From SHARON ASTYK
I get invited to speak to a lot of US Transition groups, and often I go. Often the leaders are blog readers, sometimes people I know through the internet, often future-friends. While every talk is different, they have some real similarities. Whether speaking in a suburb of Maryland, a large city in Ohio or to a coalition of rural towns in Virginia, I know that some things will probably happen.
I will meet wonderful, kind hosts who will put me up in their guest room and on their couch. I will most likely speak at a Unitarian Church (although I have spoken in many, many different kinds of venues including Churches of many denominations, synagogues, Grange Halls, Public Libraries, Town Halls, Public Parks and other venues, Unitarian Churches by far predominate.)
The audience will be warm, welcoming and attentive. The average age of the audience will be at least a decade older than me and often much more (50s, usually.) The audience will be largely or exclusively white (although I have also spoken to a very few impressive urban transition groups that are neither) and middle class. Before my talk a long list of committees and administrative tasks will be discussed, and we will welcome many co-sponsors of my talk from local resources that tend strongly towards the middle-class progressive.
After my talk on food issues, oil and climate issues, transportation, etc… (depending on what they’ve asked me to speak on), someone will raise their hand and say how wonderful it is that the audience is of X size, but how do we get the message out to everyone else, and why are there only white middle class people in the audience? Odds are I will have already had this conversation two or three times with the leaders of the group or others involved also. They will point out that they have done outreach and advertising, movie nights, etc… and it still seems to be mostly attracting the same group of people – older white people with money to spare.
When these questions are asked, I find myself giving a number of answers over and over again. Some of them I have rather frequently written about here, for example:
1. Most people do not hire babysitters/come out on a freezing/raining/frying