Transition

Transition is an international movement that has been growing since 2005.  It is about communities stepping up to address the big challenges we face by starting local.  By coming together, we are able to find solutions. We seek to nurture a caring culture, one focused on supporting each other, both as groups or as wider communities.

In practice, we are cleaning up the environment, reclaiming the economy through initiatives such as Buy Nothing and community gardening, sparking local leadership by mentoring youth, creating community, educating through camps, films and forums, and weaving webs of connection and support.  It’s an approach that has spread now to over 50 countries, in thousands of groups: in towns, villages, cities, universities, schools.  The WCGT became a transition community this year. We really hope you feel inspired to take part in this work and we’d be honoured if you did

In 2022, we plan to continue by expanding community gardening opportunities, spreading pollinator gardens throughout the area, working with the borough to reduce plastic use and this year, we are planning a community wide celebration in May, called Front Porch Concerts West Chester.  

History of West Chester Area Transition (WCAT)

West Chester Area Transition, the latest initiative of the WC Green Team, became fully functional early in 2021, with regular meetings, three programs underway, and two more in the planning. On July 12, Transition US notified us that it had approved the membership application of West Chester Area Transition.

In January 2021, a group of Green Team leaders and friends engaged in a brainstorming activity following the guidelines of the international Transition movement, which asks:  “What does your town need?”  Out of this activity came five ideas which were discussed and narrowed down to three for 2021. 

First, we decided that the community needed more community gardens and now we added three.  We worked with Barclay Friends, the Lockard family and the Melton Center on this project, whose coordinators were Elizabeth Schultz, Nathaniel Smith and Ashlie Delshad.

As part of this outreach, the Green Team asked two of our hosts, Barclay Friends and the Melton Center: “What can we do for you?”  At Barclay we taught gardening skills to the staff, growing herbs to be used in the residents’ dining hall, and providing a concert in the garden for residents and gardeners and their families.

At the Melton Center, we agreed to provide children’s programming and held eight evening events, including a planting activity, a folk tale about peaches from Japan, sessions on how pumpkins grow and on beneficial insects, and finally an ice cream party–with no-dairy options–along with stories from New Zealand.  

Another Transition initiative is Living Landscapes, in which a team led by Courtney Finneran is piloting removing grass and planting pollinators.

Our other 2021 initiative was cutting down on plastics. One of Prof. Schraedley’s communications classes reached out to about 60 restaurants and businesses in the Borough and about plastics reduction in the context of the Borough’s Sustainable Storefronts initiative (see more details and update here).

If you would like to volunteer to help out in any of these programs, or would like to donate to these good causes, please contact Margaret at mhudings@gmail.com.

You can read about WCAT on the TransitionUS site. See an earlier summary of West Chester Area Transition’s work here. Read about other nearby Transition groups Phoenixville Area Transition here, Transition Town Media here, and Wilmington in Transition here.

See more WCAT background here.

Transition US logo

From the overall Transition movement’s self-description:

Transition is a movement of communities coming together to reimagine and rebuild our world.

The international Transition movement began in 2005 in Totnes, England, and has since spread to over 1,200 communities in 50 countries around the world. Transition is about communities stepping up to address the big challenges we face by starting at the local level. We seek to nurture a caring culture, one focused on connection with self, others and nature. We are reclaiming the economy, sparking entrepreneurship, reimagining work, reskilling ourselves and weaving webs of connection and support. We are engaging in courageous conversations; extraordinary change is unfolding.

Every Transition Initiative is independently-run, responding to the unique challenges and opportunities that exist in our local communities. However, we are bound together by a similar outlook, a common set of principles, and a five-stage model for scaling-up our impacts over time.

Our Principles

We respect resource limits and create resilience

The urgent need to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, greatly reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, and make wise use of precious resources is at the forefront of everything we do.

We Promote Inclusivity and Social Justice

The most disadvantaged and powerless people in our societies are likely to be worst affected by rising fuel and food prices, resource shortages, and extreme weather events. We want to increase the chances of all groups in society to live well, healthily, and sustainable livelihoods.

We Adopt Self-Organization and Decision-Making at the Appropriate Level

The intention of the Transition model is not to centralize or control decision-making, but rather to work with everyone so that it is practiced at the most appropriate, practical, and empowering level.

We Pay Attention to Balance

In responding to urgent, global challenges, individuals and groups can end up feeling stressed, closed, or driven rather than open, connected, and creative. We create space for reflection, celebration, and rest to balance the times when we’re busily getting things done. We explore different ways of working which engage our heads, hands, and hearts that enable us to develop collaborative and trusting relationships.

We Are Part of an Experimental, Learning Network

Transition is a real-life, real-time, global social experiment. Being part of a network means we can create change more quickly and more effectively, drawing on each other’s experiences and insights. We want to acknowledge and learn from failure as well as success – if we’re going to be bold and find new ways of living and working, we won’t always get it right the first time. We will be open about our processes and will actively seek and respond positively to feedback.

We Freely Share Ideas and Power

Transition is a grassroots movement, where ideas can be taken up rapidly, widely, and effectively because each community takes ownership of the process themselves. Transition looks different in different places and we want to encourage, rather than unhelpfully constrain that diversity.

We Collaborate and Look for Synergies

The Transition approach is to work together as a community, unleashing our collective genius to have a greater impact together than we can as individuals. We will look for opportunities to build creative and powerful partnerships across and beyond the Transition movement and develop a collaborative culture, finding links between projects, creating open decision-making processes, and designing events and activities that help people make connections.

We Foster Positive Visioning and Creativity

Our primary focus is not on being against things, but on developing and promoting positive possibilities. We believe in using creative ways to engage and involve people, encouraging them to imagine the future they want to inhabit. The generation of new stories is central to this visioning work, as is having fun and celebrating.