OpenIDEO BridgeBuilder challenge idea
[[[Project Name: Environmental Values Communities
Strapline: Global environmental citizens transforming their environment through culture change by building communities of shared values in Tunisia]]]]
During the 2010/11 Jasmine revolution in Tunisia, communities got together in ways that they had not before, to support and look out for each other. What happened here sparked the Arab spring and produced a functioning democracy. The country has faced challenges to its peace and stability with acts of terrorism at home and abroad as well as instability in the region. Throughout this, the power exercised by the people continues to be a hope and inspiration for the future.
Littering is a classically messy problem - we all agree that we want clean streets and it seems like such a simple thing to hold onto our trash until we can put it somewhere appropriate, and yet it still seems to happen. Despite many government initiatives from cute cartoon animal ambassadors for recycling to bans on plastic bags, it still seems to be a major problem in Tunisia.
Collective action problems like keeping neighbourhoods clean tend to incentivise freeloaders and that is how it was in the past - the government was responsible. But since the revolution, things have changed. In many areas, underfunded councils are no longer taking care of the streets. Communities have discovered that they have power and responsibility to improve themselves. Rather than top down carrot and stick incentives, coordination at the local level between informed global citizens is where the real power for transformation lies. It is time for communities to build a country that they can be proud of. We want to support them in this.
Culture tends to change in two directions: laterally, we tend to coordinate with each other through being influenced by the values and behaviours of those around us. Vertically, as we change in one area of our lives, we tend to experience deeper transformation in our thinking and being as we seek internal consistency. If we build communities who develop shared values and norms in one aspect of our relationship with our environment, we would expect to see broader transformations in attitudes and behaviours towards the environment as a whole.
Littering is a model of our relationship between our environment and our communities. We are all better off if our neighbourhoods are taken care of, but unless we are all onboard, we won't make any difference. Like all common pool resource problems, clean communities are not just about the relationship between people and the land, they are about our relationships with one another. In other words: if we want to improve our environment, it will not be enough for us as individuals to behave differently, we need transformed communities.
Explain your Idea
Since 2013 we have been building communities through values projects. We gather initiators and social entrepreneurs together into groups who identify and explore social values together including ideas like reconciliation, servant leadership and non-violence. The groups identify projects that they would like to carry out using their social resources and passions. Some of these have included things like peace building education in schools and media productions.
To date we have focused on values that bring peace and reconciliation to communities, however, several participants have identified the environment as an area where they would like to move forward and take action. So the next stage of community building as we see it is releasing people to form shared environmental values groups based at the level of communities. They will use a similar process to the projects that we have been running before but combine the community building and reconciliation that comes from negotiating shared values with a focus on the environment.
The groups will work together to form ‘clean neighbourhoods’ where responsibility is taken to make neighborhoods a beautiful place to live. At the same time, projects will be identified by the participants from a selection of suggestions including adopting a green space, education projects or setting up and servicing road-side trash cans.
Gather groups of initiators from diverse groups within facilitators’ neighbourhoods
Identify and negotiate shared environmental values
Form ‘clean neighbourhoods’
Take action (projects)
...potential rollout of the model to neighbourhoods in other cities following planned community values projects
Participants of environmental values community groups
Wider communities within the influence of the environmental values community groups, including residents of clean neighbourhoods, groups benefiting from community group participant projects (i.e. local school students, users of adopted green spaces, etc.)
Local ecosystems that are within the boundaries of the projects, with the wider goal of contributing to improvement of the environment at national level and beyond
How is your idea Unique
Many top-down interventions to protect the environment focus on incentives directed towards changing the behaviour of individual actors. We recognise cooperating communities as the solution. Our work enables communities to gather and take action through discovering and creating shared values. We have seen that cooperation and action happens when bridges are built and restored at the level of community and when those communities co-create and discover shared values together.
Idea proposal stage
Full-scale roll-out: I have completed a pilot and analyzed the impact of that pilot on the users I am trying to reach with my idea. I am ready to expand the pilot significantly
Tell us more about you
The idea of starting up the NGO came from a few Norwegians and Swedes who had worked in the tourist industry in Tunisia for many years. The founders’ long relationship with the country, with the tourism industry and with many personal contacts gave birth to the idea of doing something more. We have come across many social entrepreneurs doing great work for the good of their country and came to the conclusion that they hold the keys to development and change for the benefit of Tunisia.
At Friends of Tunisia, we want to build a platform where means and needs can meet and be channeled into different development projects with local partners. Friends of Tunisia’s mission is to connect people, empower initiatives and maximize opportunities. We do this by working alongside local initiators and social entrepreneurs within different areas of society - providing support, guidance, expertise and resources. We see our roles as motivators, knowledge and resource mediators and most of all as friends.