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Empowering a Climate Change Movement, Part Four: The Global Warming Cafe

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

By David Gershon

This is the fourth of a six-part weekly series excerpted from chapter 11 of my book Social Change 2.0: A Blueprint for Reinventing Our World. It shows how over 300 communities in 36 states have built a bottom-up movement, Cool Community campaigns, focused on helping Americans take direct responsibility to reduce our carbon footprints while at the same time substantially reducing our energy expenses. It describes how tens of thousands of people are stepping up to help bring the planet back from the brink–one household, neighborhood and community at a time. And it offers a whole system solution by showing how by directly and strategically addressing carbon reduction in the short-term we are building demand for legislation, green technologies, and a low-carbon economy to scale up over the long-term. In case you missed previous installments of this series here are the links to Part One, Two, and Three.

The first step of a Cool Community campaign is to enroll as many community organizations as possible as partners and dissemination points. Once partner organizations are enrolled, the challenge is designing a recruitment tool for them that is easy to use, does not demand great expertise on the topic of global warming, and has the potential to start multiple teams at one time. We had solved a similar problem on a smaller scale in our sustainable lifestyle campaign through our block-based, peer-to-peer recruitment process for forming and replicating EcoTeams. This overcame the need for a charismatic enroller, thus enabling the process to be scalable. The design challenge here would be to apply a peer-to-peer approach with much larger numbers of people.

As a matter of course I am always looking for social innovations that I might be able to use for the various issues I am addressing. I experienced one such social innovation I liked very much and tucked it away in the back of my mind for future use. Called “The World Cafe,” its purpose is to accelerate the formation of intellectual capital by tapping into the collective intelligence of a group of people through a series of guided small-group conversations. It can work with groups as small as twenty people and as large as several hundred. It was created by two dear friends, management consultants Juanita Brown and David Issacs. Their critically acclaimed book describing this tool, The World Cafe: Shaping Our Future Through Conversations That Matter, has made a major contribution to the field of large-group processes.

The guidelines for a successful World Cafe process, as described by Juanita and David, are as follows:

  1. Groups of four people sit together. The cafe is most interesting and effective when people sit with those they do not know.
  2. Once the World Cafe begins the host presents the questions to be explored.
  3. For centuries indigenous peoples have used a talking stick to encourage mutual support and deep listening. Use a pen from the table or a symbolic object to pass around the table to each person. When you hold this object, it’s your turn to speak and answer the question. No one should interrupt the person. Those listening are encouraged to write, draw, or doodle on the paper tablecloths as others talk. Once everyone has spoken then general discussion is encouraged.
  4. You move in rounds of conversation to different tables to cross-pollinate ideas–carrying key insights, themes, and questions to each new conversation. Patterns emerge, additional perspectives surface, and surprising combinations of insight and creativity reveal themselves. The cafe host lets people know when to move to the next table.
  5. Each table chooses one person to act as a table host and agree to stay at the same table to welcome each round of guests. When the new guests are seated, the host briefly shares the high points of the last conversation and then encourages the guests, using the talking object, to link and connect ideas coming from their own table. As each person shares, the others continue to record and or draw key ideas and new connections on paper tablecloths.
  6. As part of the final round the overall Cafe host asks, “What’s at the center of our conversation?” and invites people to “listen into the middle” for the deeper themes and larger patterns so they can access the collective wisdom.
  7. These insights are shared in the larger group, and if possible, visually recorded for the larger community to observe.
  8. Juanita, along with another friend involved in the World Cafe work, Tom Hurley, and I would periodically talk to support one another in our various endeavors. In one of our conversations I told them I was interested in developing a large-group enrollment process for the Cool Community campaigns. I was keen to see if we might be able to combine the World Cafe process with our EcoTeam recruitment event. I told them our challenge was not making the case that we had a problem; Al Gore had already done that with his movie. In fact he had done this so well that people left feeling a sense of foreboding doom. This is part of the nature of accepting reality. To empower people to take effective action, which was our goal, we would need to help them first address and transform the fears they were feeling, and then help them gain a measure of control by becoming part of the global warming solution.

