Transition hubs

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Transition Hubs are a key organisational level in the Transition movement, intermediate between local Transition initiatives and Transition Network, the overall coordinating body. They take a variety of forms, and usually arise organically in response to a need and/or wish for greater coordination over a certain geographical area, whether regional, national or supranational. Hubs collaborate through the Transition International Hubs Group.

What are Transition Hubs?

Often groups of people get together to catalyse and support Transition across a particular territory.  They may operate at a regional level, connecting and sharing learning across a number of communities or at a national or even transnational scale.  We do not assume that the territory of a hub will always follow national or administrative boundaries – it’s up to everyone involved to agree what area they will cover taking into account, culture, geography, language, government structures etc.  A few hubs have paid workers or are hosted by a professional organisation, but many are entirely staffed by volunteers.[1]
A National Hub can be particularly useful when other parts of social society want to engage with Transition at that level of scale – government’s, national organisations, journalists, other social movements. National (and Regional) Hubs are a distinctive layer in the Transition Movement, connected by regular international gatherings, communications, international working groups and a very strong shared sense of purpose.[2]

History

The early history of National Hubs was really about individuals – people who saw the need for national/regional coordination to help Transition spread where they were. That history is as varied as the people themselves and the cultures they inhabited.  As the Transition movement spread virally throughout the world, Transition Network (TN) was the main contact with local Transition initiatives.  
The New Zealand Hub was the first to form and soon the Transition Aotearoa website went up and our mantra of “let it self-organise” seemed very appropriate.
Next was the US, where an existing organisation offered to take on the role of catalysing and supporting Transition in their country. At this point, we felt a more formalised relationship between Transition Network and the Hubs was needed. We wanted the Hubs to understand what they were taking on, and to be doing it for the right reasons. We drafted up a “Memorandum of Understanding” and found it to be a useful tool for setting expectation and handling relationships.
TN continued to apply this approach as other potential Hubs started to show signs of forming over 2008 (Ireland, Scotland, Italy, Japan, Spain, Sweden) and 2009 (Germany, Australia, Denmark, France). At that point the Hubs began to get connected and use their voices collectively, particularly in the relationship with Transition Network. Over time, they’ve evolved into a collaborative, family-like network with shared values and intentions. Our aspiration over the coming years is for this network to get broader, better connected and develop ways of sharing power and resources to the places that need them most.[3]

How Transition Hubs Form

Hubs form in lots of different ways and at different levels of scale. They can be at a national level, a regional level and a supra-national level.
* National – sometimes there’s a pre-existing organisation with very similar outlook and values that engages with Transition Network to explore how they might take on responsibility for catalysing and supporting Transition in their area. Other times, an individual from one of the Transition Initiatives in a country sees the need for an organisation at a larger level of scale to help coordinate activities and communication, and steps up to gather other like-minded people to try and create that organisation. Some hubs are highly organised and some are more fluid. Some have secured solid funding to support their operation. Most, however, are run by volunteers on very little resources. Either way, the people who step up to run Hubs are wonderful, committed and crucial to how the Transition Movement operates and develops.
* Regional – typically will engage with their National Hub as they develop. Regional Hubs, being at smaller levels of scale, typically have very close ties to the Transition Initiatives in their area
* Supra-national – we’ve seen a couple of these begin to form. They have involved existing National Hubs getting together to establish a capacity to coordinate at this very broad level of scale. The Latin America Hub and the coordinations across the Baltic Hubs are examples of this. There have also been looser collaborations at this level of scale. The joint events for Hungary, Slovenia and Croatia are examples of this.
In each of these, the people who step up to run Hubs are wonderful, highly committed individuals, crucial to how the Transition Movement operates and evolves.
Very early on in their formation, National and Supra-national Hubs will engage with Transition Network to talk about the responsibilities and relationships that come with this particular role. The discussion will explore values, capacities, legitimacy, culture and experience to make sure that the embryonic Hub has the right building blocks to eventually become capable of stewarding Transition in their country or region
Hubs have a special relationship with each other and with Transition Network, and together we have formed a circle with strong emotional and professional ties and a culture of mutual support and experimentation.
A fascinating piece of work is going on within the Hubs and Transition Network to get a better definition of a Hub and its role, and how it gains legitimacy and eligibility to engage in the work of catalysing and supporting Transition in their part of the world.[4]

Numbers and Locations of Transition Hubs

List of national and regional Transition Hubs

References