Before starting 1YT, I had worked in international development in Africa and in a climate change policy unit in Bonn, Germany. I had reached a point of wanting to explore new paths, to step in other roles and to relook at the way I live. In the end, I did all that and much more.
1YT greatly helped me to gain clarity on where I was, the questions in front of me and possible choices. I was able to navigate the unknown territory into which I had entered with curiosity and a strong inner compass. The warm companionship of my fellow 1YT travelers and the reflection and guidance through 1YT, was key for me in order to consciously and courageously step into both a new phase of life and a new field of work: facilitation and group development for non-profit organisations such as social services, Transition groups and education centres. Now I facilitate team and strategy development processes and support change agents in these organisations to make a difference with their work through change management and teambuilding and storytelling. I also have a new webpage: www.alexanderfroede.de
The ideas which 1YT planted still work in me. I see my inner conditions and the action I take in the world clearly linked, hold questions as guides through the world, and I am reconnected to nature as a source of understanding, inspiration and strength. I am deeply thankful to 1YT.
Alex Froede, Bonn, Germany – 1YT 2015-16
It was, no doubt, a year of change. I signed up for the program on a bit of a whim, having quit my job as a nursery teacher a few months prior and feeling a bit adrift, vaguely dissatisfied with a lot of things in my life but unsure of why or of what to do about it. Initially what I saw in 1YT was the promise of a practical education that wasn’t, however, another replication of a system of training-and-employment that I was finding out to be fallacious at best, and soul-crushing at worst. It was all about doing real things in the real world, but by changing it, not by accepting everything about it and “playing the game”.
I had only a few loose ideas of what I wanted to do when I started the course. I knew I cared about creative writing, independent publishing, and the political aspects of publishing. I used the tools the course gave me to become clearer about my values and I was able to discuss some of my ideas in a receptive environment, but mostly it prompted me to reflect about all aspects of my life, not just my profession. I would say 1YT is first and foremost about living a life that makes sense for us, a life that we can say an honest “yes” to every day – with an understanding of the challenges of the times we live in, and that such a life cannot be isolated from questions about social change. Faced with these difficult questions head-on, I found myself daunted, yet inspired by the depth of possibility that we saw embodied in the projects we visited and the people we met. To me, they all faced very complex challenges, and showed hope in the face of challenges. 1YT offers no easy answers, but it helped me find many crucial questions. What does a fulfilling and meaningful life mean in times of global transition?
I started the course because I was looking for a clear path, but I believe the most important thing it gave me was the acknowledgement that confusion is not only understandable, it is a valuable state of mind, maybe even necessary to arrive at answers that are new, and needed in our world. Currently, I am doing a Library Science and Translation degree and taking the first few steps in setting up a zine distro in my hometown of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I re-visit my notes from our quarterly meetings often. I expect a lot of things will still change in the near future, but in the meantime, I’m very grateful to have my experience with 1YT as part of my toolkit.
Talita Soares, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – 1YT 2015-16
Right around this time, spurred on by my 1YT project mentor Debbie, I booked that one way ticket to leave Devon and come to where I am now, in the mountains and forests of the Northeastern USA. I came here, the place my grandparents used to live, full of childhood memories of our annual visits. I did not know what or who I would find here; I did not know how I would support myself financially in the long term; in fact, I did not even know if I was going to stay. All I knew was that I had to connect with my recent family history in this part of the world and the land (mostly forested) that my family lived on, and that I had my vision for it. And wow did the land give back to me things I could never have imagined. The universe gave me gift after gift after gift. And I live with gratitude and joy every day.
I spent a dreamy late summer, fiery autumn and snowy winter here. I found new friends, am starting to find a like-minded community with potential projects to get moving, found meaningful work (a huge step for me!), supporting local artisans, artists and other entrepreneurs, and most importantly I found beauty and peace. Now it is spring and I am feeling a renewed surge of energy and enthusiasm for what lies ahead of me – even though I still do not know what is coming. All I know is that I could not be anywhere else without feeling restless. So, I am where I want and need to be. And that is the main thing that I have learned through 1YT: dare to dream, commit to it, however impossible it might seem at the time, and continue to step into the unknowns with courage. That means following the fine line between fear and excitement with patience and trusting that things will start falling into place. That is probably the most surprising and at the same time the most obvious thing that came to me from 1YT. I also learned to ask for help, to value what I can bring to the table and not be shy about it. And, I am still working on all of that, and on the “I am enough” bit.
