Ypsi/Arbor Transition training

I’ve written quite a bit here over the past year or so about the Transition Town movement, so I won’t get into a lot of the background right now. [You can find details by doing a site search on “Transition.”] I did, however want to pass along this update as to what happened during last week’s Ypsi/Arbor training session with representatives from the Transition movement in Boulder, Colorado. The following comes from my fellow Ypsilanti 2020 Task Force member, Lisa Bashert:

Over 50 people from all over Michigan joined us at the first Training for Transition (T4T) which just took place 1/31-2/1/09. The trainers, Michael Brownlee and Lynette Marie Hanthorn, came from Transition Boulder County to share with us what they had learned in their years of re-localization efforts in Colorado, as well as their experiences in Totnes, UK, the founding Transition Town.

Quick Overview (forgive me if I get any titles or details wrong):

Thursday 1/29 — Michael & Lynnette Marie, plus T4T planners Lisa & Jeannine, visited the Detroit Evolution Laboratory and met Angela Kasmala and Gregg Newsom. They are teaching about raw foods, yoga, and planning a vegetarian restaurant, plus hosting a monthly discussion series called “Detroit Abides.” Gregg, Angela, & Alan Scheuerman (who attended the T4T) are about to launch an encompassing website called Evolve Detroit to bring together like-minded projects with Transition. The trainers also got to meet with Dan Carmody, president of Detroit’s Eastern Market, and Matt Naimi, who is heading up the pilot curbside recycling project for the city. Dan Carmody has a fantastic vision for revamping the local food system rooted in the strategic and venerable Eastern Market. It was thrilling to hear about his wide-ranging plans for the market.

Friday 1/30 – Michael visited the School of Natural Resources at University of Michigan to talk with students from the second seminar on re-localization led by Ray DeYoung and Tom Princen, associate professors in the Program on the Environment. That night, about 100 people attended the showing of the film “The Power of Community,” about how Cuba survived peak oil. After the film, Michael spoke about transition efforts around the United States and took questions. He let us know that over 125 cities are now in the “mulling” stage – considering how to use the Transition Town model in their own communities.

Saturday 1/31 – Michael and Lynnette Marie led the 50 participants in exercises on how to convey information about the “triple threat” — global warming, peak oil, and economic instability – to our communities. They showed their extensive PowerPoint presentation about these grim realities, stressing that the more positive stuff would come later. Don’t panic! was the theme of the day. We also talked about Richard Heinberg’s recommendations for emergency planning in response to probable coming energy shocks. The small groups got to interact a lot and get to know one another. Participants were from as far afield as Ohio, Kentucky, New Jersey and Minnesota, with the majority coming from Chelsea, Ypsilanti, Detroit and Ann Arbor. The Ypsilanti Food Co-op provided all the catering and it was outstanding!

Sunday 2/1 – The T4T got to focus in on the emotional content of Transition and how the coming changes are affecting people – what is called in the movement “Heart & Soul” work. This part of the day was led by Lynnette Marie and included both grief and excitement. This was my favorite part of the day. One exercise I especially liked involved groups of four: each person told about the actions they’d like to take to bring Transition to our communities, and the other three responded as the Doubter, the Ancestor, and the Person of the Future, respectively. Later in the day, the T4T group got to experience Open Space technology in a practice led by Bill Wilson from Midwest Permaculture. Open Space is a method whereby large groups can self-organize to discuss complex questions. I attended the discussion on re-skilling and our group came up with dozens of great ideas. (I can’t wait to start.) The day ended with a “fishbowl” responding to the question, “Where does Transition land in you?”

There was so much more, but you’ll just have to ask me. Many thanks to my fellow planners, Jeanne Mackey, Jeannine Palms and Kris Kaul. Also we’re so grateful for the use of Rudolf Steiner High School, generously secured for our use by Blanche Price. And of course, we loved our fine trainers, Michael & Lynnette Marie!!!

If you were there, I’d appreciate it if you would leave a comment. I’m curious as to what people made of the training.

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  1. Lisa
    Posted February 10, 2009 at 11:01 pm | Permalink

    This training was GREAT!

    I knew a lot of the background about Peak Oil and Climate Change (as did many others there), and so I must admit I had some doubts about how useful the training would be.

