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Director’s Corner: Earth Day and the Power of Citizens to Create Change

By April 3, 2015November 15th, 20162 Comments

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  • “… our work as citizens is not done …” Actually, I would take this a step further: most people are content with the penal code as it stands. By and large they are convinced they should never commit murder nor do they. However, when it comes to environmental issues, many people in my opinion tend to behave like a schizophrenic: while many of us accept that waste and plastic and other contamination is bad for the oceans, overuse of water is at the root of California’s drought and desertification tendencies world-wide, most of us do not think twice about opening a tap, driving the “extra mile” or throwing something down the toilet that doesn’t belong there. Or throwing away chewing gum wrappers instead of putting it into our pockets until we find a basket to put it into. We urgently need to reframe these acts so that each time we think about such deeds “as if” we were about to steal, rob … murder.

    • Mike Kensler says:

      Good point, Maureen. People are distributed all along the unaware-to-highly-engaged scale. We need strategies that connect with people wherever they are: unaware, misinformed, disengaged, discouraged, disempowered, concerned but uninvolved… all the way to the point where people are ready, willing, and able to organize and act. I’ve always viewed this as a continuum: bring people into awareness and find a way for them to act, even at the most basic level that you describe. I have found that stream cleanups and tree plantings are a good way to help people make connections and take ownership. Once they do they are more willing to make a call, write a letter, come to meetings. It’s a process for sure. I learned from a very good mentor that the first rule in organizing is: Meet people where they are, not where you want them to be. “Power to the people!!!”

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