“Food is really, really important. In a slightly personal way, I bake biscuits for the council meetings that I chair. And it’s really interesting how that broke down a whole formality, just by starting a meeting with tea and coffee and biscuits that come from a recipe that my mum made. It makes the whole thing more human and acceptable, and that’s exactly the kind of thing that Transition groups are doing all the time."  
Peter Macfadyen, former Mayor of Frome and founder of Transition Frome.

Reflecting on how your group is doing and celebrating what you have achieved is an essential part of Transition.

Reflecting is an important process because it allows for a space to assess what you have done and allows you to explore how well you work together as a group. If you realistically understand the impact your activities are having in the world then you know if you are moving towards the vision you have developed for your community. It is also important to reflect on how well your group is functioning in order to avoid burnout, conflict and to be more effective. Often problems in groups can be avoided if you have honest discussions about how the group is doing and then addressing any issues early on.

Celebration is really important for a healthy Transition Initiative. If you don’t stop to celebrate what you have achieved you can forget all the great stuff you have done and it’s also a great excuse to get together and have a party.

 

Resources

Frequently asked questions about reflection and celebration.

Why do we need reflection time in our Transition group isn’t that a dangerous distraction when there is so much more important things to do?

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One of the most important things that a Transition group can do is to take time out to reflect on what went well, what didn’t and how the effectiveness of the group or a project or enterprise can be improved. Transition is an experiment, which means we don’t know many things, and the only way we can start to build confidence in the Transition methods and practice is to step back and reflect on what worked and what didn’t. This is a process that people at all levels of scale are doing, from Transition projects and enterprises, to Transition groups, to Transition national hubs and Transition Network.
It can be a very enjoyable, creative process, where ideas are thrown around, mutual understanding built, and new ways of doing things emerge.  

How do we reflect? What are some good ways other Transition groups have done it?

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There is a simple process which is the action reflection process that gives the outline of what needs to happen when and how. You can also do the healthcheck which is a great way of reflecting on how your group is doing.

Why should we celebrate achieving something?

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It is so easy to virtually ignore positive outcomes while exaggerating negative ones, it’s how our brains are hardwired for very good evolutionary reasons!

However, we can do something about that, and that is to consciously celebrate the good and positive things that occur. This is the same in a Transition group as in a relationship. The magic figure research tells us is well functioning, effective groups and relationships have a ration of 5 positive interactions to one negative. Maintain this ratio and success is within your grasp. You will have a Transition group that everyone will want to be a part of. Conversely, who wants to be a part of a group which is unappreciative (your volunteering don’t forget), backbiting, and blaming. Which group will you go out of you way to be at on a rainy Tuesday evening; one where you come away feeling good and energised or one which leaves you wanting to crawl under a rock? This is a good sense check on how good your meetings are; How do you feel at the end of the meeting?,  and if you feel drained and like crawling under a rock then you need to change something, fast.

You should at least have an annual celebration to celebrate what you have achieved over the past year.

How might be celebrate, won’t that make us all cringe?

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It may feel unnatural at first, but finishing or starting a meeting with a round of something that went well or you feel grateful for instantly will lift the energy and give everyone a boost. You also can do this in pairs if that feels easier.  Check out our Inner Transition activities for meetings for more information on this.
You can have a party at the end of particularly good result, who doesn’t like a party?  You should at least have an annual celebration to celebrate what you have achieved over the past year.

What is the right balance between reflecting and doing stuff? Can’t it all go too far away from doing?

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We all will have our bias towards more reflection or process and doing. So there is no right answer, but you might want to check this by doing a round at some points on whether the balance is right. You will soon see where the right balance for this group of people lies.