    What I knew from our large-group empowerment processes is that much of the transformation occurs as a result of people’s interaction with one another in the group. I also knew from our information events that enrolling people on EcoTeams is most effectively done by their peers. If the new social norm is to reduce our carbon footprint to minimize our impact on global warming, the people most able to influence the take-up of this new set of behaviors are our peers. What I appreciated about the World Cafe process was how it enabled highly engaging peer-to-peer conversations. We would need to use these conversations in such a way that people could both process their feelings and move to concrete action to reduce their carbon footprint. This would require people to shift from intellectual knowledge, detachment, or avoidance of the issue, to emotional engagement. If we got this right, we would have a transformative tool that could create real lift to this emerging movement.

    Collaborating with Juanita and Tom was as good as it gets for me. They each combine strategic thinking and heart, informed by a unitive way of addressing change. This would also be a good modeling of the synergy that can and needs to be created by blending complementary social innovations–in this case, the World Cafe large-group engagement process, EcoTeam information and recruitment event, and Low Carbon Diet behavior-change program. We called this hybrid social innovation a “Global Warming Cafe” and defined its purpose this way: “To help people bear witness to the fact that life as we have known it on this planet is imperiled with global warming and based on that to provide them an opportunity to process their fears and hopes for the future. And then become part of the global warming solution through taking personal action in their household and larger community.”

    We designed the process in both a two- and four-hour format and recommended the latter to get the full benefit. It would begin as soon as people entered the room through the projection of slides that connected people with the diversity of our planet’s people, cultures, and natural beauty, interspersed with images of Earth from space. These images served to remind everyone of the common ground of our shared humanity, now at risk. The images would continue to be projected during the World Cafe process, subliminally informing and inspiring people as they engaged in conversation with one another.

    The World Cafe guidelines would be explained and people would then be immersed for the next two hours in answering two questions.

    • “What are my fears for myself, my family, my community, and my planet’s future inhabitants around global warming?”
    • “What provides me hope that we can successfully address global warming?”

    People would move from table to table four times, first doing two rounds on fears and then two on hopes. Depending on the number of individuals participating, they would interact with as many as twenty different people. Each table would have a host who at the end of the process would synthesize and report on the fears and hopes of the people who were at that table. A graphic facilitator would record the group’s fears and hopes on large butcher block paper displayed on one of the walls in the room.

    This would be followed by a presentation of the slide show I described earlier in this series, to inform people that there was a proven community-based behavior-change strategy for taking effective personal action with the potential to be brought to scale community by community across the nation. The goal of this part of the Global Warming Cafe was to help people move from feeling like victims of forces outside their control to feeling hopeful that there is a way of concretely addressing this issue.

    To avail ourselves of the power of peer-to-peer diffusion, after the slide show, we would, if available, have several people who had participated on Low Carbon Diet EcoTeams describe the concrete carbon reduction results they achieved and their experience of social connectivity from participating on a team with neighbors, friends, co-workers, or members of a faith community. This would be followed by a question-and-answer period. Questions could be directed to any of the EcoTeam members or to the Global Warming Cafe facilitator.

    We would then have people participate in a final World Cafe process around making a personal commitment to action. We would encourage participants at a minimum to consider participating on an EcoTeam; and then consider volunteering for the Cool Community campaign or championing ideas to help their workplace, child’s school, or local government lower its carbon footprint. The latter commitment provided an opportunity to spawn social innovations to address carbon reduction and create openings for synergy.

    We would “close the deal,” to use Wes Sander’s term, by asking people to raise their hands if they planned to participate on an EcoTeam. From our past experience we expected that most people would make this commitment, and having one’s personal commitment witnessed by peers created the motivation for them to follow through. We would then invite people to share the ideas they were willing to champion and record them next to the hopes and fears, all the while encouraging cross-pollination where possible. We would conclude by getting interested people organized into EcoTeams and collecting names of volunteers wishing to participate in the Cool Community campaign.

    An opportunity soon came along for testing out the Global Warming Cafe. Gail, my wife, being the enthusiastic and environmentally conscious person that she is, had organized an EcoTeam of our friends as soon as the new version of the Low Carbon Diet was published. Our EcoTeam was completing the program just as I was putting the finishing touches on the Global Warming Cafe process. I asked the team if they would be interested in being guinea pigs and helping me prototype this new tool. They were enthusiastic and we set a date two months out to give it a try in our very own community of Woodstock, New York.

    This would be an interesting experiment on several counts. A lot of progressive former New Yorkers make their homes in Woodstock and the surrounding area, but I would not characterize the town as an early adopter for environmental issues. Testing it here would provide a good gauge for the level of demand for taking action on this issue that existed beyond the bright green communities. I was also intrigued to see how it would work to have an EcoTeam serve as the organizers for a Global Warming Cafe. This would be taking the process of EcoTeams replicating themselves quantum and was a model that could easily be scaled.

