PEACE TROLLING – using social media to build a global culture of peace and respect

Imagine by 2025 if across the world, people of every nation, every language, young and old, are online allies in a movement of non-violent engagement between people across every social media platform. Perhaps you, dear reader, will be one of a growing global ‘army of Peace Trolls’ , seeding social media the capacity to engage with destructive energy, whereby even people holding strongly opposed views will find themselves within a culture of non-violent peaceful coexistence between people.

Everyone has been made for some particular work, and the desire for that work has been put in every heart’. (Rumi)

THE VISION: When people form connections at the level of the heart, and know that their needs have been listened to and understood, the divisions caused by feelings subside and they can enter into constructive, mutually respectful dialogue.

THE GOAL: Social media users across the globe on differing platforms will become an ‘army of Peace Trolls’. As they honour ‘the other’, a tsunami of non-violent communication, empathy and care will spread across the globe. People feeling this will discover how they can climb out of their anger and existential despair by themselves using social media for Good.

THE OBJECTIVE: to change the climate on social media by meeting people’s hate online free of any intent to change people’s views.

THE HOW:

  • Set up 4 principles about how to hear another person and 4 principles about how to respond online to hateful comments. Since this is not in real time, you have time to compose what to say next. That way you come at your best. It’s for people who have the willingness and the capacity and want to focus on connection.
  • Offer online training for people who want to do this
  • Offer a platform for people to engage with each other for support
  • Offer people with experience the opportunity to support those who are doing it on the ground who are new
  • Preliminary ideas about principles for peacetrolling
    • Listen and reflect at least 3 times before saying anything
    • Your task is to understand, not to evaluate whether you agree or disagree.
    • People who put out a comment offensive to others are human: they have the same needs

THE PILOT PROJECT: Invite people with experience of NVC to participate ( no training needed) in a one-month pilot group to try out whether the concept works. The core aim is to support a shift from a culture of trolling to a culture of peace and civility throughout social media through people responding empathically and open-heartedly to messages of hate and challenge. Decide on the hows, wheres and whens so participants stay within their capacity, given offline committments and capacities. Share with other participants of the group, which online community you will take so everybody knows what is happening. Develop assessment metrics to evaluate results. End of the month evaluation of how it all worked. Decision on whether to proceed more widely.

I feel scared and I feel sad because I don’t have capacity to do this alone. Yet deep in my soul, I believe it is an idea whose time has come. I long to connect with others who share this vision and will give a pilot project a try.

Would YOU be willing to take part in a month-long pilot project this year? If so, will you reach out to me at zerowastegranny@gmail.com?

PARA KORE: An Alternative Voice for a Zero Waste World

I sometimes forget how extensive my knowledge is on rubbish! Like childbirth, I guess the hard work and times of pain completing my Masters Research project as an adult student 2 years ago are soon forgotten!

I feel so blessed to have been an adult student, able to focus many hours of work and interviews about an organisation that had inspired me. Para Kore, the national Māori Zero Waste organisation, bases its work to reduce wastage in Aotearoa new Zealand around indigenous Māori understandings, reconnecting people to their heritage and to the natural world, like their ancestors before them.

My thesis, including my findings from interviewing Para kore practitioners who speak of the doors which open towards greater health and wellbeing, increased sovereignty and in finding their voice as they reconnect with those who have goen before them, and those who will follow after, is to be found here, Para Kore: An Alternative Voice for a Zero Waste World

Leadership: “What is mine to do?”

TED-Branded-Complete“Leadership is the ability to create change,” explained Martin Luther King.   I long for change in the way we connect with each other and with the natural world so I know I need to step up as a leader. But ‘What is mine to do?’ 

Ko Papatūaānuku tena koe                Greetings to our earth mother
Ko te whare etu nei , tena koe           Greetings to this building
Ko ōku hoa mā, tēna koutou katoa  Greetings to all of you, my friends.

As I see it, First I need a super strong vision so as to gather in others to share a journey together. 

