“Symbiosis SSA.” Focus on Other Stuff Out There, Plus CommUniversity
This course of action doesn’t necessarily include the basic WWE course, and is accordingly for groups that are a bit more advanced and ready to tackle some bigger projects. Spend some time talking with the group about any concepts or ideas that you all may find particularly compelling or interesting, and consider structuring your SS Village around one of these! Examples could include: a local/ organic food network, permaculture, Carrotmob or a community garden. By putting your minds, hearts and hands together behind an idea of your own choice, you’ll build strong bonds and keep your enthusiasm high—and achieve great things!
CommUniversity Plus - Make Up Your Own Fresh, Juicy, Wild Vision and Purpose!
Groups that follow this course of action are very experienced with sustainability and environmental issues, and are ready to fully take things into their own hands. The sky’s the limit—be creative and put your heads together! Members in groups that follow this path will have heaps of experience and initiative to really focus on the “Sow” end of the MGHS cycle.
But, whatever “course of action” you choose, above all, continually check in with the “Mulch, Grow, Harvest, Sow” cycle—a cycle of axiomatically self-propelling personal and Village growth.
..The First Irony - Structured to be Open Ended!
In the first instance, the SSA looks quite defined, almost constrained. There are Principles, Stages, Beacons and suggested areas of daily focus, however, in reality, it is the opposite. This is the SSA irony. It is based on a structure with both social and environmental purpose. The basic framework of the SSA is designed to provide participants with something solid and tangible to begin with. Something requiring input and self determination rather than another bucket of enviro-tips delivered from on high in lecture format. The SSA starts with a structure to provide Villagers with a secure launch pad for locally crafted open-endedness.
The course provides time for people to get to know each other, after which the group dynamic takes over.
The basic training program in environment and group capacity building is like the training wheels. When they come off, the group’s imagination is the limit. Sustainability Street Villages are entirely defined by and thrive according to their participants.
Educationally it is textbook to start where we are at as learners and have a sense of where we want to go. Every group is mixed and diverse of course, however, it may be possible to categorise where you are at according to the Clouds, Rain, Rivers, Oceans notion of suitable starting points. PAGE XX??
Clouds, Rain, Rivers, Oceans DEFINITION
The Second Irony
In describing the nature of an Oceans group, notions of the traditional ‘Action Group’ spring to mind. Make no mistake that Action Groups have made inestimable and historic contribution to where we are at with ‘sustainability’ in this point in time. Had people not chained themselves to trees or campaigned for backyard incinerators to be abolished or what ever your cause was, we would not be where we are today. However, the Sustainability Street Approach is not an Action Group formula per se, at least not in the first instance. Many local action groups and campaigns see the following sequence happen all too often
(A) Issue emerges; (B) Community organises and takes action; (C) Community either wins or loses; (D) Either way the group too often dissipates and does not remain connected.
First and foremost, the SSA is an environmental education program that has proven to also have valuable community strengthening spin offs. The social and geographical proximity of “local” Sustainability Street Villages, for a start, mitigates against dissipation of connection and energy. But its educational integrity is what the SSA relies on. The educational integrity is underpinned by the 1, 2, 4, 8, 5, 2, 3 notion that is explained in xxxxxxxxxxx??????
But herein is the second, beautiful irony. While SSA Villages are not in the first instance Action Groups so much as they are “lifestyle” groups. However, with the diversity of the group noted and respected, they can end up being incredibly imaginative and resilient Action Groups. The SSA is very different to the old campaign approach of ‘issue emerges, people unite to fight, win or lose and generally disband’. More typically, the Sustainability Street stages of Mulch, Grow, Harvest and Sow combined with the fact that most groups have a diverse mix of Clouds, Rain, Rivers and Oceans type individuals is another strong determinant of what we call Dynamic Capacity Building or the unstoppable power of collective self management and direction setting.
Respect Our Elders
The Oceans in a group are not uncommonly those who have been activists or who lean toward action group-ness. With patience, these experienced sustainers can give so much to people coming to activism and environmental culture change for the first time.
The thing about old-fashioned Action Groups and campaigns is that they have a beginning, middle and an end. There is a difference between campaign and culture, though obviously there is overlap and symbiosis. The SSA is working more on the level of culture. Think of it this way, we have the power to create a culture which makes forest loss, ocean degradation, carbon pollution unthinkable, meaning we can move our creativity and energy to a level beyond the need for the forest logging campaign or ocean outfall protest. Big call, but as Picasso opined, If it can be dreamed it can be real!
