May 19, 2013
FOUNDING OF WOODSTOCK NY TRANSITION (WNYT)
On June 11, 2011, about 45 Mid-Hudson Valley residents gathered together at Lifebridge Sanctuary in Rosendale, NY, for the first Train for Transition (T4T, now called Launch). On September 11, 2011, four Woodstock area residents, who completed the T4T training called their friends and acquaintances together to share the Transition Vision.
This call to the Woodstock Community added four more committed residents, who then became and eight-member Woodstock NY Transition Initiating Committee. This group was designed with the intention of dissolving at the appropriate time. The role of the WNYT Initiating Committee was to start an active Transition Movement in the Woodstock Community. This involved engaging in awareness-raising activities; laying the groundwork for a larger, more diverse network; organizing a “great unleashing event” for the general public of the Town of Woodstock; encouraging the formation of a growing number of Transition Project Teams or Work Groups; and developing a formal relationship of support with affiliated or partner organizations in the community. On October 6, 2011, the WNYT Initiating Committee launched a series of awareness-raising activities.
On March 20th, 2012, Woodstock NY Transition became the 115th official Transition Town in the United States.
On Saturday, September 22, 2012, a few dozen neighbors and groups in Woodstock organized the WNYT Festival at Andy Lee Field. More than 300 Woodstock area residents joined this celebration to share ideas and create our own solution to reduce our dependency on imported energy and food, increase community resilience, and strengthen our local economy. We celebrated our history and unleashed the collective genius of our community to imagine what resources we have, and together build what is required to create a resilient future for all.
Once WNYT had formed five named Working Groups, the Initiating Committee embarked on a phased dissolve and was replaced with the Wednesday Night Group (WNG). The WNG acted as an interim operating group to bridge to the WNYT Working Group Council (WGC).
A Working Principles subcommittee of the WNG developed the eleven (11) Working Principles for WNYT, and that document was adopted by the WNYT General Membership at its General Members meeting on February 10, 2013.
A Governance subcommittee, comprised of WNG members, drafted the first WNYT Constitution as a way to lay out key understandings to guide the development of Woodstock NY Transition over time and to provide the organizational structure for the network to remain democratically governed by its participating member as it evolves. This Constitution was adopted by the WNG on May 19, 2012, and ratified by WNYT’s Working Groups participating members and acknowledged by the General Membership at the General Members meeting on June [date], 2013.
As a Transition Community, we believe it is the spirit of mutual respect and cooperation that will afford us the necessary building blocks for the establishment of a sustainable and resilient community. For we know the future is to be invented and the collective unleashing of the community genius is a pathway to actualize our future together.
WHO WE ARE
WNYT is a community-building network of individuals and affiliated organizations and groups that work together in various ways to:
Encourage the citizens of the Town of Woodstock to face and understand the growing threats to our community’s quality of life due to the interconnected challenges of peak oil, climate change, and an unsustainable and unstable global economy.
Foster the adoption and implementation of the evolving Transition Model in light of our local conditions, for it is a dynamic community-organizing process, which unleashes the collective genius of our citizens.
While locally controlled, WNYT is part of the International Transition Movement that first emerged in the United Kingdom in 2006 and has now inspired hundreds of communities throughout the world. We take tremendous inspiration from Transition US.
WE THE PEOPLE of Woodstock NY Transition, in order to form a more resilient and sustainable community, agree that the work of WNYT is grounded in the seven (7) Guiding Principles of Transition US, the WNYT Working Principles, and the following eight (8) assumptions:
We now face a very challenging future. This situation will inevitably force significant changes in our way of life, and very likely will result in permanently lower energy consumption.
Rather than being taken by surprise by all this at a latter date, it is better to start now to collaboratively plan for our energy descent; for a conversion to safe and renewable energy sources. In this way, we will begin to create a vibrant, more localized, green collar economy that can meet the basic needs of all our citizens.
The local community of Woodstock is uniquely positioned to provide a strong model of Transition. It already possesses many strengths and assets to meet these challenges, but it still needs to increase its ecological, social, economic, and political resilience in order to respond in creative and healthy ways to the impending shocks coming to our community.
The current situation is serious enough that local people have to act collectively and have to act now – without waiting or depending upon any needed corrective action on the part or local, state, national, or international government.
By unleashing the collective genius of those around us to creatively and proactively rebuild the resiliency of our community, we have the opportunity to create ways of living that are “energy lean and clean” and much more connected and satisfying than our current way of life.
We will undertake all of these transition efforts with a strong community spirit and a sense of fun and joy at coming together to create the positive future that we envision for ourselves, our community, and for generations to come.
