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A party plan for raising peak oil awareness

Andi and I are both impatient to get Ruby actively involved in initiating practical relocalisation projects. To do that, we need to motivate people to get involved and work with us.


The "Ruby" mentioned in the post is RWBI - Relocalisation Works in the Burnett Inland - a member of the Relocalization Network in Australia. Their website is www.relocalize.net/groups/rwbi . -BA

Companies like Amway have demonstrated impressive growth and success, using a 'party plan' approach for selling products and recruiting new distributors/members. The approach is simple – but very effective. A distributor asks people in their personal network to host a 'party' for friends and/or relatives, at which the distributor gives a presentation, takes bookings for subsequent parties and recruits new 'distributors'. The presentation follows a simple to deliver format that is easy for beginning ‘distributors’ to present. There is a structure of mentoring and support built into the recruitment and training of new distributors/members.

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.

Relocalisation is about promoting cultural and behavioural change and building networks of interest and support across the community. A party plan approach for raising community awareness about peak oil and introducing Ruby taps into existing networks right from the get go - people who already know each other, are given the same thought-provoking information in a novel context. Knowing human nature, wouldn’t you expect that the next time they meet, they will talk about what they’ve heard and what they think of it?

Peak oil can be a heavy topic, with the potential to be more depressing, disempowering and immobilising than motivating! Why would anyone host a doom-and-gloom party? Why would anyone willingly agree to go?

Barry (Blackall Ranges Relocalisation group) said “I want to see relocalisation as a fun activity” and suggested (tongue-in-cheek) celebrating the day of the global peak as an excuse for a get-together of like-minded individuals.

Fun motivates.

Andi and I immediately recognised a novel way to catch people’s interest and a good hook for motivating people to become involved. Put the focus on what we are creating – not what we are leaving behind.

Having decided on our concept, we had to start putting the tools together to achieve it.

We wanted to develop

  • A brochure;

  • An invitation to Ruby parties;
  • A party ‘kit’ that was cheap to reproduce for demonstrators/communities to use to introduce Peak oil, the Oil Depletion Protocol, Relocalization Network and RWBI;
  • An information pack to give to party guests that would give them information to take home. This needed to include information about where to begin independently researching the topics further

Our party invitation is our brochure; is a summary of the key points of our presentation; and offers information on starting points for further research of the topics. So it serves multiple purposes.

Andi and I are still working on the exact process of the presentation format. So far we’ve decided that the presentation will be interactive and take about an hour in total (including some discussion time). It will include

  • a short DVD presentation explaining peak oil and the implications for our society

  • an introduction to the Oil Depletion Protocol and relocalisation
  • an introduction to Ruby and her aspirations
  • an invitation to get involved

The purpose of the presentation is to raise the issue in people’s mind and encourage them to get involved. The presentation can be delivered to a shire council meeting, or a privately hosted Ruby party. The presentations will act as a forerunner to larger community meetings and planning sessions.

Any ideas, suggestions or comments would be gratefully received.

Cheers

Ree


In a latter comment, Chérie adds:

How far are we along? Well we've designed our brochure – Andi posted the links as a comment on this page as well. Have you had a chance to look at it? Any suggestions?

Our pack is going to be very simple and cheap for several reasons. We have no funding at this point, and even if we did, we would want the pack to be easily accessible and duplicatable for other groups starting out with no money. Also, I believe that when we give people big sample bags of printed info (cause we're passionately interested in the topic and want them to have all the info) most of it ends up in the bin unread anyway, hence is a waste of resources.

We give hosts a dozen brochures to use as invitations, so those attending the party will already have the information about how to look into the issues further (and may even have done some research before they come!). Those that don’t attend will still get the main info - just by being invited.

At the party itself we will have information about our partners available for people to browse – but they will have to ask if they want a copy to take with them.

The 'pack' that we give to groups and presenters will be the brochure, the presentation outline and the dvd. As we develop it we will make it available on the net here and eventually on our own RWBI.org web page (more on that down the track).

In our links section is a link to the ABC 4 Corners story (Peak Oil) and a Catalyst program (The Real Oil Crisis). At the moment we are cutting and pasting from these links to create a 5 - 10 minute dvd (all fully referencing the ABC as the source) giving a brief PO introduction. We have been in contact with the ABC and are hoping that they will give us permission to use it as a community education tool and to put it up on the net as a free-to-users resource (they are both free-to-air TV programs and currently available on the internet). It's a current affairs style presentation, recent and Australian - so should suit our audiences here.

We have yet to do up a presentation outline and library resources list. The library resource list we will prepare with the help of our local librarian and the list will be available at the library. During presentations we will simply tell party guests that if they go to the library and ask, the librarian can give them the list.

I am doing my first party next week and have 2 others who are going to host parties in the near future (we just have to set the dates). These early parties will not include the cut and pasted version of the ABC stories. Instead I will use the full Catalyst story (it's 12 minutes long) until we have permission from the ABC for the one we are developing.

I will definitely let you know how we go with our trial by party (warts and all!).

Please share with us ideas you have, how you develop this approach to suit your community and what you discover as you try it out. You are welcome to plagiarise anything that is useful off our site (in whole or in part) – so long as the original sources are referenced. Andi and I co-write everything here.

I look forward to hearing more from you in the future.

Cheers

Ree


By the way, you can find both sides of the brochure, with the party invite, here:

deandi.com/rwbi/BrochureA.pdf
deandi.com/rwbi/BrochureB.pdf

ahazelwood

Editorial Notes: Brilliant idea! It sounds much more fun (and effective) than yet more lectures with oil-depletion graphs. Submitter and peak oil activist Kim Baxter writes: "this hit a nerve with me IMMEDIATELY, I think it will be huge hit" The original article has more comments. -BA UPDATE 12 September: Rob Hopkins has written a favourable response The Tupperware Approach to Relocalisation.

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