Transition Streets Challenge – building community

At the launch of the Transition Streets Challenge we asked the streets what they hoped to gain from the program. Not surprisingly one of the main themes was becoming more sustainable (e.g.”Increase our awareness about sustainability and how to adopt a 21st century way to do it.” “Help process all the information out there.” “Come together  and do some really good things the environment.”)

The most common theme, however, was building connections with other people in the streets (e.g. “Bring neighbours together and get to know each other a bit deeper.” “Connect with other people in the street.” “Use this a s a vehicle to continue the engagement of people in the community.”)

I think the strength of the Challenge is going to be in building relationships within the street that will last long after the Challenge is officially over. The ripples will be felt for years to come.

Because relationships is central to the Transition Streets Challenge, we tried to set the a positive tone in the workbook when we discussed working together as a group.

A major part of the Transition Streets Challenge is cooperating with your neighbours and so it is important to ensure your discussions and activities are a positive experience for all involved. The following are some practices (most of them fairly obvious) that could help make the Challenge work successfully.

Respect will be at the heart of a successful Transition Streets Challenge. People will come to the Challenge with different backgrounds, experiences, beliefs, commitments and priorities. This diversity can bring richness to our community (and the Challenge) and we need to respect differences. We can help show respect by:

  • Letting everybody have a say and actively listening to them.
  • Being reliable, trying to do what you say you will do, and letting people know if you  can’t.
  • Being understanding when other people can’t do what they said they would do.
  • Being committed to the process.
  • Respecting people’s privacy.
  • Offering practical and moral support to your neighbours.
  • Respecting people’s differing levels of involvement.

We hope they will create a very accepting, non-judgemental environment where people will feel welcomed, but also one which can get things done. It will be age old balancing act between task and process.

By the way, there are some photos of the launch on the Transition Newcastle facebook page. (You don’t need to sign up to facebook to see them.)

About Graeme Stuart

Lecturer (Family Action Centre, Newcastle Uni), blogger (Sustaining Community), environmentalist, Alternatives to Violence Project facilitator, father. Passionate about families, community development, peace & sustainability.
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