We continue with the fourth in our series of blogs, sharing experiences and resources, from regional network workshops that we ran across England and Wales. We invite you to read the first blog which sets the scene here.
In the afternoon we got to the really important part of the day, after exploring what helps groups to thrive, what are the barriers and what connections people already have, it was time to define how a regional network could help Transition to thrive.
This was a big process and it used the collective intelligence of all those present. People came up with inspiring visions and dreams of what could be done regionally and these were used to create some impressive visual mind maps of what could be possible.
Besides being very striking pieces of art in their own right (we would say that as we drew them), these mind maps held some very inspirational thoughts and ideas of what could be achieved through collaborating at this level. Not surprisingly this was the session that got people the most excited. Many ideas flowed as one thought created another, and it was a great example of collective intelligence in action that shaped and formed maps of possibilities in front of our eyes.
This process happened in 10 different regions with many groups sharing similar ideas, while some were more specific to certain regions. We captured all these thoughts and ideas and organised them into the following list of themes.
- Sharing (all 10 workshops)
- Staying Connected (all 10 workshops)
- Being part of a bigger picture/larger narrative/vision for the region (8 workshops)
- Connecting with Other Organisations (7 workshops)
- External Communication (6 workshops)
- Organisation and Infrastructure (4 workshops)
- Support (4 workshops)
- Celebration (3 workshops)
- Co-designed or shared projects across Transition Groups (3 workshops)
- Resources (2 workshops)
- Next Generation (1 workshop)
As you can see, all 10 regions were really keen to share and stay connected and many had already built connections outside of Transition with other groups in their community.
There was a real appetite for sharing experience, resources, values, inspiration, best practise, and learnings amongst groups. There were many reasons for this including wanting to know how to do specific things well and what pitfalls to avoid. It was felt that speaking to someone who has already been there is always a great way to learn. There was an eagerness to have resources recommended, especially as there is so much information available it can be hard to find the really useful ones.
Support was also a strong theme, with people feeling that having contact with other people doing Transition could build a support network for when times were hard, and for gaining other perspectives on their work to help with problem-solving along the way. Building a sense of solidarity by knowing there are other people around who can be called upon felt important to a lot of people. This type of sharing and support can also help groups to develop and function better, which was something a lot of groups felt they needed help with.
Staying connected was also very popular and can inevitably help to enable sharing and support. Other benefits of staying connected included hearing about inspirational things other groups were doing, learning about and attending other people’s events and sharing good resources that people find. Some groups also liked the idea of coming together to celebrate achievements and have fun so that relationships would be built and strengthened. There was some interest expressed in co-designing projects, where it was felt that using the collective intelligence of many groups could build better projects as well as making other projects possible that would not happen at a local level.
Groups wanted to feel part of the bigger picture by creating a larger narrative and vision for the region that could have more impact, promote Transition better and increase the possibilities for positive change. They also wanted to connect to organisations outside of Transition and it was felt that this could create larger networks of connection. One region was keen to engage the next generation of Transitioners and having a larger exciting vision could help them to inspire new people to Transition.
This session was a really good working example of what can happen when Transitioners come together to think things through. The collective intelligence in the room came up with a wide ranging vision of how Transition could operate regionally and the benefits that could bring. One thing that we were very aware of in these sessions was that all the things mentioned require extra capacity amongst people who are already very busy with Transition at a local level.
The key to thinking regionally is remembering that it should benefit the local level and not take away from having impact there. If there are people who are interested in acting at a regional level in a group maybe they can be given that responsibility and act as a representative or connector between groups to enable some of the things mentioned to happen smoothly.
The solutions to a lot of our problems in the future will require us to come together with others nearby, so why not begin to build those friendships and networks now?
If you’d like to run similar workshops where you are, do check out our resources and facilitator guides below. We hope you enjoy these blog posts and we welcome your feedback and reflections on your own experiences of connecting regionally.