    Before I proceed further I have a true confession to tell about my personal experience of doing the Low Carbon Diet. Gail and I assumed we would ace this program, given that we were leading a very green lifestyle. After all, we’d done so many of the actions in the sustainable lifestyle program I had created previously, and thoroughly integrated them as a way of life. However, because I am always flying all over the planet telling people to lower their carbon footprint or promoting some other save-the-world idea, our household carbon footprint was not a pretty sight. When Gail and I calculated it on a scale of one to ten with ten being the best, carbon neutral, and one being the worst, 80,000 pounds or more, we scored a one — the worst!

    Fortunately, there is a happy ending to this story. After accepting our fate as high carbon emitters we got down to business and got to level five by losing what we called the “hard pounds,” or those lost through behavior and system changes. We insulated our roof, installed triple-pane windows, switched to renewable energy from our electric utility, and installed a solar hot water system, among other things. We then got to level ten by losing “soft pounds” through purchasing carbon offsets. Most of my team was also in need of a similar low carbon lifestyle makeover. My take-away from this experience: A green lifestyle is not the same as a low carbon lifestyle. And if my EcoTeam was the early-adopter crowd, what a vast opportunity we had to impact the American carbon footprint.

    Anyway, our EcoTeam stepped up to the challenge. We got a local faith community, the Woodstock Jewish Congregation, to donate a room for seventy-five people. We persuaded the Woodstock Town Board, a wonderful regional environmental organization called Sustainable Hudson Valley, and the New York Department of Environmental Conservation, our state environmental agency to co-sponsor the event. We got food donated from local businesses. A member of our team created a flier that we distributed to various community groups. We got our local media to do stories encouraging people to come. Because we wished to make sure we had the food and space size right we requested that people RSVP.

    To our delight and surprise, within about a week of our advertising, over a hundred people had signed up. We called the Woodstock Jewish Congregation and asked if we could get a larger room. They obliged and provided us a room for 150 people. Three weeks later we called back again for their next room upgrade to 200 plus people, which was their congregation room.

    When the dust had settled, 225 people attended from throughout the mid-Hudson Valley region of New York. All attending committed to lowering their carbon footprint by least 5,000 pounds for a total commitment of over 1,000,000 pounds. We formed twelve EcoTeams on the spot with a commitment from people to form another eight teams when they went home. This comes to about a 70 percent recruitment rate. The Department of Environmental Conservation sent a representative from the region who liked the format so much that she decided to organize Global Warming Cafes throughout the Hudson Valley region. The Woodstock Town Board was so motivated by this outpouring of citizen interest that they agreed to make the town carbon neutral and were featured in the New York Times.

    To provide a little of the local color and a sense of how the event motivated our government officials — the personal action to policy change equation — I have excerpted comments by several of the government officials attending from an article written February 15, 2007 by Andrea Barrist Stern for our local newspaper, The Woodstock Times.

    “I was impressed by the turnout and the format that had people speaking to strangers about their hopes and fears,” said Kristin Marcell from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. “It created a sense of bonding . . . and had everyone on the same page in a way I hadn’t seen before. We usually see the scientific side and this presented the emotional side, which is something we need to do.”

    Woodstock Environmental Commission chairwoman Mary Burke said her “general feeling” at Sunday’s program was “Wow.” She added, “It wasn’t that I didn’t think people were concerned, I just didn’t think you’d reach them that easily.”

    Woodstock Town Board members Liz Simonson and Bill McKenna and Ulster County legislator Don Gregorius were among those present on Sunday. Gregorius said he exchanged cards with a Putnam County legislator at Sunday’s event because both are interested in seeing how the program might be useful at the county level.

    Simonson related she was at one table with two young boys who found the prospect of reducing their carbon footprint “exciting” even as several middle aged participants were dejected about the possibilities. She said the boys’ enthusiasm made her feel, “that I have to pick myself up, dust myself off and get moving.”

    The Global Warming Cafe activated the civic and political will to be part of the global warming solution. It also met the need people have to talk deeply and personally on this issue. Because the tool is easy to use and the procedure for using it is described in detail on our web site, many hundreds of Global Warming Cafes have now taken place throughout the United States and around the world involving all the sectors needed to scale up a Cool Community campaign.

