The Widening Circle Phase One Proposal (2011-2012)
Why We Need a New Campaign
The bold initiative proposed here rests on three fundamental premises: a vision of the global
future, a strategy for change, and an action campaign for moving forward.
Vision: A Great Transition
We live in a world in the midst of a turbulent transition to some form of interdependent
global society. This shift is generating a host of ominous transnational problems: climate change
and ecosystem degradation, economic instability and geopolitical conflict, injustice and
dislocation. We stand at a perilous branch point of history with the shape of the future deeply
uncertain and contested.
After a quarter century of effort to make development sustainable, we remain far from the
goal of a just, resilient and peaceful future for all. National governments pursue narrow short
term interests, civil society is fragmented, and transnational corporations seek short term profits,
leaving environmental and social dimensions of global development inadequately addressed.
We still have time to change direction and forge a Great Transition to a just and sustainable
world, a planetary civilization of lives enriched and nature resilient. But this will take a shift in
consciousness and society – people with expanded identities as global citizens, linking with one
another in solidarity, and building supranational institutions for democratically managing our
Strategy: A Global Citizens Movement
More than ever, we need campaigns for rights, peace, and environment; scientific research
on global change; educational and public awareness projects; and local efforts to live sustainably.
These efforts are necessary, but not sufficient for the systemic shift to a just and sustainable
mode of global development. Without a strong popular movement generating the civic will for
the Great Transition, leaders will not muster the political will to do what is needed.
A critical social actor is missing from the global stage: a vast, ubiquitous, and coherent
movement of global citizens expressing a supranational identity and building new institutions for
a planetary age. Such a global citizens movement (GCM) would work on all fronts,
comprehending the various struggles for the environment and justice as different expressions of a
common project. It would promote a culture of peace and non-violence, nurturing ascendant
values of human solidarity, ecological resilience, and well-being, understanding itself as an
advocate and agent for a planetary civilization worthy of the name.
The GCM should be envisioned as a polycentric, dynamic and inclusive political and
cultural rising, not a single organization. Here we can learn from other large-scale movements,
such as national independence, civil rights, and feminist movements, all of which included
multiple organizational forms and diffuse centers of influence working toward broadly shared
goals. Likewise, the GCM will likely evolve as a complex social ecology of formal and informal
The idea and practice of global citizenship is spreading, but a coherent GCM that engages
masses of people across the planet remains latent, ready to be born.
Action Campaign: The Widening Circle
The Widening Circle (TWC) is a new organizing effort to nourish the formation of a
movement of global citizens. The great complexity and scope of this task will require sustained
effort and an adaptive strategy, a campaign that evolves and spreads across regions and issues in
"widening circles". TWC will engage myriad individuals and organizations in a process of cocreation,
spawning circles within a coordinated organizing process, always seeking to balance
the equally valid principles of pluralism and unity.
Rather than a rigid blueprint, TWC will grow in distinct successive waves, adapting to
changing circumstances as it expands and diversifies, while the underlying core mission persists:
advancing a plural and cohesive movement for democratic global governance, justice, and
sustainability. As it grows, TWC's internal processes will honor the democratic principles of
inclusiveness and transparency. It will act as resource and advocate for the idea of global
citizenship, conduct critical research, promote synergy across circles and allied movements
mirror the multiple scales of our interdependent twenty-first century world.
Proposed Activities (Phase One: 2011-2012)
Following a year-long discussion by the 400 participants of the Great Transition Initiative,
TWC was launched in September 2010 by leaders of 10 organizations, and 10 others
participating as individuals, at the Global Synergizer meeting held in California. An initial
Coordinating Circle was established to develop and advance the Phase One action plan described
in this proposal.
TWC's work in this initial phase falls into three task areas:
- Organization building
- Resource development
- Global Assembly
TWC's organizational structure includes five elements (illustrated in the figure):
- Coordinating Circle: a core group that guides and manages TWC's development.
- Circle of Organizers: activists who spread TWC ideas and seed regional circles.
- Circle of Allies: organizations that advance TWC through publicity, funding and in-
kind contributions. A highly-placed and well-qualified person within each
organization serves as contact point.
- Affinity Circles: TWC groups that focus their work on specific places (e.g., Regional
Circles and Community Circles) or on critical themes or challenges such as global
governance or climate change (Issue Circles).
- Circle of Counselors: distinguished individuals who endorse and advise TWC.
A concerted effort of outreach and recruitment will expand and diversify each circle. To
insure that TWC includes a diversity of perspectives, at least three meetings will be organized in
Phase One to establish Regional Circles, including in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Each will
engage 10-20 leaders in discussions of TWC's vision, strategy, and action globally and,
especially, in their regions. Representatives from the Regional Circles will attend the TWC
Global Assembly in June 2012 that will launch Phase 2 of the TWC campaign.
The growing Circle of Allies brings large pre-existing networks to this effort of outreach and
expansion, including thousands of diverse participants in the programs of the Earth Charter
Initiative, Awakening the Dreamer, Four Years Go, the Great Transition Initiative, Kosmos
Journal and Transition Towns. This invaluable collective resource, forged over many years,
offers a powerful point of departure for accelerating the expansion of TWC Circles.
