Friday, January 1, 2010

TLA Structure

Coming out of the December 2008 Training for Transition (T4T), our organizational structure looked like this.

Yet Naresh and Sophy had taught us how Totnes' "open center" structure fostered autonomy, creativity, and passionate interest in projects.

Thus the model for our LA structure will be more like the umbellifer form of the familiar California fennel found in our local hills.

At first glance, what one notices is the vast array of flowers or seeds. These flowers -- equating to our local Transition "pods" -- are where the main activity and excitement takes place. These local "pods" run independent from and parallel to each other as they host awareness-raising events, create physical projects, offer reskilling classes, and build community. And, just as a bee travels across the face of the fennel umbel, we will experience cross-pollination between our Transition groups as some individuals participate in several pods. (What is a "pod"?)

In the background--clearly secondary to the exuberant plain of color--the fennel flowers are delicately supported by the stem. In our Transition organization, our local pods are similarly supported by the TLA regional organization. TLA offers advanced education, cultivates regional political relationships, and provides area-wide administrative support.

Comments about L.A. structure from the draft application for official TI status that we're preparing (January 2009):

We believe that Los Angeles is an “exceptional situation.” In Los Angeles, where one named neighborhood blends smoothly into another, distinguishable only by the change in the color of the street signs, defining Transition Initiatives purely by localized Town-sized geography won’t work. When people live in one part of our major metropolitan area, work in another, and drive all over to see friends and family, there isn’t (yet) a sense of Belonging to a particular geographical place.

In Open Space at our December 2008 T4T we held a discussion of scoping for LA and other major urban areas (part of several months ongoing of such LA scoping discussions).

The team concluded that the organization which brought us together for the T4T -- the Environmental Change-Makers, which has done so much pioneering awareness raising in L.A. and has attained name recognition in the mainstream community -- has really been serving as our “initiating group” for Los Angeles. We are now ready to create another organization, Transition Los Angeles, which would be (in your terminology) our "local area hub." With an “open center” organizational structure, we envision local “pods” which are supported by this area-wide hub.

Because of the unique situation here in Los Angeles, we’d encourage Transition pods to arise in any of the following ways:
  1. pods based on existing organizations, places people already gather and feel a sense of belonging (a community garden, a church, etc) even though they likely drive cars to get there;
  2. pods based on walkable or bike-able geographical neighborhoods, which would be true relocalization; and
  3. pods based on specific topics like the Totnes model (Heart & Soul, etc).
We already have several formed pods, and more under formation, scattered between these 3 types of definitions.

In time, local pods would become full-fledged local Transition Intitiatves on their own (several are somewhat close, but are still working on essential elements of the criteria). Meanwhile, Transition Los Angeles would become a place to support and unify Los Angeles efforts.

Comments about the Umbelliferae family design....

"what I also like about it is that it has many of the elements of the TLA ideals within its family. I studied this family through homeopathy.... many of the members are food (carrot, parsnip, celery, fennel, lovage) and many are also important medicinals (angelica, hemlock conium), coriander, gota kola), and then spices that both energize our lives, protect us in the environment, and heal us emotionally (cilantro, dill, caraway, cumin, lovage, anise)

"I also like the idea of the hub being the stem (is there a better word for stem?).. it supplies support, nourishment, and rooting. The flowers of the umbelliferae family are very attractive to all kinds of insects (in homeopathy, we almost call it almost promiscuous)... but that means we, as TLA, will attract many kinds of people and many kinds of projects, and will cross pollinate naturally. And each of the pods... will have their own flower bunch." --JM

Also: "Any 'structure' that was based on the Fibonacci numbers would be resilient. Obviously we also need to allow for natural growth and change - the 'structure' needs to allow for the 'seasons' to express themselves as we grow. It is worth spending time on this - we don't need to be in a hurry for a final structure and it needs to be able to evolve as the Totnes model has, but I agree that we need to learn from their experience. A design that reflects nature is best." --VC