“We are stuck. The way health is taken care of and organized in our society needs disruptive change. We diagnose problems and do interventions but we have difficulty in thinking holistically. We need a dream, a vision for the future that engages our hearts and our minds. This means changing our education too.”
I am listening to one of my fellow students pitch his insights from the Societal Transitions Masterclass. He continues: “This Masterclass has given me inspiration to invite health specialists to tell a story of transition. What kind of world do we want to create? What does that mean for how we work? How we communicate? How we understand our role in society?”
After an intensive 4-day deep dive into transition theory and practice, we had a month to digest and start applying our insights. We all need to translate transition terms and concepts into language that fits our own work environment. Resistance and chaos are part of the transition process. People around us may say: “This is just how things are” or “We don’t do things that way” in Holland/ our organisation/ our sector.
Perhaps we should take to heart Jan Rotmans’ advice to enjoy resistance, as a valuable form of communication in times of transition. We must also find the questions that jar people from familiar ways of seeing and acting. And develop the stories that motivate people to challenge and leave behind mainstream systems.
Staving off climate change, pursuing healthy aging, boosting clean energy or sustainable housing is best done… together. So, we need allies and networks to learn together about fundamentally different solutions to the persistent problems we face.
Experiments can take the shape of an innovation niche or learning lab that challenge existing systems and governance arrangements. It can also start with an informal gang that shares a common challenge, a visioning game or simply a meeting where people are invited to reflect on a movie they watch together.
Participants of this Masterclass came up with different ideas for working on a participatory process of envisioning, negotiating, experimenting and learning together to accelerate transitions in their own work environment. For me personally I can say that applying a transition perspective helps me think more strategically about what is needed to move from local experiment to mainstream change.
The masterclass has also made me more aware of my contribution to transition through my daily actions. Through my choices around food, transportation, energy and political engagement I can contribute to environmental sustainability.
Transition isn’t just about radical innovators. It takes connectors, enablers, storytellers, process facilitators and followers too. Realising that changemakers come in many shapes has given me more clarity of purpose. As communicator, learning facilitator, entrepreneur, mother and engaged citizen I have the power to work towards a world that is more fair and more sustainable.
— Thoughts on the Masterclass Societal Transitions by Carmen da Silva Wells, SOTRA 2016 Participant
The Societal Transitions Masterclass introduced me to some wonderful and inspiring people who are working on change in health, social equity, environment, energy and governance.