“Systemic change can only be achieved if we work together. The question is, how can you be part of this movement? The truth is, I don’t believe you have to change your lifestyle to be an activist. You just have to be aware of how you can change what you do, or how the circle you belong to can be changed, how the institution you are a part of can be changed.” Xiye Bastida, young Mexican climate justice activist.
This framework that I’ve developed as a tool for Climate Museum UK offers eight pathways for people to take action on the Earth crisis in any area of influence they have. It aims to expand thinking about what action is possible. It sees all actions as ‘personal actions’ within our blended lives as consumers, friends, citizens and workers. It helps you systematise personal actions and personalise systemic actions.
You’ve seen those lists of easy things you can do? You see them at the end of news reports on climate breakdown or on biodiversity campaign sites.
Do they make you feel better, as they’re supposed to? Or do you feel overwhelmed? Maybe you already do most things on the list and you know about the rest. Perhaps you’re involved in a group, campaign or local community action and you want something to motivate and challenge people. Or, do you get frustrated with limited ideas about what action is possible? These limited ideas lead to binary arguments such as “personal lifestyle action versus big system changes”.
I’ve created a toolkit (plus extra downloadable assets) that helps you use the framework for effective change in groups and communities. You might work in culture, education, organisational development, environmental campaigns, mutual aid, local activism or politics, for example. But there’s no limit on its usefulness, as it can support you or anyone as an individual.
It’s informed by four principles:
Being authentic: Every sphere of influence — at home, at work, in neighbourhood groups or in governments — is made up of individual people who can make choices and changes. If we face the truths of the Earth crisis, we can act with authenticity and passion. If we find how we can make our best contribution, we will be lifted with motivation and lift up others too. There is nobody but ourselves!
Being collaborative: People need to work creatively with others to discuss, discover and develop ideas for action. People are not motivated when presented with lists of tasks, or scientific facts. The People Take Action framework works best when you get together with people, share learning and what initiatives already exist that need support. Let’s work together!
Being Possitopian: This is an approach to future thinking that expands the cone of the possible future. It draws on both physical realities and the imagination to help us think about future scenarios which are potentially worse or better than we might normally allow ourselves to think. Let’s imagine!
The Regenerative Flip: We have to hold in our minds the possibilities of a world in which the planet, places and people are all thriving. This helps us be ready to flip others’ thinking in any situation, to show the harm in our normal ways of being, and to explore the alternatives. Know what’s wrong and show what’s possible!
The People Take Action framework emerged alongside my Culture Takes Action framework, which is aimed at the Cultural sector. I realised there was a need for structured tools to help us engage with people in places, in all kinds of organisations and communities of interest, not just in the Cultural sector.
The toolkit contains:
- Background on why we must act and where this framework comes from
- Tools on knowing what’s wrong and showing what’s possible
- A tool about Inner Work
- Recipes for running workshops with groups around the framework
- Resources on each of the eight pathways
- Showing how you can use the framework to intervene in systems, focusing on the food system.
You can download the People Take Action toolkit from here. Within the toolkit, you’ll find a link to a Google folder where you can download separate assets for use in your workshops or online activities. I ask that you don’t share the link but you can share the separate assets, once you have obtained the toolkit. You can also adapt these assets, if you credit me with the original (using a CC licence 4.0).
Please share this article, and give feedback on the toolkit so that it can improve with time. Let us know if you used it and how it went.