NERT Action Planning – November 16, 2015 Update

NERT Nov 16 People!Last week thirteen members of the New England Resilience & Transition Network gathered for an Action Planning meeting in Jamaica Plain, Boston. Folks came from Montpelier, Vermont to Portland, Maine to New Haven, Connecticut, and many places in between. It was wonderful to have representation from near and far.

In the morning we focused on the NERT network itself. NERT now has 44 members across all six New England states! We discussed network engagement, support and inter-connection, in keeping with NERT Goals #1 and #2. We also discussed plans to convene a NERT Advisory Committee to help us stay connected with other networks and glean more information from around the region.

In the afternoon, we focused on NERT Goals #3 and #4: Articulate a Common Story that conveys our vision for a positive future, despite threats of climate change, resource shortages, inequities, and more; and Create a sense of “Network Self-Awareness” among resilience, Transition, and other grassroots groups in New England.

As we navigated this conversation, it became clear that more work needs to be done to clarify the NERT vision for the future, as well as our values. We also dug into the idea of producing a 5-minute video for the network to convey the Story of New England and consider what kind of future we want to build together. We agreed that the video should serve as a conversation starter about the future of our common region.

NERT Nov 16 AgendaWe had a rich conversation, asking ourselves: How does New England’s history position us well for a thriving, resilient future? We noted that there are many examples of inter-connection, resilience, and resistance to oppression in the history of the region that can shape our future in a positive way.

And we also asked ourselves how our region might heal and atone for the grievous sins of the past, including the genocide of the native inhabitants of this land. We noted that without a process of healing, our future will be shaped by these sins, but this time we will be living in a context of declining economic stability, climate change, and resource depletion. Not a pretty picture.

This conversation is far from over; in fact, it’s just beginning. We hope you’ll continue to be involved. To help produce the video, or get more involved with NERT in any way, just email Sarah at

Click here to see the full notes from the day.

1/20/16 Update: Follow-up conversations have made it clear that the ROCkers are not ready to pursue the video idea, for now.

ROCkers Continue to Rock Regional Resilience – January 19, 2015

ROCkers MLK Day

Members of the ROCkers

On January 19, members of the ROCkers met in Boston to continue the conversation about regional resilience and the upcoming gathering of the full New England Resilience & Transition network.

After introductions and a review of our network story that touched on past gatherings in Boston, Brattleboro, Portland, Keene, and Smithfield, we decided to tackle a big question: what are the objectives of the New England Resilience & Transition Network?

We had a vibrant conversation and came up with four overlapping and interconnected goals:

  • Support Inter-Connectivity, both among the grassroots groups that make up the network, and with other kindred networks, such as Food Solutions New England, New England Local Energy Network, etc.
  • Support Grassroots Groups by providing resources and inspiration to tackle issues like burnout, leadership, capacity, expectation-setting, and organizing. Help groups and individuals realize that they are not alone in this work.
  • Articulate a Common Story that conveys our vision for a positive future, despite threats of climate change, resource shortages, inequities, and more.
  • Create a sense of “Network Self-Awareness” among resilience, Transition, and other grassroots groups in New England, so that folks know this network is there to serve them.

See the Goals on this Google Doc.

After lunch, we talked about the upcoming gathering in Keene, NH, and articulated our goals for that event.

Keene, March 21 Gathering – Goals:

  • Provide space for people, groups and networks share their stories, lessons and practical tips with each other
  • Start the process toward articulating our Common Story (see above)
  • Strengthen relationships and connectivity
  • Raise awareness of the network itself, and convey the role of the ROCkers. Convey also that there will be a Fall 2015 gathering, and annual gatherings thereafter each fall.
  • Check in about the network goals (above)
  • Energize people and build momentum!

Read more notes about the upcoming Keene event in this Google doc.

The ROCkers also explicitly considered ways to enhance the connections we hold with other networks, and brainstormed a list of other networks with whom we’d like to connect. We considered shaping the Fall 2015 event around this form of interconnectedness, and decided to return to this question after the March 21 event.

  • Food Solutions New England
  • New England Local Energy Network – plus VECAN and others
  • Permaculture Institute of the Northeast (PINE)
  • Funders Network on Livable Communities (Transportation network)
  • New Economy Coalition
  • State Bank Networks
  • Co-Op Networks
  • The Environmental Justice Network
  • state networks
  • First People’s Tribes
  • National People’s Action State Groups
  • Occupy networks

What’s In a Name? Lastly, we decided to continue temporarily calling the network the “New England Resilience & Transition” network, which shortens to the silly and lovable acronym NERT. This will keep us honest and humble. 🙂

NERT Goals Keene Goals

ROCkers Meet and Discuss Regional Resilience

On Saturday November 1, 2014, the ROCkers (Regional Organizing Committee) met for their first in-person gathering to discuss increasing resilience in the New England region. We were hosted by Greg Sankey and others at Revive the Roots, a Transition initiative based at a beautiful farm and common space in Smithfield, RI.

ROCkersThe day was divided into three main parts. After introductions, we discussed “Our Story and Our Network.” Secondly, we focused on two key values: Equity and Resilience. After an amazing lunch of soup and eggplant parmesan–made from eggplants grown right there at Revive the Roots–we discussed next steps and hosting a Spring Gathering for the full network.

