Going Round in Circles
By Mike Grenville 14th July 2011
The nature of each Transition Conference venue both impacts the conference and seems to reflect the state of the movement. In Liverpool at Hope University for our fifth Conference it felt hard to make it into our own – the meeting space was strung along long corridors, with noisy acoustics, and overall a sense of being disconnected from the natural world. Even in the Chapel though the chairs were not fixed, we were made to keep them in the tight structure of forward facing rows.
Forming circles is intrinsic to our shift from the rigid structure of the expert at the front to one that embraces the knowledge in the whole group that the egalitarian structure of a circle provides. Just moving the arrangement of the chairs in a room becomes a piece of direct activism!
Fishbowl discussions was the group conversation format tried in a number of sessions at the conference that enables everyone to have an opportunity to join in the discussion. Everyone sits around the discussion that takes place in the centre with an empty chair for others to occupy and join in the circle.
Transition began as a 12 Step programme and is now being reborn as a collection of ingredients. There was a first opportunity to play with Rob Hopkins cards as a way of using the Ingredients of Transition to tell the story of how Transition plays out in different communities and situations. It seemed to help people who played it see where the gaps were and also what they had achieved.
Many thoughts were gathered and re seeded from the many conversations that took place over the weekend
A tale is also rather like a circle, or at least a spiral that takes you on a journey to see where you are in a new way and bring you back in time for tea. Tales that were woven so seamlessly through out the conference by the storytellers.
In closing the conference we forced a circle into the space to sing a few notes of farewell, with a picture of the diverse people in Liverpool smiling down at us.
For myself, much of the conference was spent going from room to room to catch a flavour of what was going on everywhere through taking photos. As the few short intense days recede into the past I’m already looking forward to when the circle brings us round to meet once again.