Let’s Move Change Forward
What activates the masses to save the planet?
“The Answer to How is Yes. How to start? Start. The rest will come.”
Here I am, frustrated civilian, surrounded by people who are hurting, as I am hurting, seeking how to address what ‘our (corrupt) leaders’ and, to be honest, all humans are doing to the planet. I feel weak and, like many, I wonder, what can I do? Is there even a ‘We The People (we’ve been waiting for)’ possible who help Nature on the Planet to Thrive (again)’ possible? How can we gather, voice our worries and pain and improve, let alone influence, our conditions? Is mass bottom-up change possible?
To start off, this story is not (yet) a heartwarming rally cry, nor a clear-cut model to engage the general populace to participate in transcending the infinite greed model towards a thriving planet for life. It’s an investigation, into the building blocks needed for that. Mind you, some suggestions even disagree with each other. This is a dialogue and research, not one fixed answer. Share your experiences in the comments and start making things happen and share with the world.
We are facing perilous times! But when an idea is borne in a time and place that propel it forward then people join in and push! ~Nate Peyman
From stagnation and depression to back into action.
In several conversations this theme came up. Many social activists I know experience frustration with the lack of change. They suffer lack of impact, lack action by the many, being ignored by main stream media and keep being considered crazy by friends and family. The people expressing this fatigue all feel dread for our planet, from global war to ecological breakdown. They wonder what can make the masses care for our planet. How to activate them? What can make us remind politicians to put the health of our planet center stage over political party or corporate interests? What can make corporations take full responsibility before they are forced by law? How can we make ‘(Exiting New) Progress Towards a Clean and Thriving Planet’ the main daily news in the media?
“The great thing is we don’t have to create the wave. Just ride the wave.”~Michael Josefowicz
We are all people and the health of our planet affects us all. Yet it seems many people feel their worry can’t make a difference (anymore). How to believe? How to be foolish enough to think your choices matter? Think about it: the first to raise the idea of the woman’s vote was considered an idiot, a crazy. Consider the end of slavery, the birth of the Christian Church, the historic rise of unions to end child labor and appalling work conditions and many more movements. These changes happened because many people put in an effort for ideas that felt essential for them. They did overcome seemingly impossible barriers or even died for these ideas. They were willing to take risks. Are we? With, quality of, life on the planet as a whole at stake, we just have to.
“How do you help someone fall truly and deeply in LOVE? It cannot be manipulated, and requires genuine Trust, and Hope. And unfortunately for many of us the late two are exceedingly rare and quickly becoming extinct, with a widespread disillusionment and fatalism already affecting a predominant Percentage of Humanity.”~Mieke Beyerley on how difficult this may be.
HOW TO ORGANIZE MASS BOTTOM UP CHANGE? HOW TO GET IT ROLLING?
So having asked this question in a few Facebook groups, many started helping answering it. This is my personal gist of these conversations. I’ve used many quotes to bring different nuances and viewpoints in.
“Figure out what kind of people you want. Then get ten of them together and get started.”~ David W Gray
1. Just Get Going
The quote above may be the gist of it. Just get going. Nobody said it would be easy. You may fail even. But hiding, ignoring, lying to yourself and others about our current destructive economy will surely deeply harm the lives of future generations. So how to start the global clean up and get everyone behind it? Start. There are millions trying, living, breathing, sharing answers too. You are not alone. Many however seem to act only within a bubble of like-minded people. How to burst the bubble and wake up the world? Because an even bigger number of people suffer. They’ve chosen to ‘play along’ because they don’t know what to do differently.
“Bottom up requirements for activation include that place and land and nature connection are actually part of this “bottom” up from which activity can spring. The healing or rewiring of the broken circuitry within the human body and psyche, now culturally numbed and maintained is an essential first step.” ~ Nathan Aitchtwo-oh Bixby
2. Begin With Your Own Attitude
When you think your suffering of depressions, pain for the world is a weakness, that doesn’t make you ruthlessly enough for a career, think again! You should see your pain or depression actually is caring that isn’t lived or accepted enough. So what we can learn, develop for ourselves to get going?
