Creating Resilient & Regenerative Mojave Desert Communities

The Constitution

The Constitution

  1. Our Founding

Transition Joshua Tree was launched in November 2010 by five citizens who founded the Transition Joshua Tree Initiating Committee. They drafted a Constitution as a way to guide the development of Transition Joshua Tree over time, and to provide the organizational structure for Transition Joshua Tree to remain democratically governed by its Participating Members, as it grows.

  1. Organizational Description and Purpose:

Transition Joshua Tree is a community-building association of individuals and teams that work together 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 of the local conditions in their communities.

We take inspiration from Transition US 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, along with other Transition Movement resources.

  1. 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 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 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 economy that can meet the basic needs of all our citizens.

3) The local desert community of the Morongo Basin has native strengths and assets needed to face these challenges. And yet there is still more to learn, to increase our ecological, social, economic, and political resilience.

4) The current situation is serious enough that local people need to act collectively now–without waiting or depending upon local, state, national, or international governments to act.

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.”

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.

  1. 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 hold 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 regenerative, socially just, and spiritually fulfilling. The members of Transition Joshua Tree therefore 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.

  1. 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.
  • Provide informative communications and publicity via websites, blogs, social networking, print and other media about transition events and activities
  • Encourage the formation of Transition Teams to develop practical projects addressing the various changes needed in our local desert community.
  • Provide opportunities to share “reskilling” advice, guidance and training as more Joshua Tree citizens engage in individual and community-based transition initiatives.
  • Provide opportunities to share social events, entertainment, arts, food and fun with the larger community.
  • 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.
  • As we build capacity, we aspire to work with our community partners and supporters to lobby local government in favor of a 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 act in accordance with some core principles that guide us individually, in our relationships within Transition Joshua Tree, and with the community at large

  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 acknowledge and value the initiatives of other organizations and we seek to find ways to collaborate with them to further our mutual aims.
  2. The second principle of our work is to recognize that organic motivation and direction is what works best. We choose not to pressure others to take up the exact tasks that we think should be done right now, but instead encourage people to engage in the transition work that most excites them and taps their deepest passions. In other words, allow a natural momentum.
  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. We work collaboratively because we know that together we are greater than the sum of our individual parts, and we get better results.
  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. 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 organization, and with the wider community.

VIII. Our General Organizational Structure:

  1. Coordinating Council

The first type of group is the Coordinating Council (CC), which is Transition Joshua Tree’s governing and strategic planning body comprised of elected representatives from each Transition Team. The term of office for elected representatives on the CC will be one year, with a term limit of three years. After the absence of one term of office, a member can be re-elected to the CC.

The Coordinating Council’s oversight, outreach, and in-reach functions are found on the Transition Joshua Tree’s organization chart. All Transition Joshua Tree participating members are welcome to attend the meetings of the Coordinating Council as observers and when appropriate participate on a “voice, no vote” basis.

The Administrative Team (AT) is a subgroup that works at the direction of the CC and/or general membership, and is responsible for Transition Joshua Tree information technology (IT) and communications functions. The Administrative Team has two positions: an IT person and a Communications Director. The Administrative Team’s roles and responsibilities are found on the organizational chart.

  1. Transition Teams

The second type of group is the Transition Team. These teams are self-organized by interested Transition Joshua Tree members and formally approved as official TJT Transition Teams by the Coordinating Council. These Transition Teams form and dissolve of their own accord. Each team may encourage others to join and should seek to be inclusive in their recruitment efforts. A Transition Team must be comprised of no less than four people, and is responsible for identifying its Participating Members.

Areas of interest around which Transition Teams 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. Transition Teams may also organize to carry out public education projects such as film screenings or meetings with other groups. All efforts 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. Transition Teams will determine the times, places, or methods of their meetings, take into account they are public and accessible to other Transition Joshua Tree Participating and Supporting Members.

Transition Joshua Tree requires any approved Transition Team to select a representative to serve on the Coordinating Council. This election must be made within 12 months of the date the Transition Team becomes official.

  1. Project Groups

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 transition teams.

  1. Affiliated Groups

Affiliated Groups are community organizations that are in harmony with the purpose and principles of Transition Joshua Tree and want to show their support for and directly collaborate with Transition Joshua Tree in achieving mutual goals.

  1. Types of Individual Participation

Transition Joshua Tree acknowledges two levels of individual involvement in its work: Participating Members and Supporting Members.

Participating Members: A full member who is committed to the objectives, principles, and provisions of this Constitution; lives and/or works in the Morongo Basin; and participates in a Transition Team, on the Coordinating Council, or a Project Group. Participating Members can vote on all issues.

Supporting Members: A member who generally agrees with the objectives, principles, and activities of Transition Joshua Tree; lives and/or works in the Morongo Basin; but is unable at this point to regularly participate in a Transition Team, Project Group, or serve on the Coordinating Council. They are, however, willing to volunteer for limited activities in support of Transition Joshua Tree.  A Supporting Member may be asked to only vote on issues they are directly involved with as determined by the Transition Teams, or Project Group.

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 an 80% consensus of the Participating Members of the affected group (Coordinating Council, Transition Team, Project Group, or by the General Membership Meeting).

  1. General Membership Meetings:

General Membership Meetings serve to reconnect with each other and our mission, make yearly plans, make broad changes, and to resolve differences. Our intent is to hold General Membership Meetings quarterly.

Additional General Membership Meetings can be called, as needed, by the Coordinating Council or at a request of at least 20% of the Participating Members.  Supporting Members are also welcome and encouraged to attend General Membership Meetings. However, only Participating Members will be allowed to vote.

General Membership Meetings require a quorum of one third of voting members to be present in order to make formal decisions.

Decisions shall be made after thorough deliberation. Each member gets one vote. However, the Participating Members will seek to find solutions that represent a strong working consensus; listen until all viewpoints are understood; and explore alternatives and adjustments to proposals that could yield wider support. When full consensus cannot be reached, decisions are decided by an 80% majority vote.  The minority in opposition of the passed motion will be given an opportunity to share their thoughts and feelings’ concerning the decision after the vote is taken.

  1. Dissolution of the Organization:

Should Transition Joshua Tree decides to dissolve the organization, any funds remaining in its treasury and any other assets should, after all outstanding expenses are paid, be passed on to a  local organization in harmony with the purpose and principles of Transition Joshua Tree.

XII. Amending or Revising This Constitution

This Constitution, as the governing document of Transition Joshua Tree, may be revised when necessary by Participating Members at General Membership Meetings. The goal of any revision should always be to seek the widest consensus as possible, however an 80% majority of the Participating Members in attendance at a General Membership Meeting will be sufficient to amend or revise this Constitution’s provisions.

 


Addenda to the Constitution:

Policy on Conflicts of Interest and Self-Dealing

TJT Organizational chart

The above constitution was ratified by consensus at the General Membership Meeting of 11.16.14