Advocacy based on Positive Proposals
An important part of our mission of being a catalyst for relocalization in Santa Cruz is the development of positive proposals for our community’s functioning. When a systematic set of proposals covering a particular area (transportation, water, energy, etc) is developed by one of our working groups, it becomes part of our Community Resilience Plan. At best, our advocacy emerges from the directions embodied in this Plan.
For example, our Sustainable Water plan contains a vision for water sufficiency under conditions of climate change and relative energy scarcity. It recommends many conservation measures, and that projects that are heavily energy-dependent not be pursued. Accordingly, the plan advocates against building a desalination plant, based on its high energy requirement. However, the bulk of the plan is concerned with describing the alternative solutions that we propose.
In practice, the Community Resilience Plan is developing gradually, while important resilience issues in topic areas for which we have no systematic plan continue to arise in the community. Therefore, the Steering Group, in consultation with relevant working groups, may on occasion take a position on such a community issue when the position is very clearly consistent with our mission statement. In these cases, we will still make every effort to emphasize the actions we propose, rather than simply standing in opposition to something.
We recognize that there is a potential conflict between our goal to be broadly inclusive and our advocacy of specific measures leading to resilience. There may be broad agreement among our constituents on our goal of decreased fossil fuel dependency, and disagreement about what that means in specific situations. This is natural, since decisions about specifics like, “Paper or plastic?” invite a variety of responses. These kinds of decisions need to be made. But they can be made with attention to minimizing divisiveness.
We can deal successfully with conflict over strategies if we keep in mind the following:
- Remember to, “Hold tightly to the goals, and loosely to the strategies”
- When in disagreement over strategies, it often helps to return to the goal. “What are we trying to achieve?
- When there is agreement about goals, the only relevant question is “What is the “win-win” way to achieve it--- the way that best satisfies the needs of sustainability, equity, etc.?”
- When common goals are identified, information can often resolve the question of “What works?”
- We can choose a non-judgmental attitude towards people who disagree with us about a particular strategy.
When deciding to advocate on an issue that is controversial, we want to invite participation from broad numbers of people in the community, through meetings, polling, and consulting advisers. We can turn the decision making process into an opportunity for community building and education.
Steering Group Approval
As a minimum check for approval, Steering Group members or others within TSC will obtain consensus from the Steering Group before publicly associating TSC with a position on any political or controversial issue, beyond core Transition principles as described in the Transition Handbook and our mission statement. "Publicly" includes via our newsletter mailing list and at our events, as well as at other public events and in the media.