So the gifts I received did not come without some work, some perseverance, some reflection, some self-knowing, all of which 1YT encouraged in me. There is a saying which has accompanied me in my life, and which showed up again very unexpectedly here, framed, as a gift for my new home from my aunt who in turn got it from my great-aunt: “You are never given a wish without also being given the power to make it true. … You may have to work for it however.” And so, with my 1YT tools in hand, I am working for it.
I remain super inspired by my fellow 1YTers, every one of whom has stepped into a courageous life and is allowing their dreams to unfold. Thinking of the support we gave to and received from one another, including our amazing facilitators, I still get a warm and fuzzy feeling. As Debbie said: “You know what a real community feels like, so you can create that community wherever you go. Don’t be afraid to leave this one – new adventures and community await you!” And now my fellow 1YTers and I are still connecting, despite geographic differences! I could not feel more fortunate to have been part of 1YT. A huge thank you to all involved!
Vivian Winterhoff (May 2017), Bethlehem, New Hampshire, USA – 1YT 2015-16
I had been away long term travelling and had returned home. I had new passions (yoga and permaculture) and a desire to find meaningful work. During the 1YT year my personal life was turbulent but the course helped me return to my centre time and time again. Thanks to the tutors I decided to go ahead with my yoga teacher training and am now looking into ways to include nature connection within my teachings. I am currently in the process of designing a retreat specifically for this.
1YT gave me useable tools for facilitation and wellbeing, it has alerted me to so many positive projects in the UK but most importantly it connected me with others who care for our environment and the future of our society. They have all become people that I can be genuine with, a place to be speak openly and find the support to self enquire.
James Lander, London, UK – 1YT 2015-16
In June 2015, I left my job as a research worker in geography and decided to move towards new horizons. By applying to 1YT, I wanted to approach transition movements from origin. This program was also a good way for me to be guided during a time of change.
I lived 1YT as a year of discoveries. I encountered a group of supportive people, with who I shared questions and reflections. I saw many interesting projects around transition, especially with the help of my mentor who showed me places promoting local and healthy food. And from all these meetings and experiences, I understood that patience, confidence, openness and resilience are key elements for being happy (or in other words, successful) into activism.
After this experience, I’ve decided to be involved in food distribution and education in Belgium, my home country. I’m currently orienting myself towards market gardening and geography teaching.
Pierre Bourguignon, Belgium – 1YT 2015-16
The image from our storytelling weekend of the character leaping into the flames, remains with me. There are no completely safe leaps, no one is going to do it for you and there’s not a map you can follow. This resource has been the most important for me. It’s been about overcoming fear, and I’m jumping despite it all. 1YT really has changed my life… in ways I’m only just beginning to understand. It’s not just the course, it’s what you put into it. If you’re ready to leap, then go for it, you won’t be disappointed.
When I started the course it was a difficult leap to make, balancing paying the bills whilst moving into a completely different career from the one I previously had which was office based. I felt supported knowing I was not alone in doing it and the whole course became a container for that leap. It’s so easy to keep putting off making changes… It’s funny as looking back now it seems very obvious that I’ve always wanted to work with children and young people as in my previous career as administrator/ project co-ordinator and even campaigner, I always found myself working in the youth work sector, children’s play or something similar. But I truly had no idea what I wanted to do when I rocked up to 1YT. It was one of the first days on the course that I just thought, right, I’ve got to make a choice and at the time it felt kind of random to choose to work with young people. Now I understand that it was probably always my desire but one I had kept well hidden from myself. I had a lot of fear around working in this area too, for personal reasons and also, I was just scared to make the move in case I failed. As the years go by since first joining 1YT, I become more and more confident that I’ve finally found the work that truly engages me and makes me feel content. And that’s just the practical work side of things… The work we do changes us and I feel like I’m in a much stronger place than I was a few years ago.
