Blog > Camille Jensen

People Power – It’s in the Design

There are many things I could write about after attending Greenpeace’s Digital Mobilisation Skillshare: the smart, passionate people I met (I’ve already written about some of them here), the lively debates on how to mobilise more people to change the world, or the social energy of Spain, where on the first evening I witnessed protests of a failing economy and government corruption.

But after reflecting on the event and my experience, what struck me most was the way the conference was a direct reflection of what it wanted to create in the world.

The Greenpeace Digital Mobilisation Skillshare aims to help Greenpeace staff members build campaigns that enable and unleash the potential of its more than 20 million members across the globe.

Photo credit: Ibraheem Mohammed

No small challenge. And when confronted with this complex problem, awash with ambiguity and a rapidly changing sector, the event could have looked outside to the “experts” for answers, featuring a steady stream of keynotes, best practice sharing and what’s worked for others.

Instead, the event made the 140 participants from 50 countries the “collective” keynotes, inviting every participant to take part in designing and facilitating sessions on mobilisation.

Five guests or “experts” did present, and their insights from maximizing the use of mobile to daily campaigning were greatly appreciated, but these sessions took place at the same time as sessions held by multiple Greenpeace staff members.

Typically, 12-15 different sessions were running concurrently creating intimate discussions that participants chose to attend.

Open space technology, which is the approach taken by the Digital Mobilisation Skillshare is not new, but I can’t think of a more appropriate model for this event. When exploring how to get citizens engaged and acting on what matters, the conference was a model; it was a people-powered event.

Participants walked through the engagement process. That is, loosening the reins, and empowering the people who will have to live with the decisions made to determine what’s meaningful, how they want to act, what they need to learn, and to trust that process.

Such an approach is not easy for organizers or participants. As an organization you have to let go of controlling the outcomes and instead set the vision and hold the space, a space that invites leadership, inclusion and possibility.

 Photo credit: Ibraheem Mohammed

As a participant, you have to completely reframe your expectations. You are no longer a passive recipient of information. You are collaborating, exploring and ideally pushing past a fear of failure to truly embrace new ideas and opportunity.

Holding a traditional conference with expectations of teacher and student is much easier, but as our friend and author Peter Block writes, in doing so we disempower the collective. We have all been mentored and coached, and most of us have mentored and coached others. If we are waiting for more knowledge, more skills, more support from the world around us, we’re waiting too long.

It’s time to act like we know, and organize with others who share our passion.

Kudos to the Digital Mobilisation Lab for demonstrating this so beautifully.

Axiom News provides Stakeholder News to Greenpeace Digital Mobilisation Lab.


great post

glad you were there!

Blogger Profile

Camille Jensen's picture

Camille Jensen is an employee share ownership consultant with ESOP Builders, Canada’s largest provider of employee share ownership plans (ESOPs) for small- and medium-sized enterprises.

Prior to joining ESOP Builders, Camille was a generative journalist and team member at Axiom News. She credits her time at Axiom as fundamental to her understanding that business is one of the best opportunities to make a difference in the world.

Camille is a B.C. Partner for Social Impact and volunteer with Okanagan Changemakers.

Latest Blog

It was a simple interaction, but to me it spoke volumes about the awareness of employee ownership in Canada. An accountant sitting next to me on a plane asked me what I did for a living. I told him that I help companies design and implement employee share ownership plans (ESOPs).

Imagine it’s 2030. The world’s greatest generation of entrepreneurs, the baby boomers, have retired from the more than 600,000 small- and medium-sized businesses they founded. Due to the thousands of companies that went up for sale, and an awareness of the gravity of the transition, a significant number of business owners chose to sell their companies to their employees.

For the past two years, a consortium of organizations have been working with Cuban government agencies and Cuban academic and nonprofit institutions to promote the country’s transition to a social economy fuelled by social enterprise and co-operatives, and 2012 was a big year in terms of change.

A year in review and what’s next for Canada’s growing blended-value sector

We first met Enterprising Non-Profits (ENP) team manager David LePage more than three years ago as a presenter at the third Canadian Conference on Social Enterprise.

Nine months ago as part of the United Nations International Year of Co-operatives (IYC), the Alberta Community and Co-operative Association partnered with Axiom News to turn the secret of Alberta’s co-ops into stories.

Last week while attending two of our client’s annual general meetings, I had the pleasure of seeing how stories can demonstrate an organization’s social impact.

Ajay Puri and I were at a Vancouver social innovation beach party when I mentioned I would be attending this year’s Web of Change.