We can tell people what's wrong on a global scale, but if we want them to act we need to go local.
The idea is to foster local initiatives. To do so, we need people to start in their hometown monthly meetings which involve both talks on climate on a global scale but also on a local scale to explain them what they can do at their level to make a change. More than just listening and then forgetting the importance of acting the next day, we want them to act with their communities.
What actions do you propose?
Nowadays, people see incredible amounts of information everyday: they see it on the news, TV, magazines, websites... but why would they care more about news on the environment than any other ? Sure they hear people telling them to separate paper from cans so it can be recycled, they might do it, but that's pretty much it. When we ask them why they're not doing anything, they'll tell you "What are we supposed to do ? It's not like if what I did changed the world".
And when you think about it, it's not as stupid as it sounds: they won't see the difference they've made by getting an electric car or taken showers half as long, at least not in short term. So what can we do about it ? We can take things to a community scale. On a community scale, getting people involve is much easier because they're actually capable of doing more and see results. The idea here would be to get them involve in local initiatives.
This proposal organizes itself around monthly meetings.
These conferences would be divided in two parts :
a. Inspiring speech on the environment and preserving it (15 minutes)
Much like a Ted Talk, we need moving speeches to get people to realize how important it is for us to preserve our environment and try to make it a greener place. This talk is supposed to get people thinking about how much the environment gives them and why acting is crucial.
b. Presentation of local issues (10 minutes)
The second part of the conference is dedicated to present local issues. Hopefully, people will have realized in the first part how much on a global scale climate change is affecting biodiversity and populations in certain parts of the world. Many people get to that point on their own watching documentaries, Ted Talks, reading the news. When they get to that point, they tell themselves "I'm no one, my actions won't matter the only thing I can do is to sort wastes between paper and glass". That's a real issue, people don't realize that, first of all sorting is important, but that there are many other "simple" tasks they can achieve which will matter. Presenting the local issues will allow people to realize there are many different ways climate change can be addressed at a local scale, and that they have the power to act and actually see results. The list of local issues should be elaborated by locals.
a. Major project (35 minutes)
Out of the four minor parts of this conference, this is the only one who's content will significantly vary from one meeting to the other. The idea is to address a local issue which requires an important amount of efforts of any kind to solve. The community can act on it, write a document to their town officials, communicate around it... The first meeting would be a presentation of a few projects that could be done, people vote, the next time people start planning the different aspects of this project, etc... this kind of project, called here "Major project" would last for a few months, hopefully somewhere between 4 and 8 months. Everyone in the room can participate, either financially, or by giving time, ideas...
b. Minor projects (20 minutes)
The last part is composed of minor projects. People sit around tables of 6-12 people, and they decide of a minor project that they'll achieve by the next meeting. It shouldn't be something that requires a lot of funds but rather small actions such as planting trees, making trays where people can grow vegetables in public places, set up solar panels in their residence; build wooden garbage cans to replace broken ones or doing a conference in a local school talking about the environment.
Support brought by our non-profit
Furthermore, a mobile app and website will be coded with the following content :
- A Homepage which introduces main currents projects and achieved projects.
- A World map in which are located all conferences.
- A list of projects, currents and achieved (separeted), for each city. A summary will be also available for each project.
- Conferences. The major conferences will be recorded, but any other can also be and will require validation by staff members once uploaded on the website to be visible by anyone.
- CMS. Towns should be able to generate a page with the information concerning the conferences and projects in their town which they can easily add to their website.
Every year, our non-profit will give prizes donated by partners to the communities that achieved the most important change in their town with our initiative.
So how do we plan on getting people aware of the existence of our project?
Our non-profit will be responsible to find an appropriate strategy for each city. We've currently thought of a number of ways we could get as many people involved as possible, including but not limited to:
- Calling schools to ask them to tell their students about the initiative
- Asking local non-profits to help us reach as many people as possible
- With an unofficial aspect, our project will be known by peoples or volunteers by knocking door by door.
- Or with an aspect more official, we get in touch to peoples who are able or/and want to commit to his city.
- Some ads will are available on various formats like posters, videos, goodies etc. The ads which have a link (QR Code or hypertext link) which will redirect people to the city's conferences if the user can be located, otherwise on the homepage of the website. The ads depend on our budget we have for each city.
- The official group of this project will be on social networks like Facebook and Twitter.
- Strong visual identity so that people remember us, for example with a mascot.
Who will be invited as speaker?
The main answer to this questions is : ANYONE. High school students, teachers, parents, environment specialists... anyone who want's to make a difference. We'll have a tutorial on our website on how to give a conference, featuring how to find a topic, how to prepare for the conference, how to discern local issues, advices on how to speak...
