UUCLV – Session 4

Transitions at UUCLV — 2/10/12
Session IV: How to Develop a Transition Initiative

There – residents of:
Bethlehem (Historic): Nick Blankenberg, Gene Hunter, Cathy Kimock
Bethlehem (near Stabler, Hellertown): Suzie Buller, Adrienne Rayna, Joris Rosse
Bethlehem Twp: Alex Brands
Fountain Hill: Tony Zaino
Coopersburg: Lyn Felix,
Lehigh Twp: Martin Boksenbaum,
Pen Argyl: Andy Miller, Kristen Miller

What happened:
1. Introductions — each person there said who they were, their municipalities, and their interest in Transitions – (7-7:15)

2. Session I re-visited: Gene re-visited “Why Transition” discussed in Session I: dealing both with the crises we face (global climate crisis, peak oil, economic chaos) as well as with the change coming from the grassroots efforts of communities. Martin suggested adding two crises: the increasing centralization of political power vs. local community rights [Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF), Community Rights Network]; militarism – threat of war over and nuclear catastrophe – (7:15-7:30)

3. Session III re-visited: Gene showed a clip from In Transition: 1.0, the film we watched during Session III to get a sense of what Transition was doing around the world – (7:30-7:45)

4. Session II re-visited: Adrienne suggested we do a “pair-share” (“Think & Listen”) to get at what our understanding of what Transition is. We instead did it as a group discussion – (7:45-8)

5. Marcellus Shale Exposed: Cathy announced and discussed the upcoming Marcellus Shale Exposed symposium, which is to be held the evening of Friday March 16 (showing of Gasland followed by a panel made of six people from fracking impacted communities) and during the day of Saturday March 17 (keynote by Dr. Anthony Ingraffea, speakers, and task force sessions to plan future actions) – she said volunteers were needed, that the symposium was free but that registration was required, and that it was being presented by the Lehigh Valley Sierra Club and Berks Gas Truth with a number of co-sponsors, including the Alliance. More info at http://www.marcellus-shale-exposed.org/ – (8-8:15)

6. The focus of Session IV: “How to Develop a Transition Initiative” – Martin led this part of the program – He said that we were going to try out a few of the 12 steps (ingredients, tools) of Transition to get a better sense of what they were about. To simulate the first step, he asked the 11 folks there to form two groups, of not more than 6 people, to constitute the initiating steering committee of a made-up transition initiative. They were to do three things: each say what their personal reason(s) were for getting involved with a Transition effort, whether or not they thought they were like-minded, and third, what to call their group, i.e., how they would be known and referred to in their communities (their first collective decision). To aid in thinking about personal motivations, a handout listed those cited in Hopkins, 2011, The Transition Companion. Toward the end of this activity, Martin asked each group: has each person talked about their personal reasons, do you have a sense of being on the same page, have you named your group? One group was “Transition Historic Bethlehem”, the other “Joris’s Group” – (8:15-8:40)

Using a second handout on the 12 steps of transition, we then went around the room reading the names of all 12 steps and then Martin asked for anybody to propose which of steps 2, 3, 5, or 7, we would try out. Gene was for #7, Develop visible practical manifestations of the project. We read the a, b, c, d items listed to get a clearer sense of what was meant. And then each group was to come up with one “practical manifestation” to show that the Transition Initiative was not just talk but was to be taken seriously. One group came up with community gardens as a visible manifestation since they’re into the importance of food production. (8:40-9:00)

We then tried out one more step. Cathy said the one on working groups (#5) was all she had the energy for this late in the evening, so that’s the one we did. We then read the a and b items listed to get a clearer sense of what was meant. And then each group was to come up with two or three working groups that they would like to be proactive in forming. Kristen proposed setting up a group with people who made things, whether crafts or maybe food goods (homemade jams, etc.) to barter in the community since she has an organic soap company (she supplied her website for those interested in checking it out www.organicalternatives.net) – (9-9:15)

At the end, Martin asked for evaluations of the approach used to get a better sense of how to develop a transition initiative since the plan is to use this five-session series in other communities as an introduction and invitation to do a Transition Initiative there. Alex thought it helped to get a better sense of what transition was about. Adrienne thought it was kind of freeing to be talking about what to do seriously but yet not quite for real – (9:15-9:20)

7. Looking ahead to Session V: For the last session in the series, on 3/9, the focus will be on: “Are you up for bringing a Transition Initiative to your community?”, which will explore the opportunities, challenges, obstacles, rewards, enjoyment, relationship building, and value of transition that awaits your involvement in creating Transition (Your Community Name Goes Here) – (9:20-9:30)