Posts Tagged ‘inclusivity’

Okay, so the environmental group I’m working with? The one I just blogged about? You might have guessed by now that it’s ECOSLO. Well, they’re taking part in Art After Dark, and last night they had Adam Hill, the new District 3 County Supervisor, as their guest. And I’m affirming that they are definitely doing good things. I met some very cool people there (in addition to Adam, of course).

However, the event was attended by about 45 people, max. I know, because I was there the whole night, lurking. (That’s me: I lurk). And the type of people who attended were the type you’d expect: the wonderful, the well-meaning, the converted.

Total mildly curious and/or drunk attendees? Zero.

Now, maybe I’m being totally unrealistic, but I would have liked to see three times that amount. I mean, it was a chance to meet with a supervisor (and for some of us, a former instructor)! Not only that, but he’s cool. Actually cool. A politician. I know.

I’m drifting. Back to my point. Which was…. If an organization wants to stay viable it has to practice a certain amount of openness and inclusiveness. This has always been a truism, but now, with the current green zeitgeist racing through our collective consciousness, the time is perfect for opening heretofore closed doors.

Have to you ever thought that maybe, just maybe, thinking certain things actually brings them into existence? (Some physicists do, but they’re crazy.) Or maybe because you’re thinking of something you are more aware of similar phenomena? Anyway, I had just written the last post about inclusivity when I came across this article, tweeted by one of our followers. In the wonderful article (that is now in my “special” folder on my laptop), the author, Andrew Outhwaite, lists common barriers to achieving effective, long-term change. This one REALLY nails my thesis on the head:

Barrier: Being too identified with your own profession/network/clique, and its language, symbols, models, paradigms and habits can seriously inhibit inter-network collaboration, even within the sustainability movement.

Community-Enabling Technology: Encouraging information Cross-Pollination. Universities (e.g. BTH, UTS and RMIT) are encouraging transdisciplinary research to enable innovation across departmental, sectoral and epistemological boundaries.

Time to broaden the horizons, methinks. And to prove that I’m not letting any grass grow under my observations, I’m off to meet with Chris McCann, a student a Cal Poly who’s part of the Empower Poly Coalition and the business community. Let the synergies begin!

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Today I went down to volunteer for a committee. I love being on committees: I feel so…official and important. Like I’m in charge. After all, I was the president of my 4-H chapter. I know Robert’s Rules of Order and everything. And I have a special fondness for officialspeak: “WHEREAS the party of the first part, blah blah blah…”

Sorry, got a little sidetracked…. Where was I? Oh yes, the group I’m volunteering with is planning to hold a summit. It’ll be their 8th. And I can already tell that it’s not my slice of cake. Seriously. I want to build movements, not piddle around and watch a bunch of eco-insiders pat each other on the back. Did I tell you this summit is invitation-only?

Maybe I’m being too critical…?

Maybe. But I can already see that the group is missing out on some serious marketing and outreach opportunities, here.

For outreach, in addition to the local non-profits, I would invite local for-profit companies that are geared toward sustainability. In my opinion, not including select members of the business community ignores an important part of the “change” equation. I think back to the triple bottom line philosophy (People, Planet, Profit), and it seems pivotal that we not ignore any of those bottom lines. After all, people have to make a living, so why not encourage those who already do so sustainably and compassionately? And the continued alignment of business and environmental needs can only be good.

As far as marketing is concerned, what an opportunity this presents to broaden the audience! Even if the organization can only manage logistics for a handful of people, it can utilize the event to generate enormous interest in their organization. The best way I can think of would be by filming the event and putting interesting snippets on Youtube or even the organization’s homepage.

And, in addition to inviting people it has had on its list for years, it could be proactive in finding and inviting new movers and shakers in the local community. C’mon guys, don’t make them find you, go find them.

This organization holds other, more inclusive events, and it does some great things for the community. But I think the way the summit is structured is indicative of an old-school us/them mindset that is no longer necessary or beneficial. There is an astonishing amount of consensus about sustainability now, and that consensus needs to be leveraged before it’s lost.

In my opinion, any organization that rests on its laurels and continues to engage select groups risks insularity and, ultimately, irrelevancy.

But that’s my opinion.

So…I have a poll for you. Check it out and let me know what you think. Maybe I’m crazy. Maybe I’m crazy smart. You decide.

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