Implementing the ecological transition in an ecosystem / third place might be seen as complex, boring, impossible, tiring, costly… Even more when people of the community do not share the vision the initiators of the ecological transition project defined and the convictions they hold.
Our point of view taken from our experience is that implementing ecological transition can be fun, valuable, exciting, collaborative, and can generate many diverse benefits (welfare, money, happiness, health, collaboration between people, etc.).
Let’s have a look on how involving people on ecological actions can be fun. The first French Zero Waste Festival was organised on June 30, and July 1,2 2016 in Paris. The aim of the Festival was to increase awareness regarding the production of waste and the impacts of it and to present ways to reduce it. Conferences, workshops and even parties were proposed. Please check the exciting video presenting the Festival (in French):
You can take note of the diversity of people, the number of smiles, and the happiness that raises up, cannot you? Does practicing recycling and waste reduction look boring?
Among the benefits that are generated, implementing the ecological transition is a great opportunity to create or strengthen the existing community of workers, tenants and participants of the ecosystem / third place, and to unite people around a common project. Implementing the action plan requires the involvement of people of the community at individual and collective levels. The more people of the community contribute to implement it, the more the ecological ambition is being achieved.
At Darwin Ecosystem, since ecological transition is at the core of the concept of the Darwin Ecosystem, the team of founders and initiators highly support and follow-up the ecological actions, always going further through the implementation of the most up-to-date and innovative actions to achieve the ecological transition of the ecosystem. In addition, a group of motivated individuals are willing to contribute to the implementation of actions. Also, individuals that could be called “followers” participate to the action plans, since they are embarked in the collective dynamics and have no choice of following the rules of the site and adapting their behaviours. Indeed, some other people of the community may face difficulties to change the behaviours they are used to and to adopt eco-friendly behaviours that are compatible with the ecological vision of Darwin. Nonetheless, they go on the path of the ecological transition, at their own rhythm, being encouraged by the collective dynamic. For instance, there are still some mistakes in the recycling garbage (i.e. a waste that is not located in the right recycling container), but mistakes are less and less numerous over the time. Individuals are in a constant dynamic of increasing their awareness regarding environmental challenges and learning how to act and behave differently. One person from L’association Les Darwiniens explained how he had been ‘educated’ by the ecosystem, on subjects that did not have any meaning for him before, such as ecology.
Aiming at demonstrating the results of collective actions, the DARWIN’S ECO-COMMUNITY-PORTAL web tool called MIUSEEC was created (check at http://miuseec.darwin.camp/). The aim was to give access to an online portal for the members of Darwin, with an integrated consumption-display. The web tool presents the progress of the implementation of the ecological transition thanks to selected indicators which cover all the environmental issues that are tackled at Darwin Ecosystem. It is well designed, simple and attractive. People have access to the monthly consumption profile of the cluster. On display one can see the ecological impact in terms of energy, mobility, water consumption, waste, food and CO2 impact. This hybrid approach is meant to attract users for many questions, and while they are visiting the website, they can gain consciousness of the measure of environmental questions.
Following-up the progress of the action plan is key to maintain the willingness to go further on the path of ecological transition and the contribution of the community. Furthermore, the information that is contained on the portal is also used to communicate extensively on the actions made and the results achieved.
Ready to start implementing the ecological action plan? Let’s go!
This section presents the key phases to implement the action plan and make concrete the ecological transition for your organisation / third place. Whether you are the manager or the founder of the ecosystem or member of the community, whether the ecosystem is green already or not, some practical phases can lay the groundwork for going on the path of ecological transition.
- Showing the change and engaging the first visible actions
Now that the action plan is determined, it is time to show that a change is emerging. Something new is coming. You are about to go from a situation where the ecosystem was not engaged or was partially engaged in the path of ecological transition to a situation where the ecosystem is fully engaged and willing to achieve the objectives.
Giving the impulsion to the change is key at this stage. The impulsion can be given by the initiators of the ecological transition project, and this can be made by several means: communicating, organising an event, informing the community by the internal newspaper or the intranet, taking a first demonstrative action (for instance, changing all garbage bins by recycling bins).
At Darwin Ecosytem, the founders started by organising events in the abandoned area which will become the Darwin Ecosystem (Imaginez Maintenant 2010, national cultural event). This brought in the first visitors other than the habitual grafity artists and showed the change that was emerging on this area. Moreover, an ecologically sound renovation, at low-cost and maximum effect, made the military barracks ready for new use.
Check out how to organise an eco-event in the tool section.
- Launching the Green collective dynamic and building the Green community
In the case the initiators of the ecological transition for the ecosystem / third place and the ones who determined the action plan remain alone at the time to get into practice, it will be hard work to make the ecological transition concrete. Then, a collective dynamic is needed to engage an organisation /a third place on the path of the ecological transition. However, installing a Green collective dynamic is a progressive process.
Involve the first “ambassadors” and contributors
How to gather more individuals of the community around the project of ecological transition? The first key action is to involve a few enthusiastic individuals (3-5) who are part of the “circle of trust” of the initiators of the ecological transition. Those individuals must share the environmental convictions of the initiators, believe in the project of ecological transition, and be ready to be involved and contribute in practice.
