The success of the very first ever Sustainability Street Village was in no small part due to the handwritten note which Stan and Anna cobbled together back in 2005. There’s a scan on the website.
The text for a note below has a lot of information about the SSA for you to pick and choose from. The best advice is to keep it human and personal. Folksy and friendly. Positive and a bit excited! Some hints …
Handwritten and photocopied … there are so many amorphous, computer generated same, same, dot matrix leaflets these days.
Use your name/s
Refer to local places/events
Perhaps illustrate or decorate
Use any of the images or illustrations you find on the SSA CD or website ….*
* Pls see © statement on the imprint page
I/we live in XYZ road and we want to invite you to come to a meeting where we can talk about setting up a Sustainability Street Village. The basic idea of the Sustainability Street Approach (SSA) is that local people get together to support and encourage each other to explore more about living sustainably.
There is a “how to” manual called “Shortcut To Sustainability Street” which we can use or we can set things up in whatever suits us in our neighbourhood. There are scores of SSA Villages around Australia. The local SSA Villages consistently report three great accomplishments ...
o As much as 30%, and even more, reduction in water waste and energy … and money saved.
o Great fun and a sense of purpose at creating local projects.
o A deep satisfaction and sense of wellbeing from connecting or re-connecting with other local people
There are three ways that people are doing this …
o the basic course of study and action outlined in the Shortcut to Sustainability Street manual.
o specialist guest speakers
o The CommUniversity, because we are all learners and we are all teachers!
We would like to invite you to (our house, the pub, the park, sports club room, kindergarten hall, wherever) on (day/date) to chat about setting up a Sustainability Street Village in this neighbourhood.
Please RSVP to (xxxxxxx) Bring the kids and we can organise some acitivities when we get together. And, if you can, bring a little something to have with a cuppa
More detail about the Sustainability Street Approach can be found at sustainabilitystreet.org.au
Keep it very local. Just some neighbours around you is a fantastic place to start. Take a bag of veggies from your garden or a choccie frog to gift. Knock on the door! Of course, people knocking on each other’s doors is a no-no these days. Such neioghbourliness has been ruined by a combination of door to door hawkers, fear of the “other” out there which has been instilled by media/culture and, ironically, because too few good people knock on each others doors anymore.
Knocking on the door down the road and saying hello with with warmth and generosity is what used to happen. To make the conection with an invitation to work together for the planet Earth is the new element which will ensure that such neighbourliness is revived as the rich and lasting element of our culture, as it has been in the past.
Practically; Probably good to have a short spiel ready, using the letter to make a few speaking notes.
You’ll need to find your own comfortable balance between being heartfelt, passionate and enthusiastic … as opposed to prosletysingly in their faces.
Maybe print out a picture or a little Sustainability Street Banner from the images on the website. Always start with saying you are a neighbour so you don’t get the door to door sales-canvassers short shrift treatment.
The taster is the litmus tests! It’s a poke of the toe in the water! An invitation and information gathering to provide some information about and an Invitation to join together to “Form a Sustainability Street Village” in your neighbourhood.
This meeting is to outline the points of difference which make the Sustainability Street Approach just what it is. The main one is that it is a “social and self directed program”. There are many templates in this manual, some basic enviro information and interesting techniques and shortcuts to catalyse the leaning and the community building. BUT, the SSA is not about spoon feeding the answers. It is about realising that no one is going to do it for us. This is it, it’s up to us!
Governments can help, science can help and progressive business can help. But ultimately our lives are up to us! The SSA is a chance to behave our way into ecologically focused social change. Participation in this most meaningful agenda in historyis such a rewarding and personally enriching journey.
Make A Banner.
Before the first introduction and invitation meeting, the so called “taster”, make a Sustainability Street: It’s a Village Out There” banner.
The idea of the banner came from the community in Caroline Springs, who made their own to drape across the Volunteer Fire Truck for a procession through the middle of town. The photo of so many Sustainability Street Villages, standing behind their banner has now become the iconic symbol of the SSA.
Some local councils will have a Sustainability Street Banner that you maybe able to borrow. A banner can be obtained at cost also from the Sustainability Street Institute. (+61-3 – 9486-8881)
Use this banner in two ways …
o To hang outside the door of the meeting place
o To gather behind for a group photo at the end of the gathering.
