Transition Leicester’s Aims and Principles

In late 2009 a subgroup of our steering group did some work to try and put into words the Aims that Transition Leicester is trying to achieve and the Principles that relate to how and why we do what we do. From this work we came up with two documents: our draft Aims and our draft Principles (both are listed below).

Our intention is for these to be living documents that we put to a variety of uses:

  • informing our future plans
  • used by Transition Leicester groups and projects to ensure their work fits with our ethos
  • evaluating our projects, events and general progress

We decided at a steering group meeting in February 2010 to start using them on a trial basis during the coming year, so that everyone involved in Transition Leicester can learn about how well they meet our needs as we go along. We intend to keep them under review, and consider changes to them at an open meeting at our next TGM (held by March 2011). If anyone has changes they’d like to propose in the meantime, they can also be changed at a steering group meetings (which would be open for all to attend).

This blog page is here for people to leave comments or suggested amendments to the Aims and Principles as they stand, so please do so!

Transition Leicester’s Aims

The main purpose of Transition Leicester is to engage the whole community in visioning, planning and achieving a transition to a better low energy future, to create a Leicester that we’d love to live in. We plan to do this by working on the following eight aims.
1    Awareness raising

  • Our awareness raising is focussed on awareness of Peak Oil (and its implications) and the urgency of Climate Change and the need to see the two problems as being inter-related.
  • It also addresses other related challenges (such as the instability of our current economic system) and the need to increase the resilience of our community and localise our economy as responses.
  • We also raise awareness about possible solutions to the issues we are focussed upon.

2    Supporting inner transition

  • By ‘inner transition’ we mean the inner, personal changes needed within ourselves and our communities to re-orient towards a more resilient and life-sustaining culture.
  • We will do this by modelling a sustainable culture through our activities and events, and providing space, expertise, structure and support for this process to happen.
  • This also means supporting the development of values and worldviews that recognise our interdependence with the rest of the natural world.

3    Reframing our current situation

  • We aim to reframe the perceived environmental crisis as also a positive opportunity to build a more satisfying and resilient way of living.
  • We also aim to reframe our perception of ourselves as having the power, ability, capability and resilience to adapt and thrive in the future.

4    Community building

  • Through our activities we aim to rebuild connections within communities, by providing spaces and opportunities for interaction, and by supporting and encouraging individuals to support each other – emotionally, practically and socially – in their neighbourhoods.

5    Taking practical action

  • We aim to support, inspire and carry out practical action and projects to build local resilience and reduce carbon emissions. This action will focus on our most important local systems, such as food, energy, transport and waste.
  • We will also focus on “reskilling” – learning valuable practical skills for a low-energy society (e.g. growing food, repairing clothing).

6    Planning for Energy Descent

  • We will support or initiate work to plan for a positive future with less available energy in Leicester (or communities within Leicester).
  • This could involve devising plans for meeting the community’s needs in different aspects of life (e.g. food, energy, transport), or developing compelling positive visions of a low-carbon resilient future.

7    Learning, sharing and networking

  • We aim to learn from our experiences, and share information and learning about our work with others (such as other Transition Initiatives).
  • We are also committed to experimentation by carrying out projects that are innovative and offer opportunities for learning and replication in other communities.
  • We will build connections with other local organisations and projects, which align with Transition aims. We will share information on their work with Transition Leicester members, and support any partner groups/organisations to connect with and work with each other.

8    Supporting and sustaining Transition Leicester itself

  • We aim to ensure that Transition Leicester thrives as a project and continues to exist as long as it is needed.
  • This means raising our profile amongst local people and in the local media so that we can engage and involve a large proportion of the local community.
  • It also means supporting anyone involved in projects or groups so that their involvement is a positive experience and can be sustained into the future.

Transition Leicester’s Principles – the “why” and “how” of what we do

These principles are intended to underpin all decisions made within Transition Leicester, to act as guidelines to help us evaluate our activities and to underpin our aims. They are all important and many are connected. They are ordered from principles focussed on why we do what we do, towards principles of how we work.

1    Recognising our current challenges

  • The issues of Climate Change and Peak Oil need urgent action.
  • It is impossible for economic growth to be sustained forever, and pursuing this goal encourages unsustainable patterns of consumption.
  • Life with less energy appears inevitable, and this creates the need to plan for this change in our community.

2    Planning for a positive future

  • We believe that a world using less energy and resources could, if properly planned for and designed, be more resilient, abundant and pleasurable than it is now. We therefore see our current situation as a positive opportunity, not just a threat.
  • We think it is important to engage people in creating positive visions of future life in our area and in acting to make these visions reality.
  • We recognise that the stories we tell ourselves about who we are and our future are important, and we value work to find or create stories which fit with the reality of a low carbon future.
  • Our focus is on engaging people to act through the emotions of hope, optimism and the desire to live more satisfying lives, rather than by engendering guilt or fear. One important motivating idea is to see Transition Leicester’s work as the start of what could be a truly historic process.

3    Social justice

  • We recognise that the UK (like other industrialised countries) has contributed disproportionately to Climate Change, making us responsible to the communities affected by it across the world.
  • The actions we take need to be just, both locally and internationally.

