Every year, TTM holds a Planning meeting at which we take stock of how we did in the previous year and then jump into planning the year ahead. This year’s meeting was held on Saturday, January 14th. We’d like to share some of the highlights of our past year as well as a few of the hottest ideas for the new year.
2016 was a tumultuous year – our country seemed deeply and irrevocably divided about its most basic values. Even family members and friends avoided discussions that might cause schisms. Communicating openly and honestly was never more challenging but never more needed. The Transition movement, and TTM in particular, typically stays politically neutral, although we support actions that care for the environment, that lessen worsening climate change, and that lead to a more just and fair economy.
Transition basically asks 3 questions. First, what’s really going on? Let’s look honestly at our world and the society we’ve created and take stock. What’s the future we’re heading towards? Is this the future we really want? Next, if TTM does a good job, what would Media look like in 10, 20 or 50 years? What do we want it to be like? What might be different? And lastly, based on that envisioned future, what can we start building today? Transition is not reactive, not remedial, it’s transformative. It’s about creating the future we want and then living into it.
So, how have we done so far?
2016 Year in Review.
Here’s some highlights of what we accomplished in 2016.
25 events! 9 Solarize Greater Media informational events from Jan through June and a completion party in November; a Free Store/TTM potluck to acknowledge the volunteers; a sing-along and a Happiness Slam for International Happiness Day in March; a bicycle repair clinic at the Fire House in April; participating in the Penn State Brandywine Social Justice Fair in April; running the Swarthmore College Trash 2 Treasure sales; a Free Store 2nd Anniversary party; Summer Solstice; a summer get-together with MidAtlantic Transition groups; singing at Dining under the Stars and participation in the Compassion Games with Penn State Brandywine for the International Day of Peace (Sept 21); the 5th Annual Free Market in September; a new Bingo Night Fundraiser in October; the 5th Annual Green Sunday Holiday Fair; and a 2nd Annual Winter Solstice Celebration in December.
Solarize Greater Media, a campaign to help residents in the Greater Media area get affordable solar panels for their homes. Despite running into major problems getting some people’s installations approved by PECO to connect to the grid, we managed to get 37 new solar homes installed this year (out of 50 signed contracts), generating about 270kW. We’re also proud that new Solarize campaigns are starting up, inspired by our success, one in Center City, one in Mount Airy, and one in Easton PA.
The Free Store went through major renovations this year – inside, outside and internally. The tree in our front yard got some much-needed TLC, new walkways were put in, new shelving and counters were built inside, and a new training was developed for the volunteers. Through it all, the amazing dedication of the Free Store volunteers shown through – they weathered all the changes beautifully and the store is noticeably cheerier than it was. Their passion for keeping goods out of the waste stream and into the hands of those who want and need them, creating a stronger community and a sharing economy in the process, is as strong as ever.
The Timebank continues to be used without much attention on our part. Late in 2016 we were approached by FUSE Delco, an urban/suburban partnership that wanted to have their own Timebank but are experimenting with using our Community Timebank feature, a Timebank within a Timebank. The New Avenue Foundation is also interested in using our Timebank to give its members Time Dollars for their volunteer efforts.
The Food Group maintained the Yardens Facebook page – a very lively and informative source for Yardeners with frequent “tips” for our local food growing neighbors.
The Reskilling Group put on the popular bike repair clinic at the Media Fire House this year.
Inner Transition, a group that focuses on cultural change at the personal as well as group level, had monthly meetings and book discussions.
Heart & Soul put on Happiness & Peace Day celebrations as well as the beautiful Winter Solstice.
EDAP (Energy Descent Action Plan) Group held several workshops to write articles about our Transition vision for the future. It didn’t get completed this year, but it has some renewed interest this year.
Direct action: Our members took important actions on the political scene this year. One started a very impactful campaign to stop the Mariner East 2 pipeline from coming through this area. Two traveled to Standing Rock to support the protest there and another held two get-togethers at her house to showcase her daughter’s work filming the protests. None of these were TTM projects but were strongly supported by our members. Members also took part in vigils and discussions to improve communications across racial and political lines.
Networking/outreach: We had a big uptick in promotional opportunities last year. Two of our members were interviewed on the TV show Race on Main St promoting our Solarize campaign. Three of us did one about the Free Store & the Timebank on the Trinity Broadcasting Network. There was also a big writeup on New Year’s Day in the Phila Inquirer on the Solarize campaign and the PECO connection problems we ran into. A lovely article about the Free Store was published in Kosmos Journal. We took part in the Penn State Brandywine Social Justice Fair, talking about the Free Store and responsible consumerism. We also gave talks about the Timebank at the Johnson & Johnson Co at their Environmental Fair in West Chester, about the Solarize project at Neumann University, had a table at the Unity Fair, and participated in vigils and racial justice workshops with area churches and other groups. We bought two commemorative bricks for the Media Upper Providence Free Library’s new building campaign with money raised entirely from donations from Steering Group members. We continued our collaboration with the Media Borough Environmental Advisory Council (EAC), which advises Borough Council on environmental matters. And we have good relationships with many of the area churches. We launched a redesigned website early in the year and managed several Facebook pages and groups: the TTM Share, Swap, Meet group continues to be very popular and very active; the Media Free Store group grew from 5300 members at the end of 2015 to over 7000! All in all, we initiated or deepened a lot of great connections in 2016.
So, that’s a run-down of the past year. As usual, we did a lot and accomplished a lot and managed to have fun while doing it. But our resources, primarily our volunteers’ time, need to be used strategically so we can get the most done as effectively as possible while still taking care of ourselves and each other. Burnout is a very real hazard in a volunteer organization like this one where everyone is so passionate about what we’re doing. Part of our Annual Planning workshop is to think carefully about what we can take on while still handling everything else in our lives, to choose what will make the biggest difference for reaching our goals, how to partner with others so we can stretch our resources farther. We have a big job to do, so let’s get to it!