We are invited to give a workshop at the degrowth conference in Leipzig (September 5th 2014, 11-13, Room S313). Transition initiatives worldwide are being faced with similar challenges: beyond the need for active participants they require common rule sets, various resources depending on their activity scope and vital communication channels for their crowd and stakeholders. A typical life cycle of a local initiative (such as community gardening) is enthusiasm, group-finding, resource allocation, common activities, rule setting, communication, building alliances and sustainification. Within this special session, we will be looking at the latter four.
Structure: Introduction to ethical foundations of a circumspective lifestyle (including the 4in1 perspective [Frigga Haug]), communication tutorial (including good practices and selected campaigns), training (using Presencing & Theory U [Otto Scharmer] / online and offline techniques), self-reflection.
We'll start with rule setting. As people live along different values, we need to talk about those. The ongoing crises has provoked calls for a global debate on values again. Historically, there have been repeated attempts to teach values, by fiat, conventions, the human rights and basic laws. Within a research project, we had distilled nine values that represent a reasonable lifestyle, free from any denomination or religion, but allowing compatibility. They are intended to strengthen communities, to show respect for the earth and give meaning to our lives. The Ethify value set offers orientation and training for everyday life, and makes proposals for businesses or organizations. Derived from human rights, bid values and virtues, we have distilled nine as a proposal: justice, prudence, balance, self-determination, fairness, cooperation, kindness, satisfaction and patience [http://ethify.org/en/content/values].
Communication in transition initiatives often starts orally, is then supported by e-mail, social media, a flyer or a web page. Compared to the daily information flood, the quality of texts or selected photos is often very poor and does not reach others properly. We will exercise simple ways how to improve communication and get an insight on viral, adbuster and branding approaches for NGOs and grassroots initiatives, beyond creating logos and banners. Depending on the time slot available, we will be looking at examples of brochures and video campaigns (such as produced for TALENTEmobil.net, a regional ridesharing initiative or a multi-functional paper bag for appreciating bicyclists). Furthermore, we give hints on tools (which open source softwares and creative commons archives to use) and give an example of the persona model for planning communication activities to gain energy autonomy in the region of Vorarlberg [probieramol.at].
Connecting with similar initiatives may be both: supportive but also discouraging own activities or even frustrating, as there may be others who perform better. How much energy should be spent to networking and what is the right balance to exchange experience and find a common denominator? We will be looking at tight network approaches, which can be supported with common signs (e.g. used by the occupy movement), without the need to found an umbrella organization.
Last but not least, any organization that has emerged needs to work out measures to sustain, both in human and other resources. How much social business and professional organisation is necessary? Which formats, services and products could be developed to become more independent on donations and voluntary work only? Again, we will be analysing examples, such as one of the largest local exchange trade systems.
Instead of re-inventing the wheel, we will be looking into experiences and best practices of de-growth initiatives and for the thematic thread of living conviviality and building alliances. A training session is being offered, using the Ethify Journal, which is helping to find one's balance and real passion and to gratify ethical lifestyles.