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  • Rebecca Armstrong

Meeting: 12 December 2022

Updated: May 31, 2023

On a mission

Our last meeting of 2022 involved a fun exercise that revealed some interesting insights into what we think Transition Walthamstow stands for. Rebecca Armstrong reports.

Four of us made it to this, our last meeting of the year, which took place at Le Delice on 12 December. Pre-Christmas, many were understandably busy. But it was still a productive and – most importantly – fun meeting.

Ably hosted by Mike, who has recovered from his bout of Covid, the theme was: what do we think Transition Walthamstow is, or should be, about? What is our ‘mission’? Although that makes it sound a lot more formal than it was.

This wasn’t a case of sitting down and seriously discussing what our mission should be. Instead it took the form of a ‘mission activity’, which was both fun and insightful. It was also nicely simple. Broadly split in two parts, it involved looking at the Transition Network’s eight guiding statements about its principles and values.

The first part involved each of us reading the eight statements as individuals and deciding which one resonated most with us. We then came together to explain why we had chosen our particular principle. This revealed some interesting insights into what each of us think Transition Walthamstow stands for.

I chose 7, which talks about working together as a community and developing a collaborative culture. Building a community and a sense of belonging is something I feel is important. Collective action over individual action is how we will be able to affect real change.

The various lockdowns taught us the importance of community and brought us together in new and unique ways. We need to capitalise on that and not let it slip away, going back to ‘business as normal’.

Maren and Trudi both chose 1, saying that this is what Transition is all about – moving towards a new way of living. By doing this we can move to 8, which is the goal: developing new positive possibilities for living.

For Mike it was 2 – inclusivity and social justice. The most disadvantaged people are the ones who will be most affected. How do we reach these people? How do we balance that injustice? We all agreed this was likely the most challenging of all the principles.

Transition Walthamstow should be a safe place where people can come to talk about their concerns, to share their worries and anxieties. But also to share alternatives and to offer support to each other.

Take two For the second part of the exercise we split into pairs to consider possible actions that might follow from the principles. From this came some ideas for events and activities that Transition Walthamstow could organise. Maren and Trudie took 1 and 2.

They talked about carbon literacy and not taking it for granted that people know what the terms mean. Trudie mentioned that she often gets asked what fossil fuels are. It’s easy to assume that everyone understands the language, but that’s not always the case.

Transition Walthamstow could run events at which terms including ‘fossil fuels’, ‘CO2’, ‘carbon’, ‘emissions’, ‘carbon footprint’, ‘global warming’ and so on are explained in simple, engaging ways. The idea would be to take these workshops to community centres, rather than expect people to come to us.

A second step would be to show how people can reduce their own carbon footprint, such as a workshop on low-carbon or ‘slow’ travel.

On the subject of resilience, they talked about how Transition Walthamstow could become an information resource hub, providing the information that people need in order to survive and thrive.

While Transition Walthamstow can’t provide all the necessary skills, it can be a hub of information on where to find them. There are two aspects to this: a ‘Green Directory’ of businesses and organisations that share our values; and providing a physical space where people can come to ask questions. Our monthly meetings could include a drop-in ‘survival surgery’ with all invited.

Mike and I discussed 3 and 4. The former is about autonomy, self-direction and ‘going our own way’. For this we suggested, when the group is larger, splitting it into smaller groups – circles within the main circle. This way people can join those circles which interest them and which align with their own skills and knowledge.

This will allow members to best use their skills and their time, it will keep them interested and help things get done. It will empower people as they see the importance and relevance of their own work. They become a necessary and integral part of the group.

From this also comes the idea of skills- and knowledge-sharing sessions or workshops so that people can build on what they know, giving them the tools and understanding they need.

Principle 4 is about finding the balance between work and relaxation. We need to find the time to relax and reward ourselves. There should be time within the meetings for support and fun. Where we simply ask ‘how are you today?’

Next meeting Transition Walthamstow meetings take place on the second Monday of the month.

Our next meeting takes place at 7.30pm on 9 January 2023, at Ye Olde Rose & Crown pub, 53 Hoe Street. Everyone is welcome. Come along to talk about what Transition Walthamstow should do next.

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