I’m tasked today to share details of my ‘leadership style’: that’s the ‘gathering others’ part.  To explain 3 ways I choose to show up as a leader, I’m going to use a superb model developed by David Emerald around relationships.  Healthy relationships he suggests can be viewed as a TED or Empowerment Dynamic Triange.  To explain three ways I choose to show up as a leader, I’ll be moving around the 3 vertices, being a CREATOR , being a CHALLENGER and being a COACH .

But first, my vision!  I hold to  2040 being the time when in my neighbourhood, my district and, (rather outside my current circle of influence as a leader) my world, we experience flourishing communities, flourishing ecosystems, flourishing children. We arrive at this flourishing because we humans put violence behind us. We eschew violence.

Tama tū, tama ora, tama noho, tama mate says the Māori whakatauki :
He who stands, lives; he who sits, perishes.

 ‘Anti-violence’ is the stand I take, and means I choose to reduce the violence of my actions on the world:
Its why I’ve shifted to a plant-based ‘vegan’ diet;
aspire to living zero waste going to landfill;
drive an electric car;
and it’s why I am studying Te Reo Māori, to understand more of how to truly be an ally and to address my own inbuilt institutional racism.

For the past 6 years I have been studying and practising ‘NVC’, non-violent communication, a way of  relating to others with respect, now practised by hundreds of thousands of people around the globe.  Yet, “There are many people,” says Miki Kashtan, advocate for non-violent communication and global systems change, “Who are committed to non-violence in action, far fewer are committed in word, and way far fewer to non-violence in thought.”

While practicing non-violence in my own communication and thoughts towards others and myself remains a work in progress, as a leader I choose to show up as a CREATOR. I’m a believer in the need to ‘synergize’.  Was anyone else inspired years ago by  ‘the 7 Habits of Highly Effective people’?  SYNERGY is habit 6, the creative energy that appears when 2 or more people focus on a challenge, be it someone’s personal challenge or challenges the Council seems unable to resolve. It’s the fun energy in  ‘brainstorming’, in  ‘blue sky thinking.’

Seeking that creative energy is why I recently to turn down a role leading a local community organisation. “I believe 2 heads are better than one,” I told the committee, “lets create a co-leadership role,”  but they can’t yet see past a single leader ‘at the top’.  IYears back, when my husband died, I ended up running a sizeable business alone.  It’s a lonely place at the top, embedded in patriarchal concepts.  I don’t believe its how  human beings function best.  In our changing world, organisations need the synergy that comes not from ‘power over’ but from ‘power with’.

Getting the best out of others can also mean being a CHALLENGER : a person who calls forth growth in others.  Being a challenger means using my assertive energy to get needs met without punishing, to support others in becoming responsible and accountable.

Yesterday , I respectfully asked a lady, “Please don’t take this personally,” I said, “But I do worry about wildlife”’ I began. As I walked towards here I’d notice her stubbing out and leaving here cigarette behind, so I asked whether she was aware that seabirds feed cigarette butts to their chicks which ide of starvation. As I was speaking, she simply went back and picked it up. Her choice, no malice, job done. I spoke up, she listened.  It took courage on my part, and that’s where my commitment as a leader to my vision works for me.

And as a challenger, I value seeing people move closer to the edges of their courage… its precisely at that edge that I believe we find our calling.

 This weaves in to what 84 year old retiring Silver Ferns coach , Dame Lois Muir, said this week, ‘A coach helps people discover themselves.’  Part of being a leader is to be a COACH.  How do I support others be the best they can be, to bring forth their gifts and vulnerabilities, qualities to make the world work for all of us?

One choice I make as a coach is no longer to use praise and compliments.  Through my studies in NVC,  I see praise as a tool to  manipulate, to reward compliance and to perpetuate cultures of dominance, of judgment,  of ‘power over’ (watch this space for my next speech!)

