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Who we are
- is an inspiring tool for all those who no longer want to just sit and
watch themselves being overpowered by decision-makers whose interests are
totally different from their own.
- will collect, document, systemise and disseminate the experiences of
“naive idealists” – those who have engaged in battle against all odds, and
lost or won.
- is the handbook, film, website, course and game that aim to prepare
enthusiasts for what they can expect to meet out there among practised
bureaucrats, politicians and other decision-makers.
- is the place for those who have no money but who have an ever-increasing
commitment to the way society is developing.
Presence in society...
- is a concept that is intended to make you, your organisation and your
action group better equipped to engage in the fight for community values.
“Presence” is an inspiring tool for those of you who no longer want to just
sit and watch yourselves being overpowered by decision-makers whose
interests are totally different from your own.
collect, document, systemise and disseminate the experiences of people who
have engaged in battle against all odds, and who have lost or won. Using a
handbook, a DVD, a website, a course and a game, we will prepare enthusiasts
for what they can expect to meet out there among practised bureaucrats,
politicians and other decision-makers.
society needs committed enthusiasts
Both entrepreneurship and public political commitment carry a certain degree
of naïve idealism. In this project we have chosen to give the hallmark
“naive idealist” a designation of respect for those who still believe that
change is possible.
Power must always be kept in balance
One of the preconditions for democracy is that many involve themselves in
the small and large matters that together determine society’s development –
locally as well as nationally and internationally. The representative
political bodies need a corrective from the public. Far too often
considerations of the overall perspective disappear in short-term “practical
politics”. Politicians and bureaucrats often take part in more or less open
alliances with special interest groups who want to promote their own narrow
goals. Society then needs constructive activism.
David and Goliath
Time and again we see that lack of commitment among the population makes it
easy for these narrow interests to succeed at the expense of the interests
of the general public. There can be many reasons for the deficient
mobilisation of counter-forces. Those in power – and there are many
different types – regularly use their controlling techniques. Opponents are
often publicly characterised as “naive” or uninformed. This makes it
unnecessarily difficult to gain access to the real decision base, and the
issues in question are often made more and needlessly academic. Many people
feel like a small group of Davids in a landscape of Goliaths: just starting
the whole process demands too much. Opponents feel that they lack the
experience, competence and resources to be able to mobilise themselves
Some fight, some
win, others lose
Fortunately there are also many examples of the opposite.
stories showing how opponents have managed to create alliances, have put
forward new alternatives and have reversed a decision. They have ensured the
protection of threatened cultural and natural values. They have secured
jobs. They have turned the climate from pessimism to optimism in a local
community threatened with depopulation. Some of them have fought to the
bitter end and have lost anyway. These people, these “naive idealists”,
share experiences that should absolutely be documented. Experience can be an
inspiration and help to all those who have significant values to fight for
and who have a tendency to feel inferior. Old dogs have learnt some tricks
and know how to make the most of the opportunities. We want to pave the way
for the naive idealists to learn tricks from each other.
Those who care
The feeling of powerlessness is democracy’s worst enemy. When we no longer
believe that our contribution counts, it is easy to simply pull out. It is
crucial that those who have different beliefs are present where
decisions are made. This project aims to help those who care.
offer to all activists
The goal of “Presence” is to collect, document, systemise and disseminate
information on the experiences of naive idealists – people who have become
involved against all odds, and who have lost or won.
The purpose of “Presence” is to make individuals, organisations and action
groups better equipped to win their cases. We will create and package an
inspiring tool for those who do not want to just sit and watch themselves
being overpowered by decision-makers whose interests are totally different
from their own. The package will represent an offer to activists with little
or no financial backing.
Available to everyone
We feel that the principles and content of “Presence” should be freely
available for all those who want to gains skills in how to influence the
development of society. We therefore intend to invite major players in
voluntary organisations in Norway to join us in developing the content of
the project. The products will be developed and based on the experiences of
individuals, organisations and action groups in the areas of ethnicity,
health, culture, beliefs, environment, nature, business, social change,
urban and rural development and ecology.
The project comprises a handbook, a DVD, a website, a course programme and a
game. These can be used either separately or together.
Core areas – the tricks
Information from all media is based on ten core areas: the importance of
making alliances, analysing opponents and their arguments, drawing attention
to an idea and shaping and refining it, making strategies and following
them, gaining access to the media, using expertise where it is required,
being open about one’s own motives, leaving room for the opponent to change
Experiences of the players
The project will be designed around both experiences from specific cases and
the players involved, but it will also include interviews with activists,
bureaucrats, journalists, organisations, politicians and others who possess
competence in this field. No special knowledge will be required to join in.
The goals is to promote greater commitment among the public and to give them
an insight and interest into seeing our elected representatives’ true
intentions more often than would otherwise have been the case.
Being in the vicinity
Public administrators, political representatives, organisation leaders and
business managers control large assets on behalf of the public good.
Sometimes they overlook or ignore what or who the matter is really about
when they make their decisions. It is then our duty and right to come onto
the scene and to stay in the vicinity during the procedure, monitoring it
carefully and presenting alternatives.
A democratic channel
Actions represent an instrument for gathering together under-represented
interests and demonstrating one’s presence. Not all social involvement is
reported in established channels. Actions are an extra and totally
necessary democratic channel – whether it concerns broad alliances
between organised interests or a spontaneous cooperation between independent
individuals. During the past two to three hundred years many critical social
changes have been the result of actions.
The strange thing is that little has been done to collate experiences from
actions and to systemise them. Many people have lacked the help needed to
get started – a checklist or perhaps a handbook that lays out what must be
taken into account. Others have wanted a place where they could find
information about other actions and possibly make contact with other
activists. With your help, we hope to be able to meet these needs with this
The first step – collecting experiences
This website has been set up to collect material from the many who have
taken part in or been at the centre of actions. The next step will be to
process the material and disseminate it through various media. We are
applying for funding for the book, video documentary and course.
These points will form the structure of the handbook. We feel there are many
different challenges to be considered. Each of these core areas will be
thoroughly addressed, with examples from the activists’ everyday experiences
and with specific advice on the procedure that should be taken. As the work
on the handbook progresses, we will put elements from its contents on the
website to enable us to conduct a dialogue with users on its utility.
The same chapters will form the themes for the DVDs. Here we will try to
show specific examples from cases that have been conducted, or that are
being conducted, and the people behind the activities.
We are also working on elements for a game.
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