Internet notebook about my work: deep listening to facilitate positive change


Sunday 29 June 2008

Format for story telling about positive change

In a workshop for protected area and ramsar site managers we focused on strengthening their capacities in communication and public participation. Especially to help them to be more effective in participatory planning for positive change. One of the exercises we did was practicing to tell stories about positive change. To help to analyze change, we provided a format, based on the case study format we developed earlier. The posting here is an example I gave from a change I saw take place some years ago in Slovenia.

What they realized was that participatory mapping of the issue and exploring options for change were a key communication interventions, that triggered change in knowledge and attitudes. For change in behavior and in the field mostly more and other interventions were needed and communication then mostly had a supportive role.

Friday 6 June 2008

Asking questions

Asking questions is an imperative part of any learning process. Sometimes it gets you into trouble, when you do not ask the right questions. Like when Sharon Stone – as I saw in a magazine – asked herself in public the questions: “was the way the Chinese treat the Tibetans nice? Was the recent earth quake in Sechuan province maybe the workings of the law of karma?” It caused her to loose advertising contracts in China and a ban on her movies. An over-reaction? Yes. The questions were not that bad, but at least the last one was a wrong question. Personally I would answer both questions with no. Karma is about the consequences of one’s actions. It is different from the laws of nature. The tectonic structure in the area is to blame for the earthquake. Not the Chinese. But that does not mean that there is some cause and effect at work here. Corruption and lack of enforcement of building regulations contributed to the collapse of schools and the deaths of so many children. Indiscriminate logging caused eroded slopes: an easy prey for massive land slides, natural dams in rivers and the potential evacuation of almost a million people down stream. Nobody will know how much the wrong decisions, illegal activities and bad performance of those in power may have contributed to the current hardships of the people in Sechuan. Those guilty most probably are not among the victims. Maybe some of them will learn that some karma is at work here…! Maybe Sharon Stone has learned now about karma, about conditions such as laws of nature and about asking the right questions.

Tuesday 3 June 2008

CEPA best practice

The way Germany organized communication, education and public awareness around CBD COP 9 was a perfect example of CEPA best practice. The branding of the event and biodiversity was perfect. The interaction with stakeholders through the Nature Alliance was a good way of using intermediaries and multipliers to reach many groups. The various events e.g. lectures, music, sports were well designed to reach out to the general public. There were activities for young people. And it was all connected in one big campaign. I did not see the strategy behind all this, but if there was a prize for CEPA it should go to the German Ministry of Environment.