“Nothing ever changed because people put in effort. Things Changed because People BELIEVED they were included and it was relevant to them. And all these movements started from one individual in every case. An individual who held an uncompromising BELIEVE”~Mieke Beyerley
Check and decipher your own conditioning. There always will be voices who claim you can’t steer destiny or shouldn’t try to. They’ll claim it’s similar to the mass manipulation of the public by billionaires investing in lobbies, politicians, and media. Yes, we may even ask, why believe this post over other posts? Why not calm down, buy more, vote conservative or join a Zen monastery? It seems we need to know where to act from. What should steer our individual actions in our own situation?
“I am being counterproductive to the counterproductive by insisting we be productive and being productively productive.”~response in fb thread. This remark resembles, for me, a counter productive thread I got caught up in.
There is one question that impregnates everything. Does this help love? We can train our contact with this question. This is both the path many spiritual people are taking and those interested in improving their social skills take. The question helps to further any purpose we might have. I’m learning. Some days I’m not. I too made the quote above happen. Thus I realize more and more even in practical matters, either I help or I don’t. This goes from doing the dishes with attention (mindfulness), choosing an ecological kind of soap (awareness) to taking a rest from being a changemaker (self-love) to speaking up (showing care by taking a stand). For the spiritual people thinking they haven’t self-developed enough, this means go act, that’s the last phase of the education. Enlightenment in a room full of pillows and lovely people is easy. Now bring it to the streets.
“The outer change comes first from an inner change in the consciousness of people.”~Finn Jackson
And believe your caring matters. What else gives meaning to life? If so many of us can believe in God, can’t they believe that serving Him, or Her if you prefer, would be done best by safeguarding the health of our planet? We must believe our actions matter, because our presence matters. So, show up.
“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.”
According to Charley Quinton the stripping away of the conditioning he endured through state-sanctioned education and profit-motivated media is essential. He mentions how it helped him tune his thinking to a metaphysical understanding of his role and function as a PARTICIPANT in the natural ecosystem. Exactly. You are playing a part in a bigger whole. When we see the interdependence of everything alive, see we have a role, we must bond and act according to our essential relationships, with everything that helps us breathe and live, and that’s so much more than your job.
“We can’t replace the fictions with better fictions. Money and finance for example are purely fictious replacements for unseen sources and resources. The only “reality” to them is the “fact” that they are believed in by an overwhelming majority if misguided people.”- Charley Quinton
3a. Storytelling: shaping imagination to tune into
Bébé Vundermann says, “Human based stories that connect individual transformation to real world changes are vehicles of the mind that can help people see a way to do it themselves and find pathways to others who are working to transform and save the world from our all too human tendency to descend to our lower impulses, emotions, choices, and behaviors — we need places, stories, and platforms where people can see how they (each individual) can ascend to their higher abilities, choices, and super powers of empathy, compassion, understanding, truth, justice, etc.
For regenerative stories, the model arc of rising and falling action with a sequence of transformative stages would apply, since stories of change are conversations with nature. For regeneration in today’s world, the principle I hold to is that regeneration involves a transition. We must go from growth powered by paying the profits back to concentrate wealth towards paying profits forward to maintain whole system vitality. Finding the right story to show the path is not as easy to define perhaps.”
Chan Chan, Peru was the seat of the regional government long before the Incas. It was remarkable that the job of the government was to make sure the villages had all they needed to survive. So if they wove, they ensured they had wool, dyes, etc. If they were farmers, they made sure they had what they needed. In Peru, only 1/3 of the land is farmable, the rest stone. So I guess they had to be creative in farming. I do like this model for the future. ~Linda Justice
3b. Storytelling: Finding the seed story or examples
In “Leadership and the new science” Margaret Wheatley proposes that certain clusters of information can have many viral aspects, and may even have a self-prolonging life, like fairy tales. You’ll know Little Red Riding Hood from just these trigger words: delivery to a grandmother, wolf, trickery. So part of the work is to find triggers that make a message go viral. We are very perceptive to viral messaging. No wonder lobbyists across the world work overtime on feeding us viral messaging like: “The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun, is a good guy with a gun.” It’s stupid but clings to the mind. We can do better and more true to our deeper nature.
