Civil Society in Transition Conference, October 2013

On October 9–11 2013, the Smart CSOs Lab hosted the Civil Society in Transition Conference in Cologne, Germany. Change agents from civil society, academia, and the funding community came together to share and develop new approaches and strategies for how civil society can become a driving force for the Great Transition to a truly just society living within ecological limits.

Head to our YouTube channel to listen to voices from the conference sharing their frustrations, motivations and inspirations for joining the movement for systemic change.

New campaigns, new movements, new experiments — the seeds of the new civil society.

At the conference we heard and discussed a range of stories that could be the seeds of the new civil society becoming a driving force for the systemic change.

We explored how different strategic approaches from civil society projects and initiatives can mutually reinforce each other and catalyse the Great Transition. The three-level model for systemic change, introduced in the paper “How to Break Out of the System Trap”, served as a basis for our conversations.

Key questions discussed at the conference were:

  • How can we tell and live stories that transform our current consumerist/expansionist culture?
  • How can we support the creation of cross-sectoral movements that build real momentum for system change?
  • How can we get involved in the exciting innovation process of creating the new system/economy?
  • How can we change our own organisations to become fit for system change?

Civil Society in Transition report: Our broken stories – seeds of new stories – a new activism?

Based on presentations and discussions at the conference, the Civil Society and Transition report offers some of the seeds for a new activism that understands the systemic nature of civil society’s many struggles and is experimenting with new ways of catalysing systemic change. It explains the context for why these new stories have become necessary (broken stories) and how the Smart CSOs Lab is providing a space for activists and change agents to jointly learn how to make changes in the way civil society thinks, acts, and operates to work effectively towards systemic change.

Martin Kirk, head of strategy at The Rules, gave a very personal and inspirational keynote speech, titled “Confessions of an Unwise Activist”, available on our YouTube channel.