Neil blogging at the conference
Opening ceremony! Great feeling of anticipation and nervous tension, or was that just us at the front saying a few hurried words to a large audience... A welcome song from Guinea, learnt in two parts then sung in a big circle (which wasn’t too easy as we couldn’t move any of the chairs in the chapel). Then brief welcoming of people of different ages, nationalities etc. Finally mapping, with everyone standing in geographical relationship to the centre of the universe – Liverpool!!

It was great then to ‘get into it’ with the first workshop. I attended Health and Wellbeing where we had a group of approx 14. After brief intro’s we gave short descriptions of projects we’d been involved in. Then a good discussion time on lots of shared interests, from sustainable living, healthy herbs to eat, to challenges of future healthcare. Also; should wellbeing be a higher priority within Transition movement?

Sunny lunch, chatting to someone from Transition Heathrow about their greenhouse squat, and Met police raiding them on the day of the Royal wedding!

Onto the next workshop – I attended what was titled ‘diversity and faith groups’ but had been narrowed to just faith (not quite sure why). Very interesting discussions from people of different faiths in the room, as well as atheist/agnostics. Awareness of secular nature of transition, and certainly considering some comments made in chapel by speakers, religion is not particularly valued by some here. But I discovered many connections between faiths and transition – in particular that they are both value-based, with potentially similar values of ‘one-ness’ human and nature.

Onto the hot-topics session aka fishbowl. I attended social justice and we had some great speakers including two campaigners about the tar-sands; one Canadian first nations, the other a Sikh from Birmingham. Their message was about the injustice suffered by the residents of British Colombia, and the complicitness of the British corporate especially Royal Bank of Scotland (supposedly publicly owned). They were off to an EU meeting to lobby for laws to prevent this oil being imported! Discussion moved onto social justice and diversity as experienced locally by our groups (full details in another post).

Over dinner I chatted with Monica and Issa from Brazil. They were telling us about work in the slums, and building geodesic bamboo and ‘superadobe’ building for a classroom for the local school. Also about recycling crafts/enterprise going on within transition groups. 

Final session was a talk by Jay Griffiths, about kindness in wildness. She has been ‘walkabout’ for 6 years living with indigenous people in forests etc. She spoke very poetically saying that kindness is not weak and foolish, as is portrayed in the media, but rather it’s the hot strong passion of nurturing and kindling and living in harmony with your place in nature. That when people ‘settle down’ and start to lose contact with wildness, this may be the trigger for cruelty and causing humiliation. Lots of comments and questions followed. One memorable thought was the Greek myth of the god Chaos living between the village and the forest, and maybe Chaos should be god of transition!

by Neil Chadborn



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