Marianne Connor proposes the following steps towards a better new story: 1. It seems important to get the word out that a far better world is possible, and that we have the agency to create it. (“A New Story” is an example of that.) 2. Study Living Systems Thinking, so humans have some roadmaps for designing a future in partnership with nature. 3. Develop inclusive stories that express that partnership. Most of our stories externalize nature, and that’s not going to get us through the 21st Century. (To which I add: Go somewhere where you can marvel at the beauty of nature. If that’s too far from your home, wonder why and possibly cry.) 4. Look to places that might already be in crisis or near crisis to train your skills, because where systems are already falling apart is a major opening for something new. The potential is unleashed in these places and the need for new structures are palpable. And by acting, we learn.
And, finally, for this point, realize that most people long to be really seen. No corporation, no lobby group, no politician making promises can replace you as someone who can really connect, be really part of the community. So really include those you are with. Really listen to, help, share with, include those you seek to reach. Because real bonds will beat all fake ones in the end.
“The active masses will be neither socialist, nor capitalist, neither left nor right. They will be both left AND right AND also above those sides, coming from a higher form of understanding the whole. It will be a mix of scientific understanding of reality and of deeper compassion for life as a whole. It will allow local iterations, pragmatic solutions, openness to new choices as new insights appear.”
4. Facilitate Emergence
So change needs many people who feel they’re part of something bigger and that they help. Some people need alternatives they can commit to. Others need a movement to help direct their energy. Some people don’t dare to walk alone. Everyone in despair, in need, imprisoned within real or mental borders needs places to go where they too can reconnect. It heals to align to higher purposes than daily worry, daily greed or daily self-denial to hide the pain behind a mask. We can be guided to put down the mask of playing along because everyone else does; to put down the mask of pleasing bosses who protect the damaging ‘normal’. In all these cases facilitators can help. Not as leaders! Their work can help people and ideas find each other, bond and start collaborating.
We are not starting from a point of collective culture, but from multiple points of fragmented worldviews.~Neil Davidson
So many facilitators have been busy since Joanna Macy and many others started ‘The Work That Reconnects’. Everywhere in the world circles are organized, people are sharing worries, sharing community, sharing (re)connection, sharing solutions. We are humanities hope and we need each other. But from facilitating the seekers and likeminded people, we facilitators need to spread our nets. And those that seek change should seek them out. The government should hire them, rather than fear them. In the Netherlands, some civil servants have started to support city movements. They aren’t threatened by them, as they see it as helping constructive citizens with their needs and wants. So if you work for the government, learn from this example.
“We have to agree first of all on being ethical and secondly on protecting the commons. From there engaging means something different for everyone, based on talent and resources and opportunity.” ~Klaus Mager
5. End Politics as Usual and Shift Attitudes
And as peoples, we should refuse to die for our leader’s politics. Refuse to go to war for our countries(?*) squabbles. Refuse to accept war across the planet, when our own drinking water contains lead, our air fine dust, our forests dwindle, oil leaks soak our lands, our nature reserves are taken, (free) education broken down and the lack of health care kills thousands. We should refuse, or be able to refuse, to pay our taxes when they become funding for companies that don’t support a healthy existence for all life and people. We should be able to at no loss of money or job, to refuse unethical orders, that help destroy our collective future.
*) Our countries? Whose interests are really served with starting any conflict? Almost all ordinary citizens of all nations prefer peace, don’t care about starting a war, unless after a propaganda bombardment. But then, who is paying for that and with what motives? And even won wars hurt untold families through loss, trauma, and stress. And the last ‘won’ wars thus far only served to make a bigger mess and sow the seeds for more conflict. We must be way more scrutinizing towards whose interests a really served with any, threat of, conflict.
I believe we must avoid the worst case scenario and that will take enormous cooperation. Simultaneously we must dismantle the illusory perceptions of disconnection and necessity of machines for our daily routines. We need to begin to part mentally and emotionally from the system that is harming all of nature.~Nate Peyman
We tend to overlook our own wrongs on a huge scale. Black in the USA suffers enormously from racism, way more heavy sentencing than whites, blacklisted from voting and many other, often organized, disadvantages. Similar disadvantages happen to the very poor of all colors, Native Americans, the LGBT community, and other groups. The ones that benefit and profit the most are the corporations. Their actions even made farming practices, harmful to earth, soil & people. How can we consider all this ‘normal’?