4    Inner transition

  • A transition to a sustainable and resilient society will not be possible without changes in our values, world view and patterns of thinking.
  • Our work will therefore try to move beyond the surface to a deeper relationship with ourselves, other people, and the world. It will act on many levels including practical and physical, emotional, psychological, relational, community, spiritual and intellectual.
  • Humans and nature are inextricably linked. We need to recognise the links in our thinking and support values which put more focus on the wellbeing of other people and other living things.
  • We will try to cultivate an alternative to ‘us and them’ thinking styles (such as scapegoating, blaming, encouraging guilt, and being ‘against’ organisations or people).
  • We recognise that nobody is perfect and that everyone is at a different stage in this process of change, so our events and activities will offer a supportive and non-judgemental environment.

5    Being the change

  • We recognise that what we do will shape the future we end up with, and are therefore committed to taking action through our groups, projects and activities to put our goals into practice.
  • Our main focus is on positive solutions, so we are cautious about protesting or campaigning against things.

6    Valuing diversity

  • To respond the challenges that our community faces, we believe that everyone is needed.
  • Everybody has valuable things to bring to Transition Leicester. By including people from different cultural backgrounds and with diverse opinions and ways of working, Transition Leicester will be stronger, more effective and more resilient. The events and projects we organise therefore offer opportunities for everyone to contribute.
  • People in our community who have had experience of life without cheap oil have particularly valuable knowledge and skills to share.

7    A local focus

  • In the future we will increasingly have to meet our needs using local resources, so our work focuses on action in our local area.
  • This means thinking on the level of Leicester as a whole, but also crucially on the level of neighbourhoods and individual streets.

8    Working with others

  • We see one of our main roles as being to act as a catalyst, inspiring and supporting action taken by others that addresses the aims of Transition Leicester.
  • We value the work being carried out by others that contributes towards our aims. Where possible we will work in collaboration with local organisations. Maintaining a positive and constructive relationship with local Government is a particularly important part of this work.

9    A grassroots movement

  • Our work is driven by the passion of people giving their time freely.
  • We don’t rule out paying people for particular projects or roles, but are committed to considering carefully if this is necessary and its possible positive and negative impacts.

10    Sensitive and effective awareness raising

  • We are committed to honestly sharing the best information we know about the issues we are addressing, and trusting people to respond as they see fit. We also recognise the importance of being perceived as a credible, trustworthy source of information.
  • We are more committed to asking good questions than providing answers. We seek to inspire thoughts on ideas and possibilities, and are not trying to control the outcome of a process.
  • We will strive to communicate effectively by making our language appropriate and accessible for our audience and making our interactions engaging and enjoyable.
  • We will not give out emotionally disturbing information without offering people opportunities to meaningfully act in response (“no urgency without agency”) and a chance to emotionally process the information.

11    Consensus and subsidiarity

  • We believe that everyone with a stake in decisions about Transition Leicester should be able to have an input into those decisions. We believe that the best decisions are those that take the views of everyone concerned into account and that everyone feels able to live with.
  • Within meetings, this means that decisions will be made wherever possible by the explicit consensus of any group which makes them.
  • The principle of “subsidiarity” means that decisions are made at the most appropriate, practical and empowering level. This implies a preference for taking decisions at a lower level wherever possible (for example, decisions relating to projects/subgroups are made at that level, rather than by the steering group).

12    An enriching experience

  • We believe that involvement with Transition Leicester should offer people a chance to do things they enjoy, to gain new skills and self-confidence and to take on positions of responsibility.
  • We will therefore work through our activities to empower, support and train others (especially in skills which support the work of Transition Leicester).
  • We believe that involvement with Transition Leicester should be a sustainable activity, so we commit to recognise and accept our limits, and to ask for support as and when we need it.

13    A learning process

  • We are committed to contributing to our own learning and enabling learning for others by documenting the process of our work, evaluating its successes and failures and making this available to others (including other Transition initiatives).
  • We will try to base our actions on the best available information and research on the issues we address and on how to meet our aims effectively.

14    Transparency

  • We are committed to being transparent. This means that our meetings will be open, we will keep accounts recording our income and expenditure, document our activities, and make these documents available.

One response to “Transition Leicester’s Aims and Principles

  1. Lovely to see the aims and principles laid out so clearly. So much good stuff….Thank you for all the hard work that’s gone into them. There are only 2 that concern me slightly after an initial read through. Please see these comments in the context of an overwhelmingly positive response:

    “Our main focus is on positive solutions, so we are cautious about protesting or campaigning against things” – as a lifelong direct activist I’m always nervous when we say something that could be interpreted as ‘we won’t intervene to prevent an injustice’. I absolutely agree with the need for positive alternatives, but to me those are also a form of direct action. A community garden or stopping a wood being felled to make way for a road? Is there a real difference? Aren’t they both an expression of the better world we’re building. I think this positive/negative split is a false one. To me it’s about taking the most appropriate action and if at some point that is a more overt form of protest, so be it!

    “We also recognise the importance of being perceived as a credible, trustworthy source of information.” I fully understand why this is in the Principles. I’m not sure this is always desirable – almost every effective movement for change has been demonised by the powers that be at some point. In fact, it could be argued that you know you’re being effective when they’re trying to undermine your credibility. To me it’s more important that Transitions maintains focus, transparency and integrity or at least asks itself who it wants to be perceived as credible by. Working to achieve credibility may lead an organisation off track, and it’s almost impossible to be credible for all the people all of the time.

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