Last month I made a decision. In many ways, it was a tough one, although actually it was a ‘no-brainer’. I decided to quit the Transition Town Worthing steering group.
It was a tough decision because I was a co-founder of TTW in early 2009. Ever since the set up, I’d been deeply involved with most TTW things: writing the constitution, setting up the website, giving talks, showing films, supporting projects, running the monthly newsletter. Since 2010, my main focus was creating an Energy Descent Action Plan for Worthing, and the TTW steering group seemed like the natural route to make this happen. How could I let that go? TTW had been in my soul for three years, head, heart and hands.
It was a ‘no-brainer’ because in August 2011, I became a parent for the first time and all the time I’d previously dedicated to TTW vanished overnight. I suddenly had a whole new set of priorities to contend with and even if I’d had the time, I just didn’t have the ‘headspace’ to be part of the steering group.
Being a good dad to my little girl became my new direction. Sitting in meetings just didn’t work for me anymore.
I had various conversations with others in the steering group and had a vague idea of getting back into it after a ‘few months’ or maybe in the spring when the evenings would be lighter, but it didn’t happen. I set up an EDAP group within TTW back in the Autumn and made a little progress developing a second draft of the EDAP. What was clear to me were two things: one, I just didn’t have much available time to work on the EDAP; two, there was little interest within the steering group to make the EDAP happen. There was a real struggle to try and put the EDAP centre-stage rather than allowing it to become ‘just another TTW project’ in amongst the knitting workshops and social events.
The first point was an unavoidable result of becoming a new parent. The second point was unfortunate as we had agreed previously on several occasions that the EDAP was to be the priority for the steering group during 2011/12. What became increasingly clear was that creating an EDAP is a big task and one that needs input from a number of sources and co-writers. I had already had some excellent input from the local food group of TTW, some good ideas from our EDAP World Cafe event from June 2011, a few quality original cartoons, some great oral histories, and some degree of continuity with an introduction and resilience indicators.
With an EDAP (either working towards one or using one as a blueprint) a transition group has a coherence and direction about it; without an EDAP, there seems to be a real possibility of drifting towards being another vague ‘green’ organisation, well-meaning but ultimately without teeth or a USP. Transition’s USP for me is energy descent.
So, at present, the EDAP for Worthing is shelved until further notice. I’d still like to see it published, but only when we can find some real enthusiasm amongst TTW’s 300+ members. My feeling is that for a Transition initiative to produce an EDAP, several key factors need to be in place:
- A fully committed steering group, willing to devote their limited and precious time to it
- Three or four co-writers, alongside other contributors
- A programme of co-ordinated EDAP-related events to bring energy descent into focus for those beyond the steering group
- Good networking that allows EDAP to be presented and discussed with a wide range of key players in the the local community, as well as a willingness to incorporate EDAP into other local plans, and vice versa!
Now that I am a father, my interest in planning and/or addressing energy descent on a local community level has become heightened. I have a personal interest in a livable future beyond oil. As a result, I will think differently about the future direction of this blog. We are still all beginners at this energy descent stuff and there is a lot to be thought about. Maybe some places and people are not quite ready for something as radical as energy descent (after all it is a concept totally at odds with ‘conventional’ thinking about the future), and as warm-hearted, inspirational, and positive as an EDAP.
I think this story is only just beginning . . .