Alison Fornes suggests, I think rightly so, that we should look to very different cultures and dynamics. Like micro-climates, there are communities where people of color feel much safer, where LGBTQ culture is vibrant, and where the relationship to earth has shifted food systems, or never fell into corporate hands. Instead of fearing the stranger, we can look, as Michael Moore did in “Where to Invade Next?”, to successful alternatives. If you really want solutions don’t be an ideological egghead but seek to implement what really works. And if your politicians stick to their narratives (‘trickle down’ anyone?) in the face of applied solutions, you know they have other interests than real solutions and you better follow the money. :)
“It’s in our diversity, where we find our collective strength.”~James O’Keefe
We tend to stick to our own collective field or culture as ‘the way it works’. We tend to protect our own culture we grew up in, as something fixed. We forget that the life, times and beliefs of our grandparents are so very different from our own. Paradigms, problems, culture have often changed in significant ways, and, true, not always for the better. We should see that even our newest tech hugely impacts the way we live. How easily do we embrace very different behavior on holidays? Then why not see our own future as a huge holiday?
Changing the collective field begins with individuals being able to acknowledge, recognize, interrupt and change the patterns that they engage in that are part of the old paradigm.- Allison Fornes
The time to refuse better solutions because of ideology, interests or pride is over. The time to listen to lobbies of industries who manipulate researches to hide their damaging of the planet and people is over. The time to accept laws that make such acceptable is over. The time to go to war over pride, interests or convictions is over. Every nation should look hard at their own mistakes, lies, and crimes and seek to right and heal them. Every nation claiming others should start should start themselves. The same for individuals: stop waiting for everyone else to act first. Seek out and help those that already offer real solutions, that benefit health of people and planet in all aspects, however small or local.
To unite the collective requires a common vision, at the highest level of awareness. Which makes it an insanity to not educate and inform the public about the challenges we are facing. ~Klaus Mager
If there’s one thing that bothers the right, it’s that progressives seem to keep thinking, questioning stuff. They feel so much safer with clear answers. And yes, the power of wondering, critically examining can be upsetting, as it’s the actual driver of most change, from new inventions to mass movements waking up to an idea which time has come.
Jessie Henshaw and many others find that education needs a natural systems view. She says: “I think the answer for how to organize mass bottom-up change is to study how nature does it. Most people don’t do that but assume that social change involves the spread of popular concepts, but nature uses organization, not concepts. So natural change invariably involves system development, which is much more like organic growth with seed, sprout, plant, flower.
For a cultural change, the model is the same but the “seed” is some pattern of engaging people that grows like a business start-up, both expanding its organization and channeling energy for it, to first build then mature like organisms and cultures do. If you think of it, that’s also what a plant seed does, but our minds are not accustomed to thinking about the common patterns that natural systems all follow. The challenge for social change is like that of entrepreneurs. It’s first to be in a place where design patterns worth the investment of the start-up energy art found. That brings my comment back to where I started, that for people to use methods of natural change it seems they would need to study them, so as to improve the odds of finding a story that would actually work for the intended purpose, in what drifts by. : )”
“There are ancient ways of being, of living that have been eschewed for the new. There is great wisdom from the indigenous; from some of the ways of those before. Discernment of wisdom is not only about new…. it might also be about old, and the past rediscovered.”~Erik Jensen
Nathan Aitchtwo-oh Bixby offers as an example the school or ‘seed container’ he’s currently starting up: S.O.I.L. School of Interdependent Living. And with Facebook groups talking about such projects appear to be the fertile soil through which ideas and concepts like his can spread and take root, jumping from one local land regeneration project to another.
