Many transitions initiatives have ‘inner transition’ or ‘Heart and Soul’ groups. These are grounded in some of the core principles of the transitions movement developed in Totnes (Devon, England) from 2006. (For the ‘latest’ on Inner Transition internationally, click here).
To quote from those principles:
- Transition Initiatives are based on a dedication to the creation of tangible, clearly expressed and practical visions of the community in question beyond its present-day dependence on fossil fuels.
- Our primary focus is not campaigning against things, but rather on positive, empowering possibilities and opportunities.
- The generation of new stories and myths are central to this visioning work.
For more details, see the link from core principles above. Some of these ideas have been developed from ‘general systems theory’ and the work of Joanna Macy, especially ‘The Great Turning’ on post-industrial society. The key point is that great changes are required in individual and society’s behaviours and these won’t be sustained or even started unless there is first a ‘change of heart’, a change in attitudes and expectations.
For some, these have a spiritual dimension and, for example, many Churches, Quaker meetings and other faith groups are actively involved in transition or sustainability initiatives. For others, it is simply a rational or humanist vision of choosing between impending disaster and a better world. (Armageddon or the Apocalypse is on offer if you prefer it that way!).
If transition initiatives are to be effective and successful; to be more than a ‘fringe activity’, a ‘flash in the pan’ or a ‘bandwagon’ – they may be all of these things as some initiatives have begun with great enthusiasm and have already petered out, split up acrimoniously or become, at least temporarily, moribund or less active – then they will have to be based on similar core principles and a true ‘change of heart’. Great things are needed but it is also true that ‘every little helps’ and this must involve almost everyone (worldwide!) and not just a few enthusiastic activists.
Consider also Step 10. from the 12 steps of Transition (Transition Primer p27 – I’ve included step 11 as well):
“#10. Honour the elders
For those of us born in the 1960s when the cheap oil party was in full swing, it is very hard to picture a life with less oil. Every year of my life (the oil crises of the 70s excepted) has been underpinned by more energy than the previous years.
In order to rebuild that picture of a lower energy society, we have to engage with those who directly remember the transition to the age of Cheap Oil, especially the period between 1930 and 1960.
While you clearly want to avoid any sense that what you are
advocating is ‘going back’ or ‘returning’ to some dim distant past, there is much to be learnt from how things were done, what the invisible connections between the different elements
of society were and how daily life was supported. Finding out all of this can be deeply illuminating, and can lead to our feeling much more connected to the place we are developing our Transition Initiatives.
#11. Let it go where it wants to go…
Although you may start out developing your Transition Initiative with a clear idea of where it will go, it will inevitably go elsewhere. If you try and hold onto a rigid vision, it will begin to sap your energy and appear to stall. Your role is not to come up with all the answers, but to act as a catalyst for the community to design their own transition.
If you keep your focus on the key design criteria – building community resilience and reducing the carbon footprint – you’ll watch as the collective genius of the community enables a feasible, practicable and highly inventive solution to emerge.”
I will try to add links to Heart and Soul groups, faith and humanist inner transitions work in the right sidebar later. If anyone in Brentford or Hounslow would like to explore this further, please add a comment below (will appear shortly after moderation) or get in touch by email.