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Does your Community offer a Future that Youths wants to take leadership for in Achieving?

04.07.2022

A surprising invitation

A surprising invitation from the global initiative One Day in 2050 gave me the energy to start a local conversation about how a day in 2050 would be in our community. I got an invite to write an article about the local headliner on any chosen day of 2050, to reflect the changes in society based on climate change and our efforts to reach the UN Sustainability Goals.

After reading the material published by people worldwide, I thought these stories have great potential to be an eye-opener and kick-off for local development towards 2050. Peter Block's book "Community - The Structures of Belonging" strongly influences my worldview. In this book he says, "Every time we gather becomes a model of the future we want to create." Society changes for the better through engaging all citizens, sharing their resources, and seeing themselves and others' contributions as gifts.

My background and worldview

I am a municipal council representative in Molde municipal council in my last term this time. I worked in public administration for over 25 years, in several municipalities, county municipalities, and state administrators, including as a councilor. By education, I have a master's degree in community planning, public management, and private/public co-creative innovation from 2020. I am the founder of Demokratitanken AS. The business name has two origins. One refers to the philosophy of democracy as an idea for development of societies through the active involvement of citizens. Our knowledge, accessible tools, and mobilizing methods are resources available for you as a toolbox for the sustainable and democratic development of individuals, organizations, and society. I am passionate about good social development, where people participate actively as citizens. I firmly believe that new generations must learn to see that their participation and personal commitment/ leadership shape the future.

Based on my beliefs, I give my resources as gifts to the development of society and contribute to the local community by creating the growth of new representatives to be elected. My engagement is rooted in a feeling that the time is running out to make the world safe for all based on the rising climate changes.

I intend that the pupil's work and collaboration with the local newspaper will raise awareness locally about what future we shape through our thoughts and actions today. I thought the One Day in 2050 material has excellent potential as learning and reflection material. Such sources are essential in creating greater awareness that we who live now and our daily choices between now and 2050 will shape the situation in 2050.

The future our young people envisage is that we shape together through current actions. To make a sustainable future possible, we need to have a public conversation about where we want to go and what we want to do, not to end up where no one will come. In my opinion, we need all people to see themself as invited to engage in relevant Change initiatives and, through their accountable leadership of self and others, to contribute to making a more sustainable world for all.

Implementation

I created a design for a full day of alternative school, focusing on how different decision-making models affect societal development outcomes (Here,you can access a template).

Secondly, I invited the mayor of the municipality of Molde and the editor of the local newspaper Midsundingen to participate in the day before introducing the offer to the local primary school, Midsund skule.

The framework is a full-day workshop for an alternative school day rooted in science (climate crisis), social studies (democracy and governance), English (literature), and Norwegian (how to write an excellent journalistic article).

The design has its fundament in whole-person process facilitation, where Open Space Technology was used as a meeting method this time. Integrated into the design were learning sessions such as "One Day in 2050 reading" for inspiration, a short introduction from the newspaper editor about how to write a good newspaper article in 300 words, and an introduction to the democratic tradition of majority decision-making versus a democratic decision-making tradition FivetoFold.

The students already knew the democratic model, where the majority decides, and the minority must align itself. In the workshop, they learned about FivetoFold as a decision-making process. It is a traditional decision-making process among indigenous peoples in North America. An alternative decision-making process challenges our democratic understanding. It follows Arne Næss' definition of democratic practice as the one that at all times is most an expression of the people's will, e.g., based on the most inclusive participation. Based on knowledge of these two decision-making processes, students worked with various topics for what a news item and news day in Midsund / Molde look like on an arbitrary day in June 2050.

Participation

The event was held on June 9, with 21 pupils from 8th grade, six different teachers and assistants, the editor, and me together for the entire School Day.

By collaborating with the local newspaper, we all learned more about the requirements for a newspaper article of 300 words. The local newspaper gained access to material on what today's young people think our local community will look like in 2050 and concluded an ongoing project with the school and pupils to follow up with articles in the local newspaper coming fall.

The mayor and deputy mayor were invited as participants but could not attend. The mayor contributed to a successful day by donating 100 euros for the workshop's fruits, snacks, and ice cream. As the facilitator led the activities, the class's teachers and editor from the local newspaper participated on an equal footing with the students. The teachers cared for students with particular needs and were accountable for the school.

The participants were all 21 students in 8th grade at Midsund school, six teachers and adult assistants, me, and the newspaper editor. We used the class classrooms and set up a large circle of chairs so all students and other participants could fit into the same circle. We used five group rooms for the theme group work during the day. The pupils posted their agenda topics and self-led their time and activities within the schedule for the day. They were accountable leaders of their own time, energy, and engagement.

Different posters decorated the classroom before we started, stating the day's activities, the law of mobility, the open Space principles, the butterfly and the bumble bee, the Marketplace, and agenda-setting. In the center of the circle of chairs, I decorated with cards, stones, and UN Sustainability goals shaped as a spiral. In our Transfer-in, we used the objects to kick start our creative minds and get settled as a group sharing a common starting point for our work.

The school cover costs for necessary materials:

  • Flip over blocks to write wallpapers or gray paper on a roll. We cut off and hung up with masking tape or similar on the walls around the hall during the workshop.
  • About 20 A4 sheets in 2 different colors (yellow and green)
  • Two blocks of Post-it notes, yellow and orange
  • 40 Spirit/ permanent markers, preferably in different colors. Color pencils for pupils who can't stand permanent markers' smell or sound.
  • This kind of headwork consumes a lot of energy, and the students must bring a nurturing packed lunch and have access to fruits, nuts, yogurt, etc., and fresh water to drink.
  • It is nice to keep up the spirit of the adults that are participants that they have access to coffee and tea during the day and also bring an excellent nurturing, packed lunch.
  • It is nice to have soft drinks and serve ice cream when we announce the decision. We celebrate the decision, the courage shown by standing for their opinions, and the work done throughout the day.

