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Behaviour Change for Sustainability Congress - a reflection

In November 2011, Helen McAuley and Ben Kent attended one of the most inspiring and thought-proking conferences they had ever been to. They shared their insights with a WA audience of over 50 people in early 2012. This is what they had to say.
by

Ben Kent

on 29 March 2012

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Transcript of Behaviour Change for Sustainability Congress - a reflection

Domain
Practice
Community
talking about climate
change over dinner Macro and Micro level suggestions
BEST STORIES FROM CONGRESS
audio
building communities
of change agents De-couple progress and growth
Provide public funding for election campaigns
Properly cost externalities
Live a low carbon lifestyle
Go vegetarian 2-3 times a week
Think of 'movement as an opportunity not inconvenience'
‘Stories - if we are able to reflect, listen and find their meaning they help us not to forget that we live and work in a complex world’
reaching past the converted: the power of storytelling our thoughts we are all social beasts prove it! measuring your program's success Sun and Moon - an exercise in 'getting to know you'.
1. Everyone stands in a big circle.
2. Each person chooses someone to be their sun and someone to be their moon (without telling anyone).
3. When the facilitator says 'go', each person moves to try to stand directly in the middle of their sun and their moon (same distance etc).
4. Once everyone starts to slow down and there is a clump of people in the middle, the facilitator asks everyone to freeze.
5. Each person makes eye contact with someone they don't know.
6. That person is their buddy for the day.
7. The facilitator asks them to sit next to their buddy for the remainder of the day. social media was a well-integrated part of the congress 3 Pillars Network contracted goody twoshoes to manage and push social media connections the twitter feed was well used and busy throughout the 2 main days goody twoshoes compiled everything shared and mentioned at the Congress into various Storify chapters. www.storify.com is a great tool to show disparate yet connected information in one location. 3 Pillars Network have set up another source of information, concepts, strategies, contacts and ideas shared at the Congress. Go to:
3pillarsnetwork.com/p3_Events-Resources.html?&event=74&page=4 "Communities of practice are groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly. While the neighbourhood is a community it is not a community of practice." A community of practice is not merely a club of friends or a network of connections between people. It has an identity defined by a shared domain of interest. Membership therefore implies a commitment to the domain and therefore a shared competence that distinguishes members from other people. In pursuing their interest in their domain, members engage in joint activities and discussions, help each other, and share information. They build relationships that enable them to learn from each other. A community of practice is not merely a community of interest—people who like certain kinds of movies, for instance. Members of a community of practice are practitioners. They develop a shared repertoire of resources: experiences, stories, tools, ways of addressing recurring problems—in short, a shared practice. This takes time and sustained interaction. It is where these three elements intersect we have a 'community of practice' why is the community of practice important to its participants? what it does bring to its users? are real problems worked on, workshopped and plans of action put into place? This principle has merit as it ensures people can dip into and out of the community but still feel a part of it. It also ensures people can take part in aspects they enjoy the most or where there skills are utilised the best. It's good to think about what tools are available for helping suppport the creation of artefacts and documents relating to member participation. public spaces bring reach while private space bring depth same time each month, each quarter etc. ensures the community becomes habit, gives it structure, what or who creates the pulse of this community? like most things they need to be kept fresh but also retain characteristics that are recognisable to the community how often are stories shared and brought in from other communities of practice allow the community of practice to take its own path. keep checking in to see if it delivers the same value as when it was created this is something many programs do well this is an area not many programs venture into but they can have equal or sometimes greater value than more formal inputs effective programs have a mix of touchpoints that are informal and formal, as well as being produced "from" the program and "with" participants. the interconnectedness between climate change and health was discussed at length on Day 1 of the Congress Professor Garry Egger delivered the keynote address based on his book, Planet Obesity. Gary presented a compelling presentation and has an admirable quality, speaking with passion but also a sense of humour. Gary’s presentation was centered around one main point - 'sweet spots'.
Sweet spots exist when things just work. Obesity and climate change signal the end of two related sweet spots. Population levels of ideal weight and net positive sequestration of atmospheric carbon that are bought about by the end of a third sweet spot - healthy economic growth.

