Monday started with a short workshop, a meeting with our home groups and then a longer final session at closing.
At the final session, Hal Gilmore (from Transition Tours) spoke about the tour to the Granby Triangle in Toxteth – wonderful to see community regeneration – with plants and paint! The photo of the residents (and Ed Gommon) remained on the screen for the rest of the session!
Rob summed up the conference as maturing, focusing and deepening. He was so pleased that transition has got to the stage around the world where it’s ready to step in – in Rio, following the devastating floods in Feb, local transition groups reached out for help and the national network immediately offered training as well as practical help in planning rebuilding. Following earthquakes in New Zealand transition groups also played a role. In protests in Barcelona, they held a transition meeting on road traffic island and replanted a flowerbed with veg! There had been a meeting last night to discuss how transition could support the revolution in Spain. (some of this may have been in Peter Lipman’s or Jo’s talk – all blending …)
After leaving and cycling down to the station, I realised that I had lost my wallet! Back to Hope, where I found Totnes people loading up their van, and Catrina (Pickering) told me that a wallet had been handed in! So I relaxed and realised it was an opportunity to have another two important conversations.
One with Steph Bradley who had helped me with my research, so I could tell her a little about the findings from the work, and hope to get further thoughts from her.
The other with one of the Portuguese attendees about politics. She was thanking us Liverpudlians for our hospitality (I had already explained that I lived on the Wirral, and it was too much to explain that I was actually a Southerner, so abashed, I accepted her thanks!).
She explained that the Portuguese group had walked to try to find a park, and were trying to cross the road, looking the wrong way (almost stepped into the road), when a car stopped and asked if they were OK. When they explained that they were Portuguese and looking for the park, the man got out of the car, walked round to them and gave them directions!
I asked about transition in Portugal, and I asked whether part of the reason it appeals to people was because of financial concerns, and we talked about how transition could prepare people and be there ready for further problems. I wondered whether transition could help bring about change and asked whether transition should develop a political party (because we have discussed this in our group in Liverpool). She was adamant that it shouldn’t, the power is in its independence and welcoming of all people. As usual I tried to be clever and took it one step further; should transition develop a new political structure which doesn’t involve factional parties – but she thought transition should just keep out of politics. As soon as you associate with one group, you exclude the others, and furthermore, when something goes wrong with that group, you get associated with that as well. It turned out that she was the person to know about this, as she had worked for several years in Brussels as political adviser….! Her message was that transition should not try to lobby. It should just do its own thing, but when governments come asking for help – then give advice!! This resonated amazingly with May East’s talk earlier – she has been approached by UN to give a talk in Brazil, when she agreed and told them a little more, they asked can she do a lecture, she gave some more details and they asked her to do a day workshop…
Anyway I wished the Portuguese a good journey home and got on my way!