WNYT believes in being honest and compassionate with ourselves and with each other. We value active listening, mutual support, appreciation, attention to diversity, care for the whole person, creative conflict resolution, and collaborative group process.
WNYT is an inclusive and diverse set of community-based initiatives involving people of various ages, faiths, and political affiliation from all sectors of our community. Our members, however, do hold some common underlying values, beyond the seven listed above. At the very heart of our motivation is the desire to work together collaboratively to create a community that is environmentally sustainable, socially just, and spiritually fulfilling. The members of WNYT thus support the three core ethics of Permaculture:
Earthcare: Recognizing that the Earth is the source of all life, that the Earth is our only home and that we are a part of the Earth’s web of life, not separate from it.
Peoplecare: Supporting and helping each other to live in a way that is not harmful to ourselves, or the planet, and to promote just and healthy societies.
Fairshare: Ensuring that the Earth’s limited resources are utilized in ways that are equitable and wise for both the present and future well being of the human family and the entire biosphere.
OUR VISION, MISSION AND ACTION OBJECTIVES
Our Vision is to create a resilient and self-reliant community with a local food supply, sustainable energy sources, a healthy local economy, and a growing sense of vitality and community well being.
Our Mission is to explore and then follow pathways of practical actions that will reduce our carbon emissions and dependence on fossil fuels;
To rebuild our community’s resilience – its ability to withstand shocks from the outside – in areas such as food, energy, healthcare, jobs, and economies.
To inspire and support the communities and neighborhoods surrounding the Woodstock area as they establish Transition Initiatives at their local levels.
Our Action Objectives are to:
Provide awareness-raising programs and events such as talks, film screenings, demonstrations, fairs, and community education workshops.
Provide informative communications and publicity via websites, blogs, social networking tools, print and other media, and posters about Transition-related events and activities.
Encourage the formation and affiliation of local Working Groups to develop practical projects addressing various changes needed in our local community.
Provide opportunities to share “reskilling” advice, guidance and training as more and more Woodstock citizens engage in individual and community-based Transition Initiatives.
Provide opportunities to share social events, entertainment and the arts, food and fun with the larger community, and among our members and supporters.
Collaborate and coordinate with other Transition Town Initiatives and others working with the Transition Model, at regional, national and global levels.
Work with our community partners, members and supporters to create a municipal Local Resilience and Energy Action Plan and to foster needed local public policy changes.
TRANSITION US PRINCIPLES
In the process of becoming an official Transition Initiative, WNYT expressed its agreement with the seven (7) Guiding Principles of the Transition Movement.
Transition Initiatives are based on a dedication to the creation of tangible, clearly expressed and practical visions of the community in question beyond its present-day dependence on fossil fuel. Our primary focus is not campaigning against things, but rather on creating positive, empowering possibilities and opportunities.
Help People Access Good Information and Trust Them to Make Good Decisions
Transition Initiatives dedicate themselves, through all aspects of their work, to raising awareness of peak oil and climate change and related issues such as critiquing economic growth. In doing so, they recognize the responsibility to present this information in ways that are playful, articulate, accessible and engaging, and which enable people to fell enthused and empowered rather than powerless. Transition Initiatives focus on telling people the closest version of the truth that we know in times when the information available is deeply contradictory. The messages are non-directive, respecting each person’s ability to make a response that is appropriate to their situation.
Inclusion and Openness
Successful Transition Initiatives need an unprecedented coming together of the broad diversity of society. They dedicate themselves to ensuring that their decision-making processes and their Working Groups embody principles of openness and inclusion. This principle also refers to the principle of each Initiative reaching the community in its entirety, and endeavoring, from an early stage, to engage their local business community, the diversity of the community groups and local government authorities. It makes explicit the principle that there is no room for ‘them and us’ thinking in the challenge of energy descent planning.
Enable Sharing and Network
Transition Initiatives dedicate themselves to sharing their successes, failures, insights and connections at the various scales across the Transition network, so as to more widely build up a collective body of experience.
This stresses the fundamental importance of building resilience, i.e. the capacity of our businesses, communities and settlements to withstand shock. Transition Initiatives commit to building resilience across a wide range of areas (food, economics, energy, etc.) and also on a range of scales (from local to national) as seems appropriate, and to setting them within an overall context of the need to do everything we can to ensure environmental resilience.
Inner and Outer Transition
The challenges we face are not just caused by a mistake on our technologies but are a direct result of our worldview and belief system. The impact of the information about the state of our planet can generate fear and grief, which may underlie the state of denial that many people are caught in. Psychological models can help us understand what is really happening and avoid unconscious processes sabotaging change (e.g. addition models, models for behavior change). This principle also honors the fact that Transition thrives because it enables and supports people to do what they are passionate about, what they feel called to do.
