Introduction Change is diﬃcult. But do we really avoid it at all costs? We are adept change agents in many areas of life. We accept new ways of doing things every time Apple announces a new operating system, Facebook adjusts its feed rules, banks start charging for paper statements and airlines outlaw travel agents. The fact that 27% of people aged 75+ are now online using tablets is compelling evidence that humans can be amazingly adaptable and open to change. But what about other issues where we are change-averse? Might that residual resistance come not from fear or intransigence but rather from a lack of options, knowledge or solutions?
Parable Most of us know that the way we are living can’t continue. At heart we know we are putting at risk our welfare and that of our children. But we don’t know how to change. It’s like we are on a major freeway where there’s little time to think, switch lanes or find out where the road is taking us. Most of us would like to get oﬀ this highway, but we don’t see many exits. The few we do see often come across as utopian, built in ways that lead to other roads that are just as fast and going in the same direction. Messaging from thought leaders insists that change is unnecessary or even impossible. Even though we should continue looking for better exits, it is too easy to stay on cruise control with the radio tuned to the song “don’t worry, be happy…”. But the globe needs fewer of us on that highway. The only way to get large numbers oﬀ is to build new exits that lead to diﬀerent roads, byways and even bicycle and walking paths. Then convince large numbers of people of the need to take one of these oﬀramps with the assurance that the new direction is better - for them, for their kids and for the planet. As larger numbers of people leave the freeway and head instead toward humanscaled community and commerce, politicians will quickly notice. They will speed along back roads in order to arrive early and welcome the drivers as they start pulling up at new destinations and getting out of their cars. Politicians like to be in front of all trends that have been decided and marshalled by others.
And as fewer travellers stay on the highway, toll revenue will decline. Governments may pull back maintenance funds. Soon the academy will realize that the freeway their ideas built is growing more expensive. They may even send anthropological teams into the hinterland to gather evidence of the new ways of being and living sprouting in outposts far from the main road. Once those reports filter back, maybe then university administrators will plan satellite campuses in these walkable places of community and commerce where the new thinking flourishes. As more people leave the main highway, its concrete will crack, plants will start pushing through the formerly hard surfaces of certainty and endless growth. In the distant future teachers will bring school kids to see this old road. They will explain that the busted concrete was once the way. But it was the wrong road, going in the wrong direction. It had been built by people who didn’t know better and by some who did, but who had vested interests in ensuring we all stayed on the one highway. “What went on here?” one child will ask. “Well, this is what happens when we create a new reality that makes the old one obsolete,” the teacher will answer.
“…the public pressures politicians, influences policymakers and shapes the academy... they drive everything” Building exits and getting people oﬀ the road We change society by telling a better story. But we can’t force people, we can only woo them to abandon their old reality in favour of a new one. We can do this by creating, launching and sustaining a national public engagement campaign. It will introduce, disseminate and embed post-growth ideas and solutions. Position a post-growth economy as the viable alternative by putting the current orthodoxy on the defensive. Announce alternative directions (building exits), encourage use of the oﬀ-ramps and oﬀer directions (solutions that are digestible and scalable). This national public engagement campaign will cost about $1.5 million for the first two years. We believe that kind of money is available but to secure such an investment in social marketing we need to create an evocative pitch. We need to prove to the people who control the cash that this is something they want to get behind. Wooing them means creating an energetic presentation and issuing a compelling invitation: this
is their chance to be part of telling the new story; this is their opportunity to bask in the social largess of helping get people oďŹ€ the highway. We are creating a vision of the future and we are inviting them to bring their tools. To produce the proposal that will loosen wallets for this good cause we need $49,500. That money pays for the production of a world-class pitch that includes strategy, videos, audio, written material, exceptional design and all-platform delivery. It takes $50K to leverage $1.5 m. Many elements of what goes into this initial presentation will be used later, so the $49,500 is a pre-investment in communication assets that will endure. After all, if we get $1.5 million out of the flinty souls on Bay Street, we can use the same material to influence the hearts and minds of the public. We need start-up funds in order to attract secondary investment that will birth a new reality. Consider this your invitation to midwife this new story.
