If we create a culture that promotes well-being and prosperity for all,
then we will be in a position to discover who we really are.
                                                 Martin Seligman

At the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Benjamin Franklin commented,

We must all hang together, or surely we shall hang separately.

In our time, we must align together in common cause to evolve a life-affirming culture, actively caring for people and planet. The Great Transition Initiative shows ways to act on this.

Transitioning to a life-affirming culture is not merely a utopian ideal. It is an absolute necessity for our survival, given that we are ecologically self-destructing and have the ever-present possibility of nuclear war.

Some people immediately grasp the necessity of aligning with the intention to win, to actually succeed in evolving a society that operates within planetary boundaries. Others seem to shy away from this prospect.

I find this phenomenon interesting. I call it the glass ceiling of aspiration. This article tells more.

Extinction Rebellion and the Great Transition initiative fit together like hand-in-glove. The ER folks are brilliant at reminding us, again and again and again, with increasing insistency, that we are headed towards catastrophic collapse.

In addition, they demand creating Citizens Assemblies – thoughtful citizen input into formulating the policies we need in our time of existential emergency.

‘Raising the alarm’ is critical. It is all too easy to go to sleep given the magnitude of the existential emergency we all face. It’s all too easy to imagine that ‘she’ll be right’, as we say in Australia, or that government will take care of things, or to hang on to devotion to economic growth because slowing the economy looks terrifying (it need not be).

Piecemeal changes won’t do it. Together we have to change all the major drivers that make things worse. And for this to occur, a critical mass of mainstream people must know what they are, and be committed to changing them.

This is where the Great Transition Initiative comes in. We have developed innovative educational tools to enable ordinary people and influential decision-makers to grasp the profound systemic changes that are absolutely necessary if we are to pull out of our ecological nosedive.

We also have a very simple model for seeding these ideas into mainstream thinking. It is to inspire the members of the millions of groups that care about environmental and social well-being to act as citizen educators and thought catalysts. Our combined personal networks are huge. All a ‘citizen-educators’ need to do is to communicate with her or his friends, neighbours and business colleagues (plus larger social networks). Our communication tools make this as easy as possible – knowing that affecting people’s thinking for the better (which is our focus) is not necessarily easy.

Individually, of course, this wouldn’t amount to much. But if we can take this to scale – given that there are millions of groups that care – then we can have a powerful influence on mainstream consciousness.

Our next milestone is the Great Transition Splash in September, 2019. The idea is to have as many voices as possible simultaneously articulating the goal oftransitioning to a life affirming culture, and explaining what’s involved.

It helps to have a positive goal. We are championing the goal of transitioning to a life-affirming culture, rather than continuing on our present course of ecological self-destruction. This overarching goal – a life-affirming culture – encompasses the millions of practical initiatives that are already underway.

In conclusion:

Greta Thunberg will have reason to hope when she sees that mainstream society is committed to doing everything required to turn things around.

Introducing people everywhere to the goal of transitioning to a life affirming culture

The Great Transition Splash will kickstart the conversations and thinking necessary to enable people to come to grips with the transformational changes necessary to pull us out of our ecological nosedive. It will be 9-15 September, 2019.

During the lead-up we are inviting individuals, organisations and opinion leaders to communicate in some fashion about the goal of transitioning to a life affirming culture during the Splash. Ready-to-use communication tools are in the Resources section of this website, and of course people can devise their own.

We have a robust set of communication tools, and our Action Network database can handle millions of people doing actions such as sending emails, giving talks and conducting Kitchen Table Conversations.

That’s fine – but how do we take the Splash to scale?

We are now looking for colleagues (perhaps you?) who would be willing to

  • Do outreach to engage organisations.
  • Do outreach to thought leaders.
  • Engage human potential leaders.
  • Engage academics.
  • Train people to conduct Kitchen Table Conversations.
  • Do local organising.

You get the idea.

There are already people each of these categories who are passionately concerned about global warming, social justice, the threat of nuclear war, and the like.

If you accept the notion that we need a massive communication initiative to upgrade people’s thinking (helping good brains work better) and shift the culture, then I invite you to act as a citizen-organiser.

You would do outreach with communities that you already part of.

Your role would be straightforward. It would be to connect with, say, other academics, and encourage them to play a role in the Splash. In each category there are a number of possible things people might do. We have prototype communication tools to get started with.

The Splash will be 9-15 September, 2019. Which means we have seven months to make it massive. If you are moved to play a role in this, please contact me at andrewgaines [@] andrewgaines.net, or give me a call on +61 8005-8382, and we can discuss what you might do.

It’s early days, but we are getting some traction. GetUp!, the largest activist group in Australia, is on board. So is Unity Earth, a large interfaith network that is responding to our ecological crisis. As well we have colleagues in the scientific community, academics, and in the human potential movement.

The task of our time is to transition to a life affirming global culture, rather than continuing on our present course of ecological self-destruction. Please join our growing network of colleagues who choose to work together to turn things around!

 

Working for immediate results can produce worthwhile outcomes, and evoke a feeling of satisfaction. Immediate results count. So, it makes sense to pursue the low hanging fruit, and ask Where can we best get traction?

However, given that we are in a global ecological emergency, I think there is a more important question. That question is, What’s needed now?

My sense is that at this point in time we don’t need just local changes. The overarching issues of species loss, ocean acidification, climate change and the like are far beyond what can be addressed through purely local changes.

My answer to the question What’s needed now? is that we need a movement for large-scale transformational change. Unless, somehow, those of us who care inspire mainstream commitment to doing all the changes necessary to solve global warming and evolve a socially healthy society, business as usual will take us all to its dismal conclusion.

 Shifting public attitudes on a mass scale may seem impossible. Certainly there is no simple answer as to how to do that. That’s why I say ‘unless somehow we inspire mainstream commitment…’ A tough problem. But if it is the real problem, then we need to put on our innovators’ hats and ask the question How we can do this?

Asking this question opens up surprising possibilities. The combined networks of the millions of groups globally that care about environmental and social well-being is huge. We reach into every level of society. It seems to me that the members of environmental-progressive-spiritual groups that care about climate change and other environmental and social issues are a greatly underutilised resource. Mostly they pay dues and sign petitions. The vision of the Great Transition Initiative is that we should all step up and become citizen-educators.

Andrew Gaines