most surprising thing for people. Constantly, the feedback we get is about what surprised people on the training, is the inner piece that we do on the second day. A lot of people never really realised that, oh yes, that inner peace is really an important piece if we’re going to transition this culture to something that’s healthy, with high wellbeing – we need to pay attention to that as well".

Lastly, I asked him what, in his opinion, makes a good Trainer?  I haven't transcribed that one, you'll just have to listen to that!