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Carolyn’s blog, ‘What would Greta do?’

By 27th September 2019 October 4th, 2019 Blogs, CJIF

I’ve spent some time chatting to folk in other organisations recently about how they see the world right now, what gives them hope, and what keeps them up at night.

The leadership that young people are showing – in Scotland and globally – on the climate emergency was a ‘reason for hope’ mentioned by many.

Climate change can of course be our worry in the dark hours (and the light ones too). But the movements and campaigns led by young people, are also a bright beacon.

I think people mentioned this to me not just because of the impact of these movements on the climate emergency issue, but because of the wider lessons they show us about how to bring about change.

The established power of institutions and organisations seems to be on the wane, and a new kind of power has grown up alongside it.

Young leaders like Greta Thunberg are a touchstone for this new power. In less than a year, her one-person school strike to highlight the climate emergency has turned into a global movement with hundreds of thousands of participants.

“New power operates differently, like a current. It is made by many. It is open, participatory, and peer-driven. It uploads, and it distributes. Like water or electricity, it’s most forceful when it surges. The goal with new power is not to hoard it but to channel it.”[i]

There’s a lot that we can learn from this about how people get inspired, take part, have their say, and feel like they can make something happen.

This time last week many of our team were joining young people in striking for the climate. The scenes of hundreds of thousands of young people joining together around the globe were hugely hopeful and uplifting. However, Greta Thunberg reminded us powerfully in her speech to the UN that we must not draw hope from these young people, without also being willing to act.

“Yet you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you!”

(Greta Thunberg, address to UN Climate Summit, 23 September 2019)

And there’s a challenge here for funders: to consider how we might best offer help to these movements, if indeed that help is needed. Because they might be quite different to the traditional, well-planned, closely-governed activity we often (and proudly) support. This is not about leading, but rather getting alongside and contributing what we can. At Corra Foundation we want to feel hopeful, but we want to earn the right to that hope and are always up for some bold thinking on how to do that.

[i] Harvard Business Review

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