2. The Basic Course Comprised of Eight Meetings:
Meeting One: Play, Plan And Ponder An introductory ice breaker getting to know each other type gathering, which importantly includes the WAWA or The Want And Will Audit. What is it that people in the group want to learn and what is it that members will teach others from the CommUniversity? Meetings Two Through To Five: Exploring Waste, Water And Energy These sessions are in pairs, with one session introducing a topic and the second following up on that topic. They are designed to be overlapping and are each based on one of the Three Areas of Daily Focused Effort: Waste, Water and Energy. Meeting Six: Plan to Sow Plan to create an event, seminar, model project or what ever which reaches out and educates and influences other people. An open house scheme to visit and see your sustainable initiatives, for instance, or vegie garden or have a stall at the supermarket to give out re-usable bags. Meeting Seven: Erect a sign!!The sustainability street sign has become a feature for communities around Australia. Some groups work with their local Council and have an “actual” street sign mounted by the Council. Other communities make thier own sign or banner to “brand” their street. This is both a “Harvest” ane a “Sow” thing to do. The sign is an expression of pride and celebration while on the other, it is an amzing conversation starter.Meeting Eight: The Graduation The final session is the Graduation ceremony and the time to plan the ‘way to Sow’. There are great ideas for holding an exciting Graduation, which can be both a memorable Harvest and Sow, as seen in Book 3 of the SSA.
3. A Possible Local Group Meeting Series Spanning Six Or Eighteen Months
The session series outlined over the next few pages is a completely notional configuration. They are a guide or starting point for people to plot out a series of meetings that suit local circumstances. Some groups actually do like to zoom through this program, fairly much as laid out below in six months of regular monthly meeting dates. Other groups have preferred to pace it over twelve months, with a month or so in between to do other things such as working on a group project, or even things like a cooking course, having a holiday, redesigning the garden or just maintaining space for a busy life.
For groups who wish to work over a twelve-month period, with such gaps between, it is nonetheless strongly advised that the first two or three meetings or so be in quick succession, say monthly at a minimum. The first few meetings of the formative stage are very important socially and for planning. So have a few meetings, with close regularity, and then easing off on the juice for a while is a good way to go.
There is also another interesting new trend emerging. A number of local groups are electing to run the (purposely informal) ‘formal training’ over 18 months. This seems to have two interesting effects. It is more relaxed and doable, although, there is a risk of losing the momentum. At each meeting, a new date in the future that suits most people is set.
Voice the Village:
The SSA meeting agenda is much designed to get the balance right between people presenting and people listening. Receiving a lecture for two hours is useless but so too is ‘sillygalitarianism’… an unstructured rabble of people competing to talk. Structure can either be exclusionary or democratising. The following suggestions are democratising ways of voicin the village.
*Stories From The Real World ... is a powerful voicing tool on the agenda. We have all been doing stuff, some for decades, and we all have ideas. This is a chance for people to share tips and tricks and insights and next week’s winning lotto numbers. *Sow Report: It is really inspiring each time you meet to have a quick report back of the ways in which members have Sown (influenced other) around home, at the workplace or at the bus stop. Keep a list of the tiny to tumultuous ways in which members have influenced or taught others, with the greatest of respect of course. Every conversation is a part of culture and the shape it’s in.
*The CommUniversity is written up extensively elsewhere in this book. Basically, we are all learners and we are all teachers. Use the expertise and knowledge within. At each meeting organise for one of the Villagers to do a 10 to 15 minute presentation next time.
*The W.A.W.A: During meeting one, find who wants to know what, above and beyond the basics of Waste, Water and Energy. Make a list. Then make another list of who will teach what? Or provide some other input. An SSA Village in Blacktown NSW has a shiatsu massage master as a member who has offered massage to the whole Village!
*Hands Up, Names Down: Check out the range of jobs that the ‘worker ants’ might undertake, could someone take on organising the bikes for next meeting? Would someone volunteer to be the media spokesperson? A librarian? Photographer?
*A Sign Raising: Many SSA Villages work with their local Council who have contributed in many ways, including erecting the Sustainability Street street sign. Often an SSA Sign Raising is accompanied by a local street parade, BBQ or get together which makes it another great way to both Harvest and Sow! Celebrating ourselves in a way that reaches out to our neighbours. There are fabulous Street Parade pictures on the website.
*Train The Mentor Course: ur objective is to make ourselves redundant. The more people who are trained and experienced in the SSA, the more people who will be able to spread the culture that makes us redundant, replacing pressure on the Earth with rebuilding nature and positive, friendly, eco-sustainability focussed social connections!
Model Meeting Agendae
The First Meeting Agenda:
The purpose of this meeting is just to get started, get to know each other, explore a bit of the big picture, the feelings people have about environmental protection and restoration, the role of lifestyle, share wonderful memories of nature and so on. Session One is all about community spirit, once also affectionately called ‘the group hug’ session. Play, plan and ponder. The times on this agenda are notional and in the evening, but many Villages meet through the day, on a weekend morning or whenever suits.