The “Feel” of the Taster Gathering”
On the one hand the purpose of this meeting is to introduce each other to the “whole concept” of a local, social, non-political, non-ideological, people powered, leader-full community approach to sustainability action. Like so many others, using Sustainability Street strategies can enable your Village to become a socially connected group with great power in advancing ecological sustainability in our lives and local environs.
On the other hand it’s at this taster gathering that attention to the process of making all feel welcome and equally involved is established. Vehicles such as “space preparation” and “voicing the audience” for instance, ways of making the gathering feel welocoming and owned by all.
o Being There … &
o I have a Concern and I have a Dream.
Prepare the Meeting:
Hang the Sustainability Street Banner prominently in the room and or at the entrance …
Set up the seating in your space in a Circle. Avoid chairs in rows at all costs.
• Have some music playing as people arrive. The ecologically sustainable, authentic, meaningful life and culture is as much about the “intangibles” as it is about the dripping tap. Music is one of the finest accomplishments of our humanity, just as ecological sustainability too will be. Starting with music also activates the right brain and our imagination and creativity power.
Can you invite a local musician to play as people arrive?
Your local school or community choir, or
Just play Baroque music (the Mozart Effect) on CD.
Set up nametags and as they arrive, ask folks to write just their First name. Also set up an attendance sheet to collect, names addresses, phone numbers and email addresses to get the Village communication tree started.
Perhaps open by seeking the “permission “ of the group to be the “meeting motor”, the chairperson that keeps driving things forward. The “agenda” is there as a guide but not as a slavish ruler and if the energy moves elsewhere, follow it? At least for a little while.
Also delicate is the excited. wonderful member who talks a lot. Maybe have a funny noise maker, like a bell or a horn to signal once for nearly time and the twice for times up. As gently and caringly as you can.
A useful line of levity, as the meeting motor is … “we’re here for a good time, not a long time”. There is a beautiful, subtle difference between being a time keeper and a tyrant. People love a tight, well run gathering, in which as many as possible get the chance to participate.
A golden technique is to “voice the audience” briefly and as soon as possible after the meeting starts.
A Possible Running Order For The Meeting:
1. A snapshot … What is Sustainability Street? 7-10 mins
This should literally take just a few minutes or so. Some guiding notes/script are laid out below and you can also download a simple slide presentation from sustainabitystreet.org.au
o It’s up to us ... we can sit and wait for the future to happen or we can take steps to shape it. Let’s hope and trust that governments, science and industry are doing the best they can … but we can also “behave our way” into culture and social change … which will inspire other locals and will eventually lead the way for governments and industry!
o “On one hand, the SSA is basic training in sustainable living both at home and together in the neighbourhood, focussing on waste, water and energy and biodiversity. On the other hand, our Village can become and we can create whatever our collective imagination dreams up! Picasso said ... “if it can be dreamed it is real” and Henry Ford said … “we may think we can or we may think that we can’t, either way we are right”
o The SSA itself has many points of difference in terms of learning and action ... namely …
• It’s driven by creative thinking about and an iconoclastic take on understanding environment and sustainability, called, “Deep Sustainability”! DS is a mixture of practicality, optimism, common sense, iimagination and above all a focus on renewing and deepening our personal understanding of, feelings for and experiences with the natural world.
• The other core driver of the SSA is “Dynamic Capacity Building” which is about “us doing it for ourselves” ... through connecting with, supporting and teaching each other. The foundation of “Dynamic Capacity Building” is “Village Making”, which is just as important as the sustainability mission, because … if a local community is inspired and united around environmental living then local and wider culture change for sustainability will flow naturally.
• The SSA is about learning and sustaining smarter, not harder eg. GaBaToiLaKi the water shortcut, etc…see page xx in Section 2
In a nutshell, a Sustainability Street Village is completely defined by and thrives according to the ideas and the energy of its participants. Above all, it is ultimately about “us doing it for ourselves” and “making it be what we want”. There is no right or wrong way. We all have the right and the power to make a difference. And … the biggest difference we can make is to “influence others” by modeling or mentoring. By becoming a beacon village which sends the message to others that everyday folks like us can live differently, environmentally and have a ball doing it! Einstein and Ross Garnaut agree ...
