Transition emerges when we seek it

On personal resilience, Conscious Business, Sociocracy, Social Enterprise…

This article was first published on The Transition Towns‘ Network site, April 2012.

Transition had a deeply transformative effect on my life. It has shaped and focussed my professional path since. It brought me into contact with the inspiration, community and tools that I was aching for. Since my local network became fractured and life has swept me onward, I have become immersed in exploring solutions to some of the questions that Transition posed for me. My special interest, among others, was the development of Transition enterprises and livelihoods.

A Transition friend liked to describe the inner Transition as a process of personal alchemy, and that when something is Transition it feels different. You know when it is Transition because you hit that ’sweet spot’, and it just feels good and right, enriching and energising. I’ve sought that same sweet spot wherever the aroma has aroused my instincts.  I’ve lost regular contact with that family, my ’sangha’ of peers, with many that I would love to still be in contact with. I have gained connection to other aligned peers; I meet others everywhere who are either aligned and pursuing similar questions or engaged in explicitly Transition projects. They nourish and give me hope, when my morale flags. Their stories abound, everywhere I look. It seems that the community is present whenever I have an intention to discover it. I say the magic words, and up it pops.

This evening I was at a Conscious Business get together, exploring with peers over a beer the barriers to the rapid large scale turning in business that we want to see, ways of dissolving that inertia, and of aligning our personal values with the collective values we grapple with in the workplace.

Martin 1I’ve participated in numerous conversations around Transition themes over the years. I’ve developed many ways of describing the essence of Transition, or facets of it. One favourite is that Transition facilitates a safe space in which we can talk to each other about the things that matter to us. When we connect with others around what matters to us, and check in with how we are coping and responding to the sometimes rather bleak and scary challenges looming, Transition arises, alongside community. Fear, anger and sadness are accompanied by hope, determination and action. Tonight was Transition without the label. Joanna Macy meets marketing whizz kids, with different branding.

I’ve just come from a gathering in the Netherlands of those engaged in implementing sociocracy, or collaborative governance, in a diverse array of large and small businesses, housing communities, families, care homes, schools, international development, local government. Taking our cue from ecological thinking, permaculture and especially Transition Towns, these have been constant themes recently for a surprising number who have converged independently, in response to economic chaos and the voiceless taking to the streets across the globe. Wherever I go, I am reminded of the words of another Transition friend, that whichever route our yearning leads us, all paths eventually lead back to Transition.

I hope that what happened in my local Transition initiative was somehow part of the natural process of succession. What was difficult and painful, was perhaps nourishing the soil, so that whatever ecology eventually emerges can flourish and mature. The seeds are everywhere, the soil has replenished.

So how do we find a Transition community where there isn’t one? Transition emerges when we talk to each other about what matters; what we value; what scares us; what we dream of. It ignites when we ask each other:

What would our communities look like, if we got together to ask ourselves what we would like our communities to look like?’

Or, ‘what kind of community do we want to bequeath to our children and grand children?’

How do we build personal resilience without a Transition community around us for support? It grows naturally when we take small or large positive steps in our own lives, shift habits, make space for grief and despair, talk to friends and family and colleagues and neighbours and peers, breathe, move, forgive and let go, celebrate what we have achieved and learned, touch the earth.

For me it includes meeting with friends to meditate and gossip, or reading radical books and dancing; getting on my bike in the local woods and walking in the hills; loving and laughing; aligning what I want to see in the world with how I go about my daily business; tending to my ‘yarden’; allowing myself time to rest and nurture relationships. I remind myself most mornings what I am aiming for, and at times through the day. I remind myself that even an aeroplane is on the wrong course 90% of the time, and kindly steer myself back toward my path.

I go to where Transitioners, labelled or unlabelled, hang out. I’ll no doubt be back at the Transition Conference, and at Transition Camp in the Autumn, in the glorious Sussex countryside, which always add rocket fuel to my motivation and the wisdom of friends to my frustrations. And enjoying fumbling spectacularly with the raised beds and mending ‘projects’. And reading the excellent Transition Blog series from time to time. And trying to remember to trust that the seeds we plant when we talk to others, no matter how resistant at first, germinate over time and sprout when ready. Especially when our motivational seed bombs are packed with kindness, humility, generosity. And staying open to receiving the same from others, sometimes from the unlikeliest of places.

And remembering that I am not alone. Ever. There are a vast number of us, some of whom probably feel alone and disconnected. And there are a vast number more waiting to be connected by us.

Oh yeah, and cooking good food for or with friends, old and new. What a simple, radical, subversive, effective and replenishing act that is. Never forget the cooking good food with people.


Martin Grimshaw was the chair of Transition Brighton and Hove, which has unfortunately now faltered. But he continues to be involved with Transition through other routes.

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