What will your group use a development grant for?

Development Grants of £1,500 are now available from the Scottish Government’s Climate Challenge Fund to help community-led organisations develop applications for more significant funding to tackle climate change. The development grant can help groups at every step along the journey from an initial idea, through community consultation to planning a project and preparing an application for project funding.

New and established community groups working on climate change have a wealth of expertise and experience, but sometimes it can be helpful to have an outside perspective and specialist advise and support – and the development grant can make that possible.

A workshop with student volunteers and activists developing zero waste projects

Osbert Lancaster and Pamela Candea have worked with many community groups as advisers, mentors, consultants and trainers. We have run training workshops through the Climate Challenge Fund’s Community Action Support Programme on: Planning for the Future; Identifying a Project; Designing a Project; and skills and techniques for Positive Change. We can help you design and carry out community consultations.

We know that getting people together for meetings and trainings can be difficult, so we adapt our support to fit each group’s needs. One approach we find works very well is a few short sessions spread over several weeks to introduce key skills and knowledge – and in between the sessions the community group have time to do work on consultations, draft plans etc, and then to build on these at the next session. We can provide feedback and advice by phone or Skype between sessions too.

 Four Questions
The Four Questions – part of the Shifting Normal Approach

On behalf of the Scottish Government we developed the guide Shifting Normal: How to design projects that change things for the better. Use of the Shifting Normal approach is encouraged by the CCF, and we incorporate it into most of our training.

If you think we might be able to help your group turn initial ideas into a great project – or you’re just interested in help with some specific aspect – please do contact us:

By the way, people say we’re really good at what we do:

“I thought this was a great workshop and exactly the type of strategic thinking we all need to integrate into our work if we want to bring about real change.”

“The course took us on a journey. By introducing us to the theory and models, which attempt to explain change, we were then able to apply these and devise coping strategies for our own work/practice/life. In doing so we are able to look at the world through different eyes, from a different lens, and ultimately effect change within ourselves and others around us.”

“Osbert’s support and advice were absolutely invaluable. By helping me to understand my aspirations and working with me to develop practical methods to achieve them, Osbert enabled me to take some major steps to put this approach into practice in our organisation. I would not have progressed anywhere near as far as I have without his insight and gentle guidance.”

“Thanks for an excellent session. I know we all very much enjoyed it and it has helped build strong foundations for our strategic planning and team building. You pitched the format and tone of the sessions just right, and as always brought a lovely encouraging style.”

Find out more about Development Grants here…

What are the highs and lows for leaders, strategists and change makers working on sustainability and social responsibility?

I believe that traditional approaches to leadership for sustainability and social responsibility don’t sufficiently recognise the complex reality and competing demands often faced by leaders. I want to support leaders to create real, effective and lasting change.

That’s why I am working with Natural Change to develop new ways of catalysing and supporting leadership for sustainability.

Please help us to understand your role as a leader by answering a few quick questions…

Whatever your job title, do you have responsibility for leading others, developing strategy or delivering change programmes? Whether it’s part of your professional role or something you are personally interested in, does sustainability or social responsibility figure in your work?

If you answer ‘yes’ to both, please help us by completing our short survey…

It would be wonderful if you could forward this to individuals and groups you think might be able to help. Thank you!

Energy crops have been a major flop with farmers – here’s why

Source: Energy crops have been a major flop with farmers – here’s why

We found that most farmers in the area were not interested in planting the crop – even if it meant increasing their profit margins. One third told us they couldn’t imagine anything that would persuade them to grow it. The farmers saw themselves primarily as food producers and saw energy crops as an alien practice. They were strongly and even passionately attached to their way of life.

Fascinating study that shows why policy and indeed change management must go beyond naive assumptions of ‘rational economic man’. As one farmer said:

No amount of money would ever encourage me to grow willow because I am a farmer. I can’t think of anything more unattractive.

Time to get out Shifting Normal or the ISM tool!

Read the original article…

11 suggestions to make conferences a space for great conversations

fieldsofconversationIt seems to me that too many conferences are designed to only transmit information – hence the default choice of presentations followed by Q&A. Of course transmitting information definitely has it’s place, but when you’ve got a room full of knowledgeable, enthusiastic and skilful people, is it really the best use of their time?

Is it not better to try and create the conditions for dialogue, where people can connect with each other more deeply, in ways that are open and inquiring? And perhaps, if you’ve given enough time, some of those really powerful, creative conversations where new ideas and new projects are born, might happen.

Of course, most conferences and seminars do aim to have engaging conversations between participants, and between participants and the main speakers. But unless you’re very lucky not many great conversations will happen unless the schedule is intentionally, and carefully, designed, to encourage and support not just an exchange of information or opinions, but deeper dialogue.

The four fields of conversation from the Presencing Institute, above, are helpful to distinguish between different sorts of conversation. So often the traditional Q&A session after presentations gets stuck in the second field – debate: talking tough – with people just wanting to get their ‘point’ across, rather than having any true spirit of enquiry. While coffee breaks – often said to the best part of a conference – languish in level one.

Here are eleven suggestions based on my experience that you might consider when designing an event for dialogue (in no particular order):

Continue reading “11 suggestions to make conferences a space for great conversations”

Shifting from Me to We will increase personal and social wellbeing…

…in a climate-disrupted world, argues Bob Doppelt in Transformational Resilience

Walking along the Water of Leith a couple of years ago, Dave Key, Margaret Kerr and I wondered if we were the only people who were fearful of what a society affected by climate change might be like – how would people individually and collectively respond to what was likely to be a challenging situation? It seemed to us that questioning the “one more push and we’ll crack climate change” orthodoxy was rarely welcome, perhaps because it opened up all kinds of personal fears and dissonance.

