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We're part of a world-wide community movement in response to peak oil and climate change. This site gives you details of our up and coming events and meetings, as well as reports and related matters that are going on in Norwich and East Anglia.

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Friday, May 1, 2009


from the OPEN SPACE session at the Belvedere Centre, Norwich on Saturday 25th April 2009

Posted by Charlotte Du Cann (TN Heart and Soul/Communications)

I asked this question for two reasons: 1) to find out how we can strengthen our awareness that we are in a process of transition and not get waylaid in ego battles 2) to explore ways we can defuse our affiliations with figures of power (spiritual, political, glamorous etc). that impede our working together in a harmonious way.

We had a lively and very focussed discussion on this topic that contained many ideas and experiences, ranging from dealing with the hyper-reality of bureaucracy (Job Centres) to attending global conferences (World Work). What felt most vital was the acknowledgement that TN meetings were an active force for change and that for Transition to work we had not only to engage in a low-carbon lifestyle but actively reduce the habitual asserting of our individualism.

ENERGY DESCENT ACTION PLAN = EGO DESCENT ACTION PLAN Our individualistic desire to consume, to control, to escape into fantasy are all symptoms of an inner lack, institutionalised by society. To avoid feeling being put down or powerless we emulate – sometimes without knowing it - the life-styles of the powerful and rich. Although desire for personal power was compared to an addiction (the powerlessness of the addict was cited from the 12 Steps programme) it was recognised that a desire for status and material possessions was the norm and actively encouraged by our global culture. To move forward we needed to break out from our isolation and fear of being put down and start trusting each other.

OUTSIDE POWER (outer level) It was acknowledged there were two kinds of power: power relations between people and the power or energy gained from electricity and fossil fuels. The possession of objects - cars, technology and houses - and activities – travel, sport, dining in restaurants - all confer power. What replaces these things? A sense of self and a sense of belonging. This cannot be forged by simply reducing our habits of consumption. What Transition offers is a group practice in which new ways of interacting can self-organise and provide both meaning and value. Strength is gained by building community and having sustainable relationships i.e. those not based on social hierarchies. Feeling you are not on your own sustains us in difficult circumstances.

POWER STRUCTURE IN A GROUP (inner level) Ego battles ensue as a consequence of reacting against power structures that have been abused. Desire for personal power gets in the way of building a communal structure. To proceed with less inner and outer power requires a different kind of engagement, as well as an agreed procedure. It was felt that Transition meetings provide good practice at interrelating, synthesising information, pooling resources, feeling we are all in the same boat together. In the meetings our individualistic tendencies are lessened naturally by listening to and respecting what is being said and receiving that respect back. Experiences and skills which are not deemed important in the conventional world are properly valued and we don’t waste time and energy battling with each other, or becoming lost in our own grandiosity or the world's.

DISSOLVING OLD SYSTEMS Divide-and-conquer power structures can usurp and dominate future-looking groups when there is one person talking too much, interrupting, dismissing, patronising, quoting outside experts etc. These tendencies (which everyone has!) can be curtailed by having an agreed procedure:

The TN heart & soul theme group has developed one that includes:

two minutes of silence
two facilitators (one to direct proceedings, the other to hold the space) and one scribe (notes written up on googlegroup); roles in which all take turns
engaging in a “check in” process
open agenda (business of the day)
a previously agreed subject for discussion

The 2 mins silence shuts out the “ego-noise” and concerns of the day, so everyone can come into the meeting and engage with one another in a Transition spirit. In the space we can acknowledge our level of commitment; receive a good sense of what we are good at; choose our own roles. It was suggested that maybe other groups would like to adopt a similar strategy.

CONSCIOUSNESS OF THE PROCESS OF TRANSITION Key to any meeting's success. Awareness that we are in a self-creating process and that we need to shift away from our allegiances to the dominant power structures and the false security offered by them. Awareness that we need to activate the Transition qualities of inclusion and positive future thinking in everything we do. Awareness that we don't need to “have our say” just because we want to say things more loudly or forcefully. Awareness that what is going down in the room is going down in the world. What is being voiced is part of the group, and by extension, part of oneself.

RANK Awareness of one's rank amongst others (e.g. in terms of experience, skills, fluency of expression, presence in a room) leads not only to self-respect, but makes us aware of our own impact within the group. As a result we become less ego-fixated and "autistic". This creates an enjoyment of our collective diversity, rather than a struggle with self-pity/ importance, in which we have to continuously prove our superiority by putting others down. Equity and celebration thus replace pecking order, in which those on the lowest rung statistically suffer the least well-being (which sometimes includes inverted snobbery e.g. white educated, middle aged, middle class, male).

The meeting ended as we were discussing how this process can be seen in terms of a shift away from the use of toxic nuclear energy (based on the will) to a more life-affirming solar (coming from the Heart) and wind (breath/Soul) energy.

Afterwards we all felt v. energized by our Open Space exchange!