Transition evaluation

Reflections on the design process

Transition is thoroughly informed by permaculture design. It was not the intention of this design to analyse Transition processes, initiatives and activities in terms of meeting permaculture ethics and principles. This was a personal design for closing the diploma and reconnecting with Transition as an inspired piece of permaculture design and practice.

After the survey and analysis phases I used the ethics, principles and Mollison’s design methods as a process for evaluating options and making design decisions. It was the result of the ethics analysis that it seemed creating a hub of existing projects would have most potential in achieving the aims of surveying the existing Transition environment, making beneficial connections and Transition community building. The principles analysis pointed toward a design as steps along a pathway. I feel I would have needed much more observing and interacting to be able to pick a specific project and design for that.

It is interesting that Mollison conceptualises the design process as designing by using one or more different methods:

  • analysis of components
  • observation
  • deduction from nature
  • options and decisions
  • data overlay
  • random assembly
  • flow diagrams
  • zone and sector analysis
  • incremental design.

If we map this onto SADI, we could have:

  • S: observation, deduction from nature, data overlay
  • A: analysis of components, zone and sector analysis
  • D: data overlay, zone and sector analysis, random assembly, flow diagrams, options and decisions
  • I: incremental design.

Often the difficulty in using SADIM is separating out the design phase, however the separation of these phases ensure that observation and analysis is done before making design and implementation decisions.

Did I achieve my aims?

When I began this design, I did not have any specific outcome in mind. I knew I wanted to reconnect with Transition as a way of developing my permaculture work after the diploma. The design was successful as a way to find direction and plan to do more detailed design work at a later stage.

Transition is about participatory design and working collaboratively and therefore a pathway design integrating an incremental design process seems to be appropriate. Alternatively I could have taken a specific project and designed for that. There will be many future designs within this overarching design: perhaps a second diploma!

Energy Descent Action Planning didn’t feature in my design explicitly. This is how community initiatives become excellent pieces of permaculture design. I will tweak the design to consistently relate my pathway to an energy descent action planning.