Influencing Decision-Makers

Whether raising an issue with your MP, trying to effect change in your workplace, supporting a friend, or something completely different, these 5 tips will (according to our local council) help decision-makers listen to and better understand your message:

  1. Start early – Especially in situations where there are likely to be many people or groups trying to have their voices heard, starting your awareness-raising campaign early means you ‘beat the rush’ of competing ideas.
  2. Build relationships – Finding common ground with the decision-makers you are hoping to influence. Respectful relationships are more likely to foster co-operation than antagonistic and adversarial ones.
  3. Come with solutions, not problems – Or rather, come with suggestions for solutions to the problems or concerns you are raising.
  4. Stand out from the crowd – Do something eye-catching or memorable.
  5. People power – Your issue will have more traction if there is a large, varied community making noise. If you can work with other groups to make your case, do: collaboration helps build momentum.
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Respect Papatūānuku. Respect Mother Earth. Peace(ful) protest against New Zealand arms and weapons expo. Sign made by my 3 year old and I.

The World Needs Changemakers

Related image(Based on a permaculture workshop about creating resilient communities through active citizenship)

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Here, a resilient community is presented as one that is diverse, inclusive, healthy, and able to respond to changing conditions. How can we create resilient communities that are more equitable, self-sufficient and fun through active, engaged citizenship?

Factors that Increase and Decrease Resilience

Jo Wrigley, community activist and advocate, says resilience of an individual, family, or community depends on different factors and circumstances. Having shared values or purposes is a factor that increases resilience. Social connectedness and communication opportunities are also factors integral to a resilient community.

In contrast, isolation (physical, social, or otherwise) can decrease resilience, and the ability to recover after disaster or adapt to changing conditions.

Then there are factors that can increase or decrease resilience, depending on how they are used, for example technologies and different economic models.

Resilience and Inclusiveness

Resilience can grow when there is a diversity of skills, knowledge, and experience. Plus, a diverse and inclusive place can increase compassion, equality, and fun.

When we engage in attempts to increase inclusiveness, often there are many benefits. Let’s take an example of a workplace wishing to increase accessibility by installing a ramp to the door…


One idea Jo Wrigley puts forward is the idea of developing solutions to include the margins, not just the normal/status quo/average. The result is that (hopefully) more people that are currently not catered for may currently have their needs met.

For example, currently most mainstream education systems cater for the ‘average’ student. Those with exceptionally high or low academic skills do not have their needs met in the ‘average’ classroom. But what if we were to design for these groups, instead of the ‘average’/’median’ student? It is likely the latter would still have their needs met (as their abilities are somewhere between the two extremes), but so would the others, as well.

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Privilege, Resilience, and Creating Change

Understanding privilege (especially our own, if we have it) can be helpful in understanding our resilience – our own, our family’s, and in our community.

The How Privileged Are You? test by Buzzfeed is far from perfect, but can be a useful resource when beginning the journey towards understanding one’s privilege.

Michael Edwards writes an interesting article about privilege, resilience, and the status quo in his article The Privilege of Being Privileged. And Erdmann offers ideas about how to use privilege for good.

Disrupting the Status Quo

There are many types of activism, though John-Pierre Maeli has usefully categorised them into 12 types. Activism can be peaceful, violent, or something in between. It can be direct, indirect, or a bit of both. It can be for subtle, in-your-face, or somewhere between the two. Activism is as varied as the activists themselves, and finding the space you want to work in will be different for each person, depending on the issue, their experiences, their currently life situation, etc.

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Jo Wrigley suggests a way to engage communities and disrupt the status quo is to:


Agitation arises when a sense of injustice challenges. We want to act when we are frustrated or unhappy by what we are seeing. Others want to act, too, when we are able to get them agitated.

Education provides us with hope so we continue to engage in a cause. It also means we can make more informed decision that will help us create the change we want to see.

Organisation brings people together; to feel hope and to act. And the agitation can begin again, as the message spreads…

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