Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Organisers update: some musings on (non) culture-change

Chuffed to get this article in Change Your World (our activist magazine) about the Organisers project. These pieces are often written and edited by committee, but I'm in there somewhere with this one.

We're gearing up for opening applications for the first batch of Organisers at the start of September, so a summer of planning and bottoming things out is about to be given its first trial.

Among other things, that will probably lead to some verbal riffing and asides as I experiment with talking to people about the vast potential that this project has.

Organisers = culture change?

One issue I'm still grappling with is the extent to which Organisers represent a cultural shift for us at Friends of the Earth. Here's my current answer, as adapted from the project FAQ. 

I think we'll be surprised how much it won't be much of a culture change, actually.

On the one hand, it does present an opportunity to look over the fence, see what others are doing across the campaigning spectrum, and cherry pick the best bits. For example, understanding what we can learn from Transition. 

To go back to Transition for a moment, you'd probably find at least some of their methods being already employed by us in some places, using our own language and subcultural idiom. 

Now, I'm not holding up Transition an exemplar for everything, but it is a network which at its best appears to have absolutely put facilitation, empowerment and creativity at the heart of what it does. How can we not want to learn from that?

On the other hand, it's also feel it's also a chance to reflect on and consolidate the best practice of local groups right now. The obvious thing to do at this point would be to reference the giants of the Friends of the Earth grassroots - your Manchesters, your Birminghams - but it's also about making sure that Organisers learn from the smaller groups that achieve great things as well.

There's inevitably going to be some novelty to the project - I'd be sorely disappointed if there wasn't, to be honest. But we'll be talking evolution, not revolution. At least most of the time.

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