Building a climate movement in your local neighbourhood is not always easy work – the scale of the challenge and the seeming lack of interest from the general public can be overwhelming. That’s why having an understanding of human psychology is so important – so that we as local organisers can understand how to motivate and inspire thousands of people to join our movement.
Luckily one of our keen 350 supporters here in New Zealand – Niki Harre – has recently written a book on this very matter, “Psychology for a Better World: Strategies to Inspire Sustainability“. Niki is an Associate Professor at the Auckland University School of Psychology, and through her research and organsing plays a big role in supporting positive action on climate change. She is even on the organising team for Power Shift NZ-Pacific being held in Auckland later this year!
Her book is a wonderful mix of academic insight and practical tips to help local organisers inspire a storm of action and inspiration. And what is really great is that the e-version of her book is free to download!
We’re such big fans of her work that we asked her to tell us a bit about the book and what motivates her:
It is aimed at people who want to be part of positive social change. In my view making a difference is simple. You start with yourself and what and who you know. What are your skills and passions? Who can you work with? What is happening in your part of the world? If you act out of obligation you won’t stay the distance. Act because you believe changing the world is a fun, meaningful and enriching way to spend your time. In my view, it is. The sustainability movement is not about convincing each other that the end of the world is nigh unless we change our evil ways, it is about about working together to create a world in which we can all flourish.
By writing this book I’ve engaged with numerous groups and individuals who want to take a fresh approach. I’ve talked with students, academics, youth groups, a meditation group, eco-psychologists, businesses, health agencies and activists. They fill me with optimism that there is change in the air (a natural mystic rising as the late, great, Bob Marley sang).
I want instant gratification, so my own change efforts are consistent with my advice to others. I love being fit, so I cycle to work. I wish the roads were safer and less polluted, so I write submissions to my council suggesting cycle ways. I am keen to spend time with like-minded others, so I am a member of our local Transition Town. (Well actually, I was one of the people that started our Transition Town. It’s easy to do.) I love shopping at Trade Aid, so fair trade gifts are my standard offering at birthdays and Christmas. I believe mass events make politicians take notice, so I attend marches on climate change, mining and other environmental and social justice issues. I want my workplace to be a leader in sustainability so I am working with a group of students and staff on organisational changes. I support others when I can, I am thrilled to be involved in the Power Shift in December. I am still waiting for someone to organise a 350 flashmob near me, because I rather fancy myself as a dancer.
Ensuring this world retains the physical conditions needed to sustain human life and that we treat each other well is, to me, where it is at. And this isn’t an exclusive party, there is room for everyone.
So check out the book yo – there’s heaps of helpful insights for local organisers!
Psychology for a Better World: Strategies to Inspire Sustainability is free to download from www.psych.auckland.ac.nz/