Who: There are two drivers of this pitch. James Magnus Johnston - James has years of experience researching the postgrowth paradigm, communicating it to a wide audience and demonstrating what it looks like in real life. As the Canadian director of CASSE, he has established likeminded partnerships at home and around the world. With an MPhil in Economics from Cambridge, he teaches from a post-growth perspective, engages actively with the community and initiates social enterprises that make real change happen. Bramwell Ryan - An all-media veteran, too independent to work for anyone, who has traveled the world hunting stories to tell. An iconoclast with an understanding of how to create a new reality and the skills and contacts to make it happen. An enduring interest in human-scaled community, commerce and sustainability means he brings exceptional passion to this topic.
What/how: The start-up investment will leverage existing relationships with well-established institutions such as the Post Growth Institute and CASSE to launch a post-growth public engagement campaign. It will also pay for a conclave of communication thinkers to help imagine a fantastic pitch which will be asking for $1.5 million. Once the tone and direction has been established Bram - working under the direction of James - will create all elements of the proposal. That stellar package will feature the following: ‣
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two videos - one explaining post-growth concepts and the other an invitation to back the project plus a listing of benefits; exceptional motion graphics, music and narration a public engagement strategy outlining how we plan to unroll and sustain the campaign a written post-growth pitch with high quality graphics sponsor mock-ups for benefit visualization endorsements - audio and video, written and photographic bolstering the ask demonstration of broad appeal a tablet version of the pitch (Android and Mac); PowerPoint & Keynote; a web ask plus a web presentation module; a printed version with exceptionally high production values
There are several assumptions guiding this process, which will be honed and augmented during the conclave:
Seek $49,500 to develop major pitch
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public engagement is the driver of all societal change policy makers follow public pressure and calls from the media the academy is open to new concepts if they arise from the grassroots post-growth concepts are multi-faceted and can be complex - translation is key identifying primary issues and action plans upon which to focus is vital to widespread comprehension, engagement and adoption there is a need to define and contrast the existing disfunction high profile champions are needed and will be approached public engagement is episodic, all-media and constant; materials and deployment tactics must prioritize understanding and motivation it is vital to avoid issue paralysis, blame and partisanship there are many others working on the depth and detail component but what is missing is a compelling way of communicating that to a wider audience
‣ ‣ Pitch 2
Seek $1.5 m to fund 2-year campaign
initially solutions - the key drivers of public engagement - are more important than depth engagement and transformation of policymakers and the academy (university and high school) are important but are subsidiary to the creation of an informed and motivated public separate engagement tracks (policy & academy) can start to be developed in year two of the public component but for the purposes of this discussion those activities lie outside the realm of immediate consideration
When: If start-up funds are in-hand in April we will be working toward having the primary pitch finished by mid-late August. Then the proposal seeking $1.5 million will be taken into the marketplace to foundations, corporations, NPOs and individuals. A fall fund raising launch is timely since that is a traditional period for new initiatives and renewed perspective on what lies ahead. This forward-looking optimism is space we plan to colonize with a new story of vibrant hope and achievable change.
How much: Creating a compelling narrative designed to secure $1.5 million will cost $49,500, to be spent as follows: Labour: $15,000 Meetings, travel: $10,000 Video production: $11,500 Print/web: $6,500 Research/oﬃce: $1,500 Consultants: $4,000 Misc - $1,000
After more than 40 years of academic debate over what to call the steady-state economy, an informed public is beginning to demand change. Now's the time for communicators to help articulate what comes next. Thank you for your willingness to invest in writing this new story. James Magnus Johnston | 204-952-7751 | firstname.lastname@example.org | postgrowth.ca
Published on Apr 7, 2014