This first group of individuals will start to implement the action plan, but overall, will act as ambassadors of the project: they will promote the project and communicate on it around them, within the community of the ecosystem. For this, they will need to have a first set of tools to be able to serve as connectors and start connecting individuals that are willing to join the Green collective dynamic.
At Darwin ecosystem, an association of future tenants was founded at the starting point of the project. The exchange with the association created opportunities to co-create the spatial setup in a client consulting mode. The initiators gained ‘market’ information and improved their presentations, while the tenants became personally involved in the project. The current tenants are actively stimulated to engage in eco-friendly practices.
Build and develop the Green community
Engaging the ecological transition of the Darwin Ecosystem has also been possible thanks to a sub-network of individuals for Ecological transition. Certain individuals who shared the vision proposed by the initiators and the main contributors of the Darwin Ecosystem project joined at early stage to contribute and make concrete the ecological transition.
Building a community of individuals that share the willingness to implement ecological actions on-site is a key step of the action plan. Initiators and ambassadors of the project need to recruit supporters and contributors among the members of the community to make it possible.
Taking reference from Makesense.org, an ONG that supports social entrepreneurship, with 25,000 volunteer members in 128 cities around the world, a community is a group of people interested by a common issue, and who share its own and specific vision and culture, and who implement actions to achieve the objectives they determined. Basically, individuals who compose the community should share a common passion and be constantly learning.
A community should be built on four main ICAR pillars in order to maintain the collective dynamic and to make the community last:
- Identity: Individuals gather and compose a community because they share a common identity, which contributes to the feeling of being part of the community. This is possible by defining a specific vision and a common mission to be achieved. The Identity of the community helps to define common rules to live and work together, sharing norms and behaviours that characterize the community and support its promotion. The individuals that are part of this community should embody such rules and behaviours in their daily acts.
In the case of ecological transition, for instance, individuals sharing the vision of engaging the coworking space on the path of ecological transition and who will act and contribute to ecological actions, with kindness towards the ones who do not do it yet could build the community of “makers”.
- Connection: A community will work and last if the ones can easily connect with the others, aiming at connecting all energies together. The community needs tools to be able to connect, virtual and not virtual ones. For instance, creating a private group on Facebook can be useful at the early stage of the action plan. Connection is not only about virtual connections. There is a need of concrete relationships to create personal links between people. Organising physical meetings between individuals is a key component for the community.
In the case of ecological transition, for instance, the members of the community could meet by participating in Do-it-Yourself workshops, where they could contribute concretely to ecological actions for their ecosystem / third-place.
- Activity: What individuals of the community do together have an impact on the achievement of the objectives the community determined and the retention of its members: in the case their contribution does not have any impact on them or does not give any outcomes, the member may stop contribute and leave the community. Actions to be undertaken by the members of the community should be decided depending on both the objectives of impact the community is expecting to generate and the individual objectives of the members.
- Reward: Finally, what contributes to the existence, development and consolidation of a community, is the fact of valuing individually the members for their contribution to the community, e.g. when one individual implements projects that benefit to the whole community.
The way these four pillars are represented may evolve. How they are composed and how they are distributed should be built with the members of the community, by using an iterative process and by ensuring the whole picture is coherent.
In addition, a key success factor is to have a sufficient information distribution, to involve most people as possible, and ensure sufficient member inclusion, to support and maintain an increasing value identification.
Check the tool section to raise the right questions to create and develop the Green community [Tool section]
- Implementing actions
It is high time to implement actions! Thanks to the contribution and support of the Green community and the other residents/participants of the ecosystem, the actions defined in the action plan will be implemented.
There are different natures of actions that can be mixed on the same period of time:
- Small actions with quick and visible results: they are called “quick wins”.
For instance, replacing all garbage bin by recycling bins could be considered as a quick win. See Figure 1 showing the recycling bins that replaced all garbage bin at Darwin Ecosystem.
Figure 1 : Reycling bins installed at Darwin Ecosystem
- Pillar actions
- Actions that need support at individual level
- Actions that need support at collective level
- Actions corresponding at the beginner level
- Actions corresponding at the intermediate level
- Actions supporting a deep transformation (« radical action »)
- Internal actions and actions to be carried out in relationship with the external environment (delivery of organic food, carsharing, …)
- Actions in relation with public programs (e.g. contributing to the “Sustainable Mobility week”).
- Actions reserved to the community and actions open to everybody (e.g. the Bicycle Festival)
- Training actions, informative actions to increase awareness…
- Mix of several actions in several environmental fields
Since the ecological transition was at the core of the Darwin Ecosystem vision, from the beginning, some pillar actions were decided and implemented, which contribute directly to achieve the vision:
- Objective ENERGY: creation of a sustainable electricity provider called ENERCOOP to make it possible for consumers to choose for a renewable alternative, with a transparent offer that is both ethical and responsible; Develop more supply and demand for the renewable energy market, on a basis of the third or fourth sector activity for the common interest.
