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 Chris Wolf on December 28, 2010 at 12:12am
I think there are probably a few groups where the members would agree it could be deleted and no one would care.  I think of the Franklin Park Gardnening Club that I started when I first heard about Transition.  BUT... that would only be if the leader and several other members were contacted and they all said, Yeah, delete it, we never use it.  I would hate for someone to delete a group if members were still hoping to use it as a resource.  I know I need to contact my old Franklin Park group and ask people if I should close the group or not.  How about, I will commit to doing that one.
Comment by Erica Shuhler on December 27, 2010 at 11:01pm

(Juliet, thanks for prodding me to respond... ; )   )


I will say that I am not comfortable with completely wiping the slate clean every year, then keeping all the archived discussions available for group leaders only.  Seems too... heavy-handed.  Organic things are messy.  My thought is that we should find a way to embrace the messiness and evolve with it. 

I agree with Heather K about the potential time and energy this would consume on an annual basis.

I like David's ideas about using the Forums more for discussion, Groups more for action-oriented connections and Blogs for essays and, well, Blogs.

Happy Holidays!

Comment by David Waugh on December 27, 2010 at 9:18pm

I also advise against deleting any groups for the same reasons stated by Heather. Even if a group is inactive, it doesn't mean it's dead. An easy example is the Transportation group. I still don't have the energy right now to be fully in charge of the group and I wish someone would step up to help out, because I'd love to see the group become active again. Right now I'd say it's merely in hibernation.


I'll post other comments later if I come up with any after I have more time to think.

Comment by Heather K on December 27, 2010 at 8:22pm
 Re deleting TW groups, I agree with Judith and recommend this NOT be done in general, and only occasional exceptions be made.


Re archiving TW groups: IF there is a way to archive groups that can be accessed by all members, and If the group 'creator' or current 'administrators' are in agreement to having the group put into an

accessible 'archive' status, then I would recommend we explore this with just a couple groups to start with. It would be helpful to have specific guidelines established to choose what groups go into this status.


As our TW program has a computer language that was developed to allow fluent transparent networking, I'm not convinced its worth our time/energy to be spent deciding whether to delete or archive the over 60 groups that have been created on this site.

(Transition Globel has over 300 groups). Many of our TW groups provide valuable information, resources, and discussions, especially to those not able to attend every urban face to face gathering.


I encourage Twog folks to consider using a 2nd website like “.org” or “.com” that they can design & control in the way they desire - to showcase what they want to focus on for specific info, specific Events, Groups, Discussions. Blogs.


I'm aware other groups (there are over thousands worldwide), have a 'rule' that any group creator is 'required' to not delete their group when they lose interest, as that would delete all the useful information/ history/energy that all the other members put towards the group. Some of them also have 'guidelines' that any new group creator must agree to before having their group approved.

Twog folks could consider if it would be useful to their teamwork, to create their own online Twog TW-group to store their discussions & resources on.


I'll share more later, re specific groups to request to Not be deleted or archived.

Thanks Juliet & twog folks for the energy you share with your community!

Comment by David MacLeod on December 27, 2010 at 7:21pm

I think the idea of deleting groups and starting fresh each year is worth exploring.  I would support it if the idea receives popular support from others AND if a volunteer steps up to manage the process on this here Ning site, making sure it doesn't all fall on my shoulders. :)


A variation would be to not delete every group every year: only those where the group has become inactive, or the original creator has moved on and no longer wants his name at the top, or the TWOG has determined that the Group is a duplicate of an existing group, or...


I DO think we need to find some way to streamline the number of groups into something more manageable.  Many groups are discussion groups.  When I originally set up this site I was hoping most discussions would happen in the Forums.  In the Forums we can set up as many different topic areas as are needed.  So instead of a separate group for each discussion topic, we merely have different topics in the forums, where you don't have to join another group in order to participate.  Also, people won't be confused where to go to discuss something. 


Groups for planning hands on actions and EDAP related projects; Discussion Forums for interacting; Blogs for essays and individual expression.


Tris, a Group could be for actions, and discussion oriented groups could move to the Forums.  Regarding two levels of groups:  Level 1 could be joining the group online to stay informed about what the group is up to.  Level 2 could be those who show up at meetings and volunteer to get things done.  Level 2 membership (those who put skin in the game) could managed by the group leadership.


Judith, yes we need to be careful about deleting groups, to make sure that info captured there is archived in a way accessible to the group leadership.  And group creators should be careful about deleting discussions - maybe copy and email to those who posted, because sometimes that info is still valuable to the one who posted, even if it isn't valuable to the group admin.  I have lost info that I didn't have stored anywhere else.


Juliet, regarding limiting membership to geographical boundaries:  I'm guessing this is referring only to the neighborhood initiative groups.   Sometimes people have legitimate reasons for belonging to different geographical groups beyond the ones where they physically live.  For example, I live in Birchwood, but I work in Ferndale, and I still feel an affinity to where I used to live in Laurel.  However, I think the group creator can use their discretion in accepting members to the group as they join, not accepting those who live outside the geographical boundary.

Comment by Jamie Jedinak on December 27, 2010 at 7:06pm

I would like the chat groups - IE the chicken flock group's info to be passed onto the next year.  It is helpful to be able to go back thru the data and get info and recommendations from others.


Is this possible or is it an all or nothing deal?  Jamie

Comment by Shirley Osterhaus on December 27, 2010 at 6:06pm

It took me some time to find the Blog/Twog with the proposal and I'm still not sure i have it--but I think it is the New Year ning renovation and/or the monthly Transition Drinks and conversations. Personally, I don't enjoy conversing on-line, but do what I need to do on-line for work.  So not being a regular visitor to this site, I found it to be quite wordy.  I can't really comment on the ning renovation since i haven't used what is there.  I do like monthly transition drinks and focused face to face conversations and I would participate in that whenever possible.  I appreciate all the work so  many of you are doing to move the community to mindful and active in having a sustainable planet.  I'm with you!


Comment by Twog on December 27, 2010 at 5:54pm

Hi Tris and Judith,

Thanks for your feedback. I don't know all about the archiving property and think it would be requisite that the archived file could be reposted to the website. 


I also wonder about asking others to sign up for groups again. There are many people who have joined the site, but that's as far as they have participated. We would have an opportunity to engage them by asking everyone to rejoin the groups they are interested in.


The ning site as it stands is a useful tool for self-expression and for learning from others.


Some have expressed that membership in the Transition Initiatives groups should be limited to those who actually live in the geographic boundaries of that Initiative. The work-around for this is an email list outside of the ning site, which allows the organizer to limit it to those who live in the neighborhood.




Comment by Judith Culver on December 27, 2010 at 12:10pm

Please be cautious about deleting groups.  An example is the Personal Finance group.  We have been documenting ideas and resources in our discussions.  It would be a big loss if they were deleted and we had to start over.  Also if archived, it would not be available to members who need to look back or add to discussions.

I would also hesitate to ask everyone to sign up again.  I think we would lose people who may just be listeners now but are valuable to the transition.

Maybe group administrators could be asked to delete discussions if they have that capability.  The same with changing the leadership.  Maybe that could be done by adding a new group administrator.


Comment by Tris Shirley on December 26, 2010 at 9:12pm
Thanks for starting this Juliet.  Given that people may have different levels of interest in different groups and limited time for Transition activites, might it be possible to have two levels of participation in a group?  One for those who want to meet and do things and one for those who might just want to participate in the discussions.  I should think we would welcome participation on either level, but it would be nice to know who's who.  An alternative would be to have discussion groups and action groups with the same focus somehow, but that might be too complicated and/or confusing to the participants.  Just a thought....

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