We won’t achieve global justice by merely using reference frameworks, tools and processes related to the current paradigm that creates this injustice. We need a paradigm shift. This requires creativity, participation and “out of the box” thinking. We would like to tell you the story of “how DEEEP became a transformative experiment”.
Once upon a time, there was a planet Earth. Not all of its habitants lived in the same way: unfairness and injustice was a common experience for most of them. They were on the other hand connected to each other through technologies, trading, stock markets, a liberal economy etc. This society was based on myths reinforcing injustice, such as eternal economic growth or development. It was time for the Earth’s citizens to become aware of this situation and to take action against the unfair rules dominating the whole planet. However, this was not as easy as it seemed. Most of those involved tried to address the outcomes and not the causes of these inequalities. After a while, some groups started to try and shift the whole paradigm and de-construct the fundamental myths of this society to tackle the root causes of injustice. The end of the story is still to be written. The “happy ever after” still has to be created… but we are getting there!
In this story, DEEEP was part of the second group of people. We were part of this new movement sometimes called “The Great Transition”. The objective was huge but we were not alone: everyday more and more people join us (researchers, citizens, academics, NGO’s, associations etc.). To find out more about this movement, have a look at some of these websites: Smart CSO’s and Common Cause.
By promoting values that we believed in and constantly reflecting on the way we worked and how we could do things differently.
We wanted to:
- Raise awareness: write our own guidelines to enhance this approach through our actions and communications.
- Be a “model” for the development sector: be coherent in our values, vision and mission in all the things we did.
- Be a “pioneer” in the civil society sector: show that systemic thinking was possible and that tackling the systemic causes of the issues we address was the best way forward.
- By promoting a transformative way of acting: encourage a systemic approach within the development education sector and support CSOs and DEAR actors to work together for the same objective.
- From local to global and from global to local. We went further than the traditional sectoral approach of the development field by bringing a broad range of stakeholders together to find and work on common ground. For example, we wanted to initiate a global movement for positive change by bringing together 200 participants from all over the world, and from all different walks of life, in a global conference to critically discuss the global justice agenda.
- We have embedded a systemic approach into the way that the DEEEP project fonctions. For example, we had a “critical friend” who accompanied us during the project to facilitate transformative learning processes.
- We have integrated a transformative approach in to our respective strategies. E.g.: the advocacy work explored alternative ways of doing advocacy.
- We didn’t promote myths of the current paradigm in our communication and in our activities. E.g.: we worked with partners we considered as paradigm shifters too.
- We have critically assessed concepts of organisation, work and management. We followed a logic of empowerment rather than performance. E.g.: the team worked part-time, we worked horizontally rather than hierarchically.
- We had internal Green Policies that we asked each shareholder to respect. E.g.: for our global conference, we asked participants to compensate for their CO2 emissions and we allocated parts of the budget covering these costs.
“It seems that people are eager to see that things can be done differently by thinking boldly and learning humbly at the same time“, says Tobias Troll, DEEEP project manager.
Systemic thinking was not always easy to apply at all stages and requires a critical mind. By taking part in this experiment, we set our own guidelines, we tested them and we adjusted them according to our experience. We had to be flexible because the simplest answer is not always the most systemic one 😉
Among these guidelines, we set up Green Policies that we wanted to be inclusive and transparent. Here are some examples of how we apply these policies on a daily basis.
In the office:
- We had a green server and we use a green cloud system;
- We worked with green and ethical partners (when possible);
- We used only recycled paper and we sort our waste;
- We didn’t print in color
When organising events:
- The welcome packs were shared online with the participants, avoiding paper waste.
- The catering was organic and local (when possible).
- We avoided meat consumption, the food was vegetarian by default.
- We asked participants to compensate for their CO2 emissions and we allocated parts of the budget covering these costs.