In this context we are eating ourselves and the planet to death. Obesity is the collateral damage and Gary describes this as ‘the canary in the mineshaft that should alert us to bigger structural problems’ So Garry talked about the first major sweet spot we have overshot being population levels of ideal weight. This graph shows weight levels for the UK poulation - not too dissimilar to Australian levels but it shows the alarming figure of combined 59.3% of the population is either overweight or obese ... but the worrying thing is ... these alarming figures actually refer to the weight of UK pets So this eco-flammation or second sweet spot we have overshot is carbon sequestration in the atmosphere, having overshot this we are now seeing GHG building up in the atmosphere leading to climate change Garry covered some really interesting material on different types of obesity as well as inflammation of the body's internal environment - the classical inflammation vs meta-inflammation (brought about by obesity results with the increase of chronic non-communicable diseases).

A considerable amount of these pro-inflammatory inducers are post industrial revolution lifestyle factors such as lack of exercise, bad nutrition and obesity. So he covered this biological inflammation and then moved on to ecological or eco-flammation. So are we really just inflamed bodies in an inflamed environment? And is it all part of the same syndrome? The third sweet spot that Garry talked about us overshooting was economic growth. He discussed changes in disease prevalence - with chronic disease levels rising with levels of economic growth . The juxtaposition of advertisements prompting us to spend our money on junk food with others trying to tackle childhood obesity are some more obvious examples. i smell a r... hamster From birth to puberty a hamster doubles its weight each week. If then, instead of leveling off in maturity as animals do, the hamster continued to double its weight each week, on its first birthday we would be facing a nine billion tonne hamster. There is a reason in nature that things do not grow indefinitely. Some inspiration from the health sector: Taking a fresh look at sustainability and health together it creates new ideas and possibilities. One great collaborative project was 'Kooweerup Community Hub'. After some devastating floods, Kooweerup Regional Health Service decided to shift focus from a medical model to a social-ecological model of delivery with the first project being the development of a community garden. A really nice aspect of the project was the conversation and the partnerships they formed with the community and other organisations. They also seized the opportunity to do something immediate. 'Feel Blue Touch Green' is a range of environmental education projects which offer practical help to sufferers of anxiety and depression, illness and disability through real interactions with nature. By linking those dislocated with nature to activities in park settings, the project enhances their health and wellbeing, directly benefits the environment through improved stewardship. Since the congress DoT and DEC have sought more opportunities to work in collaboration with the health sector. We are delivering cycle training to employees in TravelSmart Workplaces through a Swap It, Don't Stop It grant.Heart Foundation and Cancer Council colleagues have integrated some nutrition messages into a FOODcents session as part of the course. We are also really looking forward to working in close collaboration with the Department of Health to deliver the active travel component of the WA Healthy Workers Initiative. We need to appeal to people's values and desires to attract them to the cause of a more sustainable world. Doom and gloom messaging only turns people off. Relaying stories of a vision for a better world, or how things could be done differently is one tool much more likely to appeal to the masses. Andrew Rixon described this power by relaying a story of his experience with the Victorian Environment Protection Agency The EPA asked Andrew to figure out why they were getting so many noise complaints from the community but every time they measured the noise levels, they were rarely over their threshold of what is deemed 'too noisy' So Andrew took a different approach. He went out and listened to the community, gathered their stories of noise and found out there are 8 distinct groups of noise sufferers/offenders But this still wasn't enough to convince the EPA during his final consultation session. So Andrew had to help them create their own story of noise. After a lunch break, he played the "white noise" humming sound through a subwoofer for 5-10 minutes without telling the officers. Once they were irritated and rather angry, he came clean and told them he was playing it on purpose so they would feel what it's like for some sufferers of noise. He then asked them to share how they felt. It was after this sharing of stories that the EPA officers could empathise with their community. We then watched a video by Ed Gillespie from UK firm Futerra, called Stories, Sizzle, Salience and Social Proof. Ed's video was then critiqued by:
Tom Compton (WWF, UK),
Ben Peacock (Republic of Everyone, NSW)
Les Robinson (Enabling Change, NSW) Tom Ben Les Tom: "I essentially agree with Ed but I feel he leaves out something integral - that the systemic and durable understanding of sustainability is underpinned by social and cultural values." "Just conveying the excitement of bamboo bikes simply won't bring out the cultural values needed to improve environmental sustainability." Ben: "With Rockcorps we need to be rewarded for new actions" "With Rockcorps - it's not inevitable that this approach will bring around positive social change. It's dangerous that it reinforces unhelpful values - branding with Blackberry is likely to appeal to people's desires for consumerism more than volunteering. Les: "Values transform a simple action (switching off a light) into something you can bask in the glory of." "The effects of communications campaigns rarely last longer than the campaign itself. Unless our efforts leave behind a systems change (governance, infrastructure, policy, engrained behaviours), our communications campaigns won't have much effect or benefit." Living Smart has been using the power of storytelling to reinforce the fact that a broad church of households participates in and benefits from the program. By seeing 'normal' families who have changed their lives for the better, people are more likely to sign up. Form groups of four and, in two minutes, tell the story of how you came to grasp sustainability with two hands. Listen to each other's stories and then vote for who told the best story. If there is a unanimous vote, encourage that person to share their story with the whole room. So what does a murmuration have to do with evaluative thinking? One key idea is the idea of emergent evaluation.
In a simple system things are constant and we can measure them because it’s a known relationship. In complicated systems relationships aren’t linear but are knowable with expertise. However, in complex systems and often in the behaviour change programs we work on change trajectories that can be emergent and unpredictable - just like the murmuration of starlings. What did the program you are working on sign up to do? Approach evaluation with rigour and meticulousness, and be prepared to report details as they happen This principle requires us to consider whether we respond to and collect information along the way in our programs? E.g. were the adequate feedback loops set? It requires us to consider whether our programs are effective, and what human, time and
financial resources our programs use. This refers to the relationship between what we do in our programs and the observable change. Do you collect before and after survey data? Are control groups set up, can comparisons between similar projects be made? It's also good to consider how the different outcomes your programs have are valued by different stakeholders ... and report them all! How did you go against your objectives? does the program logic still make sense? Is the program well managed? Is the method for making decisions and managing the project going to ensure its success? Appropriateness measures the question: “Does the project still address the needs?” Is it appropriate for the target group and the issue or problem under development? When evaluating programs, ask 'is the problem still a problem?' 'are the activities still relevant?' Unintended outcomes increase the more fluid and dynamic the system. What worked well at the Congress Networking opportunities - 300 people in the room who already know what 'behaviour change' means Seeing the potential for adoption of east coast programs in WA The format - it was fluid, dynamic, well-paced, and varied. The Congress itself was organised to have minimal carbon impact. For example, international speakers were beamed in by satellite and there a good selection of vego food options. Learning about international examples and how Australia is faring was inspiring and motivating. We lead the way in some areas and have a lot to learn in others! The venue was inspiring from a transport and urban form perspective as it was held in a retrofitted railway workshops facility. Resources list Building communities
Communities of practice - www.ewenger.com/theory
Behaviour change for Sustainability network on LinkedIn www.linkedin.com/groups?gid=3527493&mostPopular=&trk=tyah
3 pillars Network on LinkedIn - www.linkedin.com/groups/3-Pillars-Network-3173452?home=&gid=3173452&trk=anet_ug_hm
3 Pillars website (lots of webinars, podcasts and great resources) - www.3pillarsnetwork.com.au

