Category Archives: Welcome

The Boiling Frog & Climate Change: is it time to jump?

frog.boiling-pot


Is it just me, or is it getting really hot in here? I think I might be one of those boiling frogs I’ve heard about.

In case you’re not already familiar with it, the Boiling Frog Story is a metaphor for how people are usually slow to react to changes that occur gradually, or to significant events which have become commonplace. Here’s how it goes: If you throw a live frog into a pot of boiling water, it will jump right back out. But frogs are cold-blooded creatures and naturally adjust to gradual changes in the temperature of their environment. So if you place that same frog into a pan of cold water, light the burner on your stove and slowly bring the water up to a boil, the frog will be content to stay in the water until it slowly boils to death. Whether this account is scientifically accurate or just an urban myth, it’s still useful for trying to understand human behavior. 

When it comes to climate change, we are the frog in the story–at least so far. The problem is that we don’t recognize climate change, as profound as it is, as an immediate threat. Our survival instincts are geared towards detecting sudden changes, not gradual developments. So while most of us would agree that we’ve got a problem on our hands, we don’t perceive it as something we need to deal with today, or even next week or next month. So maybe the most important question here is not really “Is this something we need to take action on?”  Maybe a better question is, “Do we need to do it right now?” Our perception of time–not just the facts or the stories we tell–is often the driving force when trying to change minds and move people to take action.

On the other hand, the coronavirus pandemic has certainly gotten our attention.  The pandemic easily fits the definition of an “event for change”–it’s a shared experience that has moved millions of people to make significant changes in the way they live their lives. The fear of immediate danger is the most powerful motivating force in human behavior. Not so much with climate change, though. We may be concerned, but so far we’re not alarmed enough to take bold action. 

coronavirus climate change tweet

I know, I know…many of us have already taken at least a few small steps in the right direction. As comedian/podcaster Marc Maron points out in his recent Netflix comedy special, maybe the reason we’re not more upset about the collapse of the environment is that, deep in our hearts, we know we’ve done everything we can. After all, we started bringing our own bags to the supermarket! And now there’s a movement to do without plastic straws in our take-out beverages.  But the truth is that for most of us, just like that frog in the pot of water, we make a few minor adjustments but otherwise just sit around while things get hotter and hotter. And I know this to be true because I see myself doing it, too. When it comes to climate change, what will need to happen to get most of us to jump out of the water, with as much force as our response to COVID-19? 

The coronavirus pandemic can act as a wake-up call, an event that inspires change. When the pandemic begins to recede, do you see your life going back to pretty much the way it has been in the past? Will you slip right back into that same pot of rapidly heating water we’ve all been soaking in? Or is there a different way of being, changes you can make that will aid in remedying the healing of our environment as well as our community of humans?  

I’ve been struggling with the answer to these questions myself and I know that many others are, as well. So far I’m still just getting started. My partner and I bought into a community solar array a couple of years ago that now produces most of the electricity for our home. We’ve been composting for years. The next time I buy a car, I’m committed to making it an electric vehicle. And I’m writing this blog post, in the hopes that it will get a few more people to think more about how they can start making the jump in their own lives. But none of this comes close to the lifestyle changes I have made due to the coronavirus, and I did all of that in a couple of weeks.

I’ve been looking for advice on what other actions I can take that will make more of a difference. There are plenty of constructive ideas on the Internet, but here’s a great  article from the David Suzuki Foundation that I found helpful and concise:

>>  10 Ways You Can Stop Climate Change

Beyond making changes in our own lives, it’s really important to talk to lots of other “frogs” about this. In the next week, you can email or call your city, state and US representatives to ask them what specific actions they are taking to address climate change. They are the ones who can make a huge impact on the system level, and you’re the one who can make sure they know this is a high priority, right now. Start conversations with your friends and participate on social media. Share ideas and spread the word about what you’re doing and what you see others doing. Just like in the Starfish Story, we can all make a big impact. But we need to start right away.


climate change treeWhew–in the time it just took you to read this article, I could swear it got just a little bit warmer in here.
What ideas do you have about how to help get us all out of hot water? Feel free to add your thoughts below.