As I lean into the role of leadership alongside others, new threads of understanding  weave in.  For now, I feel called to lead others into a flourishing 2040 by showing up as a CREATOR, A CHALLENGER and a COACH, standing firmly in the call to ‘anti-violence’.    I believe, in these challenging times, each one of us is called to respond in leadership in our own unique way to that question the universe puts to us, ” What is mine to do?“

(First presented as a speech to Topstart Toastmasters  Kerikeri  11 June 2020)

Universal Basic Income – get the facts right

Dear Editor (letter to New Zealand Herald 1 May 2020)

While Mathew Hooten’s recent article purports to be an overview of the concept of Universal Basic Income, it is factually incorrect.  These untruths distort the picture and devalue the concept.

 

Hooten’s statement that UBI ‘ would need to be set somewhere just below the current dole’  misleads the public, making it appear that this is a merit-worthy agreed evidence-based calculation. It is nothing of the sort.   On the contrary, the base level for UBI is a current topic of political debate.

 

Furthermore relating it to the word ‘dole’ with the associations that raises is a manipulative attempt to have the public believe there is an issue related to incentives to work.  On the contrary, unlike our current ‘dole’ which is reduced if someone gets a job, the whole point of a UBI is that everyone gets to keep it even if they earn income: there is no disincentive to work.  The concept of UBI also eliminates stigma during the times of job losses and retraining that are an inevitable part of our future, ensures nobody falls through the cracks, it honours unpaid work such as that of carers and parents.

 

Moreover, to state that Friedrich Hayek, co-founder of the neoliberal political model, which has led to the massive rise of inequality around the world over the past 30 years, proposed and supported the UBI concept is patently untrue!  For Hayek, “some provision for those threatened by the extremes of indigence or starvation due to circumstances beyond their control” was required ‘be it only in the interest of those who require protection against acts of desperation on the part of the needy.’  This is so far from the concept of UBI that Hooten’s statement of Hayek as a ‘prophet’ for UBI is laughable.   Conversely, a universal basic income is the opportunity to begin to reset the havoc that the adoption of Hayek’s theories have wreaked on our social, cultural and environmental wellbeing here in New Zealand.

 

I expect the NZ Herald to take up its responsibility to put these factual inaccuracies straight.4836

 Post-Covid 19 :‘REPLAY’ or ‘RESET’ ?

 

Ko Ranginui e tū iho nei
Ko Papatūānuku e takoto nei

( From a speech first prepared for Toastmasters meeting online 2 April 2020).  

Perhaps like many of you, I’ve been thinking this week of what New Zealand could look like post-lockdown.   I’m sure we all heard the British Prime Minister talking about ‘Jenny from New Zealand’ but this week its Sir Keir Starmer, newly elected UK Labour Party leader, that echoes my thoughts:
“When we do get through this, we cannot go back to business as usual, this virus has exposed the fragility of our society…. We know in our hearts, things are going to have to change. …we can see so clearly now who the key workers really are… for too long they have been taken for granted…” 

I’m want to share 3 areas this morning ripe for change: our taxes, the structure of business itself, and the way we work; and also why as a Baby Boomer I have an important role to play.  But first, a story…

A decade ago I meet 2 elderly women acquaintances outside New World. “We’re off to China on a ‘SKI’ holiday’.
“Skiing?” I enquire.
Spending the Kid’s inheritance,” they reply gleefully!

It’s the first time I heard that acronym , ‘SKI’ for ‘Spending the Kid’s Inheritance’ and I’m shocked !  Yet it wasn’t long before I realised that although I thought differently about my own family assets, my own lifestyle was ‘SKI’.  Along with my peers,  haven’t I been a role model for pushing the earth way past its regenerative limits? I may have personally advocated for reduction of rubbish and the protection of nature, but what we baby boomers had set in motion and i was clearly still part of seemed set on a roll to destruction whether I liked it or not.

the SKI world

The progressive economist Kate Raworth, author of ‘Doughnut Economics’ is clear how economies need to function – as a ‘safe and just operating space for all of humanity’. When my first grandchild, Harry was born 6 years ago, that safe and just operating space for all humanity was not apparent across my district, let alone my nation and the globe. Yet I felt so powerless.

