Sophy Banks tends to be hailed as an initiator of the Inner Transition aspect of the Transition Movement. She, along with her friend Hillary, joined early when Rob Hopkins and Naresh Giangrande were beginning to talk about a Transition Initiative in Totnes. Hillary thought there should be a component that looked at the psychology of change – how do we as human beings respond to difficult information, and how do we undergo change as a group? For Sophy, Inner Transition is an absolutely essential part of the Transition Movement.
We live in a society, within social groups and families who teach us their values from the time we are born. Sometimes this is a conscious teaching. More often it is subliminal, subconscious or otherwise indirect. One of the major values we are taught from the society we live in is oil dependency. Some argue that this could even be classified as an addiction. Another major value that we are often taught is an ego-centrism – I need to secure my own resources regardless of what this means for someone else! These days there are also many pockets of our society where we see more and more distrust of “strangers,” of anyone we don’t know personally.
The Transition Movement is very much about envisioning a future we would like to live in, and making that happen. In large part, it means learning to be less oil dependent and to leave a lighter footprint than what’s currently “normal.” The Inner Transition aspect of this part is to look at what personal, internal shifts we need to make in order to make the external shift. At some point, if I am going to make the changes necessary to be self sufficient, I need to believe that there is a need for it. Not everyone involved in Transition projects will make this shift, but there is a need for at least some of the members, particularly those at the centre who are most involved, to inwardly accept that what our culture has taught us about being in the world is not good enough and in some cases is downright wrong. This is an inner transition, and one goal of the Inner Transition work, according to Sophy, is to support that and to understand what happens to people, families and groups when they begin to shift their thinking and beliefs.
Another side to Inner Transition is envisioning the “softer” aspects of a future we want to live in. Sophy suggests that we live right now in a time of record low levels of community trust, caring and love. She asks the question, how do we create a loving, caring, trust-ful community? What are the steps that we need to take to create a “good society,” as she puts it? How do we move from being so worried about securing our own resources to a more collaborative, sharing-based model?
As a message of hope regarding this aspect of transition, Sophy reminds us that in times of crisis there is often a reaching out between people and significant community building. She believes that we should be telling each other stories of how this has already happened in the face of difficulties and crisis – during wars, hurricanes, times of personal tragedy. We don’t want to be stuck on negative events, but there is learning to be had from the way communities pull together in these times – perhaps we can we learn to bring this learning into our lives without waiting for another crisis.
A final idea of Sophy’s that I would like to share with you is the need for “deepening.” The idea of deepening is hard to define, but I would suggest that in this case it could mean a continued movement towards a greater, more nuanced understanding of a belief, or a stronger sense of alignment with it. For Sophy, this need for deepening in relation to the core values of the Transition Movement is essential, especially in the people who are central to a particular initiative. With these central members experiencing ongoing new understanding or inspiration with relation to the principals of Transition, it continues to breath new life into the initiative. Without this aspect of Inner Transition, the initiative will stagnate.
In closing, I encourage each of you to consider your own inner transition. Where are you right now in relation to the Transition Movement? Do you just enjoy participating in the occasional event? Are you fully immersed and looking for how you can do something positive about your understanding of what the future may hold? How did you get to where you are? How do you feel about that? How could you deepen into your personal inner transition?
See the following link for a 10 minute interview with Sophy on this topic.