Inspiring Transition – Thousands of groups seeding transformative ideas into mainstream culture using engaging communication tools.
Climate change is an effect of our highly successful economic/industrial system. To mitigate the effects of climate change, together we need to modify all the factors that tend to magnify and accelerate climate change. These include inefficient industrial design, fossil fuels, advertising, and trade agreements that are designed to promote increased consumption, as well as psychological factors that emotionally drive excess consumption.
There are no silver bullet solutions; we need a whole system change to a life-sustaining society. Achieving this requires catalyzing informed passionate public commitment to transformative change.
Inspiring Transition is a collaborative platform for communicating to inspire mainstream commitment.
Our model is that organizations that care about climate change and social well-being (there are millions) devote a portion of their efforts to public education about the need and hopeful possibilities of systemic change. We have a team doing outreach for this now.
We have ready-to-use tools so that communicating need not take an inordinate amount of any one individual or group’s time. Organizations can communicate with their members and networks as an easy adjunct to their primary projects.
Accelerating the Great Transition - Engaging mainstream commitment to a life-sustaining society outlines a straightforward communication strategy and an interesting set of communication tactics, some of which are quite imaginative.
The Inspiring Transition Launch
The Inspiring Transition Launch will be throughout the month of September this year. Our wish is that organizations and individuals ‘everywhere’ simultaneously talk about transitioning to a life-sustaining society, and thus create a pulse the raises the global sustainability conversation to a new level.
Our deeper goal is for our global civilization to actually become ecologically sustainable. Failure is not an option.
What actions do you propose?
In a famous essay, Places to Intervene in a System, Donella Meadows noted that the most influential point of change is in people’s paradigm, or way of understanding the world.
In terms of large-scale change to deal with challenges such as global warming, one of the most significant actions those of us who care can take is communicating to inspire mainstream commitment to successfully transition to a life-sustaining society. Without thoughtful passionate mainstream commitment, on present trends, business as usual will take us all over the ecological cliff. However, to be useful, such communication must happen on a massive scale.
There are, of course, many people communicating about climate change. And past efforts have had some effect, even though now we are overwhelmed by thoughtless devotion to economic increase, disinformation, and undue corporate influence on government.
Current climate action initiatives fall short in two significant regards:
1 They generally fail to address the full suite of systemic drivers that make global warming worse.
2 They have limited means of engaging mainstream commitment.
Often climate activists either broadcast randomly or preach to the converted. The challenge that the Inspiring Transition initiative has taken on is to reach out and effectively engage both people who have not thought deeply about climate change, and also to those who are concerned but do not yet see how they can contribute to significant change.
So the primary action that the Inspiring Transition initiative supports is individuals and organizations communicating with their networks, businesses, influential decision-makers and the general public about the large-scale systemic nature of the change required to avoid sure ecological catastrophe and facilitate transitioning to a thriving life-sustaining society.
We have a three-tiered communication strategy that we are inviting individuals and organizations around the world to align with.
1 Top-level is asserting the meme
We are in a Great Transition–a whole system change to a life-sustaining society–and we need to accelerate it.
Advertisers know the power of a meme, or a brand. We assert this meme in casual conversations, blogs and newsletters. We weave the meme into lectures, and invite people to become leaders in the Inspiring Transition initiative (and refer them to the Inspiring Transition website for resources).
The idea is to have this meme appear everywhere, so that in time the meme transitioning to a life-sustaining society begins to act as a counter-pole to the mantra of economic growth, economic growth.
2 Next is the message level: communicating in depth what whole system change to a life-sustaining society involves, through blogs, newsletters, articles and social media, with links to more detailed material such as books and videos.
3 The most intimate level, and the most powerful in terms of shifting mindsets, is conducting personal conversations and workshops. We have tools for facilitating focused conversations about how people can contribute to the Great Transition to a life-sustaining society. These tools are open source. People around the world can pick them up and use them. They are designed so that people do not need to be trained, and we encourage people to act through their own initiative. (See Tabletop Presentations and the Kitchen Table Conversations Manual.)
We will also offer training through businesses, NGOs and on-line to equip their members to be citizen educators who engage friends, neighbors and colleagues.
Many social change advocates think in terms of messages, and these have their place. But my professional background is as a clinician. For 30 years I have been in the business of improving how people think as a psychotherapist, creativity trainer and Feldenkrais practitioner. So I am championing, not just messages, but, more importantly, enabling people to think better in ways that make sense to them.
Our innovative communication tools improve the way people think about climate change. As mentioned, one of them is Tabletop Presentations, a manual for conducting focused conversations. It has about 20 modules. Conversationally working through the modules enables people to develop a robust mental framework for making sense of systemic change to deal with global warming. An innovative feature is using physical markers to enable people to keep track of complex conversations. People like this approach.
Who will take these actions?
In Blessed Unrest Paul Hawken asserts that there are now millions of groups around the world who actively care about climate change, environmental sustainability and social well-being. It is a vast and largely unseen movement. If it fulfills its potential, historians in the future may look back and describe our time as the Great Transition to a life-sustaining society.
We think that the phrase ‘Great Transition to a life-sustaining society’ sums up a goal that is consistent with the aspirations of all these different groups. If so, we can all choose to work for it without having contentious strategy meetings.
From now through to the Inspiring Transition Launch during September and afterwards we will be inviting as many groups and their members as possible to act as co-leaders/citizen educators seeding the vision of a Great Transition to a life-sustaining future into mainstream culture. Our team is already reaching out to various organizations and networks.