… facilitating behaviour change
is one of the best options we have
for addressing climate change … Ross Garnaut
Setting an example is
not the main means of
influencing another, it is the
only means ... Albert Einstein
2. Voice the Audience;
A very wise sage once said that the art form known as “havin’ a chat” is among the most sophisticated accomplishments of our evolution as dominators of the “cognitive niche”. The best ideas emarge over a cuppa. With great respect to that gem, so it is also important to “run” the meeting ... a delicate balance between “purpose” and “informality”
Voicing Techniques …
Some classic, original SSA ways of voicing the crowd (or even two or three people around the kitchen table, as the case may be) include …
A. Quick Intro By All … 5-7 mins
o Do the ”let’s go round the circle” thing … each says thier name, which part of the “‘hood” they’re from and maybe finish off by completing this sentence; “What I love about the earth is …. or perhaps … “What I love about this neighbourhood is … “ … or both?
o Move around the circle smartly, so that everybody hears their voice in the space and therefore have some ownership of it … but keep moving it gently on.
o Finally, step the participation up a notch by inviting a bit of heartfelt voicing ...
B. I have a concern … and I have a dream! 8 - 10 mins.
o Invite people to say what brought them here. Ask them to speak their passion for the Earth, nature, children, our future. Suggest people to frame their thoughts in terms of two things – their concern about the now … and their dream for the future!
If your group is 8 – 12 people, or more, could be best to break into groups of 6, and get each group to go round their own circle
Keep time and encourage movement around the circle of each small group.
At the end, ask each group to nominate one of the Passionate Statement makers from their circle to “share with the whole meeting”
If your group is just you and a few others around your kitchen table, delving into the “Heartfelt Voicing” is just as important, moving and rewarding.
Lastly, continue empowering the group voicing for the Earth, Every person will have a personal memory of nature, a creature, a habaitat or the great natural systems of the pl;anet
C. Being There … 10 – 15 mins.
This is such a simple, powerful and memorable exercise, which, in many ways, underscores the single most important reason for building a Sustainability Street Village together. The sacredness of the Earth and the visceral joy and emotional nourishment we get from nature. The preciousness of both the plants and the flora. The charisma of the fauna and the animal world. Our awe at the “cathedrals” we know as the Earth’s great natural systems, habitat, climate, landforms like oceans and mountains and … so …
Go around your circle or get back into the same small group circles.
Ask them to think back to their most beautiful and fondest memory of being in nature - most wonderful moment in the natural world - or the most precious place they have visited - or a memory of the moon glistening on the ocean – or the sound of birds - or the season in which they feel most ‘integrated” or …
Allow a few seconds for the memories to form. You’ll see the wonderful realisation crossing people’s faces.
Each person then tells their story.
It is excellent to have Baroque music (Bach, Haydyn) playing softly in the background).
Again, at the end, have each circle nominate one of the stories to share with the other group/s
3. Show Blessed Unrest.
Paul Hawken wrote a book, “Blessed Unrest - How the greatest movement in history got underway and why no-one saw it coming”. There is a totally inspiring, goose bump inducing, unforgettable 5 minute film clip on You Tube of Paul talking Blessed Unrest. He is talking about us. You have to see this clip!
NEW BIT TO WRITE UP: VISIONING: 4. Workshop Best Environmental, Best Social for Our Village.
4. Summarise the Taster Meeting.
So, the Taster was meant to be just that—information about and an invitation to form a village together. The next meeting is the first “Actual Gathering” of your new village per se.
This next meeting is the meeting at which we might “plan a course of action, or write a calendar of gatherings, or perhaps think about a local community education or environmental project.
There is a Syllabus: an 8 session outline and an associated Course of Study/Action which the SSA recommends. A brief summary of both is in Section Two of the Shortcut.
Also, this and much more about the beauty of planet Earth, Village making, building local social change, etc, is comprehensively detailed in Sustainability Street “It’s a Village Out There” 3.0 – The main manual.
5. Nuts and Bolts for next time
Where? When? How often? Bring some light refreshments to share?
Also, discuss ways of promoting the next meeting to newcomers from the neighbourhood. At the simplest, if every person works on bringing one other neighbour, then the group size will double. Beyond that, an article in the local newspaper would be great. Use the Sustainability Street Banner that you made for a photo of you all as a group for the article.
