Hello guys. I am being interviewed today by Michaela Woollatt of Transition Free Press, about my involvement with Power Shift UK. I’ll post up here when the article comes out. In the meantime, I answered a few questions via email as a lead up to the interview. Here are my answers:
Why you became involved in the Power Shift movement?
I left a full-time job a little over a year ago to allow me to spend more of my time on what I think of as the most pressing issue of our time, namely climate change. I was already heavily involved with my local Transition Town, but realised that there needs to be a general change in attitudes nationally if we are to reach critical mass in our Transition. Having met Nico of 350.org at a demonstration in London, I found the opportunity for me to contribute strategically to the movement via the Global Power Shift.
Why you believe there is a need to broaden the climate movement?
In my experience, the movement tends to form around a few key individuals in any one town, village or district. The people who are involved are those in the circle of friends of those key individuals, from a similar age range, political viewpoint, ethnicity and socio-economic background. To build momentum at a local level, groups need to move beyond their natural catchment. As a movement overall, there are certain demographics that are very under-represented.
To gain true critical mass, the movement needs to grow beyond its current reach.
Which groups/movements/individuals do you see as key actors in facilitating this?
Obviously, I see the Transition movement as hugely important. The Transition movement can take hold in locations outside of the progressive, liberal parts of the country, and I see community energy and Transition Streets, in combination with other initiatives such as Playing Out, as being important in allowing the movement to grow.
The Climate Coalition is key as well, in providing the possibility for groups small and organisations large to join and share progress. There was talk at Power Shift UK of them providing an online platform to allow successes and experiencce to be shared, so we can all feel part of something bigger, without necessarily feeling as though we need to spend a lot of time at rallies.
And of course the last and most important individual to make sure that the movement is inclusive and grows is you. Or me. Or anyone reading. Growing the movement is not something that will happen overnight. It will involve thousands of people having millions of conversations with friends and acquaintances.
How groups/movements should do this?
The methods will be different for all, and I wouldn’t presume to know more about what will be effective than people involved in a group already. but key tips can be gained from the likes of COIN. People can join in with the more regional Power Shift groups, by contacting Power Shift UK. They can also, or instead, think about their own local area and which parts of society are under-represented in their group or in their thinking. And if we share our progress with each other, we can start to realise just how much great work their is all over the country, by a huge number of inspirational and dedicated people, and can gain encouragement to carry on ourselves.
What are the challenges individuals and groups face in doing this?
The challenges are many, but we need to be optimistic and determined. We need to pace ourselves to avoid burn-out, take on enough to be effective while still doing a proper job. We need to realise that for a new idea to take hold, you first need to go through a lot of rejection, slowly changing the attitudes and behaviour of a minority, and to not stop there. Once a few more are saying yes, carry on and a few more will say yes, and start to help your cause. Patience is needed, which can feel demoralising and defeatist in the face of the urgency of the climate crisis. But when you realise that the critical tipping point might be just around the corner, you need to keep going.
What can the green movement do to make itself more accessible to all?
Stop calling itself the “green movement” for a start. It’s not just about saving rainforests and helping endangered species. It’s much more fundamental than that. Our way of life will change, either through the climate or the incredible opportunities that advances in technology and provision of renewable energy provide to make our societies more equitable. We need to find the underlying beliefs that we all have in common, such as a love for the seasons, personal freedom and of our children, all of which need protecting from climate change and inequality.