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Start Your Own Book Club

Whether you're looking for like-minded folks to talk to about the current zeitgeist of our world or just an excuse to chat over some snacks, you can get a reading group together in just a few steps. Book clubs are a great way to communicate with friends and meet new people while exploring and discussing (hopefully) good books. What's more, being part of  a book group can help you stay motivated to read if you otherwise have difficulty finding time to pick up a book. If you can't find a group in your area, maybe it's time to start one!

  1. Spread the word.

    Start with 3 friends—all devoted readers; ask each of them to invite 1, 2, or 3 others, also devoted readers. It is much easier to start a book club with two or three people who already have some connection. It's not important for everyone to know one another though; in fact, it's fun if all of you don't. After you meet a couple of times, you can grow the club at your own pace. (Or not.) Alert friends, family, and coworkers that you’re starting a Transition book club; be sure to mention your expectations. Start collecting e-mail addresses or other forms of contact. Your goal should be between 5 and 15 people, so everyone gets a chance to speak. New to the area? Post a flyer on the community board at your local bookstore or library.We've made a template for you, check it out! The flyer announces the time and place of the first meeting and any other relevant information, such as whether refreshments will be served. Deliver copies of the flyer to local bookstores, and put them up on community bulletin boards at grocery stores, churches, etc. (CAVEAT: Please be aware that broad advertising of book clubs can result in the occasional bad apple that can single-handedly ruin the discussion openness and tone. Do this with caution.) The Transition asks that if you post flyers that you also document where you put them so you can remove them and take them down after the date has past. It is in the best interest of all Transition Contributors to do this so our organization continues and strengthens the positive view of the work we do in our local communities. Posting about your event on websites like MeetupCraigslist and ReadersCircle are highly effective as well. We highly recommend these methods over flyers as it reduces paper waste.

  2. Go over the ground rules via e-mail.

    You should definitely allow the group to make most decisions, but if you have certain requirements for the club (for example, if you you can only meet on Thursdays), you should set them out ahead of time.You’ll want to give people an idea of what to expect: how often you’ll meet (once a month is typical), how long the meetings will be (about two hours usually does the trick), and any other need-to-knows. Some groups rotate their host and if they meet at a restaurant the host might buy appetizers and drinks since they are not in their home and preparing food.

  3. Decide on the tone and theme of the club.

    Once you have a group assembled discuss the interests of each attendee. Are you a die-hard permaculture buff? A shameless survivalist? Or interested in technological unemployment? Decide whether the club would prefer to focus on one genre or have a free-for-all in our online bookstore (we've organized some of the titles in order of what Phase you belong to currently to make it easy for you and your group), and set the tone, too: a scholarly meeting of the minds, a reason for a get-together, or something in-between. Deciding on the club's orientation is very important, if you make this decision at the outset, you'll know who to invite and what books to read.

  4. Figure out the best time for everyone to meet.

    Coordinating busy schedules can be the toughest part of this process, but finding a good slot will boost attendance down the line. Most clubs meet during the week: mid-morning, lunchtime, dinner, or early evening. For others weekends work best. Still, all clubs end up working around jobs, childcare, travel, even difficulty driving at night. (After dinner, when younger kids have gone to bed, is a popular choice.) You can use NeedtoMeet to take the guess work out of what works for your club.  Something to consider: Will the time of the gathering warrant a meal (hello, potluck!), snack, or just refreshments?

  5. Pick a convenient location.

    If you feel comfortable inviting people into your home, you can have at least the first meeting at your house or apartment as long as you have enough room. Lots of groups take turns at one another’s homes. If you want to remove the pressure to entertain, then quiet cafes and restaurants are an easy option. You can even ask for a discount at one spot if you’ll be meeting there regularly. Otherwise, you can usually reserve space for free at community centers, libraries or churches, or you might try to get a bookstore to let you hold your meeting there. Ideally if you can find someplace convenient where you can hold regular meetings, the better it is for your group and the more likely people will consistently attend. If the people you are interested in reading with are too far away to meet up regularly then try having your book club virtually using Skype, or Google Hangouts instead!

  6. Prepare the meeting space. Make sure the meeting space is clean and inviting. Check to make sure the restrooms are properly stocked even if you are at a public location (if they are short on anything or the restroom is a mess you can inform an attendant before your club convenes). Most importantly, make sure you have enough chairs, and set up refreshments.
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This is a very useful technique when ideas need to be solicited from the whole group. The normal rule of waiting to speak until the Facilitator recognizes you is suspended and everyone is encouraged to call out ideas to be written by the Scribe for all to see. It is helpful if the atmosphere created is one in which all ideas, no matter how unusual or incomplete, are appropriate and welcomed. This is a situation in which suggestions can be used as catalysts, with ideas building one upon the next, generating very creative possibilities. Avoid evaluating each other's ideas during this time.

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What The World Needs Now - Jackie DeShannon

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Name Drop

If you see fellow Transition supporters or Contributors in your Facebook feed doing awesome things tag them and let others know about it too! Here Christal tags me in a post about my podcast interview with Jenise Fryatt. The only thing that could have been better about this post is if she also shared a link for the site, but in this instance if they listen to the podcast they will get the website url. 


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Non-Violent decision-makers use their power to achieve goals while respecting differences and cooperating with others. In this environment, it is considered violent to use power to dominate or control the group process. It is understood that the power of revealing your truth is the maximum force allowed to persuade others to your point of view.

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An Activist is...


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We Want Peace - Lenny Kravitz

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Study & Analysis

Deciding to Study and Analyse your local community is a good place to start when first forming a BUD. Discovering the aspects of life that your community needs in order to sustain itself and thrive can be key to your group making real progress towards a better future. Some good questions to ask yourself are:

  • How do we significantly increase resilience?
  • How do we drastically reduce carbon emissions?
  • How do we strengthen our local economy?


Sometimes the best ways to answer these questions and more like them is to fully understand the problem in the first place! Both newcomers and experienced social change workers have found a need to gather information, renew their visions of a new society, and devise new ways for achieving our dreams. Starting these programs with your BUD is the perfect way to do just that!

Book Clubs


Movie Clubs


See Also:


Case Studies


Sources:Building Social Change Communities, Transition Primer: A Guide to Becoming a Transition Town, US Version 

Contributors: Peter WoodrowTransition US

Recommended Books:Building Social Change Communities, Transition Primer: A Guide to Becoming a Transition Town, US Version 

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The Morning -Alanis Morissette

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Income Generation

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