Keene NH – March 2014

On March 15, 2014, sixty-five people from around New England gathered in Keene NH to tackle a big topic: the resilience of our region as a whole. We had a lively discussion and came away with nine fun and impactful Action Ideas to build region-wide resilience. Check out the map below to see where attendees hailed from.

To get involved with the emerging network of resilience and Transition groups in New England, fill out the blue box in the right-hand column or contact Sarah Byrnes (sarah@localcircles.org).

Dakota Butterfield

Dakota Butterfield

We started the day off with a “Common Ground” exercise to find out who was in the room. We stood in a big circle – barely fitting into the space! – to start. Dakota Butterfield, our able facilitator, first invited folks from Connecticut to step into the circle. They each said their name, and were welcomed by the whole. From there, we met folks from the rest of New England’s states, and lastly, our participant from outside the region (Pamela Boyce Simms, the organizer of the Mid-Atlantic Transition Hub). Folks from Transition Initiatives, Time Banks and universities were invited into the circle, as were gardeners, bike-riders, and people “who have found a way to live joyfully during this time of crisis.” A heartening number of folks stepped into the Circle at that invitation.

Dan Jones

Dan Jones

 

Jennifer Atlee

Jennifer Atlee

After these fun intros and some inspiring words from the President Steve Jones of Antioch University in New England, we heard a brief “Story of New England” from Dan Jones and Jennifer Atlee. Their story grounded us in the layers of history upon which we stand here in New England – although, as Jennifer pointed out, “at one time New England didn’t exist.” Their story called to mind both the proud legacies we carry and the dark moments from which we need to heal. As Dan put it as he discussed the Puritanical belief in predestination, “We have to be careful about which set of cultural memes we hold on to.” Read their full Story of New England here.

The story led us into a moment of reflection. Dakota invited us to silently think about the past, the future, and this moment. What is calling for our attention? What is calling for our energy and work right now?

IMG_6446Keene 2 med IMG_6455This grounded us to launch into a conversation about the pre-drafted Concept Paper on Region-Wide Resilience. This paper spells out a rationale for considering the regional scale (in addition to the local and national ones), and lists ten key dimensions of regional resilience. Participants were invited to note where they disagreed, most strongly agreed, what “sparked” their interest, and more. The “dot exercise” and full group conversation revealed large areas of agreement among us, and we also identified areas that need further discussion (see the full notes from the discussion).

Over lunch, participants self-organized into tables focused on topics such as time banks (with hOurworld’s Linda Hogan) and the Mid-Atlantic Transition Hub (with Pamela Boyce Simms). In the afternoon we jumped into “Action Ideas.” We heard a brief overview of each of the nine ideas, and then went into breakout groups to dig into the planning of each.

One Action Idea was to create “Whole New England Catalog” modeled loosely on the Whole Earth Catalog of the 1970s. It will be a book showcasing the resources, tools, and other goods and services produced in New England to support our regional economy. Another idea was a New England “Photo Slam,” where folks from around the region will be invited to submit photos of resilience and Transition during the month of May. The pictures will be displayed online to show the collective impact of our work. Stay tuned for when and how to send in your photo!

IMG_6478Steve Chase summarized two other ideas in his blog post: first, a New England network of college and university faculty and students supporting the Transition movement through community-based research, student internships, and various service learning and civic engagement projects; and secondly, region-wide use of the the Sustain-A-Raisers “Starter Kit.” Developed by the NH-based, grassroots organization Global Awareness Local Action (GALA), the “Starter Kit” includes volunteer recruitment strategies, press release templates, a list of needed materials and tools, step-by-step construction guides, talking points and training curriculum, branding support, and an online orientation to help local community organizers engage their constituents in a people-powered sustainable home and yard makeover movement.

Huge thanks go out to Transition Keene Advocates and Antioch University for hosting the event, to Sarah Harpster and her team for the amazing food, and to Dakota for facilitating. Thanks also go to the “Ad Hoc Planning Team” and to the convening organizations: Transition Keene Advocates, Somerville Climate Action, Global Awareness Local Action, the Resilience Hub of Portland, Transition Montpelier, Transition Newburyport, and the Jamaica Plain New Economy Transition. Thanks lastly to the Institute for Policy Studies and the New England Grassroots Environment Fund for providing financial and other support.

To get involved with the emerging network of resilience and Transition groups in New England, fill out the blue box in the right-hand column or contact Sarah Byrnes (sarah@localcircles.org).