People often ask us what in the social change world we’re up to. We all like to know what other groups are working on and whose cooking up new initiatives. So while we’re not in the habit of writing the ‘look how busy we are’ kind of newsletter, we’re fortunate to be involved in some pretty cool projects over the summer. Here’s a peak at our workbench.
A new story and new base for nature
For an environmental group in Australia we’re leading a process to come up with a “new story for nature” and build an activated base that mobilizes to protect it. The UN process for biodiversity is expected to grow as big as the UN climate one has, as these are truly the “twin crises” of our times. The trick with nature campaigning today is to come up with a new story that reflects the urgency and the science – which is honestly scary as hell – without further traumatizing people. And to explore building a wider base – with not just enviros but animal lovers, suburban dwellers, maybe even the “ducks and guns” crowd – to build power and stop the heartbreaking polarization that has dragged down issues like climate.
Scaling a climate finance “directed-network”
For another group of Aussies that we’ve been supporting for years, we’re helping scale their U.S. and soon to be global campaign targeting the world’s biggest investor, who also happens to be the biggest backer of fossil fuels on earth. After helping launch the campaign last year with a new story to reach influentials in the climate movement and helping build the directed-network model, we’re now hoping to drive narrative change in the finance sector and scale the campaign in other cities and countries around the world.
Taking people power from pilot to scale
At the request of one of Canada’s biggest environmental groups, we’re completing a year-long process helping them take engagement and people power to scale across their entire organization. Similar to our work with one of the UK’s biggest enviro groups, both have been experimenting with people power and bottom-up structures, in smaller scale, siloed pilots, for years. Both are now rolling out distributed organizing strategies for starting local climate action groups across the country and providing them with more support to lead.
A new platform for Reconciliation education, and laughs
Also at home in Canada, the issue of Indigenous reconciliation continues to be one of our top challenges as a nation. There wasn’t a month that went by where an Indigenous issue wasn’t dominating the news cycle. But what hasn’t changed, unfortunately, is the low awareness otherwise nice Canadians have on the many ways our justice system continues to perpetuate systemic racism and injustice towards our country’s first peoples, today.
Working with RAVEN we’ve assembled an incredible team to help change that with a new, national Indigenous education platform. Comedian Ryan McMahon has signed on as the host, and the amazing Leena Minifie as co-producer and director for a series of humorous web videos that will lead people to more in-depth conversations and education modules online. We’ve finished the concept and demo reel, and are now helping raise a (hopefully) substantial budget to bring this to life in 2020.
A new story for these dangerous times
And our last project takes us back to one of my core passions -spirituality and consciousness. I sometimes feel heavy from the unintended consequence of how our fossil fuel and climate campaigning work has led to a backlash and deeper polarization throughout our culture. These days I am honestly starting to worry less about our how our climate and nature will adapt, and more about how as human beings and as a culture we are going to respond to all the uncertainty, loss, and change we’re really only now just starting to face. As things continue to fall apart, are we going to devolve back to a scarier, darker form of human, or into something new?
That’s why it’s particularly inspiring to be working to a project whose sole purpose is to grow consciousness and tell a “new story” about what it means to be human. Journey of the Universe was the result of an epic 20 year exploration by Brian Swimme, Mary Evelyn Tucker and John Grim in how new science informs our understanding of the evolution of the universe and of us as a species. After creating an Emmy award winning documentary and a successful online open course at Yale, we’re helping them evaluate where they are, optimize their channels to reach more learners, and create a vision for a 21st century content strategy that will help this critical work reach more people with their essential message of hope.
Helping campaigning innovations become more evenly distributed
All that and my partner Tom continues to convene dozens of other leading campaigners to develop open guides for many important practices being adopted unevenly in our sector. His Blueprints for Change project now has 13 guides, including “Building networked coalitions (written by some AMAZING people), “Apps and digital platforms for organizers”, “A/B testing for send outs” and “Canvassing and door knocking tools roundup.” All are available free on the BlueprintsFC.org website.
So that’s our summer. Hope you found something inspiring for your own work here. And don’t worry, we still manage to get to the beach and hope you do too!