You may say I’m a dreamer. But I’m not the only one…
John Lennon’s Imagine was the first single I ever bought when I was just 10 years old. It’s a timeless classic. But back then I had no real grasp of its utopian sentiment for a peaceful world, where everyone is connected by unconditional love.
In reality, we live our lives inside a complex web of relationships. And from early on we pick and choose who we are going to be friends with based on… what exactly? Diversity begins in the playground. And when we grow up we might as well have stayed there for all the maturity we often show in our adult relationships.
Being in Transition and doing it properly will push many people's buttons. Put a load of people together with opposing views, opinions and backgrounds and when it's going well it's fantastic. When it isn't, life can feel like a battle.
At one of our first meetings we showed the Transition film. The version we watched was edited, just 20 or so minutes long, with a folk soundtrack and packed with interviews featuring lots of initiatives around the country. When it finished most people seemed to have liked it. That’s how I saw it anyway. Then one lady, I shall call her Sue, piped up 'that was way too middle class’. My reaction was unprintable. I had a pretty foul mouthed internal dialogue going on. It was our first meeting and already people complaining. And that was my complaint. It took me a while to figure that I'd just added another to the pile and what she said wasn't wrong - it was just her opinion.
People we think we don't like teach us the best lessons
Now, as I got to know Sue I found that she isn't the kind of woman who holds back. I certainly didn't agree with a lot she said. But she wasn’t afraid to air her concern that Transition would be seen as nothing more than something 'green' for the ‘arrogant’ middle classes if it didn't include a wide cross section of the community. She was right.
One night she and I met in the local pub to iron out some disagreement or misunderstanding we were having. During our conversation I took a stab at how she saw me. Middle class, lives in a nice house, Mum... pretty much no life experience. It was pretty spot on. I was aghast. It couldn't be further from the truth. I went around for a while with my little self-righteous cap on, how it had taught me about jumping to conclusions about people. All the time still making her wrong for having that opinion about me.
I was being pretty uptight and serious about it all? Thankfully that's stopping now. I'm taking part in a great personal development seminar and it's amazing what's showing up. I'm learning to lighten up. Learning to laugh at how funny us humans are. All of us. Because when we realise that our internal dialogue isn't right about us or other people - or what's true - we're free to see the world as it really is. Sometimes it takes personal development work to get over the things that hold us, our relationships and our Transition initiative back.
Making Transition work here
Dursley, where I live, is home to a wealth of different people leading very different lives. The town once enjoyed a thriving industrial economy. Manufacturing firm Lister Petter began building diesel engines here in 1929 until recent years when, like so many other companies, they began moving their manufacturing operations abroad. The aftermath of this is high levels of unemployment, a struggling high street and not many real local jobs to speak of.
On the flip side planning permission has been granted for hundreds of new build houses. Once built they tend to be bought by out-of-towners, who usually commute to work and spend little of their time (or money) here.
So how will we join these two kinds of people? This week we put flyers in children's book bags at local schools, inviting parents to come and get involved in setting up our steering group. We're still in such early stages. People come along to meetings wanting to start 'doing' community stuff, but we could do with a foundation to support it. That all important core group. So we contacted parents because we went to where we know.
But we'll need to cast a much bigger net if we're going to be successful in our ultimate aim of creating a Transition steering group that mirrors the local community, rather than our local community.
But when we do it - and we create a micro-community that truly reflects the wider community - we'll be in a much stronger position to build a successful Transition Cam & Dursley where everyone feels welcome.
Cue piano intro...
Images: John Lennon's lyrics to Imagine; worker at Lister Petter plant