The dispersed character of TWC will require the development of a high quality web
platform to provide resources for the circles and to facilitate communication within and between
them. The initial architecture will re-engineer web technologies that allied organizations have
already developed to create a shared platform for advancing a GCM. Visitors to the site will be
able to access educational resources, locate and interact with others in their areas, and obtain
guidance for forming a new circle. Educational materials will integrate the rich library of
materials that the Circle of Allies brings to TWC, including the Great Transition scenarios and
Earth Charter principles, and provide a strong base for global citizens to learn, connect and
spread the word. TWC will also have a presence on Facebook and other social networking sites,
platforms of connectivity that will become an increasingly salient organizing tool as TWC
A high-quality presentation packet will be developed to vividly communicate TWC ideas,
mission and strategy. It will be designed to enhance presentations before diverse international
audiences and prospective Allies, and will be accessible on the TWC website. The resource will
be particularly useful for organizers launching new circles, such as Regional Circles. The work
will evolve in three stages: a high-quality slide show, a short video, and a full educational
program. The development of this resource will draw on Pachamama Alliance's experience with
its widely-disseminated Awakening the Dreamer Symposium, inviting an existing network of
2,000 trained facilitators into the TWC Circle of Organizers.
TWC will convene a major meeting in 2012 marking an end and a beginning: the
culmination of Phase One and the launch of Phase Two. The four-day Global Assembly (GA)
will critically review all aspects of TWC's experience, and fashion a revised strategy, program,
and governance structure oriented to evolving conditions and opportunities. The educational
resources developed in Phase One will be launched to support the spread of circles throughout
the globe. The meeting will engage a diverse and committed group of 50 drawn from TWC's
Regional Circles, Circle of Allies, Circle of Counselors, and Circle of Organizers.
In order to facilitate decision-making at the meeting, GA attendees and the wider TWC
community will participate in an electronic discussion on critical issues. The Coordinating Circle
will seed this discussion by preparing a white paper evaluating Phase One experiences and
suggesting new directions for Phase Two.
The GA will be held in Rio de Janeiro during the week prior to the Rio+20 United Nations
Summit in June 2012. Why this venue? Part of the motivation is to control travel costs, since
many GA attendees will be in Rio anyway. In addition, following the GA, TWC will organize
major civil society meetings during the Rio+20 week to announce its intentions and engage new
The primary tangible output will be the formulation and approval of an action plan for an
expanded campaign in Phase Two ("TWC 2.0"). Equally important will be the intangibles that a
face-to-face gathering can bring: the strengthening of solidarity within the TWC community, the
sense of ownership assumed by new leaders, and the nourishing of collective commitment and
hope. Following the Assembly, a TWC 2.0 strategy document will be prepared that will set the
direction for building the more extensive and diverse circles of the next phase of the ongoing
campaign to advance a global citizens movement.
The time line below covers the full period of TWC Phase One ("TWC 1.0"): September
2010 to September 2012.
With the groundwork now in place and considerable momentum generated, we enter a
critical juncture for launching TWC. The budget for TWC's two-year Phase One program is
$400,000 (details available upon request).
Of this, $100,000 will be covered by cash and in-kind donations from the Circle of Allies.
We are seeking $100,000 in grants for carrying this campaign forward, including expanding and
strengthening our various circles, constructing the web platform and developing the
presentational packet. The remaining $200,000 will be raised through separate proposals for
establishing Regional Circles in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, and for the costs of convening
the 2012 TWC Global Assembly.
Tellus Institute will serve as fiscal agent for this project.
Founding Circle of Allies
Awakening the Dreamer
Coordinating Circle Members
Earth Charter Initiative
Forum for a new World Governance
Four Years. Go.
Great Transition Initiative
Transition Towns US
Rick Clugston is the Executive Director of Earth Charter US and acts as Chair of the
Salomeh Dastyari is a founding Board Member of Be The Change - Australia.
Raven Gray (Transition Towns US) is co-founder and President of Transition US, and a pioneer
of the Transition Towns movement.
Rasigan Maharajh is Chief Director of the Institute for Economic Research on Innovation (IERI)
based at Tshwane University of Technology, South Africa.
Gustavo Marin is a founding member of the International Council of the World Social Forum
and Director of the Forum for a new World Governance (FnWG).
Paul Raskin is President of the Tellus Institute, founder of the Global Scenario Group and Great
Transition Initiative, and author of Great Transition: The Promise and Lure of the Times Ahead.
Nancy Roof is Founding Director of Kosmos Associates Inc. and Founding Editor of Kosmos:
The Journal for Global Citizens Creating the New Civilization.
Jon Symes is Director for the Awakening the Dreamer at the Pachamama Alliance, and author of
Your Planet Needs You.
Orion Kriegman is Coordinator of the Great Transition Initiative and serves as Secretary to the
Chair, TWC Coordinating Circle
Telephone: (207) 865 0865