I’m currently living in Bristol and managing a youth club 2 evenings a week. I run 3 outdoor after school clubs, a bit of forest school work and I co-manage a community garden as well as delivering children after-school and holiday clubs and a youth group there. For me, it’s about supporting the community (particularly children and young people) to achieve ‘full health’ which encompasses many different things – community, play, connection with nature, etc. I’m currently in the 3rd (and final!) year of a masters in youth and community work and I’m in the middle of writing a dissertation about the role of nature connection programmes on young people’s holistic development, with a specific focus on young people from BME communities. Last year, I ran some workshops at festivals which wove together storytelling, bush-craft and music and I plan to expand that this year. I’m also planning to trial running holiday camps in a woodland just North of Bristol and if it all goes well, I’m hoping to launch my own CIC within the year offering various woodland camp experiences for children and young people, with a specific focus around learning bush-craft skills, whilst being part of a live interactive story.”
Lisa Tozer, 1YT 2012-13
Lisa works at Trinity Garden in Bristol, delivering education programmes, and is studying for a masters in youth and community work
It is a platform to throw ideas and issues around on and get a lot of personal support and of your ideas and projects and processes. It is also an opportunity to learn a lot about, and skills relating to, creating change personally and socially. It would be hard for it not to be life changing.
I had a challenging year whilst participating in 1YT as at the time I was at heads with how, personally, I could possibly fulfil my moral ideals, which is by no-means the social norm. The absolute basis of this is my desire to lead a life with as minimal a negative impact on the planet as possible, but still within certain social confines. All that I needed/ wanted were people to say ‘Well of course you can do it!’, rather than commenting on it being unrealistic and un-pragmatic. I was fortunate to have general support but being around the ethos and inspiration of 1YT and the people involved definitely allowed to me to nurture my vision and slowly allow that to become an achievable reality in my mind. It is all about kindling the fire.
The field of knowledge and experience that I am passionately immersed in, and fascinated with, is the skilled use of natural, locally available, resources e.g.: wood; stone; ore; fibre, organic materials and leather. It was a good lesson to learn that for me, being a facilitator/ change maker/ community leader, does not suit my disposition in an extroverted way, but that the practice of my crafts and creating a non-prescribed livelihood with integrity plays a valid and important role.”
Richard Toogood, 1YT 2012-13.
Richard is a green woodwork and timber frame building apprentice at the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum near Chichester in Sussex http://www.wealddown.co.uk/
I graduated from Cambridge University with a first class degree in English. I had been a bit of a star during my academic career and I thought I was going to get calls from MI5, you know people banging on my door asking if I would work for them…. and nothing happened. So I felt I was chucked out into the world with no tools at all for actually navigating my way through society and personal relationships; everything seemed completely out of my depth.
[A couple of years later] I became unemployed in Oxford. I asked ‘where is the LETS [Local Economic Trading Scheme] in Oxford? Where will I get my massage? How will I get my clarinet lessons without earning money? How will I get a good quality of life without a LETS scheme?’ There was nothing. So I sat down with a woman, who later became my colleague and partner in crime and we decided to set up a Time Bank in Oxford. That was 2 years ago. In order not to feel I had run away to the circus, I joined 1YT, and did that for a year. It was really, really, supportive, partly because of the other people on the course.
The 1YT programme is very positive and I’m very positive. I’m not a no person I’m a yes person. I’m not a good activist because I don’t say no, but the Transition movement is very positive so it made me be aware of the incredibly complicated, complex volatile and difficult situation we are in and be able to cope with that knowledge and still be able to take positive action. And the storytelling that we did helped me to tell compelling stories and be authentic. One thing that that I really found as I was going through 1YT and subsequently is that I move into doing things I really believe in and therefore it is much easier to be authentic.
Hannah Fenton, 1YT 2012-13
I got to learn new skills in this field and hone them. I also had space to continue to write and really push my creativity. 1YT made all the difference by holding me, supporting me and empowering me to make a difference in and with my life. Now I work as a narrative coach and writer. I train individuals and organisations in the art and application of storytelling. I’m writing my first novel, a magical tale for 9-12 year olds that is about growing up and was inspired by the philosophy of mind. With my work as a narrative coach I want to empower people to tell compelling stories and also to realise that everyone has numerous stories to tell.
