David Sibbet | Facilitating Social Change: Cleaning Up the Midwest Energy Sector
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Facilitating Social Change: Cleaning Up the Midwest Energy Sector

On October 23 in San Francisco I will be presenting the story of RE-AMP (Renewable Energy Alignment Mapping Project) to the Organizational Development Network. This is an initiative of 48 non-government organizations and 8 foundations collaborating to have their region, the upper Midwest, become a leader in clean energy in the electric sector. I facilitated four parallel strategic planning efforts in early 2005, and now the implementation phases of this ambitious project.

In the ODN presentation I will use a case study format to examine the facilitative strategies, virtual organization, communications structures and learning arising from the RE-AMP project.

Facilitating Social Change: Cleaning Up the Midwest Energy Sector

Initial RE-AMP participants

This has been a profound experience for me. The entire year prior to their involving the Grove, the Garfield Foundation, initiator of the project, supported 27 NGOs and about 6 foundations doing a complete systems analysis of the energy sector. They determined that the following four drivers supported by subdrivers kept the present system in place, and would have to tackled in concert to make any difference. They then funded the four parallel planning processes, one aimed at each driver, and sought a facilitator for the process.

You can see from this Roadmap of Phase II how complex the process was. Each circle represents a face to face meeting. Each little computer is a virtual meeting. The products are shown falling out into our Communications Commons along the bottom.

Facilitating Social Change: Cleaning Up the Midwest Energy SectorBut now this area has a growing network of people deeply educated and committed to a radical change in policy and practice in the energy sector. They are aiming at no less than 80% reduction of global warming pollutants by 2030. As impossible as this seems, they all concluded that nothing short of this level of effort would make a difference.

In the short two years since I first became involved, the amount of attention to global warming has skyrocketed. California, my native state, has just stepped up with real limits on carbon. Tho not as aggressive as they need to be, this, combined with growing efforts in the midwest, could well tip the policy balance toward something that might make a difference.

I can imagine few things more important than waking up to this challenge. We spend billions on preparedness for uncertain social disasters in our military. Should we be any less vigilant in regards to the potentially devastating, and truly unpredictable effects of global warming? As a grandparent of four-going-on-five little children, I have no trouble wondering what I should be doing.

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