An emotional Transition Conference and National Hubs meeting
By Gary Alexander 18th September 2012
I’ve been spending several exciting days immersed in Transition, before during and after the main Transition Conference 2012 at the Battersea Arts Centre in London. Friday was dedicated to the ‘REconomy Project’, looking at economic resilience, then the main conference was on Saturday and Sunday. The highlight for me was the Sunday morning activity when we all constructed the High Street of the future. The vision was so clear and detailed throughout the room.
But the biggest surprise was at the very start of the conference, when we were asked how many people came from outside the UK and perhaps one fourth or one third of the hands went up. This is truly an international event now, not just a UK one, and that reflects the state of the Transition movement.
Then Monday all day and Tuesday morning were the meeting of people from the national hubs around the world. About 40 of people stayed for the first morning of the national hubs days, but that was still a lot. We were from about 20 countries, as far away as the Philippines, Hong Kong and Brazil. We did a mapping exercise and found several countries with nearly 100 or more local initiatives. It seems that Transition is no longer dominated by the UK, although we still do have the largest number of initiatives. One interesting development is the beginnings of language groupings across borders, such as a potential Nordic hub, German (linking with Austria and German speaking Swiss) and Italian (linking with Italian speaking Swiss.) Some are translating standard Transition books, but others, like the Swedes, are writing their own.
The mapping exercise and reports from each national group took most of the morning and gave us a reasonable snapshot of the state of Transition around the world. It as mixed as you would expect with similar problems all over. In the afternoon, we prepared to tackle the issue of what we wanted from an international network of national hubs. We became aware that this was no longer an intellectual exercise, but had huge emotional resonance. It felt like we were inventing a new world self-government. We did a short sharing in pairs, and I spent much of it totally overcome, just hugging Juan, my paired partner.
We were using the World Cafe format. My first table began to look at our growing network as a family and concentrated on looking at ways to strengthen personal bonds between us. This was the highlight of the whole event for me. We talked about spending more time with each other, with learning to deepen our relationships. We proposed a ‘buddy’ system where national hubs would pair up with each other, and where we would all find ways to support groups that were having problems. We want to have an annual 3 day national hubs meeting, possible regional meetings, and various virtual meetings several times a year, so we are regularly in touch with each other.
We spent our evenings going out for meals in largish groups, and I even danced a quick tango in one bar with Susannah from Spain. The whole experience created strong emotional bonds between those of us there, and the sense that we are already a family, not just an organisation, was very powerful!