Darwin Ecosystem is a client of Enercoop. Darwin and Enercoop developed together their presence in the region, and their credibility as a feasible sustainable partnership.
- Objective ORGANIC and LOCAL FOOD: creation of a biofood business cantine and grocery called MAGASIN GÉNÉRAL. The Magasin Général aims to serve a savoury meal for a reasonable price in a nice atmosphere, cooked from biologically produced food. It aims to use food that was grown in reasonable conditions and transported at reasonable distances. Complementary to the restaurant there is also a ‘grocer’ that sells biological and local groceries. Also there is an artisan café torrefactor that sells biological coffee that is grounded on site. There is a local beer on tap and in bottle.
- Objective WASTE: Less food should be thrown away. Waste food crumbs are composted. Other waste is separated and recycled as far as possible. The restaurant is also a place with immeasurable meaning for Darwin community. It is the meeting place for all the varieties of entrepreneurs, clients, skaters, and any other public.
At Darwin Ecosystem, there is a mix of large-scale actions, requiring the contributions of the individuals and taking in charge by partners.
- Ex: food waste. Creation of Les Détritivores – the contribution of the individuals is needed at the restaurant.
- E.g. : Energy : solar panels and Enercoop, but the reduction of energy consumption is possible thanks to the individuals’ behaviours.
Actions can also be implemented by using different styles: game, challenges, serious, competition, collaboration, concerts, festivals…
For instance, at Darwin Ecosystem, the Miuseec tool suggests challenges to the residents. The example below shows the challenge of consuming tap water, in order to reduce the consumption of plastic bottles and to reduce finally plastic waste.
Figure 2 : The challenge is drinking tap water.
Darwin Ecosystem organises also many events to increase awareness about environmental and social issue (the Ocean Climax Festival, the Bicycle Festival…) and conferences inviting environmental experts on-site.
Also, there is a mix of actions initiated by the managing team and actions initiated by members of the community (companies). For this reason, the action plan evolves constantly, based on the new propositions coming from the ecosystem, and this is fine. However, even if the action plan evolves, its coherence and the global view are maintained and secured by the managing team.
Remember: make it one step at a time!
Reaching your goals is all about steady step-by-step progress. Big goals take lots of focused effort over a long period of time. However, you can make it one step at a time. Success depend on action.
Check this video:
- Fostering team work
Once the collective dynamic is installed, and when the actions are being implementing, it is powerful to foster team work and to maintain the efforts of the team
Check this video about the power of teamwork at:
- Dealing with challenges
When launching the action plan and potentially along through its implementation, get prepared to face the disagreement, the fear or other kind of negative feeling from some individuals of the community. You may hear such sentences: “it is impossible”, “it is useless”, “it is not a priority”, “it will cost money”. Some actions might be difficult to implement (for instance, forbidden cars on-site, forbidden plastic bottles) because they require a significant change in people’s behaviours. It is important to accept that some individuals are not ready.
Furthermore, many ecological actions rely on changes in the community members’ behaviour, and any kind of behaviour change takes time. People need continual reinforcement to break through old habits. Keep it fun, keep it simple and give lots of positive reinforcement!
Check the tool section to deal with challenges.
- Tracking your progress and following-up
This step has a significant role. It has two main functions:
- Track progress
- Debrief and redefine if needed the action plan
A third main function is to communicate internally and externally the outcomes of the ecological transition approach.
At Darwin Ecosystem, an on-line tool was created. A team was set up with different partners, technical engineering, behavioural psychology, design, etc. Financing was found to make the project feasible. Intermediate presentations were held to keep everybody informed. A preliminary questionnaire was held to know the situation before, and later after the launching of the application.
Once the first version of the tool was created, it was presented to the community.
Figure 3 : Presenting Miuseec to the community of the Darwin Ecosystem
The portal combines many functions – a hybrid. On display one can see the ecological impact in terms of energy, mobility, water consumption, waste, food and CO2 impact. One can also consult the past consumption profiles, and see the evolution.
Figure 4 : October 2016 figures regarding energy consumption
Figure 5 : October 2016 figures regarding the Greenhouse gas emissions, originated by the transport of residents
- Communication – promoting => making it visual
Communicate widely on the results
Tool 1: How to organise an event that supports the intention of engaging ecological transition
A Disco Soup is a festive and collective event to fight against food waste. How to organise your own DiscoSoup? This video shows how simple it is to organise a Disco Soup:
How to organise an eco-friendly festival? Check the Green Guide to Organising a Festival, Fair or other outdoor event at: https://www.epa.ie/pubs/reports/waste/wpp/Festival%20Organisers.pdf
Tool 2: How to develop the “Green community”
The “Green community” will support and contribute directly to achieve the ecological transition of the coworking space. When creating and developing it, the following questions could be raised to ensure the ICAR pillars are taken into account:
Tool 3: What kind of actions to “green the offices”
Check the Green office tips by WWF:
Do the following exercise with a team of contributors from the Green community!
Tool 4: How to deal with challenges
When facing doubters and non-enthusiastic people within the community of the ecosystem, some arguments could be raised. Check below. (inspired by the David Suzuki Green Guide).
These videos can help :