Great, you say, but what is an “offering circle” and wait a second, what is Bowen In Transition”
The organization Bowen in Transition is part of a world-wide network of “transition” initiatives in more than 1400 communities. These initiatives sprouted from an exercise carried out by permaculture students at Kinsale College in Ireland where they designed a theoretical fossil-free community. Their teacher, Rob Hopkins, moved to the Town of Totnes, England in 2005 and began what is now known as the first “Transition Town.”
Participants in the movement support one another on sustainable community-building projects. Some of these projects, oriented toward say green building or food security, are considered “outer transition.” Other projects, ones that have people gather together to deal with the emotional aspects of climate change and other stressful events, or the personal aspects of community-building, are considered “inner transition.”
Bowen in Transition has a similar approach. Activities such as the recent Fix-it-Fair, annual energy audits and sustainability tours fall under the banner of “outer transition.” Events like the upcoming offering circle would be considered “inner transition.”
The Offering Circle is an opportunity for Bowen Islanders to come together and connect over a potluck but also to offer and receive services or gifts from other participating islanders. It is not about a direct exchange of quantifiable goods or services but rather about making an offering that feels good for you, feeling safe asking for something that you need or taking someone up on an offer that sounds appealing. In the process, community members learn about one other’s unique gifts and needs and how we can better support one another beyond economic exchanges.
Pauline Le Bel recalls that at the last circle of this kind she offered to write and sing a song for someone’s birthday. Phil Gregory and Jackie Bradley took her up on this offer, but not for a birthday — they wanted a song for their garden.
“So I went to their place and had a tour of their garden for the first time,” says Pauline. “It was so beautiful and until then I had no idea of the magnitude of this project. Jackie was organizing a tea party for later that day and that’s when I sang the song. I really got to know them better, so in a way, it was like a gift that kept giving.”
Bowen in Transition co-founder Dave Pollard describes this event as inner transition as it is about stress release and reassurance.
“When we put our minds together and learn about each other, we break through our preconceptions and silos,” he says. “On Bowen, people are generally good about stepping up and coming to their neighbour’s aid. As a society, and as a community, what we need to come to grips with is that we are living in the midst of a long emergency, a time of upheaval and great change. The challenge is to work together to relearn the skills that will be needed to deal with that.”
He adds that the Offering Circle works best with between 10 and 20 people participating.
All are welcome on Sunday, November 18. It starts with a potluck at 5:30 p.m. at 340 Royal View Place, just off Sunset Road past Thompson Rd.