Peter Ruczynski, Transition Reading on not including inequality in the Transition Network purpose statement
By Catrina Pickering 22nd September 2011
Proposed purpose statement: “Transition Network supports community-led responses to climate change, inequality and shrinking supplies of cheap energy, building resilience and happiness.”
Who proposed this and why
Adding the single word ‘inequality’ to the wording of the Transition mission is only a small change and, if read fairly quickly, will most probably not register with most people immediately.
For me, the addition of that single word completely changes the face of the Transition movement. At the moment, there is a level of inequality addressing which I think should occur as a natural part of what we do and want to achieve. By making it explicit, it becomes something which perhaps can be tackled separately and consequently may dilute the aims of a group or take them in a different direction. A good coordinator will ensure that it is a part of what the group is trying to achieve but I can also see some groups where this becomes a more major part of what they are trying to do. I know from personal experience that it’s sometimes hard to keep people focused on the energy and resilience aspects of transition, is it wise to add yet another aspect for people to try and keep in the back of their minds when working on projects? I believe that everything a group does should be related to the Transition mission and understand how it links into that, this could make that task harder in some ways.
If the word ‘inequality’ is going to be included then there must be a very comprehensive explanation of what it means and, most importantly, how it fits in within the context of the rest of the Transition mission. At the moment I am finding the fit of that word rather awkward and cannot really see what more people would be expected to do to warrant making it explicit but then, I have not yet seen a comprehensive explanation.
Just to complicate matters, although I may seem rather reticent in my above comments, I do understand the value of the addition and in a broader sense agree with what I think Transition Network is trying to say by the addition of that word. I attended the talk by Nicole Foss at Henley not long ago and some of the scenarios she painted were scary to say the least. If, by the addition of that word, Transition Network is thinking about the social implications of peak oil, or more accurately the associated economic consequences and the social problems that will arise from those, then I agree that this is a worthy thing to incorporate. My concern is will groups really understand this? Also, the word effectively introduces a more political aspect to the Transition mission, it will be interesting to see how that works out.
At the moment, I feel Transition has a clear set of goals and has mostly (as far as I can tell) resulted in groups that have acted jointly with communities and authorities to achieve the aims that the members of the collective have set out. By introducing a political aspect to the mission, albeit unintentionally, I feel you stand to lose the clarity of that message, lose some level of cooperation from authorities but gain a social aspect to the movement which is currently, as you yourselves have noticed, there but not addressed.
It’s a tough choice and, judging by the discussions going on on your web site, a choice that will have wide ramifications depending on how people interpret your intentions. I hope my thoughts have helped you in some small way.
It’s a tough choice and, judging by the discussions going on the web site, a choice that will have wide ramifications depending on how people interpret the intentions of Transition Network. I hope my thoughts have helped in some small way.