How do we become and empower change agents to achieve a sustainable energy future?
Figure 1: How do I become a change agent?
On Saturday, 2nd of June 2018, Tiago Mendes (Open Space Studio) and I, Falko Döring (CommUnity by InnoEnergy Manager) conducted a 90-minute workshop with almost 50 participants to co-create on the important question “How do we become and empower change agents to achieve a sustainable energy future?”. The time pressure was high, but with the right tuning, we managed to build a strong community feeling between the participants and a good understanding of what we need to do! Curious on the results? Continue reading!
The average participant profile can be described as a young, proactive, multidisciplinary and well-educated student, 20-25 years old, who is very conscious about the impact we are leaving on the world. Sustainability was an important topic in many of the discussions throughout the whole event.
What are the 2 or 3 major energy challenges in your personal environment?
After grouping the participants by their locations, where they currently live throughout Europe, we invited them to talk about and define the energy challenges in their personal environment. Here is a list of some of the challenges identified by the participants:
- Phasing out of coal
- Trade-off thinking: Jobs vs. environmental protection
- Storage of green energy
- Air pollution
- Lack of public examples
- Sustainable mobility
- Meat consumption
- And the list goes on…
Figure 2: Energy challenges faced and expressed by our young generation
One has to understand, that depending on your demographic background, the impact of energy challenges you are facing vary. Unfortunately, there was no time to rank which energy challenges are most pressing in certain locations.
With these burning challenges in mind, it was time to talk about what we can do on an individual level.
How do I become a change agent?
The term “change agent” is a widely used term for a person who drives change. It is often misunderstood as a title which is only given to outstanding persons, as the leader of a change process. Therefore, in our group, we emphasized that everyone who contributes to a change automatically becomes a change agent. We also identified certain traits, characteristics and/or skills related to being a change agent.
- Open Minded
- Strong people skills
- Strong work ethic
Knowing the challenges in your environment, that we all can be change agents, and what kind of traits we need to bring along, we then reflected as individuals on ourselves as part of the process of solving these challenges. We pictured ourselves, where we are right now and identified where we would like to be, to chart a course for us to follow! We then shared these important insights with two other people in the room, gave feedback to each other, and later in the original groups. The results are as diverse as the people in the room. Therefore, I can only highlight some of them:
- Sustainable clothing
- Become vegan
- Shop without plastic
- Initiatives at work(reduce plastic in offices, more bio products in the office kitchen, less printing,..)
- Work with NGO’s
- Self-production: veggies, hygiene products, clothes
- Set up sustainable stores
- And many more…
A team of change agents
Successful change agents involve more than the passion, ideas, characteristics and/or skills of the individual. It requires a team to truly deliver an impact. In order to build a team, you need to be able to create understanding in others of the value you want to bring to the world. Therefore, being able to share your story is essential. We finished the workshop in a big circle, giving everyone the opportunity to share their main takeaways from this experience together.
Figure 3: No mobile phones and no ego allowed!
The feedback was overwhelmingly positive. People felt empowered throughout the process of the workshop and we successfully moved beyond theory and actually delivered an impact. Last, it was clear for everyone that the real challenge lies in taking the positive energy and the focus outside of the workshop. There the next big question is:
How do we maintain the feeling and movement created in this 90-minute workshop?
I would like to thank Open Space Studio’s Tiago Mendes, my co-designer and co-facilitator, and all of the CommUnity members, who supported us as catalysts: Timo Methler, Krishna Reddy, Aleksandra Radwanska, Zaheer Ahamed, Marco Costa and Lucas Schreiner. Finally, thanks to all the participants who kept their mobile phones untouched, checked their egos at the door and engaged with a high energy level. Well done!
You can find all the pictures from this event and others in Our Flickr Account
By Falko Döring
In Collaboration with The CommUnity Post