    I’ll share one particularly promising application for the Global Warming Cafe from the corporate sector. The director of Corporate Social Responsibility for Nike, Sarah Severn, an early adopter within an early-adopter company on issues of environmental sustainability, asked me to lead a Global Warming Cafe for employees in their Beaverton, Oregon, headquarters. Within one hour of advertising the opportunity to attend the cafe, the event was filled at 100 people. Sarah’s team found a larger room and opened it up to 150 people, which was also quickly filled.

    They did it up right, turning the largest room in their Conference Center into an Italian Cafe with ices, espresso coffee, and red and white checkered table clothes on each table along with a vase of freshly cut flowers. In addition to the employees from every part of the company who attended, there were interested community leaders and visitors from other companies who were attending a national sustainability conference Nike was hosting. Sarah had thought to include them so that the event could disseminate the program more widely. The slide show building the planetary connectivity used sports, of course, as the metaphor for our shared common humanity.

    She got the president of the company, Charlie Denson, to kick off the cafe. He talked in a very heartfelt manner about how his children had motivated him to get involved in environmental issues and how excited he was to see so much interest among employees in taking personal action. We went through the cafe process, slide show, and then the action commitment. Four hours later all of the Nike employees attending committed themselves to participating on an EcoTeam; making changes to help the company lower its carbon footprint; and taking this program into their communities as part of their corporate volunteer program. And three of the companies represented–Hewlett-Packard, Harley-Davidson, and Schlumberger–committed to putting on Global Warming Cafes for their employees.

    Within a short period of time, Nike had sixteen EcoTeams working on reducing their personal carbon footprint and helping the corporation do the same. Some of the teams even developed “biggest loser” contests among themselves. And with the active support and encouragement of the company, many employees have now taken the Low Carbon Diet into their communities and shared it widely throughout the company.

    With the Global Warming Cafe tool we had cracked the code on how to engage larger numbers of people in participating on EcoTeams. We saw that it could be effectively used by any group from an EcoTeam to a large corporation, and everything in between. We also saw that it was capable of bringing the civic, public, and private sectors of a community together. We were on our way.

    With the Low Carbon Diet behavior-change program, and the Global Warming Cafe community engagement tool, the “hardware” of this movement was in place. The final element was to flesh out the “software,” or a detailed strategic implementation plan for bringing this program to scale communitywide. In Part Five of this series, we look at how to bring this all together — the Cool Community strategy. It will appear in the Huffington Post Green Section on Monday, February 22. Join me then for this next installment in empowering a climate change movement.

    David Gershon, founder and CEO of Empowerment Institute, is a leading authority on behavior-change and large-system transformation. He applies his expertise to issues requiring community, organizational, and societal change, from low carbon lifestyles, livable neighborhoods, and sustainable communities to organizational talent development, corporate social engagement, and cultural transformation. Gershon is the author of eleven books, including his recently published Social Change 2.0: A Blueprint for Reinventing Our World, winner of the 2009 National Best Book Award and Low Carbon Diet: A 30 Day Program to Lose 5,000 Pounds. He co-directs Empowerment Institute’s School for Transformative Social Change which empowers social entrepreneurs and change agents to design and implement cutting edge social innovations. He has lectured at Harvard, MIT, and Duke, and served as an advisor to the Clinton White House and the United Nations on behavior change and community empowerment issues. To learn more about Cool Communities or register for the next free webinar on how to implement one in your city or town visit www.empowermentinstitute.net/lcd.

     
    This article was originally published on the Huffington Post.

Empowering a Climate Change Movement, Part 3: Instead of Cursing the Dark, Light a Candle

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

This is the third of a six-part weekly series excerpted from chapter 11 of my book Social Change 2.0: A Blueprint for Reinventing Our World. This series is an attempt to build new momentum for a climate change movement that has lost its mojo because of the failure of Copenhagen and the forces lined up against bold and timely national legislation in the U.S. While government has a very important role to play in setting the rules, the transformative and rapid change needed to address this issue is a lot to ask of a legislative system purposefully designed for incremental and slow-moving change. Or what I call social change 1.0. But we are justified in placing our hope in bottom-up change–social change 2.0–as this is how all great change in history has occurred.

To that end, this series shows how over 300 communities in 36 states have built a bottom-up movement focused on helping Americans take direct responsibility to reduce our carbon footprints while at the same time substantially reducing our energy expenses. It describes how tens of thousands of people are stepping up to help bring the planet back from the brink–one household, neighborhood and community at a time. And it offers a whole system solution by showing how by directly and strategically addressing carbon reduction in the short-term we are building demand for legislation and a low-carbon economy to scale up over the long-term. Here are Part One or Two of this series.