It starts with small groups working together. In my neighborhood in NYC we have a free Wifi system, dedicated by a man who charges a small fee for the router, and afterwards a donation; his tech crew are volunteers. We have a Hari Krishna priest who opened a bed and breakfast, not only does he employ people; but the profits he uses to feed the homeless three times a week in my park. Many volunteers come to help. This is important: during the Sixties we were a group of passionate young people, but no one really knew what to do, so we ended up back in the system. So this is the thing, now that young people are rising, we need systems that work, such as Wifi and feeding homeless, to start taking root. We need to listen to young people, and indigenous people and people with clean energy solutions.~Linda Justice
Also understand what you’re up against. This is an article on that looking at it from a global historic perspective.
7. Start Locally. Grow locally. Invest locally. Clean up locally.
Sadly the chaos and confusion about the big global and local problems seem to make many long for dictators, or leaders with clear-cut answers. Such dominant voices may sound like a solution, but they’ll make matters much worse. Aside from them using huge chunks of their power to keep their power, they offer simpleminded one focus solutions, where a multitude of voices and solutions and efforts is needed. To address all the different interlocked issues that create the chaos and confusion we need our collective intelligence and effort. The diversity of solutions needs can only be approached by a joint flock of collaboration, wherein each participant, each organization, even each movement within is doing their own thing, and adds their own voice.
“To spark a mass transformation in society, we need to get great at propagating transformation on the micro level of society.”- Craig Green
All little actions matter. Thus beginning at home, we should include thinking about the “smallest possible.” no global solutions will win hearts if it can’t be seen working at many local levels. If you can’t reach average people with easily accessible solutions you may end up reaching no one or just a happy few.
Graig Green points to Seth Godin’s ideas on growth. Seth claims that
fast growth comes from overwhelming the smallest possible audience with a product or service that so delights that they insist that their friends and colleagues use it. The more people they share it with, in their own authentic voice the better.
Thus start with nudging, local initiatives, dinners for friends, community gardens, homeschooling, anything that creates things that can scale up, offer hope, actions, solutions. Make it events that speak to the imagination, others will want to retell, even if at first it seems to do little more than having the neighbors ask you to come over for coffee and share your story. It’s on this level that ideas are iterated towards a fully functioning model and can start to spread. It’s on this level we can (start to) experience our personal impact, meaning and feel connected.
Also, don’t forget that our civilization also rests upon all those daily kind actions and empathic understandings. We even tend to forget that the biggest part of our safety rests upon upholding our own humanity and giving others no reason for aggression. And the same goes for all our little daily actions towards nature, education, work, justice, etc.
Here’s the shortcut version by Michael Josefowicz:
1. Find people who want to do what you want to do.
2. Define a micro project which means something that you can do with the resources you already have and can show something has been done. Show people what you have done, not what you want to do.
3. After you have a series of things that have been done, crowdsource to finance what you want to do next.
For example, the crowdsource for Atwongyeire Joseph has raised $394 in 4 days.
Joseph, an eco warrior in a village in Uganda needs a motorcycle.
@[100001233255626:2048:Atwongyeire Joseph] is a true eco warrior. One of his programs is to plant 1,000,000 trees near…
“Women need to wake up spiritually as well as otherwise. But to rally women to wake up is difficult, because not only do they not trust themselves, but they value a different skill set. Even the Dalai Lama says women will lead the way. But first they must wake up. Tough one.” ~Linda Justice
8. The Feminine
The feminine is waking up, slowly. Education still is very destructive to it. Many female students work very hard to prove themselves, yet forget to listen to their intuition. I find their intuition is often more on point than male mental rationality. The motherly in women, that wants a healthy safe nest for future generations is much more healthy that ambitious profit driven managers care to acknowledge. And we all pay the price for that.
“There’s a soft but strong power is just sensing what wants to be born.”
For the guys who don’t get it, consider table tennis. You can’t win by hitting as hard as you can. A true master shows careful and precise self-restraint for much better results. Self-restraint is equally essential in our economy. In “Where to Invade Next?” , the female bankers in Iceland showed this essential positive difference with their male counterparts. They chose long-term health for their bank over fast profits. When the 2008 crisis hit, they were the only Icelandic bank whose CEO’s weren’t arrested. Sadly the masculine drive still is seen as ‘winners mentality’. Improving the machine flattening the last true primal forests just isn’t worth the dollars it makes. The natural feminine knows such behavior is leading to a much bigger disaster than the 2008 financial crisis.
