London and South East meeting
In March 2016 members of Transition Groups from London and the South East met to discuss setting up a England Hub and as Regional Network. The following outlines what was discussed and their thoughts on these two structures. Since this meeting there have been a series of further meetings and they are planning a Regional Gathering where groups from all over the areas will come together for the day.
Hopefully this will give you a bit of a flavour of what other people in the Transition Movement are thinking about hubs and networks.
Role and aim of a hub
The following issues were thought about within the group at the meeting:
- Brainstorm of what a hub could do
- What do we have?
- What could we share?
- What do we need that we don’t have?
- What could be gained?
The group then carried out an where they worked in groups to discuss the following questions:
- When does your group Thrive?
- Thinking about the networks we are in?
- What are the barriers in your network?
- How could a Hub support you?
When does your group thrive
Then the groups discussed what situations helped their groups to thrive?, When had it felt really brilliant in their group?.
As a result of this exercise the group came up with a lot of post it notes, which have been typed up below, I am sure you will recognise some of them from your own experience of Transition.
What makes a group thrive:
- External adversity. Like coming together to fight libraries closing etc.
- Community comes together behind a cause
- Caring for our community
- When there is connection with community
- Having Common objectives
- Carrying out visible projects or activities to attract and demonstrate what's happening
- When there is a clear regular activity to do (monthly, green drinks, shared meal, etc.)
- Getting support from local organisations, e.g. media, city/district council
- Having good connections with others in the community
- Access to environmental green spaces
- When it builds on others successes, eg. our successful market allows other projects to piggyback on it
- Non binary thinking, we need to do all of it, in lots of different ways and this is accepted
- Having regular activities such as annual celebrations and green drinks once a month
- Access to lots of different places to meet face to face
- Engaging in a focused project with a clear goal
- Active engaged people in the group
- Having good communications, such as a social media presence
- Acting in response to relevant external issues like the feed in tariff, grant funding, government backing local or national
- When it has a clear task to do such as organising a regional meeting
- Practical projects so people feel there is something to DO!!! E.g. gardens, swap shops
- Our successes, Annual green fair, food mapping, Swop shops, Community gardens, Eco cinema
- Enthusiastic people are involved
- When the right people come together, ovesco, lewes pound, farmers market
- Putting on film showings where lots of non Transition people attend
- Gaining funding to keep projects running
- Taking activities out to the community such as pop up stalls on high street
- Collaborations with other groups and venues on events and projects
- Networking with a range of groups in the community
- We have a number of projects that are successful because of one committed person leading
- When there is a need for action such as when Lewes town flooded
- When the group has a clear process with a focus
- Communicating in various ways to appeal beyond just the mailing list
- Putting on celebrations and parties
- Keeping up, maintaining and nurturing the energy and connections in the core group
- Working together on a new project
- It’s clear what we are doing and not hugely demanding of people’s time
- When the right people come together
Thinking about networks
Next the group thought about the networks they were involved and how they what they were trying to do at the locally level. They considered the wider, local ecology in which there group existed and how they interacted with other groups, Councils, land owners, businesses and the resources such as money, space, time and people that they had access to. The aim of this was to tease out how locally resilient Initiatives were.
What are the barriers in your network?
Then groups were asked to thinking about the networks they were involved in and what had been some of the barriers they had experienced when trying to make their plans a reality. The aim of this was to find out if there are common problems, but more importantly did they have any solutions that could be share initiatives can perhaps share expertise with others who are struggling. It was also to consider what might be better dealt with at regional or national hub level.
The following were the barriers that came up for groups
- No administration or support
- Needing tech advice and help on what platforms to use
- Needing help with communications and publicity
- No core funds to run the group
- Key positions not funded
- Too few activists involved in group
- No access to land
- Movement of people
- A need for committed, active, not obstructive people not being met
- Not having enough time
- No model of employment for groups to
- Employment of people versus people being giving time voluntarily
- Clashes of ideas around Livelihoods and connected issues of attitudes towards money
- Government policy, e.g. fit, planning, EIS financial Incentives
- Relationship with local authority can be good and bad
- Perception of green/environmentalism stereotypes within the community
- Intolerance of a wide range of views within groups
- Group dynamics being difficult
- Group having a lack of momentum
- Council regulations making it difficult to carry out activities
- Not enough people involved in group
- No fun
- Not having any money
- People being obstructive (if in positions of power)
- Group having too much structure / no structure (the dynamic between the two)
- People don’t have enough time to deliver Transition
- Challenging obstructive people problematic
- Livelihoods - key positions not being funded
- Obstructive government policies i.e. feed in tariff etc.
- Stereotypes towards green people from others in community
- Not connecting with the right people
- Relationships with other organisations difficult
How could a Hub support you?
Then the group was asked to think about how a National Hub might best support what they wanted to do, thinking about what had already been discussed. They stayed in their groups and reflected back on the first 3 questions to pull out conclusions about what role a Hub could take given those initial explorations on successes, localities and barriers. This was an analysis question, so the roles then changed from reflecting on their experiences to analysing trends and shapes from their collective experience. This was what came out of this process:
- More connections in general, with others in and out of the movement.
- Provide Transition with a more visible presence nationally, this would help impress people locally.
- A bigger national body could help people find local groups.
- Signpost routes of connection, to UK/national organisations for local groups.
- Share of contacts to plug gaps in local networks.
- Share examples of good practice and connections that group could copy.
- Acquire shared funding for bigger shared projects.
- Publicise all the activity that is happening nationally.
- Providing a menu of stuff that could be shared locally.
- Promoting cross fertilisation of stuff and communication.
- Providing an overview of the movement.
- Identifying areas where there are gaps in resources.
- Facilitate links between groups.
- Share legal responsibilities, help to get specialist help together as a movement rather than separately as local groups.
- Thinking in a non binary way could help with thinking about role of hub.
- Produce a skills audit of movement which could enable people to get the right help at the right time from the right people.
- Develop specialist support groups, such as a group of lawyers who would like to help (but may not have time to be involved a Transition group)
- It was crucial to also think the about permissions needed from groups and how to build relationships with each other and a hub.
The following outlines the thinking around what regional networks could help to facilitate:
- Sharing newsletters
- Help build friendships
- Building relationships as they are absolutely key
- Finding commonalities
- Help people support each other
- Help dormant groups to reinvigorate
- There are areas where groups are really active
- People would feel part of a larger movement
Networks could also be established based on the following:
- Specific projects
- Successes / challenges