Subsidiarity: Self-Organization and Decision-Making at the Appropriate Level
This final principle embodies the idea that the intention of the Transition model is not to centralize or control decision-making, but rather to work with everyone so that it is practical at the most appropriate, practical and empowering level, and in such a way that it models the ability of natural system to self-organize.
WOODSTOCK NY TRANSITION WORKING PRINCIPLES
The following list of principles is a guide for WNYT as a way to work. These continue to develop and evolve.
We welcome ideas and contributions!
We work together because we know that together we are greater than the sum of our parts. We work in a collaborative way because we get better results for less effort. If a conflict arises, we encourage members of WNYT to speak with each other in a timely manner, directly with the person(s) involved, or to obtain support from other WNYT members to assist in finding a resolution.
We don’t need permission to act. There is no hierarchy. Everyone shares leadership for WNYT. In representing WNYT, individuals agree to abide by and uphold all WNYT principles and take responsibility for their own decisions, actions, and results.
We trust that those who step forward have good intensions and will make good decisions. We give autonomy and support to those who wish to be apart of WNYT.
We create safe, respectful meeting spaces that promote free expression and allow creative wisdom to emerge.
We acknowledge other initiatives and seek to find ways to collaborate and further the aims of WNYT.
Individually and as a group, we identify what needs to be done, and people volunteer for tasks when they already have the skills or want to develop the skills. We help and support each other’s learning.
We don’t have a blueprint. We believe in multiple paths, ideas and possibilities. We think questions are as important as answers. It’s fine to make mistakes and learn from them.
We work with natural momentum, driven by our passion and positive approach.
We are transparent in everything we do.
We support and abide by the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights (1948).
We make changes to the above principles where necessary but only with a high level of consensus.
TYPES OF MEMBERSHIP
WNYT acknowledges three levels of individual involvement in its work: Participating members, Supporting members, and Observers. These levels of participation are available for all types of groups in WNYT.
A Participating member is a person who agrees with the objectives, principles, and provisions of Woodstock New York Transition’s Constitution, lives in Woodstock, NY or it close surrounds and participates in a WNYT Working Group, or a WNYT Project Group. A Participating member has voting rights at WNYT General Membership Meetings.
A Supporting member is a person who generally agrees with the objectives, principles, and activities of WNYT, but does not regularly participate in a WNYT Working Group, WNYT Project Group, or serve on the WNYT Working Group Council. A Supporting member is, however, willing to be asked to consider short-term volunteer opportunities in support of WNYT.
An Observer is someone who is “mulling” over the basic outlook of the Transition Movement and has not yet committed to being either a Supporting or Participating member of WNYT, but is interested enough that he or she would like to be on the contact list to hear about WNYT activities and public events.
A member, whether Participating or Supporting, shall cease to be a member if she or he resigns, does not fulfill his or her membership requirements in a given year, or is requested to resign by a consensus or a 2/3 supermajority of the Participating members of the affected group (WNYT – Working Group Council, WNYT – Working or Project Group, WNYT General Membership).
OUR GENERAL ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE
Working Group Council
The WNYT Working Group Council manages and makes decisions on matters that affect WNYT generally, including decisions regarding unallocated funds/donations, broad communications issues, strategic issues, helping groups to work in accordance with WNYT principles and agreed procedures, supporting the formation of new groups and providing guidance on current projects to ensure they fit with WNYT principles and strategy. Working Group Council (WGC) members may terminate a person’s membership in WNYT after utilizing WNYT conflict resolution procedures.
Where decisions are to be made about WNYT principles, the WGC will involve the General Membership in proposed changes. The WGC cannot change the system by which the WGC is chosen.
The WNYT Working Group Council is comprised of named representatives, or their designated alternatives, from each Working Group. Named representatives and their designated alternatives must be Participating members.
The Working Group Council invites and welcomes members of affiliated groups, WNYT Supporters, and Observers to come to any WGC meeting as non-voting guests.
Council Members should be prepared to:
Commit for one (1) year, initially
Attend monthly WGC meetings on a regular basis
Read meeting minutes and contribute to the agenda(s)
Be prepared to contribute and to take responsibility for helping keep the rest of WNYT informed and involved
Read the Transition Handbook
Become familiar with the contents of the Orientation Packet, in particular, the Governance Tool Box
Working Groups are self-organized by interested WNYT members and are formally recognized (as delineated in the Orientation Packet) as official Working Groups by the WGC. These Working Groups choose their own mane and dissolve when they feel that their work is done. A Working Group must be comprised of no less than three (3) people. Each group must agree with and accept Transition US’ seven (7) Guiding Principles and WNYT’s eleven (11) Working Principles. A group may encourage others to join and should seek to be inclusive in its recruitment efforts. WNYT requests that any recognized Working Group select a representative from its group to serve on the Working Group Council.
