The Values Culture and Governance (VCG) circle
Greens working together to build a values driven party
What is an Assembly?
An assembly is a group of members of an organization (e.g. an EDA, a policy caucus, a working group, an advisory council, etc.) who meet periodically to make decisions about a specific area or scope of the organization.
Assemblies—often, but not always, properly constituted— hold meetings, some are private and some are open. If they are open, it is possible to participate in them (e.g. attending if the capacity allows it, adding items to the agenda, or commenting on the proposals and decisions taken by this body).
Assemblies are a core feature of Decidim (this website) so it's something worth taking the time to understand.
Over the last few years there have been a number of calls for a “culture correction” in the party, but no group has been successfully struck, with the recent intense focus on the 2019 election, 2020 leadership contest and well of course covid and provincial elections. .
WIth the federal election, leadership contest and other recent elections now behind us, and the “new normal” of muddling through life in a pandemic not a small number of Greens are turning their attention toward, building, reforming, renewing, and growing our party.
What is our culture and how do we improve it?
What is our culture and how do we improve it?
The culture of our political party is the story we tell ourselves about what we have done, what we are doing, how we are doing it and why we are doing it. Our culture has a historical arc, it has ancestors, it has a future, it is always evolving. It is both our navigational star and the river we swim in. Our culture incorporates our values, the founding documents of our political philosophy, our bylaws, our practices, and shared beliefs.
When a culture is healthy it is internally consistent. Most greens are aware of the six Global Green Principles as part of our founding documents, which we have been referring to as our "values" that many believe should be reflected in our in organization; not just in the policies we espouse at election time. While the Global Green Principles are used by other countries' as an "idea" or a "basic truth" that explains how something (should) work, the GPC has been using the Global Principles as a "moral rule" or standard of good behaviour or fair dealing.
Clarifying the difference between principles and values is important for our party at this point in time. While PRINCIPLES are rules or beliefs that govern societal actions whereas VALUES are how we treat each other.
We are in the process of getting permission from the Elders to use the Seven Ancestral teachings as the operating values of blueocean: Truth, Respect, Humility, Wisdom, Love, Honesty and Bravery.
These teachings are central to the Global Green Principles. For example: Ecological Wisdom is informed by respect, humility and wisdom; Social Inclusion is based on respect, humility and love; and Participatory Democracy requires truth, respect, humility, wisdom, love, honesty and bravery.
Values-driven behaviours include: anti-factionalism or putting common purpose ahead of internal politics; being empathetic, gentle, authentic and present; and “anti-fragile” behaviours such as accepting and learning from failures.
“We must be the change we wish to see in the world”
Why is it hard to maintain our culture?
Politics is a competitive environment. It often is a toxically competitive environment. As a group we are exposed to and absorb these toxins all the time. Negative attacks from the outside, jostling for positions and influence within, plain old bad communication, mistrust and fear all take us off our game for shorter and longer periods of time. This ongoing stress tends to wear us down and then we respond with the older parts of our brain, fear, anger, aggression. This happens in all organizations. The Green Party has an additional problem - we are trying to uphold a culture and set of values that is not shared by other parties. So this means that people who come from other parties need to take some time to learn and “detox” and also that rules, structures and practices we “import” can be in conflict with, or just not work with our culture.
To maintain a healthy culture requires a continuous repair process. It also requires vision.
Purpose of action
How do we strengthen our Green culture?
We must tell our own story. We need to have conversations in which we discuss our roots, where we come from. We must know where our water is, as the Hopi Elder said. We must discuss how our values need to shape how we act and how we speak, and then practice.
Monthly Zoom Call
The working group is intended as an ad-hoc group of members with a depth and range of experience in the party who can advise council and act as a witness to the management of the party. This group will also act collectively to preserve and promote a culture within our organization that is consistent with global green values.