Outcome

The pupils engaged powerfully in all activities and, worked on many topics during the workshop, introduced themselves. The subjects were:

  • "Virtual reality in 2050 as optimizer of life quality",
  • "Harassment and bullying,"
  • "Discrimination based on sexes, color, and sexuality,"
  • "will cars be running on diesel and petrol in 2050,"
  • "How will we understand good health in 2050",
  • "Circular economy and less waste,"
  • "threatened spices in 2022, and the status for them and others in 2050", "the impact on Norwegian wealth and society if we do not have the income from the sale of oil and gas."

All papers made hung as newspapers on the walls of the classroom. Afterward, the facilitator read all the news to the participants before we opened up for questions and reflection, sharing what needed further exploration of understanding and clarification through open questions. Wrapping this part up, we briefly examined if we had an image of different sides of our local society in 2050 to make a decision over. The conclusion was yes, and we voted using FivetoFold as the method.

The FivetoFold voting

None were voting five fingers. That means no one supported realizing this future and saw themselves taking leadership to make it come true. Four persons voted four fingers, showing they supported the future described in the newspapers but did not see themselves taking any leadership in realizing it. Thirteen participants voted by showing three fingers. That means they support the future shown, but do not take leadership to achieve it, have no significant concerns, and are open to other futures that can come into play. None voted one or two fingers, meaning no one has significant concerns connected to the decision and will take active leadership against it.

One voted with a folded hand, saying he laid down a veto because of significant concerns about this future. He shared his concerns connected to the news about VR possibilities in 2050: "If you have a shitty life at school and home, technology provides you the opportunity to log off physically from your body, and log in to a virtual world where you are a valuable person, where people will be together with you as you are, where you will be able to use your potential and do all the things you could imagine ."He could not be part of the decision-making where we take leadership for realizing a future where people are not connected in the real world and are seen as valuable citizens of their local communities. A 13-year-old boy put words to my thoughts and feelings.

Conclusions

As a facilitator, you do not engage in the dialogue and are holding the space open for all the other participants. Sometimes this is very hard.

It greatly impacted me hearing the perspectives of the pupils working on the virtual reality topic and what I experienced as a lack of empathy from the group as they listened to the open sharing on this topic. It is the inspiration behind my contribution to the global One Day in 2050 initiative. Read my news article for A Day in 2050, published here on June 19, 2050.

In the closing circle, I invite everyone to say something about their day's experience, reflections, and learnings. Everyone that talked said it had been a completely different day at school. They liked working like this and had learned a lot. Some expressed the wish to work more like this in the future. One said it had been an entirely different day, but he would have preferred to play football and go to the gym. The feedback from the teachers and other adults was great. The editor said he had learned much and would bring these topics into the local newspaper in the coming months.

Next steps

I will bring the insight from this day with me in my further work as a local politician in Molde. The wisdom enriches me in my innovation and process leader role. I have a special heart for young people in exclusion and participate in many cases of business modeling for a more inclusive society. A big trend worldwide is to put new technology to work that enables the green and sustainable digital transformation of corporate networks, organizations, and society. Many excluded youths have the tech knowledge and insight to help us transform sustainability, but when we have to see and include them and their gifts.

My particular areas of interest did their part in the topics of VR and the extinction of animals. Climate change is already strongly present and already means that many lives, animal species, livelihoods, and societies are threatened. Through digital membership meetings at the World Climate School, I regularly meet people in Africa, Asia, and North America who do not plan for climate change. They live close to increased dangers and loss of valuable resources that I can only try to understand. In many qualification projects, I have learned to know how young people with significant resources are not in a position to share their gifts. I have learned why games / VR attract and offer communities where they get the belonging they miss in their physical lives.

As a local politician, mother and grandmother, I believe our physical world must be the primary place where you are recognized as a human being. People are valuable in themselves and should be valued for the gifts that contact with them gives them, yourself, and others in the society where you live. Games and digital surfaces provide expanded opportunities to live out more of yourself. They cannot replace and build the overlapping social fields, networks, and relationships that give you as an individual a secure foundation and belonging to the physical and geographical community of destiny you are part of as a valuable human being and citizen. The qualities that young people dream of acquiring in the virtual world should be qualities that our physical world and communities offer.

Equal citizens build safe societies where everyone can experience belonging and ownership of the physical reality they are part of. If you are invisible as a resource and gift in your physical life, how will you be able to function and take part in society as an equal citizen if the only ones who know you are available in the virtual world? Meeting for volunteer work in the virtual world makes little sense and does not provide effects such as greater well-being, social glue through trust, and security where you live your physical life. Empathy and the will to understand each other's worlds require practice and work best when we know the world as an equal arena where everyone is equally important, with rich gifts that provide increased opportunities when everyone is included.

My newspaper article can be read under OneDay2050.org/Participants. See history published June 19. The students' contributions will eventually be shared in Midsundingen, probably from the August issue.

I thank you for educational and enjoyable hours with students, teachers, and editor Magne Jonny Krumsvik in Midsundingen. Many thanks also to Mayor Torgeir Dahl, who provided energy sources throughout the day🌺

Is this scheme something you could imagine at your school or in your organization? Get in touch, and I will be happy to contribute.

Feel free to share your thoughts and reflections after reading the article as a comment or personal message to me. Have a Perfect summer. 

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