The original Draft Constitution for Transition Joshua Tree. We’re leaving it posted for historical purposes.
Thanks to Transition Keene, New Hampshire. Their hard work meant that we didn’t have to reinvent the wheel!
The Constitution of Transition Joshua Tree
Approved at the June 19, 2012 Transition Joshua Tree Initiating Committee Meeting
I. Our Founding
Transition Joshua Tree was launched in November 2010 by five citizens who founded the Transition Joshua Tree Initiating Committee and adopted this Constitution as a way to lay out key understandings to guide the development of Transition Joshua Tree over time, and provide the organizational structure for the network to remain democratically governed by its participating members as it grows.
II. Organizational Description and Purpose:
Transition Joshua Tree is a community-building network of individuals and affiliated projects and groups that work together in various ways to:
1) Encourage the citizens of the Morongo Basin, 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; and
2) Foster a dynamic community organizing process that unleashes the collective genius of our citizens to envision a better future and start the transition to a more resilient, sustainable, stable, and just local economy and way of life.
III. National and International Affiliation:
While locally controlled, Transition Joshua Tree is part of the international Transition Movement that first emerged in the United Kingdom in 2005 and has now inspired hundreds of communities throughout the world to consider, adapt, and implement the evolving Transition Model in light of the local conditions of their communities.
We take tremendous inspiration from Transition US
(http://www.transitionus.org/), which updates and produces the US Transition Initiative Primer and provides many other resources. Active local members should become familiar with the Transition US website, Rob Hopkins’ The Transition Handbook: From Oil Dependence to Local Resilience and the online documentary In Transition (http://vimeo.com/8029815), along with other Transition Movement resources.
IV. Our Basic Working Assumptions
The work of Transition Joshua Tree is grounded in the following six assumptions:
1) We now face a very challenging future due, in large part, to peak oil, climate change, and an increasingly unstable and unpredictable global economy and financial system.
This situation will inevitably force significant changes in our way of life, and very likely result in permanently lower energy consumption in the future.
2) Rather than being taken by surprise by all this at a later date, it is better to start now to collaboratively plan for our energy descent; for a conversion to safe and renewable energy sources; and for the creation of a vibrant, more localized, green collar economy that can meet the basic needs of all our citizens.
3) The local desert community of the Morongo Basin 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 impending shocks coming to our community.
4) 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 of local, state, national, or international government.
5) 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.
6) 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.
V. Our Underlying Values
Transition Joshua Tree is an inclusive and diverse set of community-based initiatives involving people of various ages, faiths, and political affiliations from all sectors of our community. Our members, however, do hold some common underlying values, beyond the six working assumptions 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 Transition Joshua Tree thus support the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and 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 wellbeing of the human family and the entire biosphere.
VI. Our Action Objectives
In light of our purpose, working assumptions, and underlying values, Transition Joshua Tree seeks to accomplish several key objectives in the coming years as it adapts, implements, and contributes to the emerging international Transition Model through its work in Joshua Tree and the surrounding region. During the next 10 to 20 years, we intend to:
Provide awareness raising programs and events such as talks, film screenings, demonstrations, fairs, and community education workshops such as the Seeds in the Sand (January 2011 event).
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 desert community
Provide opportunities to share “reskilling” advice, guidance and training as more and more Joshua Tree 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 most active members and supporters.
Collaborate and coordinate with other Transition Town Initiatives and others working with the Transition Model, at regional, national and global levels.
Engage with other organizations–including, but not limited to, government, citizen advocacy and nonprofit groups, faith-based organizations, local businesses, and local educational and healthcare institutions–in pursuit of our overall aims and objectives.
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
VII. Our Core Operating Principles:
We recognize that to create a successful transition in our community we also need to foster an inner transition in ourselves and in our relationships.
1. The first operative principle for our work is being humble learners. We do not have a fixed blueprint, or have all the answers about how to respond creatively to the challenges facing our community. We believe in multiple paths, ideas, and possibilities. We think questions are as important as answers. We also believe it is fine to make mistakes and learn from them. We are also not about “turf wars,” and acknowledge and value the initiatives of other organizations and we seek to find ways to collaborate with them to further our mutual aims. We are looking for allies and collaborators, not enemies or competitors.
2. The second principle of our work is “let it go where it wants to go.” We are not about pressuring others to take up the exact tasks that we think should be done right now, but instead want to encourage people to engage in the transition projects that most excite them and tap their deepest passions. We work with a natural momentum, driven by our inner passion and a positive, collaborative approach.
3. The third principle of our work is being honest and compassionate with ourselves and with each other. We place a premium on active listening, mutual support, appreciation, attention to diversity, care for the whole person, creative conflict resolution and collaborative group process.
4. The fourth principle of our work is embracing shared leadership. There is no fixed hierarchy of leaders and followers within Transition Joshua Tree. We are all leaders and followers at different times and always in service to our common vision and work. We also work together as a network because we know that together we are greater than the sum of our individual parts. We work in collaborative ways because we get better results for less effort—and it is more fun and respectful.
5. The fifth principle of our work is being accountable and responsible for ourselves and the larger organization. In representing Transition Joshua Tree individual members agree to abide by and uphold our principles and take responsibility for their own decisions, actions, and results. We always consider the effects of our actions and statements on Transition Joshua Tree’s public reputation. We also trust, unless proven otherwise, that those who step forward have good intentions and will make good decisions. We give autonomy and support to those who wish to be part of Transition Joshua Tree. Individually, and as a group, we identify what needs to be done and then people volunteer for tasks that they genuinely want to do. We help and support each other’s learning and personal growth.