Wes Sanders was a participant in one of my very first on-line Cool Community training programs and a leader in the national Interfaith Power and Light initiative, which promotes the use of the Low Carbon Diet in the faith community. He has singlehandedly started over 60 EcoTeams which have reduced their household carbon emissions by an average of 23 percent. Wes is a great inspiration to me and one of the real heroes of the climate change movement. He personifies the spirit, motivation, and no-nonsense approach of this special breed of change agent who has stepped forward to light a candle in the dark. Here is his story in his own words.

“I became very concerned about the climate crisis in the 1980s, while still the artistic director of the company I founded in 1978, the Underground Railway Theater. If Jim Hansen and the other IPCC scientists were right, and it is becoming clearer and clearer that they are–all other social and political issues are moot: If we don’t deal successfully with this one, there will still be a planet, but we won’t be on it. My artistic staff of writers, actors, designers, and directors tried to raise the global warming alarm through our plays, developing an art form called the “eco-cabaret,” but art turned out to be too indirect for the urgency of this issue. I felt strongly the need for direct action, and had become impatient with symbolic gestures that produced no tangible effects.

So I retired early and moved to Vermont and became a volunteer-activist on climate change. Once here I spent five to six years trying to get my fellow citizens to cut their carbon emissions through a nonprofit loosely connected with city government, which used a web site calculator with suggestions for changes in energy behavior. But, like every other strategy for behavior change I had encountered, it was something one did alone, and it was a one-shot deal; there was no means for following up on the changes people pledged to make.

Finally, in frustration, I decided to spend the summer of 2006 finding, or creating, if necessary, an approach that would get people engaged in real change. I stumbled on a faded photocopy of a climate change program that had been piloted in Portland, Oregon, based on the EcoTeam concept. As it happened, I had gone through the predecessor of this program with the co-op where I lived with seven other families in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I knew this approach had worked in getting my community to change their behavior: We set up compost bins and made soil in them, which we used in a garden; we replaced all our toilets with a low-flow model, etc. What had worked in the EcoTeam approach was the peer accountability, sense of solidarity, and group creativity of the other members of the community, combined with the generous amount of time allotted in the program for entrenched behaviors to get changed.

When I found a contact number for the Empowerment Institute on the photocopy, I inquired; this was August of 2006. It turned out that an updated version of the Low Carbon Diet was just getting ready to be printed. I ordered the first copies, scheduled two showings of Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth at my church in Burlington, and followed up immediately, while the audience was in full awareness of the urgency about the climate crisis, and formed two EcoTeams at each showing.

This is essentially the scenario I have followed since: a film or talk to get everyone on the same page emotionally and conceptually, followed by a nuts-and-bolts workshop on how the Low Carbon Diet program works, with Q and A interspersed and lots of anecdotes from EcoTeam experiences, and then “closing the deal” on the spot; that is forming the EcoTeams with those present, and asking (politely) why those who don’t raise their hands to join haven’t done so. Usually other members of the group come up with answers that convince these people to join after all. A Methodist came up to me after one of these sessions and, with a knowing smile, said, “You’re an evangelist!” So be it. My Southern Baptist grand-mother always hoped I would end up a preacher.

The format I prefer and generally am allowed to use now in churches is giving the Sunday sermon from the “bully pulpit,” then following up immediately after the service with the workshop. When I am organizing in town energy or sustainability committees, the sermon is a talk, with a little less emphasis on the stewardship of the earth and more talk about our grandchildren’s futures. I always find out as much as I can about the audience beforehand, and frame the talk accordingly.

If the EcoTeam is going to complete the Low Carbon Diet program successfully (at least 5,000 pounds reduced per household), all the members of the team need to be in the room when I give the talk and workshop. When I have used the “train the trainer” approach, I find there is generally too much dissipation of the message, in addition to the fact that the initiator/facilitator is a friend or colleague of the other participants (rather than an outsider like myself) and therefore is diffident about insisting on the discipline that is required if the process is to get results. Calculating and recording the numbers, for example, often gets slighted in this situation, because the facilitator does not want to appear to be a martinet. This is not always true: When the facilitator is a highly effective individual, they can manage very well.

