Sep 1, 2010

Guest Post: How To Bring About Large-Scale Behavior Change review

Liza Behrendt, DSC_6369the founding director of Beauty of Water, attended one of our STARs workshops last week and has kindly agreed to share her thoughts about it:
I share in the belief that a critical mass of people can envision an equitable and sustainable existence in harmony with living systems on the planet, and once we have done so, our hardest work is finished. Then we only have to build that world in the physical dimension.
Joe Brewer’s class, “How to Bring About Large-Scale Behavior Change,” represented to me an important step in the process of making that happen.
The class, sponsored by Sustainable Seattle and held on Wednesday, August 25th 2010 at the lovely Southside Commons, was multi-layered. Participants may have come away with an entirely different assessment of its value and substance, and I honor that. The content was rich and participation was fruitful. A variety of meaningful knowledge was shared and created throughout the day.
For me the most satisfying areas were esoteric, though, and yet Joe made them accessible. These include explicit recognition of the significance of metaphor and epic narrative, and the phenomenon of gut reactions to ideas versus the false concept that reactions are based in rational reasoning.
Human collective consciousness is full of shared imagery, icons, archetypes, and other forces that influence our individual and group beliefs and behaviors. We can intentionally seed this fertile territory with material that we most wish to build our world around. At least I believe this, and it seemed to me that Joe integrated this wisdom in his ideas and models.
Joe lecturing
If we are mindful and carefully deliberate, the images, words, stories, and other tools we employ to generate change, we can penetrate to the core of human consciousness. This is a powerful way to work.
Changes made in collective consciousness are subtle yet profound. Try this: close your eyes and imagine this planet we cherish. Recall aspects of life on Earth that you love. What do you see in your mind’s eye? What would you like to see more of? How do you feel when you do this? What if we could realize our best scenarios? Shall we aim for that? What is the role of imagination as we create our world?
LunchbreakArtists and psychologists operate in the zone of collective consciousness, as do many who work in other fields such as cultural anthropology and education. It was refreshing and inspiring to see Joe introduce and highlight this wisdom, and exemplify it with compelling slides and activities.
I hope Joe will continue to develop these areas of his work, for I believe that metaphor, epic narrative, and gut reactions may be a vital part of the most powerful activism available to us at this time. As a movement we need to explore the role of these elements more fully. This class stimulated inquiry.
As many readers know, Joe is the founder of Cognitive Policy Works and Seattle Innovators. He has studied behavioral and cognitive psychology, political science, physics and atmospheric science. Check out Joe’s writings if you haven’t already done so.
[final note: Joe has also written about the workshop on his own blog]

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