No Cause An Island?

Dragon's Blood Tree, Socotra Island = image by Flickr user Rob Waddington

The routes we take to learning often seem to double back on themselves.

I first heard of Common Cause a while ago, but it was only when working with COIN recently, digging through their resources on Talking Climate, that I rediscovered it. Reading the new Naomi Klein book put it front of mind again. And these are ideas that should be at the very front of our minds right now.

Common Cause gives us the resources to question the relentless ‘selling’ of change, as if it were a consumer item or lifestyle choice.

In a world where some things are easier to measure than others, we’re often told that we have to be in the (social) marketing game to win anything – that refusing to appeal to people’s short-term or self-centred desires in pursuit of narrow ‘wins’ for social or environmental progress is naive.

The latest research from Tom Crompton and the team, No Cause Is An Island, shows us in the most convincing terms yet why this approach to securing change may be unable to deliver the profound transformations required in the world. And worse, that it may be bolstering the very values that keep us headed for disaster.

We were joined by Tom for our recent sustainability communications meetup, which explored the ideas behind the research and its implications for those of us campaigning with specific goals and metrics in mind.

The central idea – that we’re eroding the very platform from which we can make real progress – is laid out in his TedX presentation from 2013.

The latest report compares requests for support from WWF and Scope, and suggests how appealing to higher values in each might strengthen the causes of both. It’s summarised on the Common Cause site and available for download as a PDF.

Both are worth spending some time with. As is a highly personal take on the effect that engaging deeply with Common Cause can have –  Confessions of an Unwise Activist, by former Oxfam & Save the Children senior campaigner Martin Kirk.

Brighton Sustainability Comms Meetup banner

If you’d like to talk about communicating sustainability in an informal setting, our next Brighton meetup is ‘Can content power a renewables revolution?‘.

We’ll hear from writer and campaigner Sarah Lewis-Hammond about the story of Trillion Fund, the platform that crowdsources investment in renewable power, and the role that social media and online content has played in building the brand.

Wednesday 11th March, 6 – 8pm, in the Neo studio.

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Tree image by Flickr user Rob Waddington, reproduced under Creative Commons licence.