    I really appreciated the talk about HOW to get people in towns on board with transitioning – what has worked or not worked in other towns, etc. I also really appreciated the Inner Transition work. It’s become increasingly clear to me that we’re going to have to develop new ways of working with each other and working in communities to really bring our communities and selves along. This helped me identify how to do this, and the ways in which I and others are still in the ‘competition/left-brain/scarcity/fear’ mindset that is ultimately really going to hold us back when we try to envision and move into this post-peak oil/climate change world we’re going to be living in…

  2. Posted February 11, 2009 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    Having invited Lisa to go with me, first to Boston for a training, and then, to meet with Michael Brownlee to discuss bringing him here as a trainer, and having driven her there to meet him… I was happy also to see that smiling bunch of faces following the training.

    But as very few Ypsi folks were ready in time to go to this training, some of us are starting to work on plans for a training to be hosted in Ypsilanti – likely late spring/summer. so if anyone is interested in helping with that please let me know as I’ll be pulling some meetings together for that purpose. (email: mkingmsw@aol.com) You can also join in and learn about this more via Transition USA’s website or, Transition Michigan, or — Transition Ypsilanti websites.

    I think the transition movement has really taken off and been catalyzed in
    Ann Arbor for the folks that participated there, it brought some bonding, and terrific energy. So it will be fun to bring folks together here from a variety of corners who work to make Ypsi the great town it is….to re-charge and get some sparks going for our ongoing work here.

  3. Posted February 12, 2009 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    I’m afraid that was the OTHER Lisa above, not me. We only invited women named Lisa to attend… ;-)

    I don’t agree that “very few” people from Ypsi were ready — we had 5 at the Training — which is just the number recommended for an Initiating Group to bring Transition concepts to a city. In many ways, I feel like Ypsilanti is already far ahead of Ann Arbor in terms of what is needed to make a strong transition to a low-energy world. Our town is smaller, we know each other better, we have already been confronting the loss of revenues and services we have been used to having — and that has activated many (especially in neighborhood associations) to respond. Ypsilanti has already gone through our long range visioning process, which included information about the need for resilience in the face of coming energy shocks, global warming, etc. Ypsilanti already has a number of strong projects dealing directly with the areas where greater resilience is needed: Growing Hope is addressing the re-localization of our food system, Ypsi Solar is looking at renewable energy in the city, to name two. So I feel we are already well on our way. Transition can be seen as a guiding light or focusing force to help us all see the incredible potential in a lower energy future — and work toward it together.

    The Training provided us with some kick ass tools to begin the process of greater awareness raising. One place awareness raising events are being listed is http://ypsilantitransition.ning.com/ — so check it out for information about what we’ll be up to in the coming months.

  4. Jim Crowfoot
    Posted February 16, 2009 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

    I attended the Transition Training that was held at the Steiner High School on Jan. 31 & Feb. 1, 2009 What I liked most about the training is:
    * Openness of the trainers — no posturing nor “we know best,” a lot of
    here is our experience, we are continuing to learn, TT is new to the
    U.S. has to adapt
    *Emphasis on beginning at the grassroots and beginning with a small
    initiating group & status quo is not serving us and will increasingly
    hurt us and our children and their children
    * Focus is on relocalization and greater self-reliance in the face of the
    “long descent” away from consumerism and affluence and injustice
    and oppression as a consequence of “peak fossil fuels” and “necessity
    of radical reduction of green house gasses” and survival depending
    on transformation of social relations of “power over” and culture of
    inequality that has been further
    exacerbated by the industrial revolution and it accelerating
    inequalities within and between countries and by means of
    of redeveloping collaboration and community, and direct demo-
    cracy while moving toward ecological resilience, locally owned
    and operated businesses providing for basic human needs, equitable
    social relationships focused on the commons and the good of the
    community, mutuality within nature (human and other),
    spirituality rooted in environmental preservation, mutual caring
    among humans, and non violence.
    * attention to both the “outer” (i.e. organizations, groups and social
    relationships) and the “inner”(values, attitudes, feelings, perceptions)
    and in both moving beyond domination-subordination and the
    internalized and externalized violence that characterizes such social
    systems to relationships and larger social systems that protect nature,
    have non violent interpersonal and social relationships, that utilize
    power -with rather than power-over, that collaborate more than
    compete, that balance giving and receiving, that perceive and
    relate to nature as sacred and include humans within nature, that
    consume without consumerism by meeting basic human material
    needs along with relational and spiritual needs that provide for
    meaning, creativity, and loving.
    * good group of people attended in terms of ages and life experience
    backgrounds (though lacked racial minorities in proportion to their
    presence in U.S. and SE MI population and this needs to be rectified)
    with a desire to learn about what is happening to our natural
    environment and social relationships and why and highly committed
    personally and collectively to creative and meaningful adaptation to
    the deepening crises of unsustainability that are around us and
    within us.

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