Connecting strategies and communities of practice

Some problems are too big for any one person or approach. The global challenges now facing us require major transformations in how we live as well as the economic and cultural structures generating these threats. Such change calls for dialogue and collaboration among different communities of practice in developing, communicating and implementing the range of innovative solutions needed.

Connecting strategies and communities of practice
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Behavioral, e.g., fighting fires
Behavioral

Behavioral strategies to promote sustainability may range from immediate emergency action, "fighting fires", to longer-term strategic plans and campaigns, such as climate change and species extinction. Appeal to direct individual and social action, to proactive behavior, is one of the most immediate approaches to addressing threats. Information awareness campaigns and community social marketing are popular approaches in efforts to encourage low-carbon lifestyles, reducing fossil fuel and energy consumption, switching to renewable energy sources such as solar and wind; moving away from eating meat and dairy. Encouraging system changing behavior, such as through political advocacy and engagement, requires vision, empathy, collaboration and dialogue among organizations, networks, institutions and communities, identifying common needs and aims.

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Scales of justice
Regulatory

Governmental laws, standards, treaties and rules of order are mechanisms defining and regulating the terms of sustainable development, behavior and order in and throughout all human societies, and thus leverage points and targets for advocacy and strategic intervention. This category of strategies focus on legal and political advocacy from local municipalities to parliaments to UN and international agreements, policies, and regulations.

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Technological

Technology naturally comes to mind as a category of solutions to many environmental and social problems, with strategies aimed at cultivating and supporting innovation, scientific and creative research and design, production, diffusion, monitoring and evaluation.

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Indigenous protest
Grassroots

Grassroots campaigns, movements and strategies are usually associated with "bottom-up", local organizing actions and participatory democracy. These actions may in turn spread or otherwise connect with other grassroots networks resulting in national and international social movements. However, they are mostly viewed as more spontaneous actions in response to local problems rather than directed by traditional power structures. Grassroots strategies often emphasize community dialogue and civic participation, self-organizing, fundraising, voter registration and engagement in political conversations and decision-making. Such strategies are distinguished from astroturfing, i.e., campaigns designed by public relations firms, corporations or think tanks to give the appearance of spontaneous, popular, and self-organized actions.

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business plan
Business

Business strategies addressing social and/or environmental problems are often associated with the concept of corporate social responsibility, which emerged from earlier efforts to develop codes of conduct and voluntary initiatives in response to criticisms of the negative impacts of unsustainable business practices, products, processes and values. R. Edward Freeman's book Strategic Management: A Stakeholder Approach (1984) highlighted the importance to business of moving beyond the traditional stockholder approach to prioritizing business decision-making, noting the necessity of addressing not only the needs of profitable, targeted consumer segments, but also the needs of employees, local communities, and other affected by company practices and decisions.

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Dance theater
Cultural

Cultural strategies promoting sustainability solutions and transitions recognize the underlying role of values and norms in shaping personal, organizational and institutional choices, decisions and actions, often extending both in time and geography structuring the overall cultural and political landscape of a society as well as individual identity and behavior. Cultural strategies may cover the domains of education, religion/spirituality, family, the arts, literature, theater, music, film and video, sports, games and recreation. Cognitively they deal with a person's system of beliefs, structures of feeling, and models of reality.

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