MCFly spent a glorious sunny Saturday morning… indoors, being depressed by the format and execution of a climate event called “Eco-teams”. Not asking for sympathy – MCFly is an idiot, and getting too old for this stuff.
The event was organised by “Global Action Plan”. They had contacted all sorts of groups, and invited people along to hear about what they do, with the idea of people leaving all fired up to lead “Eco-teams” of 4 to 6 people reducing their emissions over a few months.
As feared, it kicked off with a goodly portion of death by powerpoint. First off, a Council officer gave an overview of the Manchester Climate Change Action Plan. She managed to mention AfSl, FoE etc but not the group that actually created the conditions for broad participation. No surprises there then.
After that the audience sat through a twenty five minute explanation of “Ecoteams,” a straight-forward concept that anyone who came was – by definition – sold on. It could have been explained in a two page briefing that could have been sent out earlier, freeing up time and bandwidth
Just when I – and others- were losing the will to live, we had a pseudo-mingler where we had to go around the room to find people who had led meetings, had alternative energy sources at home etc.
I say pseudo-mingler, because that didn’t lead on to us forming groups based on where we live, what work we do, what we’ve already done, what we might want to do. Typical of the underlying (and false) liberal assumptions about individual behaviour change, we spent the day being bombarded with facts and gimmicks but never was any attempt made to find out what people already knew, were already doing, specifically wanted to know.
We then had lots of “put laminate cards of these appliances in order of least to most polluting” games, that you’d get teenagers to play. Nothing wrong with that, but is it the best way to embed an enthusiasm for/interest in being an EcoTeam Leader, and role-playing the difficulties etc?
The whole day seemed predicated on the tedious and ineffective* “information deficit model”, and the underlying assumption was that Consumer Capitalism was fine as long as it was Green Consumer Capitalism. In academia this is known as “ecological modernisation“. All the talk is of “efficiency” and “waste-reduction”, never of justice, or lessening consumption.
Tony Lloyd, recently re-elected MP for Manchester Central bravely took on the post-lunch slot. His advice for effective lobbying?
a) feel entitled to do it
b) lobbying is a discussion, in which you have prove your case (blackmail along the lines of “Do as I say or I won’t vote for you” is not effective!!)
c)the most direct (face-to-face) engagement is the best
Two more sessions and then we were done. We had the same person facilitating throughout the day (a mistake. If there are other people who could take some on, then let them. They will benefit from the experience, and the audience will hear a different voice!)
Trouble was, even on its own terms- of encouraging people to become eco-team leaders, this event was at best a half-success. At the end of the event, someone asked me “so, what now? Is there a pack that you get if you agree to be an Ecoteam leader?” This person is intelligent, dedicated and effective. If he/she is not able to get that basic information from a day, then the organisers have some soul-searching to do.
But, I suspect most of the feedback forms they got spoke in glowing terms (English people rarely tell hard truths, even in anonymous feedback forms) and that at least some of those who attended will start up teams. But not as many as could have. Verdict: yet another missed opportunity.
Disclaimer – MCFly is jealous of Global Action Plan’s resources, and irritated that a bunch of Londoners have come up and done something that AfSL, FOE, C2RA, MCA between them could have done, only better.
*Ineffective in achieving the ostensible goals of the organisation – creating empowered and effective citizens who maintain long-term reductions of their carbon footprint and that of a bunch of people around. Very effective in allowing people to stay in their comfort zones, tick the boxes that say “information delivered” and so forth.
For how it SHOULD be done, see Cambridge Carbon Footprint