Transition Transition

In the summer of 2012, I made the decision to dedicate the next five years of my life to being fully present to two things: the perils that threaten our global climate and ecosystems, and the potential of regular people to find local solutions.

I quickly encountered the global Transition Town Movement and was drawn to it as one of the most accessible and transformative models that is unfolding on a global scale today. I met like-minded people like you in my community, and together we nurtured the growth of the Village Surrey Transition Initiative.

As those five year draw to a close this summer, I have decided that it is the right time for me to gently and respectfully step back from this work.

I acknowledge that I am just a strand in this network that we have built together, and that our decisions affect one another. You are a strand in this network too, and it is important to me that your work is honoured and that you are supported in whatever way might be needed.

I am open to this “Transition transition” taking whatever form feels right. I am open to supporting new ideas and new leadership if any of you would like to deepen your involvement and support the ongoing presence of a Transition network in our Surrey community.

I am also fine just quietly closing the doors, honouring the good work that has been done, and celebrating whatever projects continue.

I believe that Transition is serious stuff, and I believe that the Transition model offers something unique that few other paradigms do. Transition is about creating the conditions for the cultural and psychological change needed for our species to survive the wicked problems of climate change, ecosystem collapse and economic turbulence that confront us.

If we think of technology such as efficient light bulbs and electric cars as “hard technology,” the tools of Transition can be thought of as “soft technology.” Transition is a giant, global social experiment to change the ways in which we think and act in relation to our place on this rare and precious planet Earth.

Many people, myself included, believe that we are not lacking in the “hard technologies” needed to address our planetary crisis. The heartbreaking reality is that many of these promising solutions remain unused because we lack the collective psychological and social ability to change.

I believe that now, more than ever, communities need functioning and empowered Transition awareness and networks. I believe that every small contribution helps, but I’m also going to be candid: Transition requires a tremendous amount of hard work, dedication and sacrifice.

As I  step back from the work that I have been doing with Village Surrey for the past five years, I am hopeful that you will see a place for you to step forward individually or collectively.

Here are some of my hopes for what that might look like:

I hope that you will find a way to meet regularly. Meeting regularly will allow you to not only manage and share the logistical tasks of coordinating a Transition initiative, but will also help you to support each other socially and emotionally.

I hope that you use the resources available to you. An understanding of the “7 Ingredients of Transition” will raise your work above our community’s current understandings of “sustainability” and “social justice” work.

I hope that you acknowledge the importance of relationships and group process. An effective group, like any successful relationship, doesn’t “just happen.” It needs to be constantly nurtured and re-created. The “Healthy Groups” resource list is a good place to start.

I hope that you will reflect on your work. It is easy to get caught up in the energy of doing projects and hosting events, but unless you take time to reflect on the big picture you will just be spinning your wheels. The “Transition Health Check” is a great resource to guide you in this process.

I hope that you will make sacrifices. Dedicating yourself to Transition work is at least a part time job, and it is unlikely that the system you are trying to change will pay you for your efforts. No matter how many people come together, or how collaboratively you work, anticipate that you will likely need to make changes to your career and financial situation. This is part of the process.

I hope that you commit a minimum of three years of dedicated involvement. Three years is enough to get through the honeymoon stage and begin to see what the real challenges are. It is also when you start to see result of your efforts. Five years is good, more is better.

I hope that you will meet Surrey where it is at. Surrey is a complex and difficult environment to be doing Transition work. Things move glacially slow, and there are many egos and institutions that knowingly or unknowingly resist change. Most importantly, a huge proportion of our community is living in survival mode has neither the time nor resources to participate. I hope that you will be gentle, accepting and tenacious.

I hope that your work will be generative, not extractive. Extractive community work is what happens when one project or group simply extracts resources and capacity from another group. It is a shell game. Generative community work, on the other hand, is about working in ways that generate more energy, interest and engagement. You will encounter extractive processes in Surrey, and I hope that your Transition work can model a more generative approach.

I hope that you will bring your whole selves to this work. If you have read this far, you are probably a pretty amazing person and undoubtedly have much to offer to your community and the world at large. Your skills and talents are need and will be appreciated.

I hope that you have fun! If you can’t find a way to have fun with this, don’t do it.


I am grateful to each of you for your inspiration and courage. I intend to remain active, although not nearly as visibly, and I look forward to supporting whatever ideas and offerings emerge to maintain a Transition presence in our community.

I would be happy to hear from you via email, phone, or over a cup of tea.

Over and out,

David Dalley

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