Creating global prosperity without economic growth

Towards Post Growth Futures, Together

by Donnie Maclurcan, Janet Newbury and Sharon Ede on 25th May 2013

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african proverb

Meaningful collaboration is the cornerstone of ecologically responsible and socially just transitions to futures beyond economic growth. At the Post Growth Institute (PGI), we’ve received growing interest from those of you wanting to engage more deeply with us and our work. We now feel it’s time to reach out and find better ways to tap into this amazing asset: you. Hence, here is an overview of our approach for working towards post growth futures, together.

About Us and Our Foundations

Presently, we are eight Co-Directors from five countries across three continents. We meet weekly via silent (text-only) Skype meetings. We rotate duties of chairing meetings, and all have the opportunity to contribute to each meeting’s agenda. Informed by our interactions, we have been learning as we go, knowing there is always room for improvement.

You might expect a group like ours to have begun its first online meeting by discussing what we understand ‘post growth’ to mean and exploring our respective positions on topics like economics, technology and population. Rather, we spent the first three months of our existence as a group mapping out and sharing our individual ‘assets’ – things like our passions, knowledge, skills, resources, networks, hopes, availability, and favourite forms of ‘post growth’ literature.

Beginning with what we had, instead of what we needed, started us off with a shared sense of potential. From a space of deep, mutual trust, we quickly settled on a name, developed our Charter and Starting Positions and sorted through 76 self-generated proposals for what our organisation might actually do. Four years down the track we have a very clear direction, as outlined in this one-page overview.

Our Approach

The following aspects define the particular approach we take in working as a team and with others:

Critical Hope: Asset mapping reflects our more general approach to post growth futures. Before engaging with a deeper critique, our work always begins by exploring things that are already working well. That is, our initial emphasis is on creative possibilities, rather than limitations. We extend this perspective of ‘critical hope’ to our writing, talks, interviews and project formulation. In a related way, we choose to engage only in work that is respectful of others and liberates, rather than denigrates, the human spirit.

Democratic, Efficient Negotiation: We value a particular approach to decision-making (we call it ‘consent, rather than consensus’) which allows for ongoing differences of opinion, while still ensuring we can move forward collectively. Internally, building on sociocracy methods, key resolutions are put to a vote, with each member holding the ability to block the resolution if s/he feels very strongly about a specific issue. For general proposals, members’ silence is considered their consent. In this way, individuals who want to take initiative can follow-up their ideas, even if they aren’t favoured by others. It also helps that empathy and cooperation are central values of our organization; members who have differences of opinion can considerately agree to disagree and move forward as a team.

Self-assembling Leadership: We are all involved in many things, so some of us dedicate more time per week to PGI efforts than others. Recognizing the differences in our strengths and availability as well as the need, at times, for decisiveness and strong leadership means we don’t have a completely ‘flat’ organizational structure. When some people are more available than others, then their voices often become more central and they often end up playing leadership roles. Ensuring those who are less available do not become marginalised requires constant and attentive negotiation and is not to be taken for granted. That said, the notion described above of ‘consent rather than consensus’ allows for everyone to play roles that align with what they want to offer (including knowledge and passions, as well as time).

Iterative Collaboration: As in the process for drafting this document, we find that some of our team’s best collaborative efforts come when one of us runs an idea or document draft past our colleagues, one person at a time, rather than automatically sharing things with our entire team. Ideas are often discussed with the group at team meetings, but we find that an early back-and-forth, one-on-one, is generally the most efficient use of everyone’s time and best way to harness immense individual wisdom.

How You Can Get Involved

There are three ways in which you may wish to engage with our work.

Supporter: If you are keen to spread the word about our work, or link your own work with ours, you can consider yourself a Supporter. Support can take the form of sharing our work through Facebook, Twitter or Youtube, distributing PGI flyers at public events, and participating in our various campaigns in your local area. If you have other ideas as to how you would like to support PGI, we would love to hear them!

Conversely, in addition to providing you with updates via our newsletter, we can share your resources on our toolkit page or possibly feature your organization on our group’s page. If you have post-growth research or work that you would like us to share with our wider audience, check out our ‘shout-out service’.

Casual Contributor: If you would like to offer something specific to build the post growth movement, you may wish to become a Casual Contributor. We would love to consider whatever gifts you would like to provide. For guest blog posts, we are particularly keen for research contributions from specific knowledge bases, such as economics and law, as they relate to the cultivation of post growth futures. And we can always do with help in terms of graphic design, web development, audio- and film-recording, public relations, and administration (such as aggregating data).

Project Assistant: If you are interested in dedicating a block of time to working on a specific project, then you might be a good fit as a Project Assistant. Project Assistants are needed for our various campaigns and initiatives (such as Free Money Day, the (En)Rich List, and How, on Earth). This work can be diverse and time intensive, including tasks such as: researching, conceptualizing, writing, developing promotional content and web sites, reaching out to the public via media and social media, and attending Skype meetings.

Next Steps

Whether you want to be a Supporter, Casual Contributor, Project Assistant or, indeed, something else, the first step is to email us via our contact form. We gratefully welcome whatever gifts, talents, contacts, and other resources you are willing to share.

Regardless of your type of interest, one of our Co-Directors will be in touch in order to further explore how we might work together. If a Project Assistant role is looking suitable, you will be asked to complete our information and assets questionnaire and we’ll take things from there.

This train is undoubtedly moving. We’re really excited about what the future holds. If this stuff gets you excited too – if you feel a sense of ‘critical hope’ about it all – then please do drop us a line!

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