The Transition Network team has been going through a bit of a navel-gazing stage recently. We agreed a new staff structure last year and have been gradually creating posts and adjusting existing jobs as funding and other practicalities permit. We’re now reviewing the Transition Network strategy.
This was the objective we set ourselves when we kicked off the process in July:
To devise and implement a collaborative strategy review process so that, within six months, our decisions and our work are being guided by an up-to-date published strategy which is owned by the Transition Network staff and board and which people in the wider Transition movement can recognise as a meaningful response to their expressed needs.
This feels like quite a challenge! We’re a small organisation relative to the rapidly-growing movement that we’re seeking to support. We experience that familiar tension between the need to pause, to take time to reflect and develop our ideas and plans together, and each day’s list of urgent tasks. There are 22 TN staff and trustees and we all have different perspectives and priorities. We know these are mirrored and expanded upon by the ideas, concerns, needs and enthusiasms of the thousands of people who make up the transition movement. How do we make sense of it all?
So I need to say up front that TN’s next published strategy will not be perfect! But we are actively looking for ways for people outside TN to help shape how we talk about transition and what work we plan to do as an organisation.
We had a fascinating discussion with the people who attended the recent National Hubs meeting in Lyon, France – 18 countries were represented at this gathering and a full report will be posted on this website very soon.
Mike Thomas, TN’s new Initiative Support Co-ordinator and I have also been making efforts to meet people involved in transition around the UK and hear what’s going well and what’s proving difficult within their initiatives.
And I’ll be using this blog to let people know how the strategy is developing, inviting comments and questions as we go along.
So to start us off…
The many hats of the Transition Network
Since it was established in 2006, Transition Network has grown pretty organically, identifying unmet needs and new opportunities as the movement has spread out across the world and doing our best to respond as our funding allows.
Recently we’ve recognised that we need to be clearer about the different roles that the Network performs. This will prompt us to think more carefully, and be more explicit, about who we’re trying to reach/support with any particular piece of work.
Over time, you can expect to see evidence of this on the website, in the materials that we produce and in the way we approach projects and events.
We currently describe the purpose of Transition Network as:
to inspire, encourage, connect, support and train communities as they self-organise around the Transition model, creating initiatives that rebuild resilience and reduce CO2 emissions.
(we may well want to update this in the new strategy document)
Underneath that broad purpose, we think we have four roles. We’re still playing around with names and descriptions for these roles, but broadly they are:
1. Holder of the ‘source code’/developing and communicating the transition ‘story’
Transition is a global social experiment and one of the joys of the movement is seeing how people apply the principles and ideas of transition within their own countries and communities. We don’t see it as our job to police this process (we couldn’t even if we wanted to!), but we think it’s important that we maintain a space where people can find an up-to-date description of the transition story – the why, what, how and where of transition – for them to use as they see fit. Over time, we’d like to get better at gathering in feedback about how transition is evolving across the world and find ways for more people to get involved with reviewing and shaping the transition story.
2. International Development
This is about catalysing and supporting the spread of transition globally, for example by ensuring that training is available in more and more countries (by training local trainers and making courses available on-line) and, as transition starts to take off in a particular part of the world, encouraging the development of National Hubs.
3. Secretariat to the National Hubs
As the National Hubs get stronger, they are expressing a strong desire to work together more closely – to make connections across international borders and to share ideas, services and inspiration. Most of the hubs are being run by volunteers and none are well-resourced, so – certainly for the moment – TN has a role co-ordinating activity and supporting the ‘hubsters’ to take action collectively.
4. UK National Hub
As well as having international responsibilities, TN has a particular responsibility for supporting and helping to connect initiatives in the UK. We think it’s time for us to get clearer about this role – to identify resources and materials that are specifically geared to the UK context (culture, government structures, local organisations etc) and to have more of a conversation with people in UK initiatives about what they need from us. Expect to see more on this soon.
We’ve tested these emerging roles out on quite a few people already and have had generally positive comments. What do you think?