3 Ways to Foster a Successful Social Movement

In today’s challenging world, we must search for solution-oriented, vision-focused efforts. The recent Greenheart Transforms’ event was titled, “Envisioning a Green World Transformed,” but let’s face it, this transformation is happening right now. As environmentalists, we are already working to transform the world, but we also need tools to help sustain our efforts.  It’s important to remember to celebrate, connect, learn, enjoy and nurture ourselves as we continue our important work.

So how do we sustain our health and sanity in these critical times, while also fostering a successful movement?

Well, it will require a shift in thinking in these three, key areas:

  1. Radical inclusion

As you know, environmentalism can quickly become politicized and polarize people, which is when radical inclusion is especially important. Our political system uses opposition rather than consensus, conclusive negotiation, and dialogue, and as we are realizing, a democracy isn’t 51% consensus. A 99% vs. 1% dynamic won’t work. It needs to be 100% inclusion for a movement to be successful.

  1. Peace-seeking communication

One tool to help implement radical inclusion is peace-seeking communication. When we go into a discussion, dialogue, debate, or negotiation we need to approach these conversations with a commitment in our own mind to achieve peace.

We’re programmed to be tough negotiators, but with this point of view, we are almost always doomed to fail. But coming to the table from the start with a goal of peace opens up a cooperative attitude and creates an atmosphere of hope. As one successful negotiator reminded a community: “leave your opinions at the door and bring your values with you.”

We must find long-term values, which are deeper and more sustainable than immediate economic gratification.

  1. Deep listening

We all know those that don’t listen. Rather, they wait for their turn to give a monologue filled with their opinions. Being a deep listener might be one of the most important qualities in the current movement. There are three steps to practicing deep listening:

Level 1: Paying attention.

Level 2: Taking into consideration what someone is saying and processing the information.

Level 3: Deep listening, processing without preconceived notions (cultural grievances); examining your assumptions and trying to move beyond them.

Working to develop these three tools can help foster mutually supportive relationships that can create real change. I encourage you to think of ways you can become involved in local social efforts, contribute to these projects, or start your own, and synchronize your efforts in the days ahead. And as you do, try and practice using these tools of radical inclusion, peace-seeking communication, and deep listening to create the world we are envisioning together.


What tools do you use to foster a supportive community for positive social change? Comment below?

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