Australia Diary: Day 3

Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015

First day of the first-ever Citizens’ Climate Lobby Australia National Conference.

It’s Rod’s day. I get some coffee and breakfast. Send some emails. Post some photos. Rod starts us off with good work on how CCL’s way of lobbying is different. It is excellent, because he is prefacing the Group Start I will do and the lobby training for the next day, so that all of that other work will be easier, more far-ranging, and more attuned to achieving the desired outcome. Then we have three presentations—one from Warwick Smith, one from Walter Jehne, and one from me—then a panel discussion between the three of us.

We cover a lot of ground, and the insight comes out of it that the way we are doing what we do (politically) and the way Fee and Dividend works (economically) is very much like the working of the more resilient, ecologically vibrant root structures Walter is working for.

After lunch, we do the Group Start Workshop. It’s a different experience for various reasons:

1. About half the room has been through it before.
2. At least 3 or 4 people in the room have been trained to DO the Workshop, and have done it.
3. Rod has incorporated various elements of it into the introductory session and the listening, and Day 2 will give us a lot of opportunity to go deeper into the lobbying part of it.

I start off with a new device:

1. I ask who is in a group of more than 5, and ask for applause.
2. Then: 2 or more?
3. Then: Groups of 1…
4. I tell the story about Barack Obama in the church basement: he spoke to those four women as if they were the whole population of the country, as if they really mattered, and they do.
5. It isn’t politics or party, or who has influence and who is new to the conversation; it is the specific individual people, their character, their access to information, and their motivation, that matter.
6. I tell them about how the one person Marshall got from an early tabling event was our Legislative Director, Dr. Danny Richter. That was a big get. Imagine not having been there that day.
7. The Don Addu story: Groups of 1 should persist, keep going, be a group of 1 and look for ways to connect with people. We can all support you and make sure you don’t get tired.

The organizations gets built one volunteer at a time. The culture of the organization works, because it empowers each new volunteer, without asking anyone to be something they are not, in their character. It is from our own values that we each do this work, and we can differ in so many ways from one another. But what we make sure to do, always, is to value each person, to value each human relationship, and to work together as a team.

There were a lot of questions about how best to cover all the data, all the macroeconomic particulars, and most importantly, the tough challenges volunteers might hear from highly educated and politically astute politicians and staffers. Some people were nervous, wondering: *What if they ask us something we don’t know? Won’t that constitute failure?*

First of all, the answer to that is: No. Our most valuable contribution is not our expertise or our political acumen; our most valuable contribution is our determination and discipline in working together to support a renewal of deep and ongoing direct citizen engagement in government.

This is not about going to Parliament to tell people what to think or to be more right than the people who are welcoming us into their work environment. We are not there to persuade; we are there to start a journey we will travel to gether. Priority number one is them wanting us back.

This is why we focus our attention on the deep, emotional, and transcencent meaning of Eduardo Galeano’s “Celebration of the Human Voice”:

*All of us have something to say to the others, something that deserves to be heard, or forgiven, by others*.

We are working to make sure the human voice is at the heard of the work our governments do. We are doing this in order to build political will for a climate solution that empowers us all to more ably live out our values and work together to build a more just, liberated and sustainable human society.

I had the great fortune that before a dinner for all conference attendees, Liz and Duncan took me for a tour of the hills overlooking Canberra. We were looking for an opportunity to see a wild kangaroo, at dusk. What we did see was an incredible sunset, and what I got to experience, aside from a wondeful time with these young brilliant young leaders, were the sounds of wild Australia.

[ photo ]

We had dinner together and toasted to the success of Day 1, and several people said they could feel this national team coming together into a cohesive organization. The shared experience and the time together, learning from and about each other, was making that feasible in a way it had not been before.

After dinner, Rod and I debriefed and planned for Day 2. The focus would be self-examination, listening generously and overcoming bias, and then preparation and practice for lobbying Parliament on Monday and Tuesday.

Joe’s CCL Australia 2015 Diary

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