Transition Whatcom

Hi there - Juliet speaking,

We moved the Blog from the Twog to the Blog page - this came from a member's suggestion, and helps to provide a bit more coherence when looking for this weekly blog posting.


We've got a proposal that we'd like to get members feedback on - so if you see this Blog posting, we'd really love to hear what you think about this proposed annual renovation to the ning site - and New Year's is the perfect time to talk about it - a time of renewal and reconsideration of how to improve our efforts for the coming year!




Background: We've received many comments about how to make the ning site easier to navigate, especially when it comes to the GROUPS. This also connects to our larger Transition Mission - How do we help people have a clear call to Transition related action? How do we help create meaning by inspiring groups to meet face-to-face and take on the physical effort of working together on projects, documenting their work, and inspiring others? We know that this social network site is merely a means to an end - and is supposed to help make it easy to spread the word - which is:  HEY - YOU DON'T HAVE TO DO THIS TRANSITION THING BY YOURSELF! IT CAN BE AN AMAZING AMOUNT OF FUN! 


More nuts and bolts reasons to make changes to the groups:

  • Groups become inactive - peoples' interests change.
  • A group Creator moves to new neighborhood and no longer want to lead their Transition Initiative (ie. Transition Birchwood, Transition Samish, etc.), 
  • Some groups are merely discussion groups and do not intend to meet or do much more than share their best thinking on subjects ( a valuable process in and of itself - but we may want to clarify that).

The Proposal (Thanks to Rick Flug for this proposal):  Every year (in January?) we will archive the ning site. The Ning site creator (David McLeod) has the capacity to archive the site. That way any important information will be available to the group leaders - though I'm sure there is more to find out about this process - we don't have all the details yet.

The Twogs will make their best effort to determine who is leading each group, whether or not it is the group creator. They will ask the person if they want to continue to lead the group into the new year. If the group creator needs to be changed because the group is either inactive, or the Creator is not participating in the group anymore, the group will be deleted. (I've deleted a group before, it's not so bad).

Then the group can be recreated with a fresh leader, and any other renovations the group leader proposes - to the photo, the group's mission, etc. The trick will be is that everyone will need to rejoin the groups that have been deleted and re-created. This will give each member an opportunity to re-consider what groups they want to participate in during the coming year. That's basically it... What do you think?


The personal contact to each group leader will help the Twog to provide guidelines regarding what we've noticed that helps make for an effective group, and will help us to focus and guide groups that want to participate in creating the EDAP - the Energy Descent Action Plan for Whatcom County.


So PLEASE give us any feedback you have on this proposal - it would be super helpful to hear from you....


THE ASSEMBLY ON DECEMBER 11TH was a wonderful event! Thanks to all who participated. A wonderful innovative idea came out of this event - Warren will be posting the minutes from the Assembly, but I encourage all the Twogs to continue to celebrate and write about the important and fascinating group interactions that occurred on that day at the Center for Creative Expression. My deepest thanks to all who attended.

Back to the idea that I am hoping will unify us, get us meeting each other face-to-face, and provide a huge dose of participatory fun to our local Transition effort: Adam Ward and Chris Wolf will organize a monthly Transition Drinks at a roving location (very similar to Green Drinks) with areas for focused conversations and idea sharing around major EDAP subjects:  i.e., Food Security, Transportation, Energy Production, Heart and Soul, Economy, Housing, Education, Waste - with some note taking and summaries created at each gathering. So stay tuned - we should be hearing from the organizers soon. Or contact Adam or Chris and ask how you can help make this happen. 


A Very HAPPY NEW YEAR  to all - I'm off to trim the goats hooves!!

Love, Juliet


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Comment by Erin Dixon on January 2, 2011 at 3:29am

One last thought - trying to be part of the solution and not the problem (long posts that may not be helpful :-P   


If there is no way to archive the old and everyone still have access to it visibly and easily, then, worst case (and I am saying worst case) everyone could be given a heads up that the archiving has to be done and that they can have "x" number of days to go into any and all older information, copy and paste what they wish into word documents, or save as downloads, do uploads, whatever works for them so they can have all the past information that they want to keep for themselves and/or to share with others later on as things are again relavent which the topics certainly are circular as something that is a priority at one time, may get pushed down the list, and resurface as a priority months/years later.  Archiving would insure that 'all is not lost' even if not very accessible if that is the problem here - and allowing people adequate time to take what they want to save from the various places on the site - would offset this loss of easily accessible information for them. 


