The Transition Network is given an APE Special Award as the project most likely to mitigate serious climate change

Since the project inception a year ago in February 2010, Transition has continued to grow and now boasts more than 300 Transition initiatives in the UK and worldwide. Over the course of the last year, we‟ve seen the launch of Transition in the favelas of Sao Paulo, Brazil and celebrations of diversity through carnivals and inter-faith events. There‟s been new relationships formed with diverse organisations and unprecedented numbers of Transitioners expressing an interest in and commitment to diversity.

This successful and inspiring work has been led by Catrina Pickering, who was appointed as Diversity Coordinator thanks to the award from Artists Project Earth. Catrina has a background in community and inter-cultural work. Her previous experience included managing mobilisation projects at the Climate Outreach Information Network, co-ordinating Winchester Action on Climate Change and community regeneration on housing estates in Brighton.

Between July and December 2010, we developed and piloted a new workshop to help Transition Initiatives increase their diversity and inclusion, with 12 Transition initiatives: Llambed, Finsbury Park, Brixton, Lancaster, Maidenhead, Frome, Kingston, Stoke Newington, Southampton, Leicester, Ealing and Welwyn Garden City.

Workshops were almost always rated as either “very good” to “excellent” with many Transition initiatives requesting an unsolicited follow up workshop. It is our aim to establish the piloted Diversity and Inclusion workshop as one of the sessions delivered by our network of trainers throughout the UK and potentially adapted for international Transition audiences.

Some activities that have already taken place since these workshops:

  • Stoke Newington: Transition Stoke Newington worked with residents on a local housing estate to put on a carol service before Christmas that bought everyone on the estate together. Follow up events are now being planned working with the residents.
  • Kingston: Following on from the inter-faith event they had done a week prior to the workshop, an Imam from the local mosque attended the diversity workshop so much of the action planning was focused on how Transition Kingston could work together with the Muslim community. He invited Transition Kingston to meet with various other people in the mosque over a period of several weeks. Collaboration is being explored. “I just wanted to write and say how much I enjoyed the “Transition for All” workshop that you ran for us in Lancaster. Everyone I have spoken to raved about it and how well you delivered this complex topic. Definitely gave us food for thought and I very much look forward to your return visit.” Email from Anna, participant at Lancaster workshop
  • Llambed: Transition Llambed recently organised a Christmas lantern festival in partnership with a range of local schools. Working with the schools really helped them to connect with people they hadn‟t worked with before, particularly the Welsh speaking community. They have also recently carried out a series of clothes swaps which again have successfully attracted Welsh speakers and people on lower incomes.
  • Finsbury Park: Transition Finsbury Park has a strong inclusion and diversity approach and the workshop enabled them to reflect and build on this. Since the workshop, they have embarked on a funded project to support Mums from the local primary school to learn and gain confidence in cycling around London. The project is run by a Turkish mum and has been very effective in building links into the Turkish community.
  • In addition to the above workshops, there have also been a series of workshops delivered around diversity themes at the Transition Network conference in July 2010, the Diverse Routes to Belonging conference in November 2010 as well as a Training for Transformation course (Transition approaches to community development) by Transition Liverpool. A further Diversity and Inclusion workshop is planned for London Transition initiatives for April 2011 and will be delivered by Transition Stoke Newington.

Conference to catalyse and accelerate BME and faith-group actions and projects around climate change

An innovative two day conference was held in Edinburgh in November 2010 by Transition Scotland Support and Transition Network called ‘Diverse Routes to Belonging’ – alongside three other connected conferences held simultaneously in Brazil, Germany and Spain, creating links across the world through Skype. The aim of the conferences was „to reclaim our creative, collaborative, place-based way of living‟ to „make alliances and work together.‟
The conference also connected grassroots groups in Africa and Europe working on resilience and made links between climate change responses with indigenous peoples in Indonesia, Scottish Highlands and impoverished urban communities. As well as being intercultural, the conference was also strongly intergenerational with activities for those aged 5-11 and 12 -16. The presence of so many young people contributed hugely to the success of the event.

Awareness-raising and strategic partnering

We have raised awareness through blogs, events, news items, a Diversity e-newsletter and a forum related to diversity on our very active and thriving interactive website. In the last year there were 342,050 unique visitors to the Transition Network website, and 1,694,829 page views. If only 10% of visitors have read about aspects of diversity and inclusion we will have inspired 30,000 people.

The Diversity Project has also been in continuous discussions with Transition initiatives to discuss how best to raise awareness among everyone in their community. Awareness-raising successes have in turn been fed out and cross-fertilised into the wider Transition movement. Some of the more innovative awareness-raising activities undertaken by Transition initiatives include a community radio station from Transition Lancaster, a Festival in the Park which provides the centre of the local community by Transition Finsbury Park and a cycle-cinema to run alongside the infamous annual Tooting Swimathon by Transition Tooting.

Strategic partnering

We have been developing meaningful collaboration around climate change with diverse national and regional networks. These partnerships include :

  • Trafford Hall: Provides trainings and support to low income communities to develop skills and confidence to tackle problems and reverse poor conditions. Collaboration has so far included:

o Anne Power, founder of Trafford Hall, offering to give her time for free to hold a two day workshop for Transitioners on working in low income communities.
o Transition Network to deliver a 2 day workshop on “introduction to sustainability” as part of Trafford Hall‟s Climate Change and Resilience programme.
o Joint development of an application to the Big Lottery‟s Reaching Communities that will aim to work with tenants and residents around building resilience against climate change.

  • Tenants and Residents Association of England (TAROE): Development of a joint funding bid working to build resilience among tenants and residents communities against fuel poverty.

A retreat organised by the LIFE project involving skills building through inter-cultural and inter-faith exchange

  • LIFE Project: A women‟s interfaith project aimed at bringing women of faiths and no-faith together to explore practical and philosophical approaches to resilience building against climate change in Lambeth, London. Many Transitioners have been involved and we are now looking at rolling out the project to be coordinated by individual Transition initiatives across the UK.
  • Quakers: Joint two day “Quakers and Transition” conference to take place in June 2011.
  • Arts Versa: A national organisation working on arts and cultural projects in Muslim communities. Collaborated on a “Winterfaiths festival” event hosted by Transition Leytonstone in February 2011.
  • Other faith groups: Various affiliations with faith and environment organisations. Eg, Wisdom in Nature (Islamic – London and Brighton), Big Green Jewish (national), Churches in Transition, Methodists, Operation Noah, Christian Ecology Link, Sikh Environment Network, Network of Engaged Buddhists, Alliance for Religious Conservation etc.

The Future of the Transition World View

We believe that involving the whole diverse community in building resilience to climate change, including all classes, races and religions, is of the highest strategic importance.

Ensuring that Transition initiatives reflect the greatest range of voices and experiences is not easy and yet if Transition is serious about creating resilient communities but fails to create a process over which all sections of the community feel some sense of ownership, it will not truly be creating resilience in the face of climate change.

Click here for further information on the diversity project and the Transition Network more generally.

At the moment, society doesn’t have a positive, socially-based vision of the future, yet to get people engaged, they need vision and hope. The Transition Network offers that vision but we all have to get connected to make the change happen. “This is a historic window of opportunity to be the change we want to see in the world,” says Banks. “This money will be used by The Transition Network to provide structure and resources to develop these initiatives further”.

Hear more from APE and Rhythms Del Mundo