By Mike Thomas, our Initiative Support Coordinator: “Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin”.
Visions are really the stories that we create for ourselves to help us build a more positive future. We are constantly bombarded by negative, dystopian visions of the future in television programmes, in films and in books. These stories have a huge impact on our consciousness and the collective consciousness of our communities and society as a whole. They also reflect the concerns, fears and views of an unsustainable dominant culture that is actually leading us to the futures they reflect in these stories.
Transition fortunately believes in a more hopeful future where we can begin to address the issues that are to define this century. As Naresh co-founder of Transition explains:
“Part of the work of Transition is about creating a collective positive vision of what our community could be. Doing this work is creative and energising, and puts us in touch with how important it is to have a safe, healthy, peaceful future, for ourselves and for future generations.
Advanced industrialised countries have very confusing information about what kind of future we could have, and most stories in films and books only show two possibilities – futures of endless technological development, population growth and resource use, or collapse – and sometimes both. The story which is most needed for our times is how the human race made a peaceful shift away from a focus on consumption, productivity and economic growth towards something sustainable, equitable and satisfying. To do Transition we need to find out what that story could look like where we live, and explore it in depth and detail”.
When creating a vision, you will find that it will often contain concerns about large universal problems such as climate change, economics and resources that you seek to address by acting locally. This is where the phrase ‘Think global act local’ has particular meaning. The strength of the Transition movement is that by lots of people in local communities all acting together to address these larger issues means that we have a chance at addressing some of these universal problems.
As well as creating a new story for our world there are several other reasons why having a vision is important.
Having a vision that you have developed as a group, is great for providing a focus for your group. Through the process of visioning how your community may look in the future, means that you have a much better understanding of why everyone in your group is involved and what they hope to achieve. This is great for building solidarity as everyone has had an opportunity to shape your Transition groups vision that will help define the actual practical things you do in your community.
Once your group understands why it is that you are doing Transition in your community, it makes it a lot easier to explain to others. No longer will you be left speechless when people ask you what is Transition and why are you doing it. This has several benefits, it provides you with a story that explains Transition in a practical way that people will find easier to grasp. Through developing a vision you will think about what your community will look like in the future, which is easier to explain than trying to explain abstract ideas. It is not only easier to speak to everyday people in your community it also enables you to speak to local government organisations, local business and schools and many others with a clear understanding of what it is you are hoping to achieve. This has the effect of inspiring people and organisations to get involved. As well as challenging all those dystopian visions of the future that are so common these days.
You may think that creating a vision is a difficult task and without some guidance it may well be. So we have put together a couple of activities that you can do as a group to produce a vision and a timeline that considers the practical ways you can create the future you want to see in your community.
In our visioning a post-transition future support resource there are a choice of two activities. First there is exploring post transition world where you simply open a space for talking about what’s not working in our current system, and what a post-Transition future might include.
For the more imaginative of you out there, we have guided visualisation process, which is far less scary than it sounds. You do need a person to deliver the guided visualisation which is effectively a positive guided visual tour around your community in the future that sounds like this:
“Just letting your imagination guide you, without trying to think with your head, letting sensations, smells, sounds, sights, arise in your awareness, and imagine these experiences as fully as you can. Now you have a day to explore this world, as a visitor or a tourist. You walk out to explore. Where do you want to go, what do you want to see?
Find your way to some part of the community’s activities – perhaps something you do for your job in the old life, or something you’re curious about. Take transport to get there, or walk… What do you notice on the way?”
Communicates to others what you are doing and why
Inspires local people and other groups to get involved
Encourages people to think of new possibilities for their future
Then talk about how to create a vision and a timeline. State about people having different visions and that being okay. Give some examples of what a vision can contain and how they have helped groups to do stuff.