I love the old information and have spent hours reading what everyone has been blogging about, posting about, etc., but its definitely a bummer to check the date and realize I am way too late to respond, participate or be involved in any way.  Many areas on the site seem stale, dead, or inactive and it is discouraging especially when there was great stuff going back and forth - that is why archiving is a good idea - and to copy to personal computers the info most relative and cherished by each member before the archive.

Comment by Erin Dixon on January 2, 2011 at 3:16am

I saw one comment suggesting the subgroups of the TW group as a whole band together to regroup and prioritize - I was thinking the same thing.  I can clearly see the value in all the subgroups but I also know there are not enough hours in my day to sift through them all to determine what 'fits' for me and what doesn't  - all of them have valuable information and one could contribute to each - how do you choose?  At any rate, I agree there is a sense of urgency and a regrouping as a whole seems important especially at the start of a new year, and as we are seeing a hike in prices (gas, coffee, etc) already occurring as many have been waiting for over the past several months.  Our usual brand of coffee jumped $2.00 literally overnight - or from the last can I purchased to the one I bought 4 days ago.  That is pretty steep relative to the cost of the item and all at once vs. smaller increments.  Gas has gone up from the one station we have gone to since August from $2.79 to $3.05 (last week, may not be more this week I havent been near there yet).  I have seen 4-5 increases at what is the least expensive station I have found in Bham in 5 months.  So these are smaller increments, less likely for people to notice unless you are OCD watching things like this as I do as they are all indicators of how fast things are changing (the big things) that these smaller things are makers or guages for.  Commodities right on target and in usual speed went up on a number of staples 3-4 months before it was realized on grocery shelves and we are just now at the beginning of this and coffee stood out as I was literally standing in shock thinking it did not jump $2.00 from one week to the next even though I have been bracing for these price hikes - its another splash of cold water on the face - saying wake up, get moving, get active, get organized, prepare.


Also, for newcomers like myself to this site, and others as this was mentioned by a number of you original folks and long timers to this site, the calendars are one thing that could definitely be archived.  Seems like a small thing perhaps (like an increase in coffee last week or gas crossing the $2 into the $3 boundary ($4 - $5 not far away at this pace), but the events calendars being so outdated, and yes, many of the blogs, twogs, forums, what have you give a sense of the site being stale, the issues being resolved (or given up on) to the casual visitor to the site and/or the various groups, etc.  I think if one group, event calendar etc., is clipping along and current that is great, but what if that is not the group a newcomer lands on and instead finds things dated 2009?  Now that it is 2011 - that seems like a REALLY like time ago especially at the warp speed everything (all the issues) are moving, increasingly, since then. 


I understand the value of being able to look back at information for old timers to the site as well as newcomers without a doubt.  But, archiving if accessible to the general membership is a good thing, not a bad thing.  Maybe I missed a point - archiving cannot be accessed by the GM?  If it can then archiving would clean up the site, keep it looking current, vibrant and alive, and more efficient saving time of people who have limited time to read and reply by not wading through streams of old comments which personally I have done many times.  I had to learn to check the dates before I responded - often I started to post something only to see my reply would be stale and no one would see it as I was replying to something dated 2009 or early, mid, late 2010.  There is lots of stuff from the summer and its great to read through it and have access to it - but its 'old news' now that this is 2011.

 My opinion, for whatever its worth being very new to this site but can relate to the struggles for newcomers to it in relation to what some have posted here, is that you keep the old and the new but separate them so that only 1 year is active at a time, each preceeding 12 months is then purged into the archives with the appropriate title, year, etc.  If I have missed something and it is not possible to have the archive accessible to the GM, then I dont know what the answer is but I agree with whomever said, time is of the essence increasingly as the months/years march on and the site is too cluttered and hard to keep on top of, respond, and participate both online and in person for the average bear - especially those with 9-5 type jobs, kids, pets, etc., etc., etc., it really needs to be cleaned up to get and keep people's attention and to garner participation from newer people.




Comment by J. C. Walker,Jr. on January 1, 2011 at 8:18am
I'd like to start out the New Year thanking for TWOG leaders for their energy put towards helping TW establish itself. From whether or not to call what were doing sacred, to coming to grips with what we're up against, I've have enjoyed watching some of these wheels turn before me. I appreciate the encouragement to make the face tot face happen. I'm hopeful the in house workshops will address this need. I've tried to be mindful with regards to ease of use when it comes to the Whatcom Mycological Response Team page. I'm up for suggestions. Thanks again J.C.
Comment by Heather K on December 31, 2010 at 11:13am

Juliet, I'm sorry my computer system underlined my last post.  That was not my intention, and the system doesn't let me edit it.  I'll attempt a repost.

