90% of Transition St Albans’ recruits are new to the organisation
Transition St Albans have now recruited 14 local Streets groups. Staggeringly, of the 40 households now involved, only four were originally linked to Transition St Albans – a testament to how well they have got the message across to their neighbours.
‘Without the Streets-wise session, it would have been much harder to approach neighbours I didn’t know about a local meeting’ says Gail Jackson from St Albans. ‘Instead I felt grounded in a particular approach: the day helped create a vision and carry it forward’. Gail went on to start an enthusiastic 11-strong Transition Streets group in her street after her training. Read Transition St Albans_recruitment_tips.
Gail hadn’t previously been involved in her local Transition initiative, but was drawn immediately to the idea of Transition Streets when she saw it featured in a video, Transition Movie 2.0, shown by Transition St Albans. ‘I was quite inspired by the idea of networking in the neighbourhood as a good way to explore sustainability’, says Gail. ‘I’m a bit of a neighbourly person and I felt it could work here’.
They used Lottery funding to cover training, materials and some management time. Back in November 2012 Fiona Ward and Hal Gilmore from the Streets-wise programme explained how the project worked in Totnes to the St Albans project team including Gail, encouraging them to decide if they wanted to make the commitment to become local initiators and set up new groups on their streets.
‘It was a great day, there was such a buzz in the air’, says Catherine Ross, co-ordinator of St Albans’ Transition Streets project. ‘It was absolutely excellent. The biggest thing was bringing everyone together, getting us all focussed on what we needed to do. Fiona and Hal are very good trainers: they had a really good balance between giving us information and giving us space to talk. It was tailored to what we asked for, both in advance and on the day. It was useful splitting us into two groups: those who’d be local initiators and those who’d be in budgeting and planning roles. They also gave us all the Totnes materials, which has helped us get our project going much faster.’
‘It was fun and well-paced, with a good mix of talking and doing’, agrees Gail. ‘It was extremely informative with lots of opportunities for reflecting, sharing and talking about what the project could mean to us both individually and as a group, so that we understood what we were taking on’.
In particular, Gail says: ‘I was extremely taken by the open use of non-authoritarian group methods: the way the initiator, or facilitator, sets up a group then leaves it to run itself. This can be challenging for those who are used to taking on a leadership role with groups, but I’m very interested in this dynamic of Transition Streets.’
After the training day, Catherine immediately set to work adapting the Totnes Streets’ leaflet* for St Albans’ use, with support from Streets-wise. Like the other initiators, Gail put these leaflets through 40 neighbours’ doors, inviting them to her house one Sunday evening to explain more about Transition Streets. After thinking no one would turn up she says she found herself in a room of 11 people, made lots of tea and coffee, showed a YouTube video about the Totnes project and got people talking. By the end of an hour everyone had decided to definitely sign up to get the workbook.’
‘That’s why people are coming, because of the focus of the workbook, which helps us all look at energy, recycling, transport and food. I also think that coming together as a community in itself functions as a green tool. People already have something in common – that they share living on the same street – and the group’s cohesiveness is a huge strength,’ says Gail. ‘I would absolutely recommend it other community groups, and I think it could have great use in a number of settings because it’s organically creative: a cohesive framework for action’.
* leaflet templates now available in Microsoft Word