Also, councils of elders or grandmothers often offer long-term views including more wisdom and less profiteering strategies. They tend to think inclusive, rather than exclusive. They listen more and need to prove less. According to the masculine energy, it may be to slow paced, not decisive enough. In my idea, human leadership needs more consideration, council and balance. The connection to the abundance under our feet and around us must be reconstituted. That is a huge step away from nature as a profitable commodity. And it is the feminine, the inner mother in all of us, that embraces that as the essence of presence on earth.
“Instead of considering how to organize mass bottom up change each might consider how to organize an improvement here and now and induce others to also choose to organize and improvement… and actually follow through and accomplish what better and best be done even it such involves moving a stone from here to there… or getting someone to smile and opt to be in a better mood.”~Esteban Trev
9. Trust in the Power of Mass Involvement.
David Rotter wonders how to apply the extensive knowledge of “top-down” marketing to “bottom-up” movements? How can they provide community, identity, fun, pleasure, self-expression? How can we implement their advertising smarts used to get us to buy stuff to help solve actual real and tangible problems at an individual level, right now?
In 2008 a movement started in Estonia. A few committed citizens set out to clean up the whole country, all the illegal dumped garbage in forests, in one day. Now they have activists and World Clean Up days in countries all around the world. The 1st permaculture institute was set up in 1979, now there are activities all around the world. Ordinary citizens started schools, hospitals, replanted forests, protested nuclear projects, and a 1000 things more. There is not one solution, nor one aspect that needs attention above all others. We need to see we are all in it, and all help matters. Unlike politicians we should not fight, debate each other, but be supportive of everyone helping with one or more aspects.
“.. people must know who they are and what matters most to them and how to inspire themselves and others to make the change happen.”- Finn Jackson
Before the election of Barack Obama, many Americans in many different cultural groups felt alone and didn’t recognize what a massive longing to end the Bush era was present. Obama’s online campaign, however, brought it to the surface and his 1st election felt as a liberation. Sadly that feeling subsided with his support of corporate powers and helping Hillary to cheat Bernie Sanders out of being chosen as the presidential candidate. Similarly, our planetary societies are all fragmented voices with their own issues, kind of blind to how united we are in our worries and longings and being part of the same interconnected reality. How to bend the multitude of positive little local actions to make a difference into a global one? We may start with acknowledging we are already a movement! And have been for years already. We are not alone!
Bridge Builders, Movement Weavers, Bioneers, Katapulters, Impact Hubs, Impact Journeys, Edushifts United, Regenerative Designers, The Work That Reconnects, S.O.I.L., so so many are doing this. Hence even this blog: ‘The Gentle Revolution’ to celebrate all who help. We are not alone.
“A leader is anyone who acts to help.”- Margaret Wheatley
In the end it’s all our efforts together, the dialogues around the world, the initiatives of many that slowly sway the whole. Understanding all these aspects mentioned above, and many others not even named may help matters, making choices. But it all might go faster, more easily when there is a collective attention or story, like ‘end slavery’, or ‘women’s vote’ that the masses can gather around. And when you, in whatever position or context just start. Be willing to learn from whatever happens along the way and willing to help anyone whose energy and the message may help things move ahead. It’s a million little actions that make the change. So yours matter. You matter. The web of life, we are part of, matters.
More on positive stories, Regenerative Story Design. Regenerative Development is the potential born through crisis to redesign human systems to work in co-creative partnership with natural systems.
Thank You a Thousand Times, all those who replied on my calls on facebook with the question that drove this article: Neil Davidson, Klaus Mager, Estaban Trev, Finn Jackson, Eric Lynn, Linda Justice, Allison Fornes, Jessie Henshaw, Bébé Vundermann, Marianne Connor, Nathan Aitchtwo-oh Bixby, Craig Green, Erik Jensen, Mieke Beyerley, Erik Jensen, Nate Peyman, Michael Josefowicz, Yan Golding, David Rotter, Christian Wolf, Meredith Bricken Mills, Aruna Afeez Abayomi and possibly people I overlooked.