February 2012

The Widening Circles Campaign

The Widening Circle (TWC) campaign to enlarge and strengthen the global movement of global citizens is off to a slow but steady start. TWC builds on the existing work of many important organizations, initiatives, movements and grassroots efforts. TWC invites all who want to strengthen the global citizens movement, and all who recognize the need for new planetary institutions of global democracy, to widen our circles in a coordinated campaign.

The campaign is evolutionary by design, adapting to changing world circumstances and the input of new members as the circles widen. To this end, TWC is planned in phases — which each phase simply responsible for building the capacity to reach the next phase.

The first phase of TWC was launched in September 2010 from discussions among the Pachamama Alliance, Earth Charter Initiative, Transition USA, Forum for a new World Governance and the Great Transition Initiative at the “Synergizer” in Northern California. Two clear priorities for phase one were identified: first, move immediately to improve the diversity of the Coordinating Circle, adding more women and people from the Global South. The second priority is to establish the infrastructure for the campaign to bequeath to phase two.

This infrastructure is envisioned as semi-autonomous “circles” independent in their efforts, fundraising, strategies and growth — even as they are linked in mutual-support as part of a global campaign. So far, phase one has seen the development of a diversifying coordinating circle, a growing circle of allies, regional circles in Asia, Latin America, Southern Africa, Europe and North America, and issue circles.

Smart CSO’s Initiative has joined The Widening Circle campaign as the first issue circle: the transformation of large NGOs towards systemic strategies for a Great Transition. Other issue circles are in the process of forming, one on global governance and potentially another on the new economy. The formation of issue circles depends on the engagement of existing groups and identification of key individuals with the capacity to invest the time and leadership in convening them. It is a pragmatic opportunistic approach — perhaps Phase 2 will have a more strategic plan.

Similarly, the formation of regional circles has depended on key individuals stepping up and taking on the challenge of reaching out to their existing networks and convening a conversation about how to strengthen the global citizens movement in their region of the world. Each of these circles seeks to contextualize TWC by meaningfully linking the call of global citizenship to concerns of their region.

By the end of 2012, if all goes well, a Global Assembly of those active in TWC will be called to plan for phase two — and all aspects of TWC will be up for re-examination as new goals are set to widen our circles on the way to phase three. Importantly, the campaign will need to clarify how to best support global citizens in the movement to create a just and sustainable planetary civilization. This conversation is the ongoing work of all those involved in the circles – together we will make the path while walking.