Updated: May 27, 2022
Cordial World is building a platform designed to bring people together, using collective power to change the world for the better.
“A core strategy of the opposition is to plant doubts about the possibilities for change and the moral rightness of struggle…but we can be strengthened by learning about other struggles.” Julia Steinberger, Struggle for Survival, Oct 2021
In ecological economist and researcher Julia Steinberger's excellent recent blog post, The kids are not ok, she describes the response of high school students in Geneva to her climate talk. It was one of helpless despair. Turns out, they know how urgent and critical the issue is. They are well aware of emissions targets, of failed agendas from endless climate conferences and of corporate greenwashing. They look at those in positions of leadership who could do something about it on a national, even global, scale and yet continue to sit on their hands. They feel betrayed by the generations that came before them, and powerless to change any of it.
They’re not the only ones.
76% of Generation Z is worried about the impact of humanity on the environment.
Current online spaces affect their happiness and wellbeing
Steinberger recognized the students’ plight. They couldn’t see a way for their voice to make a difference, especially when they had seen so many recent appeals to power fail to leave a mark. She realized that what they needed was a window into longer-term collective activism, and to understand that this is how progress is truly achieved in the world.
“It is not possible for a single person to change the world. The transformation of our living conditions was possible only because of collaboration. It is our collective brains and our collaborative effort that are needed for such a revolution…what is clear from the long-term perspective is that progress is possible and that the last 200 years brought us to a better position than ever before to solve problems. Solving problems – big problems – is always a collaborative undertaking.” Source: Our World in Data
Steinberger changed the course of her talk and focused the discussion on collective activism:
“They didn’t need to hear about emission trajectories: they needed to hear about trajectories of popular struggle, when and how people without power changed the world.”
The climate emergency is the defining struggle of our time, and we need to harness digital spaces to support a collective movement from the ground up. Even with global problems, the solution starts on a local scale:
“Irrespective of the global nature of underlying factors…global conflicts affect the livelihoods of people in local communities. Solutions to these conflicts need to be based, therefore, on the perspectives of those affected. Local governance, as the closest level of governance to the people, offers a space for discussion, and is well suited to gather these perspectives and encourage citizen participation.” Source: UNSSC
With current social media platforms and their algorithms acting as breeding grounds for division and extremist content – and with online corporations profiting massively from harvesting people’s data as their own – an alternative, ethical space where true community building and collective action can grow is long overdue.
In her presentation for the ISC 2021 Summer School, Steinberger outlined some key characteristics of successful collective movements. I was struck by how much they mirror Cordial World’s vision for a digital platform that brings communities of people together to engage with institutions and to influence change:
Cordial World's Model
Decentralised, but principled
A decentralised network where people retain ownership of their own data and privacy, choosing when and how to share it. The platform is designed to foster consensus and sharing of life stories to learn from one another.
Strategic, leading to action
People pro-actively work to answer one another’s questions and problem solve together; organizations and institutions act on their learning from communities of people.
Works with ‘allies within pillars of establishment’
Designed to bring people together with institutions that recognize their need to gain insight from them.
Exposes more people to the discussion so that they can form a view
People seek wider perspectives and life experiences of others to inform their views and to gain knowledge.
Huge role for creativity and cultural actions so that the issue remains visible
All kinds of knowledge and forms of sharing are recognized and rewarded.
As Steinberger says, profound change against powerful entrenched systems requires a strong community to make their voices heard. We need to start believing that radical change is possible, then we need to come together to make it happen.
If you want to be part of this change, we’d love to hear from you.
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