 


Baby Boomers: Time to listen more, talk less

This was the headline at NPR.org, 4 days before the election: “Polarization And A Lack Of Productivity Are Likely To Reign After Election Day”. The article stated that, “with no clear mandate likely coming out of 2016, there is little reason to be overly optimistic that the next Congress can escape the cycle of unproductivity and polarization that has gripped Washington in recent years.”

I can’t say for sure exactly how we got here, but I have noticed that as the Baby Boom generation assumed more and more control of the direction of our country, we have become increasingly polarized as a nation. Maybe that shouldn’t be a surprise. The Boomers emerged on the scene in the 60s and 70s and from the get-go, part of their generational personality has been to divide the world into “us and them”.  You’re either Democrat or Republican. Liberal or Conservative. Pro-life or Pro-choice. You’re expected to choose a side and then dig in and fight, believing that if you shout loud enough and long enough and carry lots of big signs, eventually the folks on the other side will magically change over to your way of thinking. Because after all, we’re “right” and they’re “wrong”. Compromise? That’s seen as a weakness.

Full disclosure: I’m a Baby Boomer myself. I hate to say it, but I’ve actually become embarrassed by my own generation. As a group, we’re really not very good at trying to understand people who see and experience things differently than we do. The Trump & Hillary campaign made that even more painfully obvious. It’s no wonder that, together, we have elected a completely dysfunctional congress—and the result has been gridlock. There are signs that members of the younger generations, particularly the Millennials, haven’t learned to think in such a polarized way.  My hope is that as more Millennials and Xers gain influence, a more collaborative approach will emerge. Until that plays out, there is little evidence to suggest that things will improve.

But nlisten-moreow that the campaign circus has finally left town, we all have a choice to make: we can go even deeper into our corners and fight even harder with each other, or we can go out of our way to really listen to the people who appear to think so differently than we do, to try to understand why they have come to feel that way, and to seek constructive, inclusive solutions. Doubling down and fighting even harder won’t accomplish anything more than hardening the us vs. them paradigm even more than it already is. We should have learned that by now.

Over the course of the campaign, I was struck with how many times I heard people on both sides of the political spectrum say, “How could anyone possibly vote for her/him?” It wasn’t just that people disagreed; it was that they literally couldn’t imagine where the other side was coming from. There is something very important here: the power to change hearts and minds doesn’t start by insisting that you have all the right answers. Instead, it starts with seeking to understand the hopes and fears of the people who, on the surface anyway, are on the opposite side. No, you may not ever agree on the best methods to get results, but my guess is that if you ask honest questions and really listen to the answers, you’ll find that we aren’t really that far apart after all. In the months and years ahead, I’ll be looking for opportunities to do just that. I hope you will, too.

 

 


Welcome!

Events For Change is all about reminding you of the power of an event to create positive change, and to provide ideas and encouragement for leveraging that power through the decisions you make whenever you are involved with planning an event.

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Here’s the basic concept: whether it’s six employees meeting around a boardroom table or millions of viewers watching the Superbowl, all events have one thing in common: they bring people together.  And people are resources: they each bring their own ideas, energy, money, muscles, expertise and connections to others. They also offer you the opportunity to change the way they think about something or to inspire them to some sort of action. Every planning decision you make can have an impact: the site you select, the experience you design for the participants, who you select as vendors and service providers, the way you treat your staff or volunteers, how you distribute the revenues…all of these (and much more) provide opportunities to produce a positive effect on others and the world at large.  If you don’t consider yourself an event planner, but you advocate for a cause or non-profit organization, then events can serve as an effective tool for accomplishing many of your goals. Events give you the capability to channel resources and influence how people think and behave.  And that’s power!

Whenever you gather folks together for an event, you are assembling a formidable set of assets.   If you don’t take full advantage of that, it’s just like leaving food on your plate: only in this case, instead of tossing away good food, it’s a waste of human and financial capital.  I believe we often miss opportunities to increase the overall return on our investments of time, energy and financial resources, simply because we don’t always think through all of the ways we can make better use of the resources we are already pulling together.  

Events For Change intends to act as a source of creative ideas and a space to share original stories  and suggestions about how those resources can be applied for maximum impact and, wherever possible, to make the world a little better place after the event than before. 

We have the power!  Let’s share it and watch it grow.


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