6. The sixth principle of our work is that we seek to be open and transparent in everything we do. Everyone is responsible for ensuring the free flow of information and knowledge within the Transition Joshua Tree network, and with the wider community.
VIII. Our General Organizational Structure:
Initiating Committee and Steering Committee
1. The first type of group is the local initiating group, which is the founding Transition Joshua Tree Initiating Committee. However, at a set point discussed below, the founding Initiating Committee will be dissolved and replaced by an elected Transition Steering Committee that directly represents the growing network. All active members are welcome to attend the meetings of the Initiating and later Steering Committee as observers and, when appropriate, participate on a “voice, no vote” basis.
2. The second type of network group is a local transition working group. These groups are self-organized by interested Transition Joshua Tree members and formally approved as official TJT working groups by the Initiating/Steering committee. These working groups choose their own name and dissolve when they feel that their work is done. Each group may encourage others to join and should seek to be inclusive in their recruitment efforts. A working group must be comprised of no less than 3 people.
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 Transition Joshua Tree members and supporters.
3. A third type of group can also affiliate with Transition Joshua Tree. These are pre-existing or independent community organizations that are in harmony with the purpose and principles of Transition Joshua Tree and want to show their support for it and directly collaborate with it in achieving mutual goals. Their official affiliation with Transition Joshua Tree needs to be approved by the Initiating/Steering Committee and formalized through the creation of a memorandum of understanding/teaming agreement outlining the shared agreements between Transition Joshua Tree and the affiliated organization.
4. Project groups exist to execute specific, time-bounded goals to support the mission and needs of Transition Joshua Tree. Project groups operate with less expectation for wider community involvement and communication than do working groups.
IX. Replacing the Initiating Committee With An Elected Steering Committee
The role of the Transition Joshua Tree Initiating Committee is to spark an active Transition Movement in the Morongo Basin community. This involves 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 Morongo Basin; encouraging the formation of a growing number of transition project teams or workgroups; and developing formal relationships of support with affiliated or partner organizations in the community.
Once Transition Joshua Tree has five functioning working groups, the Initiating Committee will embark on a phased dissolve to be replaced by an ongoing Steering Committee made up of representatives of each of the Working Groups and Affiliated Organizations—and up to five additional Transition Joshua Tree participants (participating members). Members will make these determinations at the General Membership Meeting (XII).
X. Formal Organizational Officers
Members of the newly-formed Steering Committee define the officers for the group through whatever process they deem.
These Steering Committee officer positions are:
A chair who shall provide facilitative oversight, and plan and facilitate (or delegate that responsibility) at all general membership meetings.
A secretary who shall send out minutes of all meetings and keep records of members.
A treasurer who shall be custodian of the group’s money and may advise on fund-raising and spending. (Working Groups may ask the treasurer to hold and disburse funds for them.)
A communications officer who would facilitate internal communications and promote/publicize transition events
Transition Joshua Tree requires any approved working group to select a representative from their working group to serve on the Steering Committee. This election must be made within 4 months of the date the working group became official. We also recommend that all working groups select a chairperson, a secretary, a treasurer and a communications officer to help organize and coordinate their teams’ efforts.
XI. Types of Individual Participation
Transition Joshua Tree acknowledges three levels of individual involvement in its work: participating members, supporting members, and “mullers.”
Participating Members: A participating member is a person who agrees with the objectives, principles, and provisions of this Constitution; lives, works, worships, or studies in the Morongo Basin; and participates in a Working Group, a Project Group, an Affiliated Organization, or serves on the Steering Committee. An issue to be decided upon by the future elected Steering Committee is the question of participating members paying annual dues.
Supporting Members: A supporting member is a person who generally agrees with the objectives, principles, and activities of Transition Joshua Tree; lives, works, worships, or studies
In the Morongo Basin; but is unable at this point to regularly participate in a Working Group, Project Group, Affiliated Organization, or serve on the Steering Committee. They are, however, willing to be asked to consider short-term volunteer opportunities in support of Transition.
Mullers: A muller is someone who is “mulling” over the basic outlook of the Transition Movement and has not yet committed to being either a supporting or a participating member of Transition Joshua Tree, but is interested enough that they would like to be on the contact list to hear about Transition Joshua Tree 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 70% consensus of the participating members of the affected group (initiating/steering, working or project group, general membership meeting group).
XII. General Membership Meetings:
When instituted by the Steering Committee in the future, a general membership meeting serves to confirm mission, yearly plans, broad changes and to brook dissent/resolve disputes.
Additional general membership meetings can be called as needed by the coordinating group or by a request of at least 20% of the participating members. Supporting members are also welcome and encouraged to attend General Membership meetings, but only
participating members will be allowed to vote for Transition Joshua Tree Officers, for “At Large” members of the Steering Committee, or to terminate another person’s membership.
Decisions will be made after thorough discussion with at least a majority vote necessary for passage. Each member gets one vote. However, the participating members will seek to find solutions that represent as strong a working consensus as possible, listen until all viewpoints are understood, and explore alternatives and adjustments to proposals that could yield wider support. When there is not a strong consensus and decisions are decided by a majority vote, the minority who opposed the passed motion will be given an opportunity to share their thoughts and feelings concerning the decision after the vote is taken.
XIII. Dissolution of the Organization:
If Transition Joshua Tree 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.
XIV. Amending or Revising This Constitution
In the future of Transition Joshua Tree, this Constitution as the governing document will be revised and made more specific when necessary by participating members at General Membership Meetings. The goal of revision should always be to seek the widest consensus possible, but a 60% majority of the participating members in attendance at a General Membership Meeting will be enough to amend or revise this Constitution’s provisions.
XV. Signed and Dated:
This Constitution is signed and dated by the founding members of the Transition Joshua Tree