Drawdown Ecochallenge!


 I recently signed up for a one day symposium on global warming and an additional lecture by environmentalist, Bill McKibben.  One of the benefits of this is learning about another great initiative for the month of April – the Drawdown Ecochallenge.  Using an approach to Global Warming that focuses on solutions rather than problems, it posits 100 actions that ordinary people can take that are already tested as effective. The large project is full of names I know from my previous life as an organizational consultant – founder Paul Hawken, biologist, Janine Benyus, and behavioural researcher Charles Duhigg’s book, The Power of Habit, which still resides on my Ipad.  As a background document of the project attests:

“Several studies have shown that one’s belief that they should act and their intention to act are often not enough to help a person change an ingrained behavior, or to develop a less convenient or more difficult alternative to the habits they currently perform.”
— Northwest Earth Institute

 When the project started in the US Northwest in 1993, there was a scarcity of information.  Now we have too much data that is frequently unfocused, delivered in sound bites and of questionable authority.  It’s good to see these concerns addressed in a positive way. This project, running from April 3rd-24th, is designed to do just that.  It presents an attractive list of choices – some one-time actions, others to be attempted daily – and it includes a built- in tracking system.  The Drawdown Ecochallenge encourages people to join an existing team or form one of their own – and includes another important behavioral technique – points like the stars we earned in second grade; they support the team as well as the individual. 

 Some of the options include educational awareness.  Others include interaction with politicians that remind us to be citizens rather than numbers with names that they like to pin on us such as “taxpayers” or members of the “middle class”.  Some actions get right down to how much food we are putting on our plates, or food packaging and food waste.  EcoChallenge, the parent of the Drawdown project, also offers course suitable courses for a variety of organizations and enterprises.

 I signed up with enthusiasm and forwarded the invitation to a list of colleagues, encouraging them to join our City of Toronto team – which so far is small.  The enrollment bot told me that I have been overly ambitious and selected too many options.  It already knows me too well and I’ll have to rise to the occasion. It is wonderful to see a positive structure that responds to our wish to begin collective action and gives concrete options to do so in a positive way.