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Mapping Dialogue
A research project profiling dialogue tools and processes for social change

Dialogue Project, Pioneers of Change
The modern world loves answers. We like to solve problems quickly. We like to know what to do. We don’t want to “reinvent the wheel”. We don’t want to “waste our time”. And when we have the answers or have a wheel invented we like to pass on the information to others.

We do this through the media, through training programmes where teachers pass on answers to students, or through conferences where experts speak on panels while hundreds listen (or pretend to listen) in the audience. This approach may be useful for some situations, but is problematic for a number of reasons, particularly when working on social and human challenges in the 21st century.

Firstly, we live in a world of increasing complexity, where answers have a short life-span. Adam Kahane in his recent book “Solving Tough Problems” (2004) points out that tough problems are characterised by three types of complexity.

Dynamic complexity means that cause and effect are distant in space and time. To address this type of complexity you need a systemic approach to the problem and the solution.

Social complexity means that there are many different and usually conflicting points of view and assumptions about the issue, and the problem isn’t owned by a single entity. This demands a participative approach.

Finally, generative complexity means that the old solutions are no longer working, and the problem is constantly changing and unpredictable, which requires a creative approach.

Not all problems are dynamically, socially, and generatively complex, but most if not all of the major social issues South Africa as a country is currently trying to work through are. Hiv/AIDS, black economic empowerment, democratic transition, globalisation, unemployment, and crime are all perfect examples.
This research project was commissioned by the German Technical Co-operation (GTZ). It is part of their supporting the Nelson Mandela Foundation (NMF) to explore ways in which dialogue can be used to address social challenges in South Africa.
(April 2006)
The document goes on to outline several different organisational tools and case studies for initiating social change, community dialogue and problem solving. It looks like a really key resource for community peak oil organisers, even though it has an African context. Found via Yesterday’s future blog -AF

Wind turbines and solar panels at B&Q

Julia Finch, The Guardian
The do-it-yourself chain B&Q is to sell wind turbines and solar panels as home energy generation moves into the mass market.

From next month, every one of B&Q’s 320 UK stores will display the energy-saving turbines, which transmit electricity, and three types of solar panel, which produce hot water. Both will fit on domestic roofs.

The move comes just a month after electrical retailer Currys started a pilot scheme selling solar panels.

B&Q has a reputation for being more environmentally friendly than most retailers and has recently been supporting the Climate Clinic, which includes Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, at party conferences. Yesterday the retailer’s chief executive, Ian Cheshire, said it was “responding to genuine customer interest” in eco-friendly, DIY energy generation. ..

The turbines will cost £1,498, which will include a home survey, help with applying for planning permission and installation. The retailer will advise householders on whether their homes are structurally suitable for the 1.75m wide and 2m tall turbines and whether they live in a location too sheltered from the wind. A spokesman for B&Q said its staff would also help customers apply for grants from the Energy Saving Trust, which can cover 30% of the cost of the turbine.

The turbines will generate up to 1kW of electricity, wired directly into a ring main to reduce the amount of power a household needs to buy.

Whereas Currys’ solar panels were designed to generate electricity, the B&Q version will heat water. The retailer said the panels worked with daylight rather than direct sunlight and were likely to provide half the hot water an average family needs. Two-panel units will cost £1,498 and three-panel units £2,498. A one-panel unit will be available for £1,798. Customers will have to arrange installation. ..
(29 Sept 2006)

Green is the colour of spin

Caroline Lucas, The Guardian
Environmental issues are all the rage among the main political parties, but there is still a massive gap between rhetoric and action. ..

David Cameron would have us believe that “green growth” is the answer to the environmental crisis we face. The idea that there could be any conflict between environmental protection and economic growth is, according to him, so “last century”.

Yet this position is fatally flawed. As EF Schumacher so cogently demonstrated more than 30 years ago, such illusions are based on a failure to distinguish between income and capital. ..

In other words, we cannot seriously address the major environmental challenges we face, chief among them climate change, using the same economic paradigm which caused the problem in the first place, which is based – precisely – on eating up the earth’s capital.

The limitations of this approach are thrown into sharp relief in the light of increasing evidence that the era of cheap, abundant fossil fuel energy is about to end. A growing number of petroleum geologists believe that peak oil – the moment when global oil extraction peaks, and demand starts to outstrip supply – will be upon us very soon. ..

It’s going to take more than a few green taxes to genuinely address climate change.
(2 Oct 2006)

Australia: Video Conferencing challenges Airline emissions

Enviro West press release
Melbourne will host two major international speakers to address Peak Oil and Climate Change issues over the next two weeks. But instead of flying the speakers to Melbourne from the other side of the world the organisers have chosen to use video conferencing technology to bring their message to the Melbourne public.

“We were very conscious of the amount of carbon dioxide that would be produced through flying speakers from half way around the world. Instead we discussed it with the speakers and all agreed that we should practice what we preach and try to avoid flying as much as possible” said Joe Natoli, one of the organisers, and Ecological Footprint Project manager at the Western Region Environment Centre.

The public presentations by Lester Brown and George Monbiot are sponsored by Sustainability Victoria, City of Melbourne, Melbourne Water, City West Water, and the Sustainable Living Foundation.

The special video link which will enable interaction between the speaker and the audience.

The first Public meeting will have as its keynote speaker Lester Brown speaking on “Peak Oil and Resource depletion – Crossroads for Humanity. The meeting will be chaired by Victoria’s Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability, Dr Ian McPhail. There will be time for audience questions and commentary at the end of Lester Brown’s presentation.

The meeting is open to the public and will commence at 7.45pm, Tuesday 3 October at the Melbourne University Law Building in Pelham Street, Carlton.

The following week, Tuesday 10 October, George Monbiot will be speaking on Climate Change and Urgent Responses – What we can do. This important presentation will commence at 7.45 and be held at the same venue: Melbourne University Law Building in Pelham St. Carlton (more details to follow).

“There is a growing world-wide consensus about the urgency for finding and implementing solutions. That is what Ecological Footprint Week will focus on this year. The presentations by two world authorities will be supplemented with several workshops, all aimed at finding solutions suitable for Victoria” Joe Natoli said.

For further information phone Harry van Moorst or Joe Natoli: 9731 0288 or 0431 121 218
(2 October 2006)
Further details here:

Iranian Science Teachers May Be Enriching Students

The Onion, The Nation
WASHINGTON, DC—A recently released Pentagon report is raising new worries that Iran has been operating several large facilities designed solely for the purpose of enriching mass quantities of high-grade students.

“We have reason to believe that specially trained Iranian science teachers are taking raw, unrefined brain power and bombarding it with knowledge at accelerated levels,” said U.S. Undersecretary Of Defense For Intelligence Stephen Cambone at a Tuesday press conference. ..

In a nationally televised Oval Office address Tuesday, President Bush expressed the concern that if Iran is allowed to enrich its students unchecked, many of them could end up anywhere, with some potentially landing in major university centers in New York and Los Angeles.

“The U.S. stopped enriching its students decades ago, and we call upon Iran to do the same,” Bush said. “If the Iranians do not put an end to this program by the middle of December, and impose final examinations, they could face further isolation from the international community.” ..
(26 Sept 2006)
Couldn’t find this on The Onion itself. If humour isn’t part of the solution, I’ll burn my bike. -LJ