This is one of two TTM blog posts featured in the Monthly Roundup of What’s Happening in out in the World of Transition by Transition founder Rob Hopkins.
It seems like everyone is trying to find their tribe. This is true of activists or activist wanna-be’s, but even people who don’t have a desire to march on Washington and get arrested like our fearless environmental leaders did on Wednesday have this urge for easy community. We naturally seek out people who share our world-view. It just makes conversation and trust in any kind of relationship come a little bit easier, with more ease. Having a tribe roots us, gives us a sense of belonging.
I have been seeking a tribe, a community, for most of my adult life. Feeling like the odd one out in my small Georgia town, I didn’t have much community at all as a child. As a family, we were essentially loners. College offered it briefly, but it became pretty clear after college ended that the community was built on living in close proximity rather than a shared world-view. Graduate school offered more of the same. I did not, I don’t think, truly explore community until I became rooted in my little town of Media Pennsylvania. That is to say, until I began needing people and helping people in return, I did not come to fully understand what having a tribe meant. At first it was simply centered on children and parenting skills and advise. With no family anywhere nearby, I truly needed friends (and they needed me apparently) to navigate the minefield of decision-making that is being a new parent. And it was a little less lonely…
But as my children grew, and the nature of parenting changed, once again the idea of community began to change. I felt called to give to a broader community, to explore a world of people right outside my doorstep who might share my discomfort with our collective path, who knew that big changes were coming, who were committed to making steps together to prepare. That is when I found Transition. The Transition group in my town was relatively new, and I had heard of their work and even attended a book group to explore the idea. But I didn’t know how to join, how to fit in. I didn’t understand the path to take to make an entry into what seemed like a small group of friends doing this work.
My path in began with an idea. I had been following the idea of timebanking for a few years, having first heard about by literally stumbling upon it. It fascinated me, this idea of alternative currency, and set my mind on fire. I kept coming back to it, month after month, convinced that this would make an impact in my community and be a service to people, to connect people. One day I simply committed to doing it and set down the steps as to how. I made calls, watched videos, ordered books, looked into filing PA incorporation paperwork. I read up on other timebanks. And then I sent an email to the Transition team here in my town. They were likely allies, in my mind. Perhaps they would want to help? Not only did they want to help, they enveloped me in their working circles, and thus I found my way in.
But if you are new to the idea of Transition, want to get involved, how do YOU make your way in. My path, after all, is just one way. If you feel that you want to contribute or are just merely interested, where do you start? Like Glenda the Good Witch suggested, “It is always best to start at the beginning…” So, where is the Yellow Brick Road of transitioning?
The first step…the first yellow brick…is searching yourself. What are your interests? Environmentalism? Local business development? Local food systems? Energy issues? Transportation issues? Do you like throwing events and helping non-profits? Do you have office space or skills that could be put to use to make our town a better place? Do alternative currencies and public banking excite you? I could think of dozens of other avenues in. What interests you? What gifts do you have? Some people will know immediately. Some will find only confusion when answering that question. No matter, there is always a second step to take, and things become more clear with time. If you don’t know what you would like to offer, maybe you will make a friend, and through that friendship, find your voice. Maybe you will hear someone speak on a subject that tickles your interests. Even the smallest acts can be of profound importance. You don’t have to know the end to just begin. Ask Dorothy.
Events: You can follow our calendar from our website through an RSS feed or from Facebook posts, and then come to events that interest you. Identify some people who seem to be active at these events and engage them in a conversation about your interests. Everyone working in Transition everywhere in the world is interested in talking to people in our communities that come to our events with questions and energy. That is the whole point of transitioning, to harness that energy, to help everyone’s gifts be used in service to making our communities a better, more resilient place to live. Ask how your gifts, interests, and energies might be of service. Or, if you have an idea — like I did with the Timebank — talk about it and how we might be of support. We have 501c3 status, we have a Timebank that can support initiatives with volunteerism, we have an organizational structure that is flexible and adaptable. We don’t, however, have much money…but certainly we can be of service. And we are working on the money part in creative ways as well.
Working Groups: Our working groups have regular meetings and are open to the public. If you know that your interests lie in, say, retrofitting houses to make them more energy efficient or in developing our local food system, we have working groups who need members and new energy and will welcome you in. Our particular Transition community has working groups that meet regularly in: Heart and Soul (the psychology of changing times), Local Food, Energy, Timebanking, Outreach (marketing/events), Steering (organizational issues), Core Group (meets weekly to hash out all the details of events and initiatives), Local Economy, Reskilling, and Healthcare. If there is not a local working group that seems to “jive” with your sense of what you would like to offer, then come to a Steering or Core Committee meeting and let us know what you’d like to create. New working groups can form easily from your vision.
Again, all meetings are open to the public. This is not a clique; there is no social barrier to entry. We welcome all, gratefully and with joy.
So, if your sense of giving is calling you to give to your community through the Transition effort, what are you waiting for? Your tribe awaits you. Just start at the beginning and follow the Yellow Brick Road.