The movement is bigger than you think

A movement of movements of movements is happening and it’s changing the global financial system 

There’s a growing ecology of these movements, some orchestrated, some organic, that are creating the spaces where change can happen.

And I’m not just talking about this:

Students protest in Egypt

Grassroots Activism

Umair Haque wrote this autumn about the rise of a global Metamovement. He said;

Across the globe, protests are rippling out like vectors in an epidemic….

The Metamovement is a movement of movements. Not all these movements are similar, and no two are exactly like. The Arab Spring is part of the Metamovement; the London Riots were part of the Metamovement; India’s nationwide anti-corruption protests were part of the Metamovement, just like Israel’s massive demonstrations were; protests spreading across America, under the banner of Occupy Wall Street, are all part of the Metamovement.

These protests and violent clashes are a signal of frustration, of anger and a sign that the status quo is no longer acceptable to a growing body of people.

These are movements of Grassroots Activism with varying degrees of coherence and credibility. These protest grab the headlines and cause a step change.

Movements for a solution

But I would add a few more movements to Haque’s metamovements.

These are movements that represent solutions.

They are numerous and they are gaining confidence and pace. These are;

  • Social Innovation incubators
  • Movements for a specific solution
A Finance Innovation Lab workshop in London

Social innovation incubators

Van Jones, former Green Jobs advisor to Obama said at SOCAP11;

We need a platform for people-powered disruptive innovation in finance

Well exactly. And luckily we actually have a few and they are gaining members and momentum.  They are bubbling hubs that turn emotion into action and create the conditions for change to happen.

The Finance Innovation Lab represents this type of movement.

The Lab is a place where people can come together regularly to explore, innovate and evolve solutions for a financial system that sustains people and planet. It is designed and run by my organisation (ICAEW) and WWF-UK and has over 2,500 members.

We invite a hugely diverse group of stakeholders to events in London twice a year.

We use open-space and other participatory processes to crowd-source ideas for a better financial system. People cluster around the ideas that inspire them and we then turn those ideas into solid projects. Solutions.

These projects include policy recommendations (we have a group exploring the economic policy needed for a sustainable financial system), new business strategies (working with Cooperative bank to build their thinking around social finance). They help to de-mystify the current system (one group have created ‘maps’ of the financial system, so that the average person on the street can understand it better) and create the new (an academic study that maps what a sharing economy would actually look like).

It is a ‘container’.  A place for people to bring their frustration and turn it into something that could be a solution. A space that didn’t exist before. A place to convene movements.

After three years of evolving our model we are now focused on how we can bring the model to the places its needed most. We are currently in talks about launching the Lab in Singapore, Sweden and the US and open to suggestions.

The outcome of a F-Lab workshop this summer

And we are not the only ones.  There is a building ecology of Social Innovation projects. Multi-stakeholder processes in Europe. Places where people can meet face to face, on a regular basis, to build and develop ideas. These include;

  • Economy Transformers: Based in the Netherlands, use social innovative tools, like us, to facilitate a few hundred dedicated and committed individuals – cross-sector and cross-interest – to work together to come up with values, models, ideas and practices for a new economy
  • Enviu: Also in the Netherlands. They develop innovative solutions to environmental and social issues and introduce these to the market. They plan to kick-off a process around finance designed to start new businesses that could catalyze change in this area.
  • S-Initiative, Katalysis: Hosted by our mentors and change process designers in Greece. They are initiating a systemic transformation process to host spaces that move the Greek people collectively from the current paralysis to create new socio-economic thinking, values and skills.

Movements for a specific solution

Van Jones also said;

You can build a super movement based on super good ideas.

There are plenty of good ideas out there and a group of pioneering individuals are fighting the exiting order, building movements around their good ideas.

For example;

  • Positive Money: A campaign on monetary justice that has now built a community of thousands of supporters. Groups have now sprung up all over the UK and even in New Zealand.
  • SOCAP & TBLI: Networks of  impact investors, who meet to share stories and strategy at annual conferences in Europe and the US
  • The People who Share and Shareable: Promoting a movement around ‘the sharing economy’ (car sharing, jewellery swapping, couch surfing etc)
  • TEEB for Business Coalition: A high level group of organisations (UNEP, IUCN, Accounting for Sustainability, WWF)  leading a movement to re-write the rules of business and incorporate the economics of biodiversity and ecosystem services in all decision-making
  • American Dream Movement: Van Jones’ movement to revitalize and restore the American Dream. They plan to roll out new tools that enable organisation locally within the community.

There are many more examples of each other these movements and we would love  to meet all of them.

So what next?

The leaders of these movements need to meet.

We need to bring our networks together, to see the overlaps and the gaps, to collaborate on projects, to promote each other, to share resources and share what we’ve learnt.

We need to show leaders of our countries what the people want them to do, because we hear them. We hold their collective intelligence.

The financial system is too big, too complex, too culturally stagnant  to shift? I just don’t buy it.

From where I’m standing I can see a broad and inspiring ecology of bottom-up change going on in the financial system and it could transform everything.