Vermont Interfaith Power and Light offers a pro bono energy audit to communities of faith, done by a former professional on our board who submits a report of recommendations to the church about energy conservation in its buildings. I often use these contacts, following up with an EcoTeam presentation, to get the congregation on board as well, in their own use of energy at home and on the road. I am sometimes invited to regional conferences of some denominations, Congregational/United Church of Christ and Episcopalian are two examples, as well as statewide environmental organizations such as the Sustainable Energy Resource Group. These are networking opportunities: Following my presentation to interested church leaders or activists at these conferences, I get called in to do my dog-and-pony show.

I don’t have any goals that are expressible in numbers. I just form as many EcoTeams as I have the opportunity to, mostly in Vermont. Occasionally I am able to identify high achievers in EcoTeams I am facilitating whom I can convince to begin and run EcoTeams of their own. I helped to initiate a citywide Low Carbon Diet initiative launched by the mayor of a Vermont town on Earth Day 2008, with less than impressive results so far: This has been approached to date as a “train the trainer” exercise, with all of the weaknesses outlined above in such an approach. The challenge is to scale up this program.”

Wes is an exemplar of what can be done by a single dedicated individual. Importantly, he also describes the challenge and dilemma of a solo citizen activist in attempting to take this program to scale in a community. To get to this next level requires an approach that is very different from getting more dedicated and effective people like Wes willing to start EcoTeams on an ad hoc basis.

What is needed is a whole-system solution that includes the participation by all of a given community’s institutions, including local government, faith-based and civic groups, neighborhood and block associations, businesses and schools, and having them reach out to their constituencies and members to start EcoTeams. This shifts the community-organizing strategy from ad hoc and retail to systematic and wholesale, providing a plausible path forward for achieving an ambitious carbon reduction goal. It provides the labor pool needed to reach out to people and the synergy to grow the intellectual capital around community organizing for household carbon reduction. Based on my experience with the webinars, this broad swath of organizations are primed to participate.

Approaching household carbon reduction (which represents between 50 and 90 percent of a community’s carbon footprint, with the high end in most communities) in this manner provides the possibility for creating a game changer for those cities and towns where the community is aware and there is political skin in the game. Given that over a thousand cities representing eighty-six million citizens (28% of Americans) have signed the U.S. Conference of Mayor’s pledge to “strive to meet or beat the Kyoto Protocol targets in their communities of 7 percent reduction from 1990 levels by 2012,” and only a few have achieved this modest goal, there are many potential candidates looking for a cost-effective solution that can achieve substantial carbon reductions in a short period of time. And if enough of these cities choose to play, it will be a game changer for this issue both in America and around the world.

I call this whole-system solution a Cool Community campaign. The purpose of a Cool Community campaign is to empower residents through local organizations across all sectors to reduce their carbon footprint by 25 percent through participation in the Low Carbon Diet program. The goal is to engage between 25 and 85 percent of the citizenry over a three-year period. This time frame is short enough to keep the pressure on and people’s attention and long enough to allow for an effective diffusion strategy. This allows the early-adopter communities, which signed the U.S. Conference of Mayors agreement on a wing and a prayer, to substantially exceed their current carbon reduction goal while building the demand for local green economies and a constituency for the bold climate change policies needed.

But this is much easier said than done. The big challenge of a Cool Community campaign is to help partner organizations actually start EcoTeams. To do this requires a recruitment tool that is easy for them to use, does not demand great expertise on the topic of global warming, and has the potential to start multiple teams at one time. We developed such a tool which we called a global warming cafe. To learn about it and the successes we have had using it, join me next Monday, February 15 for part four in this series.

David Gershon, founder and CEO of Empowerment Institute, is a leading authority on behavior-change and large-system transformation. He applies his expertise to issues requiring community, organizational, and societal change, from low carbon lifestyles, livable neighborhoods, and sustainable communities to organizational talent development, corporate social engagement, and cultural transformation. Gershon is the author of eleven books, including his recently published Social Change 2.0: A Blueprint for Reinventing Our World, winner of the 2009 National Best Book Award and Low Carbon Diet: A 30 Day Program to Lose 5,000 Pounds. He co-directs Empowerment Institute’s School for Transformative Social Change and consults with communities wishing to develop Cool Community initiatives. To learn more about Cool Communities or register for the next free webinar on how to implement one in your city or town visit www.empowermentinstitute.net/lcd.

 
This article originally appeared on the Huffington Post.