Friday 14 January 2011

Bungay - Green Drinks: Shifting Cultural Values - 18 January

With Dr. Rupert Read, reader in philosophy at the University of East Anglia, co-founder of values-change blog Green Words Workshop and Norwich Green Party Councillor.
The Green Dragon, 18th January, 7:30pm

To date our Green Drinks themes have had quite a practical focus, but this month we’re tackling something that at first glance seems a little more esoteric – shifting cultural values. In fact it’s pretty much central to all Sustainable Bungay’s projects and is at the heart of Transition; but we generally only acknowledge it in so much as we recognise that, if we’re to tackle climate change, come to terms with finite resources and cope with a radical economic readjustment we’ll have to change the way we think about each other and the world. At Green Drinks this month and with the help of Dr. Rupert Read we’ll delve a little deeper.

Ready to be nudged?

The Government is keen to ‘nudge’ us into making ‘better’ choices and believes that this approach could replace regulation to help it achieve its commitments to public health, the environment and well-being. But many argue that without big shifts in our values approaches that attempt to shape behaviour are likely to have little impact in a culture where the consumer is still king and economic growth is the most important measure of national success.

A Common Cause

At our first Green Drinks evening we talked briefly about a report called Common Cause: The Case for Working with our Cultural Values published by a consortium of organisations including WWF, Friends of the Earth, Oxfam and the Campaign to Protect Rural England. The report makes a clear case for a wide range of civil society organisations to work together in order to strengthen those cultural values that have been shown to underpin people’s concern about a whole range of problems – from climate change to global poverty. It goes on to argue that the public will only place enough pressure on politicians if they place greater emphasis on those ‘intrinsic’ values (which include the value we place on things like relationships with other people, the natural world, a sense of place/belonging).

We’ve invited Dr. Rupert Read, reader in philosophy at the UEA, co-founder of values-change blog Green Words Workshop and Norwich Green Party Councillor to help us think about some of these issues. As usual we’ll ask Rupert to speak for 5 or 10 minutes then open the floor for questions and a general discussion before breaking up into smaller informal conversations. It’s never possible to say exactly what might come up at Green Drinks but we might talk about;

•What kinds of values do we need to shift to and what are we moving away from – is it as simple as a move from ‘Me’ to ‘We’?
•How can we strengthen the kinds of intrinsic values outlined in the Common Cause report and bring them to the fore locally?
•Should we begin talking to other local groups about emphasizing these values? How?

And much more besides… there is bound to be a lively discussion!