The end of the oil age is nigh, and politicians are working on their austerity measures and speeches about crisis. Everyone seems to have a good idea about how things should be done, but the illusion that it is working is fading as oil leaks decimate three US states, politicians are caught with their fingers in the till and the effects of global warming surprise even the most updated weathermen.
Enter the Transition Towns Conference. A huge undertaking, and mostly self organising. Three hundred and fifty people in one room organising themselves into 30 groups, follow up groups, expert groups etc. And then organising field trips and lectures and even an evening of impromptu entertainment. You just don’t do this, get people to travel thousands of miles to talk about that which they need to talk about without any prepared agenda. Or do you? Maybe this is a taste where we need to go. We know we have a problem, we know we want to solve it. We have some ideas maybe, but we need to get together. I guess it’s rather like the way doctors treat a patient lying like a lifeless package in intensive care. The surgeon, the internal medicine specialist, the anaesthetist, the neurologist, the oncologist all have to decide on the way forward in conference.
Most of us have never met before, but with some clever warming up exercises and formation of “buddy groups” we are all raring to go. The power of the open space technique never fails to amaze and astound me as before my eyes people rush up from their seats to start topics for discussion.
Later, in a theme session on national hubs I meet people from six countries who are going through the same process we are in Sweden, forming a national organisation to support local transition groups. Each shares their experiences succinctly, and the discussion moves effectively around the topics of our interest: the hub’s roles and way of working.
(I’ll be posting more on the national hub work from subsequent system.)
My open space group was to discuss local food supply systems. Again, we managed to produces a pretty good overview of the various options and group members were able to provide examples of most of them. (I’ll post on this group later.)
Follow up activities fell out of the group work, and the Transition network website will provide the discussion and information sharing platform after the conference is over.
And that is just day one. It really is a wonderfully positive experience to be a conference like this, with a bunch of diverse but very switched on and sincere people. And to be under the care of the Transition Network people, who have been meticulously developing the techniques behind the deceptively simple and smooth workshop methodology. Just like the doctors, they want the patient to live and want to do their bit. In this case the patient is the life support system we rely on and the social infrastructure placed on it. And getting the patient off intensive care is prizing society off the addiction to the oil that is flowing through every vein of the precarious set up that comprises up out living arrangements.
More on day two later!