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12 Sep 2006

The Tupperware Approach to Relocalisation.

tuppWhen I played guitar in a rather fine Bristol band called ‘Little, Big’ many years ago, I used to find that I would hear a song somewhere and kick myself that I hadn’t thought of it. Seemed so obvious, putting that chord with that verse, and it ending up sounding like that. Same happens to me now with ideas. I just came across a wonderful piece on the Relocalisation Network (via. Energy Bulletin) by Chérie McGregor called ["A party plan for raising peak oil awareness"](http://www.energybulletin.net/20309.html”PP”). It’s simple premise, that is so obvious and wonderful that I am sat wondering why no-one had thought of it before! The idea is basically to use the ‘party plan’ model used so successfully by companies like Tupperware and Anne Summers to communicate ideas of peak oil and relocalisation. Fantastic!

tupp2Despite our getting 350 people along to the launch of Transition Town Totnes last week, there are still thousands of people in the town who didn’t come, who probably never go to things like that, who move in different social circles and rarely venture out from them. People feel much safer going to an evening at a friend’s house who they trust, with other people they already know, to discuss something they are interested in or intruiged about, but would never go to a public talk about. McGregor’s piece puts it like this;

>If someone we like or respect invites us to visit their home to check something out, we probably will. Reading a newspaper article, seeing a flier or being approached by a stranger is less likely (in my opinion) to successfully motivate people to go out of their way to find out about something new and unfamiliar. Word of mouth is not only the most effective form of advertising – it is also the cheapest! Presenting in private homes avoids venue availability restraints and expense. When group members are familiar with each other, they are more likely to freely participate in discussions, share opinions, ask questions and contribute ideas.

tupp3The Global Action Plan uses a similar approach, that of using peoples’ houses as the venue, but it is a series of meetings that cover different areas such as food and energy and is a longer commitment for people. The idea of a one off ‘peak oil night’, ‘powerdown night’ or whatever it ends up being called would work differently, taking the Energy Descent Plan process to people, and, utilising insights from Motivational Interviewing, would be a 2 way process, of presenting information, and obtaining ideas, while also designing in time for people to ‘digest’ the information. In many ways, that is best done in a supportive environment.

tupp4I am intrigued and really rather taken with this idea. It does of course hinge on the fact that people will want to go, but I’m sure we can design something winderful enough that everyone will want to host one! The article talks about the Relocalisation Works in the Burnett Inland group, a member of the Relocalization Network in Australia, who are developing materials that can be used in this process. I imagine that different initiatives would generate their own material, and my mind is already thinking about what Transition Town Totnes materials and evenings might look like, as well as how one might train up the people to run them. Thanks Cherie, for an idea which will surely become a central element of the Energy Descent Planning/relocalisation process.

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5 Comments

Nadia Hillman
12 Sep 9:49pm

Well I do hope that if beans are on the menu at these “winderful” peak-oil ‘parties’ there are some windmills on hand to harness this precious resource!

Joanne Poyourow
13 Sep 3:41pm

Here in California, to raise awareness for a state-level cap on greenhouse gas emissions (since our federal government bullheadedly refuses to acknowledge the problem), the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) created an event which is very like your ‘parties.’

They used the partylaunch web technology and participants set up parties in their homes or other gathering places across the state. At a specific date/time we all watched a 15min documentary on global warming in California, distributed on DVD by the UCS to party organizers. After that we all jumped on a state-wide conference call for Questions and Answers with UCS experts.

The UCS estimates we had 2000 people on the conference call at 70 or so locations. I wrote about ours at http://www.legacyla.net/transformation/?p=173 Each party had its own particular atmosphere, set by the organizer, but all had the common theme of the UCS materials.

While I realize this entire description is about peak oil’s cousin issue of global warming, my point is, what worked for one, can work for another.

And by the way, we did get that greenhouse gas bill passed!

Barry Earsman
15 Sep 12:54am

The next challenge is to make these parties FUN. A party all about the end of the world that sends everyone home reeling with shock and horror is not going to be very popular.

Anyone know any good tupperware party games that can be adapted to energy descent?

Andi Hazelwood
15 Sep 1:00am

Rob, many thanks for highlighting our party idea. Cherie and I envision Relocalisation Works in the Burnett Inland (RWBI) becoming a force in our region, but with as spread out as the region is, a party approach seems to be the only way to attract potential members, and relatively quickly. This was all Cherie’s brilliant idea. We’re going to do our best to implement it and refine it together to develop the membership numbers we need to make RWBI achieve our goals, and to make it easily repeatable by other groups. Thanks again!

Andi Hazelwood
http://www.rwbi.org
North Burnett Coordinator