Transition Ottawa

Building Community Resilience Through Action

Howdy folks,


     Like most of you I'm sure, our knowledge of the state of the environment has directly translated into action. We know that greenhouse gases are responsible for climate change, that resources are finite and that we have reached/are about to reach both Peak Oil and Peak Phosphorus. For most of us this this leads us to do what we can to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, purchase carbon credits, recycling, composting, posting a "no junk mail" sign on our mailbox, eat less meat, signing up with Bullfrog Power, maintaining naturalized backyards, etc. Unfortunately, for a large fraction of the population, awareness of environmental issues is not enough to lead them to sustained action.


     I was wondering if anyone out there has any advice on how to get the message through. From my own experience, I have learned that bombarding people with statistics and doom and gloom does not work. Making them feel guilty about their actions is also not productive! More recently my approach has been to simply lead by example, to maintain a positive attitude and to invite friends and family to see environmental movies and volunteering but with no pressure to join. So far, this appears to be a much better approach.


    So to me, leading by example is the #1 way of effecting change. Initially, only the most devout environmentalists adopt the new way of doing things (e.g. installing a rain barrel or a solar panel). As more and more people do it, it eventually gains acceptance by the general public and eventually begins to look like the fashionable or cool thing to do. The attached figure illustrates this point (


    Any thoughts or advice on all this? Cheers.

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Has anyone explored the ideas of David Gershon - who's been working on this question for the last 30 years and has several books showing the results of experiments and successes.

There are some interviews on his web site which would give you a overview of the approach he has taken. ( In a nutshell, work on the neighbourhood community level - with events to raise awareness while building community with your own neighbours. Aim to reach the 'tipping point' - the 15% of early adopters ie: preach to the choir, forget the laggards - create a personal vision, reinforced by peer 'pressure' and peer accountability). He has repeated the success of this in multiple countries around the world.

Great link!  Sounds like the Transition Town Movement (Model) in a nutshell!

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