Arrive, chat, mingle, sup, munch…
7.09pm: Choose A Chair
Organise for somebody different to chair each meeting, it is especially excellent to coach a young person through the chairing role.
7.10pm: Open The Meeting With An SSA Overview
What is this SSA? A quick overview at the start of each meeting is useful for newcomers and to re-enforce in general and explain that the SSA is a basic training program in sustainable living around the home and neighbourhood and which can ultimately lead to whatever your community wishes to imagine!
Eventually Sustainability Street moves from something the community does, to something the community is. The formal training aspect will come to an end, but in so many places around Australia, a local, neighbourly culture of respect for sustainability persists.
7.12pm: Dynamic Group Enhancer,
Break The Ice With Brain Aerobics And Health Enhancement Exercises. Humans start out all shy and shuffley with strangers, but sure as eggs, when we get to know each other and start work on history’s most important challenge, we’re like lifelong chums. On sustainabilitystreet.org.au site there are a selection of what, in the past, have been known as icebreakers. In fact, science tells us that having a laugh and moving around a bit makes the brain function more efficiently and creatively and is good for our health.
7.13pm: Being There
This is a most wonderful exercise for the first meeting! Ask people to reflect for a moment on the best memory they have of being in nature, be that a far-flung wilderness or the backyard. In small groups, have everybody tell their story of nature. Then pick one story from each group to share with the whole mob. The deepest and oldest tenet of environmental education is that we all need to have frequent and refreshing contact with nature. By and large we are divorced from nature. In the busy, fluorescent, fast paced life we should strive for everything from a glimpse of the wilderness through to stopping to admire the full moon from the backyard. The SSA talks about ‘coming home’ and the highest order importance of biological diversity as a principle and as a beacon.
7.20pm: Stories From The Real World
This is a powerfully important ‘sub-textual’ building block of the SSA. The point is that we have all been doing what we can to step more lightly on the planet. The other point is that nobody can do everything but everybody can do something. And the final point is that the more voices, the more participation and the more teamwork, the better and more enjoyable the environmental scorecard will become.
7.30pm: The PowerPoint
This is obtainable from the sustainabilitystreet.org.au free downloads. It is a basic slideshow that depicts the building blocks of the SSA pedagogy, a course overview and has a bevy of pictures of local SSA Village communities around Australia.
There is no more sophisticated, yet under-rated, sign of human evolutionary achievement than ‘the chat over a cuppa.’ Momentous history changing breakthroughs have started over “milk and one?”
8.00pm: Biodiversity Discussion And Plan A Nature Hit
As enunciated earlier, the loss of biological diversity is irreversible. We can clean the soil, the air and the water but we can never bring back extinct species. Spend some time discussing and understanding how the Area of Daily Focus (Waste, Water or Energy) serves to protect far-flung species and habitats. And take time to discuss visiting a refreshing touch of nature together, just for the sake of it.
8.10pm: Measure With Meaning, The Chubby Checker Way. How low can we go!?
“Not everything that counts can be counted; and not everything that can be counted counts.” --Einstein
In the two-part overlapping agendas to follow, at 7.55pm it is suggested that, as a group, you work with your specialist speaker on waste, water or energy to devise a simple, doable method for recording your reductions in consumption. Spend the time in between meetings one and two on a dedicated campaign to reduce waste, water and energy consumption around your place. In the eloquent words of the immortal Chubby Checker “Just how low can you go?” Tabulate your results and bring them back to the second meeting in the ongoing two meeting cycle, focused respectively on waste, water and energy.
8.15pm: The SSA CommUniversity; The WAWA
WAWA = Want And Will Audit! Be certain to stick to the Three Areas of Daily Focussed Effort as the main priority of your training course, but at the same time use the CommUniversity to also learn about chooks, peak oil, permaculture, beekeeping, bicycle maintenance, etc. List what people want to learn and what they will share or teach. You’ll be amazed at the depth of knowledge among us!
8.44pm: For Next Gathering
Nominate a Sow Reporter (and at every subsequent gathering).
Nominate a couple of people to read up an aspect of Deep Sustainability (Pp # 999) to share with everybody next time, for example the Sustainability Street Principles & Beacons, ‘Coming Home’ or the Southern Cross of Optimism.
Choose a topic from the Three Areas of Daily Focused Effort; Waste, Water or Energy. Organise a specialist presenter who knows about the particular ADFE that you’ve chosen to speak at the next meeting.
Also organise a CommUniversity presenter from among you to prepare a presentation for the next meeting.
Grab a calendar and look ahead a few weeks or months and plan a visit to a local or far-flung ‘patch of nature’, a trip to ‘come home.’
