There are 10,000,000 million NGOs according to Wikipedia and probably many more activist groups than that. There being that many is not the problem, the problem is that they collectively have no single platform where their demands can be taken to an international audience of all 193 nations in an orderly fashion.

Just imagine that there was a social media site dedicated to social and environmental issues; assume again that this new upstart simply asked these groups, and concerned individuals, to provide a list of their concerns. These would then be separated into 26 categories (more or less)

Next through consensus, the list would be prioritized so that they could be spread out over 25 years into the future.

As an example of this I will use the category of PLASTIC. Let’s assume again that we have gathered all the problems which range from, plastic straws to microbeads to complete industries like toy manufacturing to plastic fish nets or construction materials. We now have a list that needs to be prioritized. As we are still a small upstart movement we might put microbeads as our number-one priority. It is something that most agree is a problem and should easily gather public support for a ban.

To illustrate how this would work, think of it as Avaaz on steroids. BUT rather than gathering support and sending it off to a single legislature, we would send it off to every legislative body in all 193 nations. In effect we would demand a ban which would make it illegal to make, sell or profit in any way from microbeads anywhere.

After two weeks we would go to another category and do it all over again until we have addressed one issue in each and every category.

If all of PLASTIC groups told their member about our collective effort they would hopefully tell their members to support it. This alone could be millions of supporters all waiting and wanting to have their voice heard. If all NGOs and groups did the same as their issue was due for action, the movement would no longer be just and upstart.

Part 1

So, if we need to empower the meek and the weak people who have little or no voice in what is happening, what would such a movement of empowerment look like? Well, as a former Director of R and D, I can be pretty sure that it would start with determining the full scope of the problem and then discarding all of the things that don’t work; then we can make a preliminary plan to resolve the problem. In my varied career choices, I have had numerous projects that needed a plan and this is no different; installing a porcelain enameling plant with virtually no experience in the process; moving a few manufactured product lines between facilities or working on a project where we recorded sounds from under a broody mother hen and then replayed the sounds in an incubator to improve hatchability of chicken eggs – they all had to have a plan. (And yes, chick embryos do communicate with the mother hen through the shell and viscera)

If we consider using a Gant Chart to set our goals and timetable, we might start with the following considerations initially and refine them as we gained input from the vast libraries of knowledge and research available in a million or more NGOs data bases –

  • Define the problem and the objectives.
  • List all of the elements of the problem (In our case it is social and environmental issues that negatively affect all of earth’s people in all 193 nations.)
  • Separate the issues into distinct categories (not to exceed 26 if possible)
  • Reserve one category for issues that arise unexpectedly or are hard to categorize.
  • Contact all related NGOs and activist groups and include their concerns. (comparable to herding cats perhaps, but necessary)
  • Using the consensus of all, prioritize the issues in each and every category.
  • Establish criteria (a few simple rules) for the inclusion of issues, as it is easy to be distracted by emotion and forgo logic. Perhaps something like these renderings- — Does this action benefit the welfare of the planet, and does this action undo or prevent an injustice against all humankind?
  • Select one issue from each category to be the one which will start the program (It will by necessity be something minor and easy to defend as we garner support. (Take baby steps as we learn how to walk – remember that initially it will be easier to eliminate the manufacture of plastic straws than to eliminate the manufacturing of all toys in plastic )
  • Be prepared to update the list of issues as groups and individuals offer more issues for consideration and inclusion.
  • Be determined to give each category equal weight within the plan as my concerns will be different from yours and others.
  • Develop a social media site dedicated to the movement’s objectives. (like saving the planet for human habitation)
  • Define a mission statement which is simple to understand and readily translatable. (I have ideas but I will try to refrain from using them here.)
  • Choose a name for the movement – something in Latin would be nice as it should have few adversaries.
  • Choose a logo and a color theme to rally under – I will suggest color of terra cotta as it means burnt earth and that seems to be appropriate
  • Consider the promotion of visibility for supporters – Like putting on a uniform E.G. displaying something in the chosen color. (Cap, kerchief, ribbon, sock, etc. – one pair of socks for two people works for me)
  • Consider promotional ideas –e.g. Membership cards, (Use humor to some effect) Stickers for cars and mailboxes, ribbons on street signs, paint on tree trunks etc.
  • Consider having a register where supporters and members can show their commitment to the cause and get their “regimental number” (maybe include the county code of members as part of the id.)
  • Publish a full list of the movement’s objectives, as no one should be unawares of our concerns, demands and our timetable. (Put the whole world on notice)
  • Make rules regarding civil disobedience (Mischief will be necessary as it always is in such efforts)
  • Prepare a translation for the movement name in all languages to show the international aspect.
  • Consider how translations of the objectives will be handled. (kind of like the UN site)
  • Consider just how the initial issues will be put to the membership for consideration.
  • Consider whether we are gathering names either for petitions or to make actual demands of our government representatives – demands with consequences
  • Consider how we can take our demands directly to our government representatives all at the same time. (Not to a single legislative body but to all 193 legislative bodies at the same time)
  • Prepare for backlash, ridicule, opposition and SLAPP lawsuits. (Strategic lawsuit against public participation)
  • Consider how frequently an issue will be presented for consideration – I suggest we consider once each two week period so that all categories can address one issue per year.
  • Allow members to choose the categories that concern them personally so they need not be subjected to issues which do not concern them
  • Consider how the name, objectives and logo might be used in other ways e.g. political party names, awards programs, product endorsement (not recommended) drop in centers, seniors groups, TV network, TED talks, Wikipedia page, a foundation, etc.
  • Consider a membership “medal” made from a bit of the most precious material of all – a bit of fired earth.
  • Garner media attention
  • Cultivate relationships with philanthropic individuals and celebrities as money and media attention are helpful.

Part 2

If this humble message reaches an audience, I would ask for serious evaluation of the principles and process so that it can be refined and made acceptable to a wide segment of 193 societies. It needs a lot of input and refining but I think it will be worth the effort.

Sincerely Matthew R Foster


Here are the 26 categories as a place to start debate. (Needs refining)

  1. Air quality, 2. Democracy/Voting, 3. Drugs, 4. Energy, 5. Farming/Forestry, 6. Fishing/Whaling,7. Food, 8. Genetic engineering, 9. Health, 10. Human Rights, 11. Information & Education, 12. Land/Soil Degradation, 13. Mining, 14. Institutions, 15. Nuclear Issues, 16. People’s Commons/natural resources, 17. Plastic Dangers, 18. Population, 19. Species (or biodiversity), 20. Toxins, 21. Trade and Labor, 22. Transportation, 23. Waste/Recycle, 24. Water Resources, 25. Open category, 26. Open Category

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