The ideas of the many

They’re known as the Mob Squad: dig­i­tal activists, fundrais­ers, face to face recruiters, direct dia­loguers, vol­un­teer and action coor­di­na­tors — Green­peace staff, vol­un­teers, and fel­low trav­ellers from oth­er groups whose job it is to rouse rab­bles, to peo­ple pow­er cam­paigns for the plan­et, to take issue and cre­ate movement(s).

They gath­ered here in a secret moun­tain loca­tion in the south of Spain to fig­ure out bet­ter ways to win the “War on Ter­ra.”

The facil­i­ta­tors meet­ing last night set the tone: this is not a tra­di­tion­al meet­ing. It isn’t led by a core group of elite or elect. It’s run col­lec­tive­ly. Facil­i­ta­tors are not heroes with the answers, they aren’t there to be rock­stars or experts: they’re there to cre­ate a space for learn­ing and dis­cus­sion. They guide and focus, they qui­et the talk­a­tive, they encour­age the silent to speak. 

The organ­is­ers will not hud­dle at break­fast. They will not plot out­comes. They will not steer the meet­ing to a desired result. 

The agen­da is bare­ly set before we arrive: it will be cre­at­ed as we go, with a mob process involv­ing can­di­date top­ics on post-it notes, what facil­i­ta­tor Gun­ner calls his “Favorite data cap­ture device.” Once the mob view of what we want to learn dis­cuss and decide is post­ed on one mas­sive wall, the “Mosh Pit” begins: clus­ter, arrange, clas­si­fy, until the big themes the meet­ing will address rise to the sur­face. Advan­tage? As Gun­ner explains, “Any agen­da designed in advance priv­i­leges the peo­ple who have time to input. That tends not to be the folks on the ground, the peo­ple in the boats, the ones head down in a cam­paign and keep­ing the trains on the tracks.” 

The first time I encoun­tered this style or organ­is­ing, I heard the voice of “THIS IS NOT HOW IT’S DONE” scream­ing in my head. I want­ed a lin­ear sto­ry, some assur­ance of where we were going, an omni­scient nar­ra­tor, a plan. I remem­ber David McTag­gart in the ear­ly days of the organ­i­sa­tion writ­ing the min­utes of meet­ings before they hap­pened.

But I’ve seen the mag­ic of this style, and by gum, it works. It’s root­ed in a con­cept which is a frac­tal image of a change we want to see in the world, and one which we’re dri­ving in the organ­i­sa­tion itself. Sim­ply stat­ed, it’s this:

The ideas of the many will always be stronger than the ideas of the few. 

You can fol­low the dis­cus­sion via the hash­tag #GPDMS on Twit­ter and via Stori­fy.

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