Producer Brings Best Practices to SCI

Social Capital Project director Cara Pike to share social change theories.
Wednesday May 30, 2012
Camille Jensen, Axiom News

For eight years, Cara Pike has been researching and exploring new models of change theory, and she says the timing is right to share her learnings at the Social Change Institute (SCI).

Cara is a SCI co-producer and director of the Social Capital Project, which develops and promotes best practices in environmental communications and behaviour change. 
According to Cara, we are in challenging and exciting times. The world continues to grapple with issues like climate change and energy development while simultaneously new technology is reinvigorating citizen power, with people calling for progressive change.

So how can the social sector work to maximize this potential?

“It’s an extremely interesting time to be involved in social change,” Cara tells Axiom News.
“We’re going to jump into all of that at the Social Change Institute, and I think we’ve got such a great mix of really seasoned, best of the best, who have been doing this work for a really long time as well as . . . fresh, young seasoned advocates.”

Cara will be contributing to the conversations by sharing how she’s worked with nonprofits to change their advocacy to focus on one big ask versus overwhelming people with small change initiatives.

She says studies of social change theory show successful change occurs when you’re able to motivate the largest number of people to do the same thing, resulting in an economic, political and cultural impact.

Cara points to the historical example of the Boston Tea Party, a protest to the Tea Act of 1773 that galvanized Americans to boycott British tea. The result was an economic, political and cultural impact that lead to the American Revolution.

Cara also recently worked with Alliance for Climate Education which is successfully running the Do One Thing (DOT) campaign that encourages high-school students to make public commitments to do one thing for the environment, while having their friends and peers hold them accountable to complete their pledge.

“Typically what happens is they go on to do other things,” adds Cara. “It tends to lead them on this whole engagement path but starting with something that’s quite tangible and focused and with the reinforcements and the adding up and the peer support.”

Cara’s second passion is understanding how the social sector can approach issues as a network instead of a single organization taking on big challenges. In this work, she’s taking a page from the Social Venture Institute model, applying case study and collaborative problem-solving to online communities.

“It’s both what I’ve learned, bringing it into Hollyhock, but then what I've also learned at Hollyhock are some pretty innovative and interactive ways to solve problems," says Cara.

SCI takes place at Hollyhock on Cortes Island June 6-10. To learn more, click here.

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