Our Constitution

Adopted January 18, 2011

Transition Cornwall+ is a community group created to build resilience and sustainability in Cornwall and the surrounding rural area, in preparation for the combined challenges of peak oil, climate change and global economic instability. Our core purpose is to unleash the spirit and creativity of residents in responding positively to these interconnected challenges, increasing the capacity of Cornwall and the surrounding rural area to thrive in the face of the coming changes.

We hope to achieve this by:
• raising awareness of climate change and peak oil among people living in the Cornwall area
• engaging with people and groups already active with these issues
• fostering a dynamic community process that unleashes the collective genius of our citizens for envisioning a better future and creating and implementing an Energy Descent Action Plan (EDAP) for the Cornwall area.

Our Beginnings

Transition Cornwall+ was initiated by thirteen citizens who came together in the winter of 2010, as the Cornwall Transition Study Group. The initiating group adopted this constitution to guide the development of Transition Cornwall+ and to provide a structure for the network as it develops.

Part of a Worldwide Movement

While locally controlled, Transition Cornwall+ is part of an international Transition movement that was initiated in the United Kingdom in 2005 and has since inspired hundreds of communities throughout the world. Transition Cornwall+ is one of 42 Canadian communities associated with the Transition Network, one of 13 in Ontario.

As such, we are inspired by The Transition Handbook: From Oil Dependence to Local Resilience (Rob Hopkins), as well as two online resources: the Transition Primer (http://www.transitionnetwork.org/resources/transition-primer) and the online documentary In Transition (http://vimeo.com/8029815.) These resources describe a comprehensive model for creating a richer, more vibrant community through the re-localization of the services and resources that we need to survive and thrive in a world of depleting fossil fuels, global warming and increasing economic instability.

Our Basic Working Assumptions

The work of Transition Cornwall+ is grounded in four key assumptions:
• Life with dramatically lower energy consumption is inevitable; it is better to plan for it than to be taken by surprise.
• Our communities have lost the resilience to weather the severe energy shocks that will ensue after peak oil.
• We have to act for ourselves as a community, and we have to act now.
• By unleashing the collective genius of the community, we can design ways of living that are more enriching, satisfying and connected than is our current lifestyle.

Our Underlying Values

Transition Cornwall+ is meant to be an inclusive and diverse set of community-based initiatives involving people of various ages and political affiliations from all sectors of the community. Our members, however, do hold some common underlying values, besides the four working assumptions listed above. At the very heart of our motivation is the desire to work together collaboratively to create a world that is environmentally sustainable, socially just and spiritually fulfilling. We support the permaculture ethics of:

Earthcare: Enabling all life systems to continue and flourish.
Peoplecare: Enabling access to the resources people need for a good quality of life.
Fairshare: Voluntary limits to population and consumption, to share resources for Earthcare and Peoplecare.

Our Objectives

In light of our purpose, working assumptions and underlying values, Transition Cornwall+ seeks to accomplish three key objectives:
• to increase awareness about peak oil, climate change and the associated economic impacts among the general public
• to create and support working groups that develop practical projects promoting greater sustainability, local resilience and a more satisfying community life
• to create and help implement an Energy Descent Action Plan for the Cornwall area; a longterm plan to systematically reduce fossil fuel dependency.

Our Principles

The following principles guide the work of Transition Cornwall+:
• We work together because we know that together we are greater than the sum of our parts; we get better results for less effort.
• We don’t need permission to act. There is no hierarchy. Leadership is shared by everyone. In representing Transition Cornwall+, individuals agree to abide by and uphold all our principles and take responsibility for their own decisions, actions and results.
• We trust 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 Cornwall+.
• We are open to working with everyone. We welcome diversity and see it as a strength. We avoid categories of “them and us”.
• We acknowledge other initiatives and seek ways to collaborate to further the aims of Transition Cornwall+.
• Individually and as a group we identify what needs to be done and people volunteer for tasks when they already have the skills or want to develop the skills. We help and support each others’ learning.
• We don’t have a blueprint. We believe in multiple paths, ideas and possibilities. We think questions are as important as answers. It’s fine to make mistakes and learn from them.
• We work with a natural momentum, driven by our passion and positive approach.
• We are transparent in everything we do.

Our General Organizational Structure

The participating members of Transition Cornwall+ will generally form themselves into three main types of interactive groups within our network:

The local coordinating group – Initially, this is the Transition Cornwall+ steering committee. However, at a set point described below, the steering committee will dissolve and be replaced by an elected Transition Cornwall+ coordinating team. The Transition Cornwall+ coordinating team will be made up of an elected representative of each of the working groups as well as up to five additional Transition Cornwall+ members who are deemed useful to have on the coordinating team. These members-at-large of the coordinating team will be elected at a general membership meeting. All active members and supporters are welcome to attend meetings of the coordinating team as observers and participate on a “voice, no vote” basis.

Transition working groups – These groups are self-organized by interested Transition Cornwall+ members and formally approved as working groups by the coordinating team. Working groups choose their own name and dissolve when their work is done. Each group may encourage others to join and should seek to be inclusive in their recruitment efforts. Project areas around which working groups might form include local food systems, raising and preserving food, renewable energy, water, waste and recycling, transportation, tourism, 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. All projects must contribute in some way to the transition to greater community resilience, a more localized economy and/or reducing dependence on nonrenewable 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 Cornwall+ members and supporters.