Comment by Heather K on December 30, 2010 at 3:01am

Juliet & Twog team & Friends, I hear you asking for some detailed information & actions from the many TW group 'creators' and group adminstrators. ( I'm one of them as I manage 4 out of 5 network/work-groups I formed)


Many of these 40 + folks have not replied and may not have read your Twog- blog post.


Would you want to start a Forum/Discussion to gather this info as was referred to below, with a title that reflects the site restoration work that is being attempted?


I've posted more info & data in regards to your request on my blog, so to keep this post shorter.

( To View the blog link you need to be signed on to the site) .  My group data & thoughts posted here:


Ok thats the short....I recommend you all might want to skip the rest and read something more inspiring. :-)  -  Heather


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

My further thoughts: TW has had over 40 individuals from our community, who took a stand to create a group under their name on this very public community networking site. Some of these folks were part of the early growth of the WT site, helping it became a visible & interactive community networking site. Many were active before the Unleashing event.


With how things have been going ... my sense is ,we are losing the interest of many of these initial community leaders. Its hard to know all the reasons why....


I hope this loss is not due to the effects of many of us knowing there have been past consideration of closing the WT site, and more than once considerations of deleting groups if they are not judged to be 'active.' Many of the group 'creator's and leaders, are learning it can be easier to go back to using their email lists, or create their own website, than the expand the energy it takes to respond to questionaires, complaints, and the Ning quirks itself.  


The 34 group creators I'm aware of that we have not yet heard from are

Kate Wolf, Cindy Landreth, JW Walker, John D, Laura Seller, Tom Anderson, Danah P,

Randy S, Brian K, Morgan, Aviella H, Tristen , Travis L , Elena D, Alborz M, Steve H,

Bruce H, James B, Jim P, Janaki K, Francis E, Lia A, Laura Platt, Rob Olasen, Christie Cassel, Anneke B, Megan Westgate, Renata B, Chris Elder, Janet S, Walter Haugen, Cynthia L,

Naomi Shucard, Rob Van and Group Adminsistrator David P...(with many more possible.



We have heard from 7 of the over 40 TW group creators/administrators on this blog, these are:

Chris Wolf, Rebecca M, David Weigh, David M, Judith C, Juliet T, & Heather K,

( I apologize if I've missed someone who is a group 'creator' or admin who is listening in)

Communicating online is just not for everyone. I'm for food, warmth, & friends.


Respectfully, in the spirit of community. Heather K

Comment by Angela MacLeod on December 29, 2010 at 12:08pm

Hi Juliet and all,

Juliet wrote:


"As I understand, the archives would be posted in a location that all could access. So the information would be available to everyone who is interested in looking at it."


Are you sure that archived stuff will be accessable to all? If yes then I support archiving inactive groups and discussions. It would be terrific if it could be really clear and easy to see how to get to archived a tab on the front page that says "Archives for NIng site", or at least "Archives".

Juliet wrote:

"Do you wonder why there are several similar groups, each new one with a slightly different twist on the name, but basically the same as My Super Sustainable Vegetables group? The software doesn't let the group
creator change. Once you're a group creator, you'll always be that
group's creator. This appears to inhibit some peoples' participation."


My response:

Yes, I have been frustrated about trying to find info and topics when there are numerous similar sounding groups or discussions. I have refrained from starting discussions or groups because I couldn't decide where it made the most sense to post,  and I didn't want to add to the confusion. I have heard that other people don't even participate because of these types of issues. I try to be grateful for what the ning has to offer and be tolerant of it's limitations.  I have my own limits as to how much time I will spend trying to decipher the organic chaos here.


I would give up some autonomy here in order to have it a little more simplified. I want the site to be accessible and inviting to new members especially.


If things that are not active can be Archived and accessible I think this is an excellent idea.


Annually deleting groups and requiring people to restart and rejoin seems unrealistic, and not friendly. I can see how it would serve to get people to assess their level of aliveness for the group. But to have that forced on people doesn't seem good.


I really like this:


Discussions for topics, and work groups for actions...a new mini-mantra for navigating the ning.