Close the meeting and head on home… or stay and chat for as long as you like!
Waste, Water & Energy Meetings 2-5
The next six meetings of the basic eight-meeting format are overlapping in sets of two. The first “one of two” meeting introduces a particular ADFE topic, for example, water. At this first meeting, ways of measuring water consumption and reduction are discussed with a view to sharing accomplishments and newly devised conservation strategies at the second meeting, also known as the “two of two” meeting.
Meeting ‘One of Two’ Agenda:
Intro to (Choose - Waste, Water, or Energy.)
7.09pm: Choose a Chair
7.12pm: Break the ice with a Brain Aerobics energiser *
7.13pm: Stories from the Real World *
7.16pm: The Sow Report * Talk about who has influenced whom and how they have done so.
7.26pm: Deep Sustainability Present and discuss a D.S. element of the SSA, be it a Principle, Beacon, ‘Coming Home’ or the Sthrn CrossOptimism.
7.31pm: Specialist Presenter Use the basic SSA course, which follows, or, have a specialist presenter on the topic of the meeting (Waste, Water or Energy) allowing time for questions at the end. (see sustainabilitystreet.org.au for recommendations for guest presenters)
8.15pm: CommUniversity Presentation .Ask the Villager nominated at the last session, to give their presentation on their particular area of expertise.
8.35pm: Biodiversity Discussion and Plan a Nature Hit Take time to think deeply about the natural world & how is this meeting’s topic is connected. And ... tell beautiful stories ... watch magnificent nature video ... individually or as a group, plan a trip to “a refreshing touch of nature”.
8.44pm: The Meeting Mirror Ask folks to make a few heartfelt, personal, social and environmental reflections on the session. This should be a relaxed discussion to conclude and reiterate what has been felt, said, learned and taught.
8.46pm: Organise the Next Meeting*
Meeting ‘Two of Two’ Agenda: Follow up session one of two; Intro to a new choice of Waste, Water, or Energy.
7.09pm: Choose a Chair
7.12pm: Break the ice with a Brain Aerobics energiser
7.13pm: Stories from the Real World
7.16pm: The Sow Report
7.26pm: Deep Sustainability
7.31pm: Review the month between sessions and share: discoveries, inventions and experiences of reducing Waste, Water or Energy, depending on your chosen topic.
7.55pm: Measurement Results
8.15pm: CommUniversity Presentation
8.35pm: Biodiversity Discussion and Plan a Nature Hit
8.40pm: Choose a New Topic
Introduce the new topic that hasn’t already been covered from the ADFE (Waste, Water or Energy). Important: Go through the learning Short Cut for Water, Waste or energy, so in the lead up to the next session the subconscious grey matter is ticking over.
8.44pm: The Meeting Mirror
8.46pm: Organise the Next Meeting.
Beyond the 3 Areas of Daily Focussed Effort
Go for education, modelling, influencing, inspiring. Once we’ve got our own consumption and impact heading south, the very best next thing one can do for the Earth is to “start spreadin’ the news”. The mission is to chip away relentlessly at re-crafting the culture that is the blueprint for modern life ... and the core or un- .
The Basic SSA Course of Study- Waste, Water and Energy.
If every one of us got just a handful of the top ten ideas in each of waste, water and energy ticked off, our environmental contribution would be astounding ñ added to that, if in the SSA way, if we influence just one other person our impact has gone stratospheric.ormation for the Basic Training Program is derived from three sources:
The prioritised, bare bones and targetted basic course in waste water and energy, our daily focus, in Book Three of the SSA
The oceans of information out there; online, in pamphlets from councils, on water bills, telly shows, etc. The answers are out there, the core of the Sustainability Street Approach is about how we best organise ourselves to avail of it all.
The other and best source of information and inspiration is ëThe CommUniversityí. We are all learners and teachers. You can bet that among any group of people there’ll be a depth of about Waste, Water and Energy as well as a huge range of other sustainability topics like peak oil, permaculture, chooks …
The Course – three things to say
One: it is not rocket surgery, we all know what pollution and waste looks like. Trust common sense.
Second: Sustainable living is not about information per se. There is so much information out there. Local councils have booklets and brochures, pamphlets and people. Bookshops now have forests full of “green living” books. Then there’s the bottomless “Google” pit.
Three: In any case, the best “course” comes out of the CommUniversity. Everybody has insight, experience, knowledge and that we can share. We all have imagination and when fired up by the mutual support and fun of “community making”, that pooled imagination can lead to ideas and accomplishments that no bookshop nor Google search has yet caught up with.
So heres the core of the SSA: use what you wish or totally invent your own approach--1, 2, 4, 8, 5, 2, 3.