All approved working groups must select a representative to serve on the coordinating team. We encourage all working groups to select a chairperson, a secretary and a treasurer to help organize and coordinate their efforts.

Affiliated groups – Independent community organizations that are in harmony with the purpose and principles of Transition Cornwall+ and want to show their support and directly collaborate in achieving mutual goals may become affiliates of the organization. Their official affiliation with Transition Cornwall+ needs to be approved by the coordinating team and formalized through the creation of a memorandum of understanding outlining the shared agreements.

Fundraising

• Projects for which funding is sought need to be agreed with the coordinating team.
• Projects must support the aims of Transition Cornwall+, be in line with the organization’s principles and be designed to deliver on key objectives.
• The individuals who raise funding will hold the budget for the project and account for it publicly.
• The individuals who developed the project are responsible for monitoring the project, its process and outcomes.
• If anyone in Transition Cornwall+ believes that a project is not in line with the organization’s overall aims and principles, then that person may take the matter to the coordinating team.

Replacing the Initiating Committee with an Elected Coordinating Team

The role of the Transition Cornwall+ steering group is to spark an active Transition Movement in Cornwall and the surrounding rural area. 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; encouraging the formation of transition workgroups; and developing formal relationships of support with affiliated or partner organizations in the community.

Once Transition Cornwall+ has four or more active working groups, the steering group will dissolve and be replaced by a coordinating team made up of an elected representative of each of the working groups as well as up to five additional Transition Cornwall+ members who are deemed useful to have on the coordinating team. These members-at-large of the coordinating team will be elected at a general membership meeting.

Types of Individual Participation (Membership)

Transition Cornwall+ 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 in the Cornwall area; makes an annual monetary membership contribution to the network; and participates on either a working group, the coordinating team, or an affiliated organization.

Supporting Members: A supporting member is a person who generally agrees with the objectives, principles and activities of Transition Cornwall+; lives in the Cornwall area; makes an annual monetary membership contribution to the network, but is unable at this point to regularly participate in a working group, coordinating team or affiliated organization. Supporting members must be, however, willing to be asked to consider short-term volunteer opportunities in support of Transition Cornwall+.

Mullers: People who have not yet committed to being either a supporting or a participating member of Transition Cornwall+, but would like to be on the contact list to hear about Transition activities and events.

Members, whether participating or supporting, shall cease to be members if they resign, do not fulfill their membership requirements in a given year, or are requested to resign by 75% of the participating members voting at a General Membership Meeting.

Formal Officers

Participating members of Transition Cornwall+ shall annually elect at least three formal network-wide officers for terms of one year at a general membership meeting. People fulfilling these formal officer roles will serve on the coordinating team. These three essential organizational officer positions are:

Chairperson – Provides facilitative oversight of the coordinating team and plans and facilitates all general membership meetings (or delegates that responsibility).
Secretary – Prepares and sends out minutes of all meetings and keeps records of members.
Treasurer – Is custodian of the group’s money and may advise on fund-raising and spending. The Treasurer may delegate custody of a project’s funds to a partner with the approval of the coordinating team. Working groups may ask the treasurer to hold and disburse funds for them.

General Membership Meetings

Once it is established, officers and members-at-large for the coordinating team will be elected at an annual general meeting of the membership. AGMs will be held in every calendar year, at intervals of no more than 15 months. Additional general membership meetings can be called as needed by the coordinating team or upon request by 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 Cornwall+ officers and members-at-large 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, participants 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.

Quorum

Due notice having been given, the quorum for a general membership meeting shall be those present and voting.

Dissolution

If Transition Cornwall+ decides to terminate its work, any cash or other assets will, after all outstanding expenses are paid, be passed onto a like-minded community organization serving the Cornwall area.

Amending or Revising This Constitution

This constitution is the governing document of Transition Cornwall+. It is anticipated that it will be revised 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 document, providing members have received 30 days notice of proposed changes. If members have not received prior notification, then a 90% majority of the participating members is required to amend the constitution.

Appendix 1

Activities

Our objectives will be accomplished over the next 10 to 20 years, by means of the following types of activities:
• organizing awareness-raising programs and events such as talks, film screenings, demonstrations, fairs and community education workshops
• promoting transition-related information and activities through various means including: a website, blogs, media articles and interviews, event calendars and posters
• catalyzing the formation and affiliation of local working groups
• providing opportunities for re-skilling of local citizens
• organizing social events, entertainment and the arts, food and fun both with the larger community and among our most active members and supporters
• collaborating and coordinating with other Transition Initiatives at provincial, national and global levels
• engaging with other organizations, including 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
• working with our community partners, members and supporters to create a local Energy Descent Action Plan, to foster needed local public policy changes and to stimulate increasingly ambitious, long-term economic relocalization projects that meet the plan’s objectives over time.

Acknowledgments

This constitution draws heavily on two constitutions developed previously by Transition Keene, New Hampshire and Transition Town Lewes, UK. We gratefully recognize their generosity in sharing their work with other Transition Initiatives.

Signed and Dated

This Constitution was signed on January 18, 2010, by members of the Cornwall Transition Study Group:
Karen Carriere
Bill Carriere
Brian Garvin
Myriam Gaudet
Elaine Kennedy
Susan Lilley
Daune MacDonald
Lynn Macdonell
Neil MacLean
Angus MacLeod
Jennifer Mattice
Susan Towndrow
John Towndrow

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