Stories
Storify- create stories using social media - www.storify.com
Ed Gillespie's 'Stories, Sizzle, Salience and Social Proof' (see over page for quotes) - www.youtube.com/watch?v=u_chRVbjhgM
Sexy sustainability communications – www.futerra.co.uk
Andrew Rixon's noise pollution story report for EPA Victoria - www.epa.vic.gov.au/noise/residential/noise-stories.asp
Email Andrew Rixon (Babel fish group) to receive a free e-book “Opening up: Creative Storying at Work” andrew@babelfishgroup.com

Evaluation
Murmuration video www.youtube.com/watch?v=iRNqhi2ka9k
Evaluative thinking for evidence-informed practice / most significant change etc - iibsor.uow.edu.au/sustainchange
A one-stop-site for the evaluation of community sustainability engagement projects - www.evaluationtoolbox.net.au
International collaboration to improve evaluation - www.betterevaluation.org
Most Significant Change www.clearhorizon.com.au/publication/a-self-help-guide-for-implementing-the-most-significant-change-technique/
Patricia Rogers’s blog on evaluation www.genuineevaluation.com/author/pjrogers/
Late last year, Helen McAuley and Ben Kent attended the Behaviour Change for Sustainability National Congress. As it was one of the most inspiring and thought-provoking events they had ever attended, they decided to share their insights and ideas with a WA audience. On March 26, over 50 people attended with many more requesting the information be shared more widely. Here is an adapted presentation for your viewing pleasure!
Full transcript