I spend the lovely hot day mostly indoors again and feel kinda devastated that we in this country are so poorly set up to transfer our lives outdoors when the sun shines; with invisible lap top screens and workshop venues with no large French windows that can be opened out to greet the day and allow us to spill out into it.
My morning is spent in my lovely Buddha room writing up my blog; I am days behind having been too busy experiencing to have had time to reflect and report. The afternoon is spent with many transitioners from as far afield as the Isle of Man, Manchester, and Sheffield as well as lots of local folk from Lancaster and someone from Windermere, doing a workshop with the lovely Chris Johnstone who really has his work cut out to please all, such a diverse bunch we are, with folk who have done the facilitator training, some of us who have done workshops before with him, others having their first taste, and still others who hadn’t necessarily come for this type of workshop at all but merely wanted to find out what transition is (!), as well as those who had come off other workshops and wanted a continuation of what they had been having. Add to this the usual mix of those who wanted a nice safe left brained approach and those who prefer to go in deeper to the experiential and how Chris knew where to start at all was a miracle.
The workshop happening here is thanks to steering group member Margaret, who although retired is an absolute hive of enthusiasm and the woman responsible for ensuring the group give time to the process of transition not just the goals. In fact Transition Lancaster owes its reborn existence to her and a couple of other long standing Friends of the Earth companions who went up to Findhorn (http://www.findhorn.org/index.php?tz=-60)and heard Rob Hopkins speak after having read Chris’ book “Find Your Power” (http://www.chrisjohnstone.info/book.htm) and becoming inspired to get involved in something new.She came back to Lancaster and started looking around for who might want to get something going Transition wise. Among those who came forward were Chris and Samagita who had been involved with a previous attempt to get things going which had gone very badly wrong. This first attempt had not started with a steering group – it has been a series of very open meetings where the discussion circled the same topics each time as new people showed up. The whole thing crashed eventually when different factions with different views of the way forward simply hit the buffers. Many people were extremely hurt, angry and upset by all of this for quite some time. It is a small miracle that such a healthy Transition initiative has grown from the ashes of this mess. Or maybe not a miracle – as in the second attempt very great care was taken with relationships and resilience within the group and a steering group that actually got on together and worked well.
The group rose phoenix like and Margaret had a dream to one day invite Chris to Lancaster.
The afternoon ends with my favourite activity, one I use myself when working with groups, the “Work That Reconnects” (http://www.joannamacy.net/theworkthatreconnects.html) one where you work with a partner to ask questions to help them get to what it is they really want to do next to follow their passion and be of service. I work with transition Lancaster co- founder Chris Hart, who I know already, and have a lovely time visioning my next step and hearing his. We agree that it is only our own lack of faith in our self that ever holds any of us back from doing what we know we want to do; and what will inevitably be good for everyone else as well if we could but trust the process.
My commitment to myself at the end of the process involves me talking to people about what it is I see myself doing at the end of this project. It is a project that has been gestating many a month and one which has looked clearer and clearer as I walk. So, in order to commit myself completely I will tell you all about it here…
I see an old house, it is Tudor, it has south facing gardens and a stream running along the bottom. I will keep a couple of goats and a couple of ducks and grow a lot of fruit and perennial veg forest garden style. I will bake bread in a wood fuelled aga and make jam, heat water from solar panels made from recycled found objects, and I will start to live the way I see the transition future looking. I am a great believer in teaching and leading by example, and I can no longer talk this transition stuff without modelling the way I see it working.
I have passionately wanted to live this way for a very long time but have felt it selfish to want something that would please me so much if others couldn’t have it too. I begin to see, on this walk that where I have asked for help it has actually pleased others as much as myself, and that the more we follow our inspirations the more we inspire others. Chris suggests I reframe my selfish story as compassionate and generous. It is not easy for me to see pleasing myself in this light, but I shall meditate on the possibility as I walk.
This old house will have space for a few guests; so I hope you will come and stay. My vision of the future has time, not money, as the unit of exchange, so I will practise this in my new venture and explore ways of making it possible with the inhabitants of the community I find myself amongst, for I feel sure this Tudor house is in a village somewhere in our land; I’d to think it is close to Totnes.
The house will be a centre for sharing tales, reading and writing, picking, cooking and eating, and talking together too, and it will be a haven of solitude sometimes too, a place from where I can go forth sometimes and tell my tales and gather some new.
If you think you know how I can begin to manifest this place that appears in my dreams please do get in touch.
Thank you Chris for listening to my vision, and helping give hart to it. May your lion return!
And thank you Chris for always appearing in my life exactly when I need a prod to get my vision out there in the world – may your work continue to inspire yourself and others.
I leave the Story building where the workshop took place and bask in the sun by the castle that is half tourist attraction half prison and together with Samagita and fellow steering member Steve bump into a contingent down from Cumbria; a whole little transition outing….
my name is called and I turn round and meet Mark from Sustainable Carlisle, a fledgling transition initiative at the awareness raising stage, the same Mark, who by a series of calls and texts fixed me up with a transition place to stay in both Penrith and Appleby, and Sonny, Ruth and a couple of others from Kendal SLACC. Transition Lancaster meet their northern transition neighbours; it is a lovely moment of synchronicity; one I am delighted to have sparked by my being in town. The small group are off to support a group of climate activists who are having a BBQ to try and raise money to pay the fines that have been incurred due to a court case around direct action. Samagita contributes, and laments the news was not spread more widely so that more people could have come along in support.
On my final day in the city that is not too big and not too small, with a river running through it and a castle on a hill, I want to say a huge thank you to Samagita for her wonderful hosting, my trip to the top of the Williamson building to see the sea and all of the city spread out before me, and celebrate her tireless can do attitude to make it possible for me to achieve my goals whilst still here within Lancastrian territory.