David Sibbet | Facilitating Social Change
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Facilitating Social Change

Facilitating Social ChangeWhile looking through some past work I came across this Partners for Change model that I co-developed with Sissel Waage, then VP of R&D at The Natural Step. We’d worked together at a fascinating symposium at the Weatherhead School at Case Western University in late 2003 bringing together social scientists and activists who had deep experience in social change. This process drew on our long experience facilitating cross-sector meetings.

We came away convinced that people sharing stories across some of the traditional boundaries is critical in finding ways forward around the challenging issues of our time, like global warming and growing inequities between rich and poor. We realized that both big-picture thinking and deep dives into feelings and personal responses needed to come together to create any kind of shift in thinking and action.

We were both excited about the prospect of marrying deep dialogue work with traditional graphic facilitation and Grove Storymapping™ of the complex contexts surrounding social issues. We also suspected that having a documentation team running through the process could result in some very special kinds of communication opportunities and even tools for further processes down the line.

So we created a prototype map, shown here, of where the different environmental organizations are playing in today’s issue space.

Facilitating Social ChangeIntention Brings Opportunity

We planned to solicit foundation grants to begin projects in this area. But within weeks of finishing this work, both Sissel and I were recruited to work on a very ambitious project in the upper Midwest that was a real instantiation of our thinking. It was the RE-AMP project—a collaboration between 8 foundations and several dozen NGOs to clean up the energy system in the midwest and focus on reducing global warming gases 80% by 2030.

I ended up with the job of facilitating this process through much of 2005 and continuing into 2006. Sissel was the indicators consultant on the project. In retrospect, setting our intention through creation of these two formats was the step that brought a “yes” to the larger project.

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