Why Regional Networks are important
Regional networks are effectively the coming together of groups in an area who are engaged in Transition. There are lots of benefits to doing this as well as lots of challenges, ultimately regional networks have to be beneficial not a burden. This page outlines some of the thinking about this.
The potential roles of regional networks for Transition Groups
- Be a place for peer to peer support to happen, informally and formally.
- Provide a support network for Transition groups.
- Organise regional events / conferences / training.
- Be the connecting place for Transition Network to communicate with Transition groups.
- Regional networks could promote formation of new Transition groups.
- Regional networks can support other regional networks.
- Allow for scaling up of the movement.
- People feel more part of the Transition Movement.
- Could also help form networks of groups based on themes (energy, food etc.).
- Provide the basis of an England and or Wales Hub, (like hubs in other countries).
- See the blogpost by Josue from Belgium on how this developed in Belgium https://www.transitionnetwork.org/blogs/rob-hopkins/2014-01/josu-dusoulier-asks-why-not-use-regional-support-team-strategy-scaling
- All the unintended consequences, that occur and develop when great people get together.
Advantages to be gained from regional networks
There are lots of advantages of being involved in regional networks of groups, such as:
- It provides an ongoing role for the core group.
- Groups feel part of wider movement and feel the momentum of the movement.
- Support can be delivered to each other through the network.
- New groups can be supported and developed.
- Synergies happen through groups meeting up.
- Relationships are built between groups, new friends are made.
- Informal support also happens outside of network meetings.
- Allows for much wider strategic development (bioregional).
- New potentials for funding as covering a wider area.
What they can enable Transition Network and Transition Initiatives to do
Having established regional networks of groups allows for a range of activities to occur, that would not be easy to do at a smaller scale, such as:
- Allows communication and engagement with Transition groups in a more direct way.
- Allows Transition groups to feed into strategic and international developments.
- Provides opportunities for monitoring and evaluation.
- Creates a place to promote the activities groups are doing to those nearby.
- Promotes the growth of the movement.
- Allows groups, hubs and Transition Network to gather good practice and promote it to others.
- Enables Transition groups to develop more coordinated actions or responses on a much larger scale.
- Allows for a larger scale of development and implementation that could not be achieved at local level.
- Provides potential synergies not available at local level.
- Organising over a larger area offers potential to be more strategic in what you do.
- You can consider bioregional models.
- You have the potential to pull in resources and skills from a wider area.
- Can create larger networks to provide energy and food supplies.
- Allows access to bigger funding pots.
Challenges of running regional networks and possible solutions
There are definitely challenges that come with regional organising and the following are the main ones.
- How to engage already busy people in Transition groups to set them up.
- How to maintain regional networks once they are setup.
- How to make it a useful network that helps people to do Transition..
These challenges can be addressed, here are some of the potential solutions:
- Regional networks should be part of the Transition story.
- New support resources can help Transition groups to develop and sustain themselves.
- Attempt to get funding for paid regional workers.
- Build meaningful systems of support for regional networks, i.e. training and processes.
- Develop a strategic plan for sustaining networks.
- Regional networks if setup right could assist in the development of groups by reducing workload as there will be:
- Peer and informal support between Transition groups.
- Less reinventing the wheel in terms of project development, group issues etc.
- Regional network idea becomes embedded in Transition Story so that people see it as an essential part of Transition.
- Provides details of people within a region so that it is easier for information and opportunities to be shared and developed.
The potential development opportunities for regional networks
The development of regional networks will most likely be a slow process as they rely on voluntarism and in some areas it may not be possible, which is why there is a focus on supporting those areas that are already beginning to develop networks themselves. If they develop then we can then develop models and resources to help others to develop regional networks, which can then be promoted more widely. Here are some of the ideas that have fed into our project plan that you can read here.
- Go where these networks are already happening (UK and globally).
- Learn from these groups have done to develop networks and share good practice.
- Find out what they networks need through properly analysing their needs.
- Developing support resources to support regional networks.
- Piloting new support resources and processes in these areas.