Monday, January 25, 2010

Surviving Our First Conflict

We had our second Steering Committee meeting for Transition last week. It went better. C had volunteered to lead us in a shamanic journey focused on what we as the steering committee should be doing, and then we mind mapped the results. Not everyone was present for that part, but mind mapping and getting everyone on paper in a right-brained graphic representation seemed to help.

The functional power dynamics were much improved, probably because C was leading the journey and mind map process, which caused S step back a little. S is the one who started the ball rolling with Transition, and so for our first meeting, took a bit of a default leader role. S is still using language that implies that she is at the top of the power structure, but I think that is not entirely conscious on her part. It got more pronounced when she felt as if her goals for Transition were being challenged.

I brought up my lack of commitment to teaching about the Peak Oil Apocalypse as we were talking about how to frame Transition in the community. I made the point about how the solutions that come out of Transition are win-win solutions that improve quality of life immediately. They do not require sacrifice or an investment that only pays off once the world falls apart. I think we can frame Transition in terms of benefits and use a carrot instead of a stick. Others agreed with me and fleshed out other benefits that could be used as framing.

S is a very passionate activist who is on fire to teach people about Peak Oil, Climate Change, Sustainability, etc. She has put a lot into raising awareness, and so was a bit triggered by the idea that others on the Steering Committee did not consider awareness raising to be automatically core to our purpose. She got a little upset and made defensive comments about how anyone who does not want to talk about Peak Oil etc. is in denial and she is not willing to be under a gag order.

It turned out okay, though. I let the conversation move on and gave her time to cool down a bit, and then I spoke up about how I thought we were running into a generational difference. I explained how I am generation 9/11 and so am already convinced that the world needs fixing. It's not a matter of denial, it's a matter of okay, yes, Problems, so what are we going to do for Solutions? Why detail the problems when we could be putting that energy into solutions? She was able to hear it.

I finished the meeting by detailing my strengths and why I think I am on the committee (organization, logistics), and then talking about what I think other people's strengths/passions are. I included S's passion for awareness raising, M's commitment to compiling a list of organizations and projects that are doing Transition compatible work, C's focus on process and reminder to us to trust it, and T's training in group processes and reminder of diverse perspectives. It went over well.

I am feeling encouraged.

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