About a week ago, I wrote a post on my personal blog suggesting the idea of creating a large-scale document at PowerShift. What I have in mind is a vision of the sustainable future we want, in broad enough strokes to allow local diversity and enough details to also include a path for how to get there. I want a document that can serve as a touchstone for the question ‘what do you want?’, endorsed by a giant gathering of passionate youth and others.
The idea got positive feedback, so this post is dedicated to how we might realistically create such a thing. But first, a few background points:
- One comment suggested modeling the product after the Holstee Manifesto (I might also use the Self-Repair Manifesto as an example). I like the idea of pulling out the key points, but I want more detail – and while it’s harder, it’s also worth more.
- Building on the above, there are lots of key points to start from. I’d suggest the recent PCI/Transition work Climate After Growth (pp 16 onwards), Donella Meadow’s fantastic Envisioning a Sustainable World, and work from the Commons Cluster. I might also suggest the constitutional chapter of Blue Mars, but that’s not available online.
- If we want lots of people involved, I’d point to open source models with some occasional large-scale votes for community approval. This is too large for consensus (IMO), but I’d say 75% approval is a reasonable target.
Without further ado, a recipe. If you want to get involved, we need moderators, so leave a comment listing what you’d like to help manage and/or write, or email me (info (at) pittenvironmental.org). Or just start writing!
Goal: A document that provides:
- A coherent vision of a sustainable future, covering social, economic, and political systems, and energy, transport, building, and food infrastructure.
- A plausible path for attaining that future for as many of the above aspects as possible.
Open source and over a short time period with a large number of potential participants means easy access is critical. TitanPad is the right answer here – open source itself, no registration or account required, minimal formatting to get screwed up, infinite undo and great revision-saving. There are two vision-only pads to start, one for the socio-economic-political (SEP) aspects, and one for the infrastructure (INF) aspects. These both need moderators – one or two to look over the whole pad, and probably one for each section while it’s being actively written. Moderators play the role of benevolent dictators – they commit a lot of text, steer the direction, have executive authority, but can also be kicked out by the community at any time by just creating another pad.
At some point – maybe Noon on Saturday, maybe that evening – the vision pads will be voted on (open-view G. Form), an initial release needs to be approved, and the text at that point will be stored somewhere more permanent as a reference (a read-only G. Doc). Work will then start on two more pads on the plausible path forward (ToRightSEP and ToRightInf). After some period, a vote will be taken on those pads as well, and the final text from all four pads will be assembled into a single document.
Throughout the process, moderators and others who want to can meet physically to write and discuss and provide others a way to do so. DLLC is a large place with lots of good nooks and crannies, and the bars nearby aren’t bad either.
The biggest challenge is publicity – letting people know that this is happening at each stage is incredibly important. The second biggest is the amount of text that we could potentially write, and the narrow timeframe to get an initial draft done. The third may be unpleasant individuals or dissenting opinions – but that’s an opportunity for live discussions.
Solving the second challenge is a matter of recruiting lots of passionate people to write at least a little bit, or read and revise, and thus requires solving the first. Solving the third requires good sources, rational people, and perhaps some training in disagreement – I suggest the article ‘How to Disagree’.
Solving the first requires ease of access and lots of voices. The best page to point people to is not what you’re reading, but this page (http://bit.ly/PSManifesto), which has the information on all pads and an introduction for those that want to get involved. We’ll need lots of people to tell lots of other people, but using hashtags for the conference and sticking QR codes (available on the above page) on communal bulletin boards will also help spread the word. If there are large screens, we should get on those. If there are speakers who think this idea is cool, we should get them to tell people to participate.
We can do this – it’s large, audacious, and would be an awesome accomplishment. What else is the PowerShift community about?
If you want to get involved, we need moderators, so leave a comment listing what you’d like to help manage and/or write, or email me (info (at) pittenvironmental.org). Or just start writing!