Now though, the ‘Pause Button’ has been pressed on that pre-lockdown life: the question is, ‘What happens when the pause button comes off?’

 

11-110355_play-break-button-play-button-player-pause-button

I seem to have two choices:

I can press ‘Replay’ and encourage the return to how things were, knowing my years are short and it won’t be me that takes the biggest hit.

Or…

I can join others who choose to press ‘Reset’ and use my lifetime of experience and connections to support systemic change in my neighbourhood, my district and nationally.   This may come at a cost to my dreamed of retirement lifestyle but I’m with progressive thinker, Charles Eisenstein: out there is ‘The More Beautiful World our Hearts Know is Possible’.    the more beautiful world

The first change I support is taxes. Its becoming ever clearer what a vast hole this pandemic has dug in the government’s books, but more borrowing – as i know from personal experience – just makes it harder down track and will create restrictive austerity measures for my children, grandchildren and their peers.   No, we must raise taxes and the burden must fall on those who can most afford it, those with bigger incomes and those with more assets.

The top income tax rate is 45% in the UK and Australia, and in Sweden, the top marginal tax rate of 56.9 percent applies to all income over 1.5 times the average. Its time to raise the top rate in NZ – its only 33%.

And NZ is one of few developed countries with no wealth tax.  Gareth Morgan proposed a comprehensive Capital Income Tax in 2016, similar to that in the Netherlands and South Korea.  I own rental property so this tax on assets is not in my favour. But if it creates a less divided society for my grandsons and their peers, that’s more important at this stage.

Its time to reframe business too.  Kate Raworth’s ‘safe and just operating space for all humanity’ means we need to tweak company law to uphold Stakeholder legislation. Its not just shareholders that directors need to be accountable to, its ALL stakeholders. That means directors being answerable to communities, employees, and to human guardians providing a voice both for the natural world and for children yet unborn.

social enterprisesAnd businesses-with-a- mission, Social Enterprises such as Eat my Lunch need better support.  This model where an entrepreneur earns a good salary but retains his soul by using residual profit for social or environmental good, must be encouraged in NZ. Like   in the UK, Canada and France, New Zealand needs to provide a separate supoportive legal structure.

And while an ‘Unconditional Basic Income’ for all adults, once seemed like a pipe dream of ‘lefties’ around the world ( and in NZ another wacky idea of the ‘cat man, Gareth Morgan), this week 40% of Kiwis are receiving something very similar – ‘wage subsidies’. Even right-wing governments such as Australia, the UK and the US are doing the same!  At what stage did we lose the realisation that we all contribute to sustaining our society? A home-based caregiver  looking after their elderly parent, a flax weaver, a mother home-schooling her child, which of these lacks importance?  Understanding who have greatest worth in society needs another look as we learn of poorly-paid bus drivers and care workers losing their lives in service to the rest of us.  The judgement on who merits a basic income can no longer be a special longevity award for superannuitants: its not just us that are special!

Finally, looking out for today’s children means their parents need to find meaning and dignity in work but balance that with time for family and their community too.  Surely it’s a no-brainer to reset the workforce with a ban on non-essential Sunday trading and legislate for a 4-day working week? 

baby boomers

As a Baby Boomer, I’ve had a good innings.  To keep the cricket analogy, now is no time for an umpire role or a seat on the sidelines. Pre-lockdown I may have been part of a ‘SKI’ generation’, but a ‘Replay’ is not an option.    It’s time to use my amassed lifetime experience and connections to seek out friends, local leaders, national politicians. No doubt increased taxes, tighter company law and changes to the working week will get pushback – for some the pre-lockdown tatus quo was seriously comfortable.  So while as a Baby Boomer, I may have had a good innings, the need for a ‘reset’ calls me to head back out onto the pitch.

 

                                                   He waka eke noa.