Our model is that people go to the Inspiring Transition website, educate themselves about whole system change and how to communicate about it, and begin communicating with people they know. They act as self-initiating agents. They do not need to join a group or be trained; we assume that many people are knowledgeable and intelligent enough to do this, and we want to eliminate any administrative barriers to being leaders.
An important strategy is that whenever people give lectures or participate in panels and conferences they mention the Great Transition, and invite members of the audience to go to the Inspiring Transition website and step up to leadership.
And who are mainstream people? Our friends and colleagues; we are all part of the mainstream. We all have our networks, our LinkedIn and Facebook contacts, and our personal connections. Together we can be an incredibly powerful force for shifting consciousness.
Where will these actions be taken?
The initiative is global.
Our emphasis is on the developed world, especially the United States. We have active colleagues in United States, Australia, Canada, Great Britain and Portugal.
Currently our materials are in English.
We look forward to attracting funding to translate our materials into other languages.
How will these actions have a high impact in addressing climate change?
If strong enough, the public commitment to change the systemic drivers of climate change, will:
- Make projects such as opening up the Galilee Basin in Australia for coal mining politically unthinkable.
- Inspire more companies to invest in carbon free production.
- Inspire campaign finance reform in the United States so that big polluters do not have undue influence on government.
- Move people to reduce their personal carbon footprint.
- Inspire creative thinking in schools and businesses to promote psychological well-being... thus reducing a major driver of excess consumption and associated carbon emissions.
- Build political commitment to invest heavily in biological carbon sequestration to draw down excess atmospheric CO2.
We do not anticipate universal agreement. Far from it. But we do anticipate changing the tone sufficiently that at every level decisions are made that are consistent with living within the Earth’s carrying capacity.
What are other key benefits?
Many people are depressed, even despairing about climate change – which is to say, they care deeply, but feel helpless. The Inspiring Transition initiative provides a vehicle to translate their concern into leadership.
The aspiration to create a life-sustaining society can be creatively uplifting. People will see new possibilities, both for themselves, and also for their organizations and the larger culture. Everybody’s mood will tend to improve if as a culture we are about creating a life-sustaining future, rather than being about sure ecological self-destruction. Especially young people will have reason to hope.
Using our tools to conduct conversations about systemic change cultivates advanced communication skills that have the potential to lead to more fulfilling relationships. This is because the conversations increase our capacity to understand the person we are talking with in any situation, and hence build rapport.
What are the proposal’s costs?
Our model is based on self-initiated volunteer action by individuals and organizations around the world. Currently we have a small volunteer team. The following budget will fund a paid team to accelerate expansion.
Staff 6 @ $55K/annum = $330,000/ per annum
- Newsletter and social media manager
- Data management
- Outreach to engage opinion leaders and organizations (3)
- Event organizer
- Transition Leader trainings
- Presentations to industry groups
- Web support and data management ($200 to $600 per month, depending on how large our database grows)
- Event production ($30,000 per annum)
- Communicators Kit production ($10,000 to set up, then self funding)
- Travel to conferences and presentations ($10,000 per annum)
- Translating materials into French, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese and Russian ($8,000 each = $40,000)
- Cloning the Inspiring Transition website for each language (5 @$2000 = $10,000)
- Miscellaneous ($5,000 per annum)
This is our wish list. In fact we are proceeding with virtually no budget at all.
The Inspiring Transition Launch will be throughout September 2015. During the lead up we will be engaging as many organizations and their members as we can. Our request is that they communicate the vision that we are in a Great Transition to a life-sustaining future through blogs, newsletters, lectures, workshops and trainings.
If things go well, the Launch will kick-start a ferment of activity akin to the feminist movement at its height in the 1970s. They had books, articles, lectures and conferences, as well as the famous consciousness raising groups. All of this was self-organized. Groups such as the National Organization of Women played an important role, but the movement was bigger than any one group.
Our intention is to generate a sufficient pulse to shift the global sustainability conversation to a new level: actually aiming to succeed, recognizing that a whole system change is necessary, and communicating so that both ordinary people and influential decision-makers grasp this.
As for the long-term future, our situation is stark. Either together we spark a rapid shift in consciousness, or it is all over. An Arctic methane burp could occur at any time. One way or another, our job will be done within a few years.
There are none at present. The proposal The Mindshift Required is intriguing, but it has no content.
We have designed a platform that covers everything that is needed for a global communication initiative.
- Understanding Whole System Change makes whole system change mentally manageable in a way that supports real-world transformative action.
- Accelerating the Great Transition - Engaging mainstream commitment to a life-sustaining society outlines a communication strategy that groups around the world can readily buy into. It provides more than 20 interesting communication Tactics.
- Tabletop Presentations is an innovative communication tool for conducting personal conversations and workshops. It uses physical markers to help people keep track of the conversation.
- The Great Transition Communicators Kit outlines our suite of communication tools. It includes everything from articles to email templates. The tools themselves can be freely downloaded from Box.com.
Books that cover the ground of whole system change include
- Bob Douglas Hope for Tomorrow’s World
- David Korten The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community
- David Korten Agenda for a New Economy
- Naomi Klein This Changes Everything
- Riane Eisler The Power of Partnership
- Lester Brown Plan B 4.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization
And there is Annie Leonard’s brilliant The Story of Stuff Project.
The phrase ‘Great Transition’ is used by Tellus Institute, the New Economics Foundation, Naomi Klein, Lester Brown and others.