That conversation came vividly to mind as I read Transformational Resilience, where Doppelt writes:

it seems difficult to see how the rise in global temperatures will be limited to the 1.5° threshold. To the contrary, as of now, temperatures seem likely to rise by at least 2°C, and possibly much higher.

and that the negative impact of climate change on society and natural systems:

will be indisputably traumatic and exceedingly stressful, producing significant effects on the human mind and body.

He argues that this will lead to:

unprecedented levels of anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, suicides, and other mental health problems for individuals worldwide. These woes will, in turn, produce a boatload of psycho-social-spiritual maladies, such as increased interpersonal aggression, crime, violence, hopelessness, and more, that undermine the safety, security, and health of people all around the planet.

He then draws on his experience as both a consulting psychologist and environmental scientist to explain that:

traumatized individuals and groups exist in a fear-based self-protective survival mode that turns their focus inward, inhibits their ability to learn, and can all but eliminate their concern for the welfare of others or the natural environment. This will make it even more difficult to motivate people to slash their greenhouse gas emissions, prepare for climate impacts, and do their part to reduce climate impacts to a manageable level.

So far, so depressing.

However, Doppelt offers hope, presenting a range of evidence that: Continue reading “Shifting from Me to We will increase personal and social wellbeing…”

A Review of A Wholehearted Approach to Change –

For five weeks I spent two inspiring hours every Wednesday evening with staff and volunteers of the RADIAL Project at the Glasgow School of Art. Project coordinator Eilidh Sinclair has written a review of the programme.

The course took us on a journey. By introducing us to the theory and models, which attempt to explain change, we were then able to apply these and devise coping strategies for our own work/practice/life. In doing so we are able to look at the world through different eyes, from a different lens, and ultimately effect change within ourselves and others around us.

“I thought this was a great workshop and exactly the type of strategic thinking we all need to integrate into our work if we want to bring about real change.”

Source: A Wholehearted Approach to Change – The Review | R A D I A L

Sound good? I’d love to do something similar with other groups and organisations.

“I’m compassionate, they’re selfish” Why this misconception matters so much 

As this spiral gathers energy, people are left tragically and needlessly less civically engaged and more socially alienated. Your misperceptions of others, in other words, may hold you back in helping to mount collective responses to the major challenges that confront UK society today like child poverty, care for the elderly and climate change.

Source: Values, voting and volunteering | Common Cause

Do you know what the world is to me?

I’ve just finished reading A World of Becoming by political theorist William E Connolly. I’m very grateful to whoever recommended the book – if I could remember who you were, I’d thank you!

I’ve found the book illuminating and re-assuring as Connolly explores some complex relationships between systems theory, philosophy and spirituality. That said, it is so rich, so dense, so multilayered, so exact and so nuanced, I believe I’ll need to return several times to not just ‘make sense’ of it, but to also tune in to the feel of it, the intuition of it.

But in the meantime, I feel moved to share the postlude which resonates strongly with me…


Do you know what the world is to me?

A colossus of diverse energies, without beginning or end, with each flowing over, through, and around others, generating new currents and eddies.

A play of waves, forces, and perceptions on different scales of complexity, endurance, and time, with some swelling as others subside, with perhaps long cycles of repetition, but none that simply repeats those preceding.

You and I are drops in the sea of flows, feelings, and surges, my friend. So, if you die before you wake, well I pray your God your soul to take.

And Yahweh, Hesiod, Jesus, Moses, Sankara, and Buddha? They send out ripples of passion that persist, sometimes flowing into each other, before melting into larger waves.

And that mosquito buzzing around, sensing you as heat, movement, and food? Are you a god to it? A demon?

It, too, perceives, hopes and acts, living long and intensely on its temporal scale and briefly on yours. It too makes a difference, as when it alters your DNA while feeding, or deposits a virus.

As does the the yeast fermenting into the dough.

And those bursts of laughter, bouts of sensual heat, workers’ movements, consumption habits, hurricanes, geological formations, climate patterns, contending gods, electrical fields, spiritual upheavals, civilizational times, species changes, and planetary rotations–they, too, participate in this veritable monster of energies, making a difference before melting down, to be drawn again into new currents, and again.

And the monster itself? It never completes itself, always rolling out and rolling in, with no outside or end-times, like a Möbius strip or Möbius current, never simply repeating, eternally evolving, and dissipating.

A monster that feeds on its own excretions, that knows no joy, existential resentment, weariness, or horror, even as it houses all these, and more.

Many strive and connect to others in such a world, seeking to amplify existential gratitude for the world as they comprehend it.

Others resent either this world or the different account of it they embrace.

That is the world to me. And you, my friend and rival?

What is it to you?

Climate Change Public Conversations Series

Talking Climate Change


A research project, managed by ClimateXchange for the Scottish Government, to develop and pilot a framework for a Climate Change Public Conversations Series.

The framework will include materials and a guide for community groups and others to run conversations about climate change with the public.

The Conversations Series will explore public knowledge of, attitudes towards and engagement with:

  • climate change;
  • policies to address climate change; and
  • the future transition to a sustainable low carbon society.

I’m working on this project as an associate of Surefoot. Very interesting!

More: ClimateXChange :: Climate Change Public Conversations Series