6. Planning Group. Hands up, names down. Talk Burn out or Blossom. Best
Whether your are just a handful of local, local folks or whether you met in a local meeting place, the best outcome of the This
Taster Meeting is to have a planning committee to help with the next steps.
Becoming a Sustainability Street really can be a really low key, informal, minimally bureaucratic process. The two mantrae are “human scale” and “purposeful informality”.
However, the more people helping with the low demand tasks, the even lower the demand becomes. Too often the “traditional way” in local groups has been the “left to one or two” phenomena. This cannot be the SSA way because, as Hilary Clinton says, “it takes a whole village to raise an SSA community”.
Some good worker ant roles might include ...
Someone to keep the list of participants and organise email?
Someone to build a relationship with the local paper to keep getting your story out there
Someone to make connection with the local council to explore support they may be able to give; a speaker on waste, water, energy or biodiversity, help with promotions, small financial help.
Tea, coffee, beer scones for next time?
7. Open the floor
If there’s more business, voicing or just a keenness for a cuppa and a chat—do that.
8.4 … The “Launch” Meeting - Getting Your Sustainability Street Village on the road … the first “real” meeting …
This meeting is the “purposefully informal” official start to your Sustainability Street Village. A time to plan some of the options such as the size of the group, where and when to meet, who’ll help to organise, etc, … through to pondering the wider realm of possibilities such as opportunities of getting in touch with nature or to celebrate (Harvest) that you are doing this historic, important, local thing together. Be happy to think big and think … bold because your Village is your oyster!
Other than allowing “time together do it’s magic work,” there are basically three key objectives of this first meeting …
Decide on the size of Village you want, from Kitchen table to local hall.
Decide on your course of action from the four, A, B, C, or D suggested …
Plan a calendar of events …
Refer also in the Main Manual.: • Share the Chair • Model agenda • The Blue Volkswagen Theorem • SowReporting
Set your space up in a circle, “round the campfire” with the same human scale, folksy, feel as described in the Taster. Live or lovely recorded music playing. Get underway and keep things moving along with “purposeful informality” …
Running Order For The
Open the gathering:
Welcome first timers, quick summary of the SSA, the Taster session from last month, your Village to date, etc.
Stories from the real world. Has anybody … ?
Learned an amazing sustainability thing; (“Blue Volkswagen Theorem”: See Glossary)
Influenced or piqued the interest of somebody else out there - at home, work or stranger? Sow Report.
Whether you are two or three people gathered around the kitchen table or local café on a regular basis – or the more traditional sized group meeting at the local neighbourhood house or scout hall - is totally your call.
“Never doubt that a small group of people can change the world … indeed it is the only way the world has ever been changed.” Margaret Mead.
First CommUniversity – The WaWa
Spend some time doing a “Want And Will Audit” (WaWa) of the amazing diversity of talent and experience in your Village. What do people especially want to know about when it comes to emerging world of ecological sustainability? What are some skills, interest or knowledge that members are willing to share.
Note it all down and you have the Syllabus of your CommUniversity.
Course of Action
Refer to “Course of Action” at the beginning of Section 2. You can approach your Sustainability Street Village in whatever way best suits your members’ aspirations and levels of experience. Try to tailor your course of action to best fit your community—this is the core of the Sustainability Street Approach!
Plan to Come Home … again and again ….
Becoming more and more connected or reconnected with beautiful, refreshing natural places is the essential fuel for the journey down Sustainability Street. Our lives must change to be protective of nature and our lives need to experience the joy and the beauty of nature. We need that beauty and spiritual nourishment as much as we need food, oxygen, water.
Burn out or Blossom
Most initiatives follow one of two paths—they either burn out or blossom. Leaving all of the work to one or two people is a sure route to “burn out.” Engage as many of the members as possible and set dates for future meetings—focussing on concrete things that everyone can do and keeping the meetings “purposefully informal.” The strength of new community bonds is what will give your Village the nourishment to thrive and blossom in wonderful ways!
(watch this space for more uber-inspirational, gobsmackingly awe-inspiring additions to come soon!) NEEDS BEEFING UP – OR TOFUING UP AND EMBELLISHMENT INCLUDING THE AMAZING THREE TOP TRICKS;) FOR SHARING THE LOAD