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Environmentalism as Network
Alex Steffen, 20 Feb 04

The good folks at One/Northwest have just published their white paper about the future of the environmental movement, Movement as Network. The paper's specifically targeted at American enviros, but the observations and suggestions it presents are crucial for anyone working today to change the world.

I find many of my own ideas about the use of technology to create social change refelcted here in a more coherent and specific way, though I have some critical responses which I'll try to find time to organize and post here next week. But to cut to the chase, this is good stuff.

"The environmental movement is at a critical juncture in its history. It has brought about numerous and important achievements over the last four decades. But recent setbacks in the United States show that its hard-fought accomplishments are still all too vulnerable to changes in political winds caused by pressures from special interests. The viability of life on this planet is too important to allow the short-term interests of such a small majority to interfere with society’s urgent need for a more sustainable path.

"Immunizing society from such harmful influences means integrating a new set of values into its very fabric at a scale not seen in this country since the shifts that accompanied universal suffrage and the broadening of civil rights. It means harnessing these beliefs to build a broad-based social and political force capable of applying both political and economic pressure to shifting society into more sustainable patterns. This is the task facing the environmental movement at the outset of the new century.

The environmental movement requires new organizational structures and strategies to succeed in this next phase of its evolution. This paper presents a model called “Movement as Network.” This model may have relevance to other social movements and networks, but the focus of this paper is using it to think about new ways of restructuring the environmental movement so it can be more powerful and more effective."

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