Growing up in Transition
At the Young Persons Symposium before this years Transition Conference Rob Hopkins told us all about how frustrated he gets with people who when addressing young people come out with
And you're the generation who are going to have to sort this mess out
It is a spectacularly unhelpful and fundamentally false statement, the scale and nature of the situation means that everybody is going to have to take responsibility for sorting it out. At the moment Transition is actually predominantly populated with transitioners who do not fall into the 'young people' definition and this is also not an ideal situation. I have written a lot recently about young adults in Transition (before and after the conference) so today I thought I would consider all the other young people - the teenagers and the wee ones - do they get involved in Transition?
In my experience not so much. I definitely haven't found many teenagers involved in the initiatives I've been to and suprisingly few of the activities have been family orientated. I am aware of a few initiatives getting involved with schools, but I haven't really heard of lots of things going on. Sustaining Dunbar who I visited and blogged about this summer were very involved with their local school, growing food and planning edible routes to school. And several people in Transition Norwich, including fellow social reporter Charlotte, developed an interactive game for use in schools to teach them about peak oil called the Oil Game.
There are lots of other organisations out there doing fantastic work with young people to help them to explore the natural world and live more sustainably. Forest Schools is a great example of how you can engage young people with nature as well as teaching them practical skills and increasing their confidence. The Otesha Project is an organisation that I have had the priviledge of being involved with. Their focus is on inspiring young people to change their world through setting an example, raising awareness of issues and collectively coming up with practical action ideas. Both of these organisations demonstrate what can be achieved and maybe rather than reinventing the wheel we should be looking at working with other organisations already engaging young people.
Equally if we could tie more of our existing projects into schools or colleges then that would be a lower effort way of engaging young people. Also I don't think it would be much more effort to improve the family friendliness of Transition events (I'm not saying that some aren't already). I do think there is value in some more focussed events for young people too, such as running an event in the local college.
Unfortunately I'm currently a roving Transitioner which means I don't have an initiative to engage people in, but I do think that this is a very important issue for the success of Transition Initiatives and it is an area that I would like to get involved in in the future.
Photos: An Otesha tour at a local Leeds young persons festival after we have just done a performance, which had a mixed response! (Ruth Clark)