Although I wasn’t present, I’m told that it was at last year’s Transition Conference that the will to develop an inclusive movement was born. A year on, Transition is taking this issue seriously – funding has been sought and won to employ me as the dedicated Diversity Co-ordinator and at the conference itself it seemed, there was a sense that we’re moving in the right direction.
First off, around 70 people attended the interest group, surgery or workshop on diversity bringing enthusiasm, thinking and questions such as:
- “How can we find and use language that is inclusive and really connects?”
- “How can Transition respond to all the concerns of a community such as crime?”
- “What is it that attracts people and that doesn’t attract people about Transition?”
- “What would an inclusive Transition Town Stoke Newington look like?”
- “In what ways will the movement have to change?”
- “How do I get my fellow Transitioners to pay more attention to inclusivity?”
One particularly encouraging action that came out of the surgery session on diversity was the setting up of a group to look at how to better include children in Transition activities. More than simply a childcare service, this group sees itself as facilitating the unique and crucial role that children can play. In fact, this was directly played out by the group of 13-14 year olds from Bro Dyfdi in mid-Wales who gave a workshop showing the film they had made on the Canadian Tar Sands and leading an action planning session on how young people can be inspired to form an international youth Transition movement. Even among those who didn’t attend this workshop, there was a feeling that the presence of the Bro Dyfdi crew injected a great deal of hope and stimulus to the conference atmosphere.
As for age diversity more generally, it seems the ages of people involved in Transition is starting to broaden. At the closing session, a 28 year old man said “last year, I was one of the youngest people here but this year, just a year on, I’ve moved a lot further up the age bracket”.
Culturally, there were representatives from Mexico, France, Spain, the United States as well as a party of Brazilians who gave a workshop entitled “Is Transition in Brazil following the football road – created in England with the best players in Brazil?”
And of course, let us not forget the Stoneleigh session (a talk on the financial situation given by the Economist, Nicole M. Foss) which seemed to affect everyone at the conference regardless of whether or not they attended the talk. This session further compelled my belief in the importance of creating a Transition that holds equality at its core. For me, the ways that an equal, inclusive community might deal with financial meltdown is very different to how an unequal community might act in the same situation. As Peter Lipman put it in his interview with the Brazilians “Becoming more resilient has to mean becoming more equal”.
I don’t wish to understate the long way we have to go in developing an inclusive and genuinely diverse Transition but I do feel deeply reassured by the seeking spirit of everyone I spoke to about this. As the Brazilians circulated the canteen one lunch time, playing Brazilian music and giving out home-made sweets, the sense of celebration and possibility that diversity brings struck me afresh. It reminded me of one of the questions that came up in the diversity session of “what might a truly diverse Transition look like?” Well, I’m not sure I know but I’m excited to find out!