Laval en transition: working together to develop eco-logical and solidarity-based initiatives

Because he is convinced that we all have a role to play in the socio-ecological transition, Alex-andre Warnet founded Laval en transition and, with Jonathan Falardeau, joined the 2019-2020 cohort of the MIS Civic Incubator.

Making the socio-ecological transition a social project

Because he has been involved in his community for many years, and as an activist for climate emergency and ecological transition, for Alexandre Warnet, the facts are self-evident:

“We can’t watch our environment get destroyed without taking action. A global awareness is necessary to take concrete and ongoing action. At the city level, by involving citizens, we can positively transform our impact to reverse the climate crisis.”

Originally from Laval, after having lived in Montréal and Geneva and hosted events and confe-rences in various countries around the world, Alexandre returned to his native Québec with the same ambition to make the socio-ecological transition a social project.

Among his many commitments in the Laval sector, he founded the citizen movement Laval en transition, which aims to raise awareness, bring together and provide Laval residents with tools to develop eco-responsible, supportive and user-friendly initiatives aimed at reducing the ecological footprint while making communities more resilient.

Inspired by La Transition

«“We are not starting from scratch; the idea is not to reinvent the wheel but to build on existing and working resources. I’ve known about the methods of the Transition Network for a long time and I wanted to do something with it.”»

A. Warnet

La Transition, as defined by the Réseau Transition, “is a grassroots movement of citizens coming together to reimagine and rebuild our world.”

Launched in 2006 in the United Kingdom, the movement fosters action through the creation of collectives, enabling them to propose new innovative solutions, share them and improve them collaboratively.

This approach has since expanded to more than 50 countries. Thousands of initiatives have been deployed in cities, towns, villages, universities and even schools.

Photo credit : Les incroyables comestibles

“It is an effective way to contribute to the global movement of education and mobilization so that concrete actions can be taken quickly. What I like is this systemic movement in which everyone can contribute by tapping into their talents and aspirations.”

A. Warnet

Far from the ambient eco-anxiety, the Laval en Transition movement conveys a positive, fes-tive image, filled with high spirits and moments of joyful sharing. Yes, it is possible to meet to-day’s climate challenges with a smile on your face!

This enthusiasm echoes the atmosphere of the world event 100in1day, an urban creation fes-tival in which residents are invited to carry out 100 or more urban actions in a single day to improve their living environment and foster closer ties between communities.

The next Laval edition of 100in1day (which will take place at an undetermined date, in the con-text of COVID containment) will also be carried by Laval en transition.

How do you start a citizens’ movement?

Like Demain Verdun, Laval en transition is taking shape with the creation of the Lavallois-es en transition Facebook group. The platform brings together citizens who are interested in ex-changing ideas among members and implementing concrete projects.

The discussions lead to a first meeting of intent in June 2019. No agenda, only the willingness to get together and contribute ideas.

“Among those present at this first meeting, some were totally outside my circle of acquaint-tances. The message spread beyond my close circle of contacts and I was delighted to see the willingness and desire of the participants to get involved.”

A. Warnet

An evening conference on the Transition Pact officially launched the movement in September 2019, offering Laval residents a structure to join forces to reduce their ecological footprint, positively transform their community and actively fight to overcome the climate crisis.

Based on the methods recommended by La Transition, the mode of governance adopted is holacracy. Structural circles have been set up. They constitute the permanent teams that act autonomously or in collaboration with the other circles. They take responsibility for the emer-gence and execution of ideas, without waiting for validation.

In addition, action teams are also involved in the implementation of initiatives in the field from time to time. All of this is part of an ongoing learning process to work agreeably and efficiently together.

Defining its structure and refining its vision

The excitement around Laval en transition has been very encouraging, but also very sudden. The movement was rapidly gaining momentum.

“It was necessary to take a step back to properly define the structure, refine our vision and va-lidate processes. We saw the call for projects from the Civic Incubator go through and when we read about the program, we knew that we would find a relevant coaching for the de-velopment of Laval en transition.

We were very enthusiastic about the idea of integrating the cohort and our intuition was a dead on.”

J. Falardeau

Laval en transition : développer ensemble des initiatives écologiques et solidaires - Les actualités de la Maison de l'innovation sociale
Laval en transition : développer ensemble des initiatives écologiques et solidaires - Les actualités de la Maison de l'innovation sociale

“Among the many tools at our disposal, if I had to name one that has been particularly helpful, I would say, without hesitation, the Theory of change, which has greatly contributed to improv-ing the narrative.”

“We have also worked on blind spots, for example by distributing a survey to our members to find out their primary motivation. The response was not at all what we expected. What stimu-lates them is to act together, to take advantage of the group’s dynamics to act. So, if the hu-man being is at the centre of their motivation, we need to work on this component of their commitment. It is following this discovery that we have created a welcoming guide and a wel-come and community well-being circle.”

A. Warnet

Encouraging first steps

The success of the first phase of mobilization quickly led to concrete actions, sometimes in collaboration with other agencies. Far from wanting to compete with players already estab-lished in the community, Laval en transition is positioning itself as a springboard, bringing peo-ple together. And in this large territory, the third largest city in Québec, the possibilities for ecological, economic, and social initiatives are wide-ranging.

Laval residents have already achieved a lot: tree planting, urban agriculture, the organization of repair events and neighbours’ day gatherings. Future projects are already being consid-ered, such as the development of a food self-sufficiency program.

As this text is being published during the COVID-19 pandemic containment and spring and summer activities are compromised, the movement adapts and continues to work to build population resilience.

The physical distance imposed does not hinder the social solidarity that is organized on digital platforms: friendly discussions, moral support, mutual aid, and solutions are at the heart of the postings. By developing an online space where emotional intelligence and respect prevail, Laval en transition is strengthening community ties, while waiting to relaunch the Caravane de la Transition to meet the population of various Laval neighbourhoods and to launch its very first Forum lavallois de la Transition.

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