HOW DO WE re-create Permaculture Australia (PA) as a viable, go-to organisation for the design system in Australia?
First, those interested in rebuilding what has been one of the longest-lasting organisations in permaculture could think of active participation in it, not just membership and letting others get on with it. You could become one of those ‘others’, a doer. How would you do this? By joining one of the existing teams or creating your own team.
Although the Permafund and Accredited Permaculture Training team have been doing good work in improving these activities of Permaculture Australia there are those who would like to move the organisation further and attract new people. How would be do this?
One approach is to develop a strategy that follows this path:
FOCUS > GRAB ATTENTION > ENGAGE > TAKE ACTION.
That’s the approach recommended in the book, The Dragonfly Effect — small acts create big change.
Part of ths process is attracting, then recruiting people to PA. To do this successfully we need four assets.
1. A PLATFORM
A platform is a media asset from which we would address people. It consists of a number of assets…
- the website would have a RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feed to push new items to those who use content aggregators.
- like Facebook or Google +; requires frequent postings of material that informs, educates and sometimes entertains
- the organisation’s social median curates through reposting relevant material produced by others
- it posts original material written by its members… ideas, instructional material, commentary, opinion, reviews of books, DVD, online media.
- some people prefer to be kept informed of your organisation’s news directly, by email.
- >hosted on the website with a precis of content sent via email to subscribers and linked to from PA social media; a newsletter carries articles and images pertinent to PA’s theme; newsletter software makes production easy; before starting to produce a newsletter it is important to confirm that we can produce regular editions — this means sourcing material and includes producing content ourselves.
- offline events and other activities complement online contact
- these might feature visiting or local people from the organisation and focus on something timely and informative
- social events bring supporters together so they can meet each other; social events feature food and conviviality and help build a sense of belonging
- organisational meetings; these should be as brief as possible; allow plenty of time before the meeting begins for people to catch up and chat; meetings should include a social element; include food and something to drink — this is important; adopt an informal structure rather than a formal approach; alternatively, for organisations like PA with a geographically scattered membership, a Skype or teleconference meeting online is useful.
CONSIDER — PA’s media assets:
- Permaculture Oceania email distribution list
- a newsletter has started to be produced.
Because of the scattered distribution of PA members, organising a meeting in a single location is not achievable. As the organisation is re-created and starts to grow, members in different places could organise informal get-togethers so people can get to know each other and to discuss issues and topics. Teams could met online via Skype.
2. YOU NEED A REASON FOR INTERESTED PEOPLE TO BECOME SUPPORTERS
- answer the question of ‘why?’; why they should they care about what you do; why should they pay attention?
- stories about what people do within the organisation is an effective means of recruitment — why did you become involved and what do you do?
- there is much competition for people’s attention; our media needs to be able to quickly grab their attention or we risk losing them, and then engage with them.
CONSIDER — What advantages for the individual and for the practice of permaculture design in Australia does membership of Permaculture Australia offer and why would this encourage membership?
3. CREATE A WELCOMING ENVIRONMENT
- what can we invite people to do now — how would we engage with them? it has to be something interesting to engage them and bring them back to our website and to our activities; it has to be more than functional roles in the organisation such as treasurer, secretary etc… it has to be making something happen
- connect people with each other… provide the chance to meet the like-minded
- this applies both online and offline
- let visitors know who we are looking for; not everyone is a potential recruit
- know and explain your point of difference to other organisations
- publish occasional controversial articles to filter prospective recruits and gain a following.
4. DEEPEN THE RELATIONSHIP
- motivate people in three ways:
- inspire — this is the most important; we should appear to be ordinary people learning to do whatever it is the organisation does
- ask for help; initially by asking people to do something easy and simple like spreading the word about our organisation and its initiatives or by completing a survey; later, request more committed support, such as financial
- to do this we establish a strong relationship with people
- strong ties between people occur were they have frequent contact and work together on organisational projects
- cultivate the weak ties with friends of friends too, as assistance is likely to come through this.