The implications of working with and within communities, and contributions of research to community-building efforts.
Transition's focus is on resilience-building within communities of place. At higher scales, Transition itself is a broader community of knowledge and practice that has developed its own emergent networks and has many linkages with networks in other areas (permaculture, local food, community energy, green building, etc.). Transition researchers can maximise their contributions to resilience-building efforts only if they operate as part of these communities: an instance of the permaculture principle 'integrate rather than segregate' (HPP8).
Most universities are poorly connected with their local communities: this at best occurs on an ad hoc basis, and is rarely prominent in institutional priorities. At broader scales, academic networks tend to be self-referential and not to communicate systematically with activist and practitioner networks. This disconnection limits the scope for research to be grounded in practical concerns and have useful outcomes. It is also detrimental to efforts at resilience-building: a community of any type whose specialist creators and communicators of knowledge are isolated is not taking maximum advantage of its collective capacity to identify and enact creative responses to change.
Therefore: seek to make researchers members of Transition groups, not outsiders looking in. Make participation in meetings and projects part of the research, and seek to find contributions for researchers that take advantage of what they have to offer, as well as encouraging and finding space for further contributions that may go beyond their direct research interests. Researchers will ideally join a group on a long-term basis as part of their general contribution to community life; where other commitments or a temporary stay in the locality make this impossible, look for ways to take advantage of their transience by cross-fertilisation with other forms of action. Where funds are available to employ researchers, seek to recruit people already within the group or community to this work.