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Building the climate movement online



How can the Web be used to build a powerful social movement to avert dangerous climate change? This presentation summarises an action research project conducted by the Change Agency ...

How can the Web be used to build a powerful social movement to avert dangerous climate change? This presentation summarises an action research project conducted by the Change Agency (http://wwwthechangeagency.org) during mid-2008.



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Building the climate movement online Building the climate movement online Presentation Transcript

  • building the climate movement online what would it take….?
    • strengthen the Australian climate movement
    • draw lessons and insights from climate change organising since the 1980s
    • facilitate dialogue, reflection and relationship building and
    • bridge the gaps between grassroots and NGO activists, between environmentalists and other citizens concerned about climate change, and between the rebels, reformers, citizens and change agents in this crucial people's movement
    tCA’s action research project
    • identify the range of communication tools and platforms available to and used by grassroots climate change activists in Australia for information sharing, decision making, strategising and community organising
    • assess the potential for these communication tools to facilitate climate movement growth and impact
    • assess the effectiveness of current communication methods to meet the needs and attributes of the growing climate movement and recommend appropriate tools.
    this action research cycle
  • What will it take to create a strongly networked, strategic and powerful Australian climate movement?
    • Data collection:
    • 15 interviews
    • 179 questionnaire responses
    • desk study
    • … a “ diffusely organised or heterogeneous group of people or organisations tending toward or favouring a generalised common goal”
    • dictionary.com
    what is a movement?
    • size
    • rate of growth
    • diversity
    • sense of urgency
    • not just the environment movement
    what’s special about the climate movement?
    • a movement organisation with a coherent strategy
    • integrating online and offline approaches
    • mobilising to confront decision makers and hold them accountable
    • strategic re-framing of the issue
    • research
    • capacity building, education and training
    • resources and energy
    seven priorities
    • We need all the campaign groups singing from the same song-sheet. It's not enough for the various organisations to be running just on the 'same values' , especially given the urgency. They have to be running the same campaign. Otherwise the strength and the message is diluted. Perhaps more importantly, a diversity of movements within the one larger one just means that the actions people can take to become involved is yet another confusing array of choices. Do I buy a hybrid? Offset my carbon? Donate to GetUp!, Greenpeace or the WWF? Email the PM on petrol? Email Wong on water? Email Garret on Gunns? Only buy organic? Ride my bike? Catch a train? Stick solar on the roof? Get a water tank? Work from home? Toss out the dodgy light bulbs? etc etc etc. I can't do all these things (time and money constraints) but I'm getting messages left, right and centre to do so and it's wearing me down. We need fewer actions and more groups telling us to do them and why.
    1: movement organisation
    • What would it look like?
    • support and facilitate robust dialogue, disagreement and conflict
    • grassroots-based and diverse
    • resourced: capacity to support CAGs
    • warm-blooded (eg face-to-face summits)
    • democratic and accountable
    • inclusive and porous
    • consensual: focused on agreed campaign objectives and tactics
    • national in scope and focus (+ international links)
    • Support, celebrate and cultivate leadership
    1: movement organisation
  • 1: movement organisation solution organisations resource organisations people organisations
  • 2: online-offline integration
  • 3: mobilising, accountability
    • Like a picture frame, it puts a rim around some part of the world, highlighting certain events and facts as important and rendering others invisible. Like a building frame, it holds things together but is covered by insulation and walls. It provides coherence to an array of symbols, images, and arguments, linking them through an underlying organizing idea that suggests what is essential — what consequences and values are at stake. We do not see the frame directly, but infer its presence by its characteristic expressions and language.
    • William Gamson and Charlotte Ryan 2005
    • Media Research and Action Project - Boston
    4: (re)framing
    • urgent yet hopeful : ensuring that community members believe that change is achievable. Balancing the need to act and the possibility of making a difference
    • simplified and involving clear choices .
    • polarised (black & white) so that people don’t ge t lost in the increasing complexity of government policy
    • about building something positive rather than simply avoiding doom: a movement that promises innovation, democratic engagement, socially-just process and the exploration of new opportunities will inspire action with hope and confidence against alternatives based on fear, coercion, over-simplification or denial
    • invoking a sense of ‘I can make a difference’
    • dramatising the issues in a way that captures people's imaginations
    • a series of specific wins
    framing ideas
    • Political research (‘how change happens’)
    • Activist research to learn from successful social change movements
    • Opposition research
    • Scientific research
    • Policy research
    5: research
    • We need a strong emphasis on education of current activists on technological tools, their uses, potential and problems. All the tools we need are already available, and have been used for a decade or more by canny people (usually businesses) but greenies tend to be a bit technophobic, so the tools are definitely under-utilised.
    6: education, training, capacity
  • 7: resources & energy
  • finding the right e-list CANA International policy development GetUp! Citizen action Carbon Equity Following media and political cycles Rising Tide, Climate Camp Getting involved in NvDA Climatemovement.org Contacting & supporting CAGs
  • websites
    • Consistent with a coherent strategy
    • Engaging and energising people who aren’t normally involved
    • Mobilising big numbers of people taking concrete action
    • Viral
    • Novel, new, different
    • Short, sharp messages – just enough information
    • Strong connection between online and offline organising
    • Combining lobbying, fundraising and community action.
    effective sites
    • Funny, intelligent, irreverent
    • Timing
    • Collaborative; free of tu rf-based territoriality; built around alliances
    • People feel they’re making a difference.
    • Reach
    • Generate funds to reach beyond the Internet
    • Interactive
    • Visually interesting interface
    • Courageous
  • before starting a new site/list
    • Static information: visual & textual form
    • Dynamic information: audio, video, etc
    • Problem definition: declare an injustice
    • Store and access resources
    • Advocate specific actions (online / offline)
    • Solicit support for causes (political / financial?
    • Advertise events
    • Serve as a contact point for supporters and media
    • Share/exchange information
    • Develop networks and dialogue
    be clear about your purpose
    • Public
    • Private (eg climate activists, members)
    • Where? Local, regional, state, national, international
    • Activists, ‘green’ community members, targets?
    be clear about your audience
    • Whether and to what extent these audience-specific objectives are already being addressed
    • What else is necessary? Why?
    • How long will the site/list be necessary?
    • What resources will be required? Are they available?
    • How will you evaluate it? What will success look like?
    • When will you know it’s time to stop?
    • How will this initiative help strengthen the movement?
    be clear about
    • Delete without opening
    • Filter to a mailbox (to delete later)
    • Open, scan briefly then delete
    • Read, taking in relevant information (events, etc)
    • Follow links to website/s to read more about events, related stories, etc
    • Forward to friends, colleagues, mailing lists
    • Take action advocated (eg on-line petition, letter to politician, attend event)
    • Change your way of thinking?
    email responses