1YT helped build my resilience by helping me alter my relationship with uncertainty. Having come from university and a very structured background, I needed to understand how to navigate the world when the structures were less obvious. Now I have greater emotional resilience and am better at looking after myself, through good and bad times. If I had to name three important resources I gain through the programme they would be: resilience (of an organic, human kind that helps build protection from flesh and compassion, not artifices of metal and ego); creativity (asking big questions of the world and playing with the answers); gratitude (I am much better at appreciating my luck in life and being grateful for what I have, rather than constantly asking for more and getting very stressed in the process).
I’ve had to overcome times of loneliness, of uncertainty – not knowing what I was going to do next and how my career would unfold, of stress – working too hard or trying to hard to find ‘meaning’ and ‘purpose’ in places that didn’t really provide those things. However, faced with these trials I carried on doing things I love – writing stories and my first novel, building my skills as a narrative coach and building my client list, hanging out with my friends and family, getting to know Oxford and London, engaging with the arts and with activism. These helped add structure to my life and have supported me greatly. I now have a much better idea of what it is I’m doing, how to do it and how to enjoy doing it. In terms of impact I believe I have benefited numerous clients from my work as a narrative coach and have offered support and care to friends, family and people I don’t know as well but who I’ve been lucky enough to meet on the way.
1YT won’t solve all your problems but it will be a catalyst. It will challenge you and empower you to make your own answers and become more confident in yourself and also in community. You will get better at what you do, will get better at asking for help but also have lots of fun, learn how to chill and be silly (if you’re in need of that), and meets lots of ace, like-minded people. 1YT was the catalyst that helped me take my skills and experiences from before and turn them into something that I could offer the world and something that I could earn a living doing.”
Robert Holtom, 1YT 2013-14
Rob is a novelist, playwright and narrative coach. He set up his own business to work with organisations and people to help them tell a more authentic, more compelling story about their purpose in the world.
Vist Rob’s website here.
I chose to do the course having just returned from living for almost 3 years in Mexico, doing community work which was very fulfilling and in line with my values but not sustainable financially, emotionally or ecologically. I found it difficult to return to a ‘regular’ job, with a ‘regular’ life and I no longer had a community to support me as many of my friends had moved when I returned home.
My first week on the course was a real rollercoaster. Although I found it difficult to be open to speak in front of groups of people, especially about issues that were close to my heart, the immediacy of the community we were establishing was astonishing and it was wonderful to find people that were going through the same experiences as me. The other three course weeks followed similar patterns, with some really memorable moments and some difficult and challenging times.
Meanwhile, I moved into an inner city area in Manchester, without knowing anybody. In another suburb, not too far away, I came across a community growing project where I felt immediately at home, the Moss Side Community Allotment. I soon made a circle of friends based around the project and I didn’t miss a weekend to go down and get my fingers in the soil and I even helped to build a community hub where we could host events and workshops to share skills with the community. During this time I was working as an English teacher part time with adults in order to keep me going
It was also around this time that I began to realize my love of storytelling. Previous to that, I had always considered myself to be a listener rather than a teller and the idea of even speaking in front of an audience terrified me, even though I was a teacher. I sought a local storyteller skills master and I did an introductory course and I just began telling stories at local events.
Now I have a paid position in a primary school delivering outdoor education/Forest School sessions on a daily basis which is enough to sustain me, combined with the Forest School work I have been offered by Sarah. I also plan to set up my own business delivering outdoor workshops to schools, particularly focusing on local schools, with a view to establishing a place-based education.
Although my journey towards more fulfilling and sustainable work might seem a little disjointed, it was only with time that I realized how much crossover there was between the things I was interested in and how they could merge to carve out a much clearer path. One Year in Transition helped to point me in the direction and it is with the skills that I learnt there that I was able to create that path because often in the beginning you feel like you are a bit lost and confused when actually it is often just a case of lacking the confidence to take those steps and to take actions which may not seem directly to help you with finding the right work for you.”
Hayley Spann, 1YT 2013-14
Hayley helped set up the Moss Side Community Allotment in Manchester and is still active in that alongside her outdoor learning work with children