Comment by Tris Shirley on December 29, 2010 at 10:06am

Might it be useful to add a link on the main page to a document that explains what the different sections of the ning site are for and a bit about how they work and how they are managed?  - A quick start guide of sorts.  It took me quite a lot of fumbling around to discover all the stuff we have on the site.  If there were a really simple guide to what is there and how to participate, it might help some of those who have expressed concerns about the complexity.  Or maybe there is such a document and I just haven't found it!  I probably don't know enough myself to write a quick start guide for the site, but I'd be willing to help.

Comment by Juliet Thompson on December 29, 2010 at 12:54am


Thanks for everyone's comments. So I'm also asking all of you who have started a group that is no longer active, to look at your group and see if you can find a leader for it.  Thanks for jumping in with your idea to take care of that for Franklin Park Gardening Group, Chris...

If you are the only administrator of a group and the group is inactive, try seeing if there are 2 others to whom you can give administrative rights for that group. They can change the picture, the title statement, and help to make the group their own. They just can't become the creator - that's how the ning software works.

Let's start with defining inactive as 3 months of no activity, sound alright? If you can't find another administrator, and if your group is inactive, could you let me or anyone of the Twogs, or David Mc  know if you'd consider  archiving the group? If it's possible to do that in the next 2 or 3 weeks that'd be wonderful. January 15th or there-bouts? 

Do you wonder why there are several similar groups, each new one with a slightly different twist on the name, but basically the same as My Super Sustainable Vegetables group? The software doesn't let the group creator change. Once you're a group creator, you'll always be that group's creator. This appears to inhibit some peoples' participation.

I am hoping that we can start to simplify the ning site sooner, so that the Twogs or even the Twinks (next generation of organizers) will not have to deal with fallout and complaints because the ning site is confusing and largely dormant. It's already coming up as an issue. I hope we can carry out a plan that keeps the ning site a tad bit simpler so that people who are new to Transition and curious about how to plug in through the ning  site aren't confused by a large number of inactive groups.

I hear what David W. said about certain groups being in "hibernation" - and this provides anyone with a group in hibernation with a great opportunity to do some outreach and to see if they can find another potential leader. To me, it seems like a huge service to turn the reins over to the next person, and to let go so that someone else can run for awhile. 

As I understand, the archives would be posted in a location that all could access. So the information would be available to everyone who is interested in looking at it.

Also David M's response to Tris, and the clarity with which he framed the two levels of participation was very helpful. Discussions for topics, and work groups for actions...a new mini-mantra for navigating the ning.

Heather, thanks for your comments, as always very insightful.

All of this is a learning process, and thanks to all for your interest and efforts. Still interested in more of your thoughts, and especially to your response to finding ways for people coming into TW to create a following without letting the ning site go rampant with many variations of similar sounding groups with longer and longer titles that are difficult to decipher and ....and... and...and....

Love, Juliet

Comment by christy in Bham on December 28, 2010 at 9:22pm
I think that it's a terrible idea and I would not spend the time rejoining groups. I believe the decision to delete or not delete a group should be left to the person who created the group and the group's members. It would be easy to take a vote and/or for members to leave a group if they wish. I agree w Heather that there is already a "Green Drinks" which I believe has been going strong for some time.
Comment by Heather K on December 28, 2010 at 1:14am

Re Proposal to consider annual 'Archiving' of some TW groups per Juliet's text:

quote: "...Every year (in January?) we will archive the ning site. The Ning site creator (David McLeod) has the capacity to archive the site. That way any important information will be available to the group leaders - though I'm sure there is more to find out about this process - we don't have all the details yet....." endquote


Juliet or David M, Once these details of the archive process are clearer and can be shared with us, it may become clearer on decisions re archive of any group

 I support David W perspective, that some groups are in a 'hibernation' status.  They still represent a useful network, valuable topic, and often contain resouces that we all may want to access at a later time.  I ditto Erica S thoughts too, and Rebecca I'm with you about so many of us just wanting to be outside gardening ...or bicycling...or sharing face to face at potlucks & garden-teas!. :-)


Chris, Hey sorry I missed the great Assembly!  I think your & Adams plan is super with the face to face networking.  One suggestion I've heard from some community members, is that there is already a community "Green Drinks" well established.  It would be respectful to their efforts,  if rather than using the term "transition drinks" that we chose another word....maybe something like "Transition Cafe' if those terms don't conflict with yet another  Whatcom county event.


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