Yesterday and the day before I attended a two day course on Training for Transition. The Transition movement has evolved as a community-based response to the twin challenges of peak oil and climate change. The idea behind Transition is that communities build their resilience to deal with the effects of climate change and actively reduce their dependence on fossil fuels. The course brought together around 30 people from all over Scotland in the beautiful setting of the Centre for Stewardship at Falkland in Fife (quite close to where I live).
With the help of our two excellent facilitators we explored the challenges of peak oil and climate change, developed our understanding of the psychology of behaviour change, exchanged experiences, supported each other, learned what motivated each of us to take action on these issues and made personal and group action plans. It was a wonderfully stimulating experience and particularly enjoyable to be a participant rather than a facilitator for a change!
I was particularly interested in our sessions on individual change and I was impressed by the sensitive way in which the difficulties of making changes were explained in the models that were introduced to us. It seemed such a contrast to the somewhat dismissive way that those genuine difficulties in making changes are often explained away in management literature – as ‘resistance’ that needs to be ‘overcome’.
I was also very interested to learn about experiences of difficult group dynamics and how these problems are addressed in groups where there is no formal hierarchy and where consensus decision-making – no matter how difficult to achieve at times – is held on to as an expression of deeply held values about social equality. Again, so different from most conventional organisations.
But most important for me was the opportunity to understand my own motivation for change and the importance of making connections with others to help this come about. Having the opportunity to share with and learn from others was deeply reassuring in the face of what can easily be seen as insurmountable problems – an uplifting example of the power of community.