The only requirement to be a speaker is to be okay talking in front of a crowd.
So how do we find speakers ? The short answer is, hopefully they'll find us first. The long answer is, it depends. For a large city like Paris or NY, we'll handpick them among experts and great teachers. For the smaller cities, we'll want locals to become speakers, so we'll find the first ones and then designate a local committee to find ones for the next time. They can be anyone who want's to help, we'll help them through a short but efficacious training and examples. We can even write their speech if it is necessary and let them focus on preparing the presentation on local issues and ways the community can solve it.
Who will take these actions?
There are four main actors in this project : speakers, people of local communities, a non-profit organization and towns.
Speakers : The speakers have a major role : they're looking to inspire and inform locals about committing to helping the environment.They're the pioneers of this project: the first ones launch the meetings in their town and encourage people to participate. If there aren't enough speakers, we could imagine a contest where high school students could gain scholarships for launching these meetings in their town.
People of local communities : They're the ones who accomplish their citizen duty by creating local projects of any size, talk about local issues, share ideas and debate. The people can also participate by becoming speakers and presenting new local issues at the next meetings.
Non-profit organization : The non-profit organization helps to set up local initiatives and is responsible for the development of the website and application where people will be able to see the next meeting near them, see the replay or live feed of some talks and display the latest projects that were achieved. It is also responsible to help setting up a communication strategy model that can be applied to any city to get people to come to the meetings. To do that, they'll need a wide range of well implemented non-profit partners which have resources in their cities to inform people about those meetings.
Towns: the towns are responsible for helping these initiatives amplify. To do that they can communicate on the projects, they can give a room for the talks, they can even deduct taxes from the most active participants to the activities if they have the necessary resources. Towns should be able to easily create a page dedicated to this local initiative on their website via a Content Management System provided by the non-profit where people could get informations from.
Where will these actions be taken?
These actions will take place in local communities, the conferences being held wherever there's space, depending on what the town can provide.
So this will happen in multiple locations at the same time. We we'll start by helping the meetings set up in a single city at first, which will continue to meet every month or so with less and less help from us, then we'll reproduce it as much as we can.
We've selected a medium-sized city with a decently involved population to start our project: Versailles. Choosing a town too big, too small or with a population involvement out of the ordinary wouldn't let us replicate our communication strategy and way to handle the conference set up on other cities/towns. We think Versailles hasn't a community that's too specific that we can't use the data, so it seemed like a good match. It's only slightly bigger than what we thought a good match would be at first, but that ends up being good because more people will know us from the beginning and it will then be easier to expand.
How will these actions have a high impact in addressing climate change?
There're two aspects which this project deals with :
Climate change awarness : every month, people will be able to listen to talks on climate change at a local and global scale. Understanding better the climate change, its causes and effects, is very important to take the appropriate actions.
Changing the world at a local scale : Every little bit helps. If people don't have time to engage in gigantic projects on their own, most will agree to perform small tasks for minor projects or to participate in big projects if their tasks are specific enough. Hopefully it can make thousands of communities greener day after day when the program starts taking off.
What are other key benefits?
Well if people give their time instead of their money, we're off to a really strong start since time is much more valuable than money to act at a local scale.
Getting people to talk between themselves about something that matters to everyone has also many great side benefits. Today, many people spend so much time online that they don't ever talk to their neighbors. Well, getting to know them is a good start and can lead to cohesion between people living right next to one another. Starting by talking about the environment is a good icebreaker from which they can then start talking about other issues they might have in their communities.
What are the proposal’s costs?
A non-profit organization needs to be created to get this project started. A few people will be needed to help volunteers set up these meetings in their hometown. Their job would be to call town halls to ask for a room for the meetings, see if there's any way to help promote the movement in the towns, offer speakers advices...
This organization would most likely require fundings to keep these people working for 16-24 months, after which donations are expected to be sufficient to keep it going.
The mobile application & website do not cost anything since we're two developers and can code them ourselves.
1-3 months: setting up the organization, recruiting a strong team
3-9 months: starting to implement the program in 2 or 3 towns and trying to create a communication model based on results to be implemented on a larger scale
9-15 months: starting to expand the program to more and more cities to reach about 15.
15-16 months: Rebuilding the communication strategy based on results
16-36 months: starting to expand nationwide and creating partnership with non-profits all around the country to help implement the program in their hometowns
36-? months: create partnerships with worldwide non-profits to launch this initiative on a world scale.
In short term, this initiative will get people to realize how important saving our planet is. In medium term this program should make millions of communities greener, and in long term it should have shifted enough behavior so that everyone works on bigger initiatives worldwide to preserve the planet.