Project areas around which Working Groups might form include local food systems, raising and preserving food, renewable energy, water, waste and recycling, transportation, education, housing, health care, community-based local economic development, heart and soul, etc. Working Groups may also organize to carry out public education projects such as film screenings or meetings with other groups. All projects need to contribute in some way to the transition to greater community resilience, a more localized economy, and/or reducing dependence on nonrenewable or dangerous energy sources. Working Groups will determine the times, places, or methods of their meetings, but be mindful of making sure their meetings are made public and accessible to other WNYT Participating, Supporters and Observers.
Affiliated Groups and Project Groups
Affiliated Groups: Another type of group can also affiliate with WNYT. These are pre-existing or independent community organizations that are in harmony with the purpose and principles of WNYT and want to show their support for it and directly collaborate with it in achieving mutual goals. Their official affiliation with WNYT shall be recognized by the WGC and formalized by the WGC through the creation of a memorandum of understanding/teaming agreement outlining the shared agreements between WNYT and the affiliated organization.
Project Groups: Project Groups execute specific, time-bounded goals to support the mission and needs of WNYT, for example, painting the Woodstock Community Center. WNYT Project Groups need to be recognized, as described in the Orientation Packet, by the WNYT Working Group Council.
Decisions will be made by consensus. On issues that have a short time period for which to get a decision made and the WGC can not get to consensus, the WGC will opt for a 2/3 supermajority vote. The General Membership Meetings will also use consensus and supermajority of 2/3 for decision-making purposes.
When there is a supermajority, and there are still members who disagree with the vote, these members will be given sufficient time at the WGC or General Membership Meeting to explain their opposition again, after the vote has been taken.
FORMAL ORGANIZATIONAL ROLES
Members of the Working Group Council choose members to fill recommended roles through whatever process they deem appropriate.
Recommended Working Group Council roles are:
Facilitator, who shall provide facilitative oversight and plan and facilitate all WGC Meetings and General Membership Meetings. We have found that rotating this position after every third (3rd) meeting works well, but the decision on the term for the Facilitator shall be determined by the WGC when the position is created.
Note Taker, who shall take minutes of the WGC Meetings, send them out to the WGC members, and post them on the website. As in the role of the Facilitator, our experience shows that this position rotates well after three (3) meetings, but the length of this position shall be determined by the WGC at the time the position is created.
Treasurer, who shall be custodian of WNYT’s money and may advise on fundraising and spending (Working Groups may ask the Treasurer to hold and disburse funds for them). It is recommended, for continuity, that the length of services for this role be one (1) year, but this determination is to be made by the WGC when the position is created.
Communications Coordinator, who shall facilitate internal communications and promote/publicize Transition events, and keep records of the members of WNYT membership. As with the Treasurer role, it is recommended that the length of services be one (1) year, but this length of service shall be determined by the WGC when the position is created.
As stated above, WNYT asks that any recognized Working Group select a representative from the group to serve on the WGC. This selection will ideally be made within 30 days of the date that the Working Group is recognized by the WGC. We also recommend that all Working Groups select a Facilitator, a Note Taker, where appropriate and a Communications Coordinator to help organize and coordinate their group’s efforts.
GENERAL MEMBERSHIP MEETINGS
The General Membership of WNYT meets at least once per year when initiated by the Working Group Council. Additional General Membership Meetings can be called as needed by the Working Group Council, or at least 20% of the Participating Members. A General Membership Meeting serves to confirm the vision and mission of WNYT, introduce members of the WGC, and confirm yearly plans and broad changes to WNYT.
DISSOLUTION OF THE ORGANIZATION
If WNYT decides to terminate its work, any cash in its treasury or other assets, should, after all outstanding expenses are paid, be passed on to a nearby Transition Initiative, or to Transition US, or to a charity/charities of choice.
AMENDING OR REVISING THE CONSTITUTION
In the future of WNYT, this Constitution as the governing document will be revised/amended and made more specific when necessary by the Participating Members of WNYT at General Membership Meetings. The goal should be to seek the widest consensus possible, but a 2/3 supermajority of the Participating Members in attendance at a General Membership Meeting will be enough to amend or revise this Constitution’s provisions.
SIGNED AND DATED – MAY 19, 2013