Our Story and Our Network

The New England Resilience & Transition network (exact name yet to emerge) has met four times over the past two years. We thought a bit about this history and what led to the formation of the ROCkers. We also delved a bit into “network theory,” noting that networks are based in connections, and can then move into alignment, and finally into action. Trust is the basis of a functioning network, so “whatever else we are doing, we had better also focus on building trusted relationships,” as one ROCker put it.

Source: Lisa Fernandes

Source: Lisa Fernandes

Our Values: Equity & Resilience

Next, we did an exercise to learn a little bit about each others’ class backgrounds. The exercise highlighted how complex and idiosyncratic our backgrounds are. We also had a wide-ranging and rich conversation about the race and class dimensions of our organizing. We used the following statements as prompts:

  • Equity is intrinsic to true resilience.
  • In order to succeed, we need to build a diverse, cross-class movement.

We noted that there are challenges to increasing diversity within our local initiatives, and with building alliances with groups doing related work who come from different class and race backgrounds (such as environmental justice groups). We discussed these challenges and also the successes some initiatives are seeing, as well as the importance of forging authentic relationships.

Next Steps

After lunch, we discussed the need to create a “network map” of both the initiatives involved in the bigger network and the greater landscape of activity in the New England region.

We also began a conversation about convening the full network of New England grassroots groups for a full Spring Gathering. We considered where and when to hold this gathering. A subcommittee is forming to examine this question further – please email to join it. We’d love your input.

See the notes from the meeting here.

Join the Regional Organizing Committee (ROCkers)! – New England Resilience & Transition

A letter from Keene attendees to grassroots groups in New England

Do you want to ROCK resilience regionally? Join the ROCkers!

This is a call to action to join the Regional Organizing Committee (aka the ROCkers), a New England network of resilience rockstars.

The ROCkers is an open, flexible, and transparent group. The purpose of the Rockers is to enhance local resilience in the New England region. We do that by 1) facilitating horizontal communication among initiatives, both in-person and online, and 2) collaborating on local and regional strategies and actions.

To join the ROCkers:

1. You must be active in a local resilience, permaculture, green, energy, food, sustainability, environmental justice, new economy, time banking, Transition, or other group.

2. You support the purpose of the ROCkers (above).

3. You commit to supporting and attending one in-person gathering per year, which will vary in location from year to year per the group’s decision. You also commit to attending three remote meetings per year, via conference call or online platform.

The structure and function of the ROCkers will be determined by its members at an in-person gathering we will co-create in the fall. Please come with your ideas, your wit, and your willingness to act!

To join the ROCkers, simply reply to Sarah Byrnes ( by Tuesday, July 15. We’ll then immediately start planning for our in-person fall gathering.

Discuss a “Regional Organizing Committee”

A letter from Keene attendees to the network of New England grassroots groups

When Resilience & Transition groups gathered in Keene on March 15, 2014, the facilitator asked whether New England is ready to form a regional structure for Resilience & Transition groups in New England. The answer was a resounding “yes.”

In response, we’re inviting you to discuss a “Regional Organizing Committee” (ROC – pronounced ROCK) – to take our region-wide resilience work in New England to the next step. We will affectionately call this Committee the “Rockers.”

The purpose of the Rockers will be to facilitate horizontal communication and action among initiatives, both in-person and online, to enhance local resilience in the New England region. In particular, the Rockers will ensure that the regional network of groups in New England convenes in person once per year (or more). Other purposes for the Rockers will undoubtedly emerge over time. We imagine that the Rockers would convene four times per year, once in person at the annual gathering, and three times over the phone or online.*

We are inspired by Rob Hopkins’ observation that local Transition initiatives often experience a “donut effect,” where a group’s energy drifts into projects and a gap develops at the center. It is exciting that projects to support regional resilience are happening in New England: a regional network of academics is forming, there is a regional Photo Slam, and folks are talking about a “Whole New England Catalog.” The Rockers will be designed to “hold the center” of this regional work and ensure that core region-wide communications carry on.

The Rockers will be an open, flexible, and transparent group. We set out these three simple parameters for membership:

  1. Members are active in a local resilience, green, energy, food, sustainability, environmental justice, new economy, time banking, Transition, or other group
  2. Members believe in the purpose of the Rockers and support the idea that local groups should be connected to each other across the region to enhance regional resilience
  3. Members commit to one in-person and three remote meetings per year, and have the technological capacity to meet over the phone and/or online.

This proposal is up for discussion and reaction. Please join a phone call about the Rockers on June 26 at 7pm. To attend, RSVP to Sarah Byrnes,, and we will send you the login details.

We are eager for your thoughts and need your involvement to make this happen! Please join us on June 26!

Josh Arnold, Global Awareness Local Action
Dakota Butterfield, JP NET & Transition Trainer
Dale Bryan, Tufts University & Mulling Over Medford
Sarah Byrnes, New England NET
Jamie Capach, Transition Keene Advocates
Steve Chase, Transition Keene Advocates & Transition Trainer
Dan Jones, Transition Town Montpelier
Jennifer Kleindienst, Coginchaug Area Transition
Orion Kriegman, JP NET
Conrad Willeman, Transition Newburyport

* Of course, we don’t expect the Rockers to shoulder all the detailed work. As has happened in the past, a group of folks will need to commit to various organizing tasks. For example, leading up to the events in Boston, Brattleboro, Portland, and Keene, a region-wide team of 6 or 7 folks worked with a local team to organize each event.