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Transition Activities – emerging evidence of group service

WE, THE WORLD (WTW), seeks to help develop a new era of planetary consciousness and conscience, and is working to maximise social change by forming global networks between groups and individuals. They produce and promote events and other programs that increase public awareness and action about critical societal issues such as violence, poverty and ecological damage. Their underlying philosophy is based upon holistic global thinking, addressing the cause of world problems and actions based upon the principle that “Each individual's actions impact the world's social, economic and environmental systems, which in turn affect each of us…” Their objective is to build a large scale ethics-driven movement that conveys the message that significant numbers of people are becoming actively engaged in building a world that works for all.

WTW’s work is being undertaken on the basis that global transformation has begun in at least two critical ways – firstly, by a significant number of people visibly getting involved in making the world a better place; and secondly, by the idea that the world is moving towards a partnership model and away from a dominator model.

Examples of WTW’s initiatives are many and include: an annual worldwide promotion of peace and sustainability – 11 Days of Global Unity September 11-21 – since 2006 there have been over 700 events in more than 60 countries; 10 Million Clicks for Peace – an internet campaign to raise millions of dollars for refugees and peace education endorsed by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Arun Gandhi, Deepak Chopra, and many others; Support for Campaign 2020, a global social enterprise that brings together non-profits, businesses, government organizations and large numbers of people to achieve Sustainable Earth by the year 2020; "Your Voice Matters" – a TV/Internet Public Service Announcement featuring a mix of celebrities and indigenous people raising awareness about a variety of issues and inspiring involvement in the solutions; and the We, The World Feature Length Film and Coordinated Campaign – the epic story of how a young woman inspires the world to come together to end poverty, eco-damage and war. Also, in collaboration with the Communications Coordination Committee for the United Nations and other groups, there was a Global Water Awareness & Action Campaign highlighting World Water Day - March 22, 2009. For more information about these and other initiatives visit: www.wetheworld.org ; We, The World, 211 East 43rd St. Suite 710, New York, NY 10017, USA; Tel: +1-212-867-0846; Email: info@wetheworld.org

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Back in the year 2000, Swedish writer and activist Jakob von Uexküll, had an idea for a global non-partisan council made up of wise elders, thinkers, pioneers and young leaders; the idea came to fruition in 2004 in the form of the World Future Council (WFC). WFC is an international forum of 50 highly respected figures – scientists, human rights advocates, environmental activists, artists and politicians, such as: Pauline Tangiora, a Maori elder from New Zealand; Hafsat Abiola, a human and civil rights campaigner from Nigeria; David Krieger, the president of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation; Dr. Vandana Shiva, the physicist, environmental activist and author; and Marie-Claire Cordonier Segger, who serves as senior legal advisor to the UN and countries in the Americas, Africa and Asia. WFC’s vision is for a safe, just, peaceful and sustainable world and their mission is to educate opinion makers worldwide about key policies that will benefit the welfare of future generations. At the founding congress, all members of the Council promised the children of the world that they would do everything in their power to help sustain life on earth, with all of its beauty and diversity, for future generations, whilst at the same time pledging to fight for peace and justice. The key global challenges identified by WFC are grouped under three categories: Environment, Social Issues, and Economics and Politics, with the WFC website envisioned to become a multimedia clearinghouse for information on policies to change the world. Initially the focus is on Climate & Energy - on transforming global energy systems and the need for a transition to clean, secure, renewable and decentralized energy for all, while reducing the total global demand for energy. WFC are promoting existing political solutions that have significant impacts on all these aspects, and they seek to build strategic networks between those seeking to act towards this energy renaissance. Further topics that will be taken up in the climate campaign are: sustainable cities, sustainable food systems, the conservation of rain forests, and the establishment of an International Renewable Energy Agency. The WFC KidsCall online Forum encourages participation and discussion by young people in connection with the key global challenges. For more information visit: www.worldfuturecouncil.org ; World Future Council, P.O. Box 11 01 53, D-20401 Hamburg, Germany; Tel: +49-(0)-40-3070-914-0; Fax: +49-(0)-40-3070-914-14; Email: info@worldfuturecouncil.org

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TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design, whose mission is spreading ideas. Today, TED is a diverse global community helping people seek a deeper understanding of the world and through that a better future for all. There are three main strands to TED: two annual conferences; the TED Prize; and the talks on the website available to the public free of charge. The annual conference, held in Long Beach, California, is attended by more than a thousand people from a variety of specialities: over four days, 50 speakers present challenging ideas, each taking an 18 minute slot; there is also a global conference to be held in Oxford in 2009. The TED Prize is awarded to three exceptional individuals who each receive $100,000, but more importantly, the granting of “One Wish to Change the World”. Take, as one example, the wish by 2008 prize winner Karen Armstrong, the religious scholar, who states “I wish that you would help with the creation, launch and propagation of a Charter for Compassion, crafted by a group of leading inspirational thinkers from the three Abrahamic traditions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam and based on the fundamental principles of universal justice and respect.” The TED website “conversation” for this “wish” encourages people to create an outreach campaign to solicit or suggest candidates, worldwide, to form a group of twelve spiritual leaders to work on the Charter of Compassion; to partner with the UN Alliance of Civilisations to help create an accessible 2 page charter; through the nomination process, to get thousands of religious leaders to agree to the charter and add their signature; and to give the charter a public voice. There were also another two 2008 prizewinners: Neil Turok, cosmologist and education activist; and Dave Eggers, author, philanthropist and literary entrepreneur.

Visitors to the TED website can help spread ideas by emailing their favourite talks, speakers and themes to other people and they can add their own thoughts to the discussion pages. They can host a TED session at work or in the community, creating a discussion about any of the talks, which are distributed under a Creative Commons license. Also, ideas can be shared bringing inspiration to people around the world, and in some cases, with an invitation to speak at the TED conference. For more information visit: www.ted.com ; TED Conference LLC, 55 Vandam Street, 16th Floor, New York, NY 10013, USA; Tel: +1-212-346-9333; Fax: +1-212-227-6397

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The Right Livelihood Award, widely known as the “Alternative Nobel Prize”, was established in 1980. There are now 133 Laureates from 57 countries. Unlike the Nobel prizes, the Right Livelihood Award has no specific categories, but recognises that, in striving to meet the human challenges of today's world, the most inspiring and remarkable work often defies any standard classification. For example, the 2008 laureates include: Krishnammal and Sankaralingam Jagannathan, dedicated to the Gandhian vision of social justice and sustainable human development in India; Amy Goodman, the independent political journalist who launched “Democracy Now” – the fastest growing independent news program in the USA; Asha Hagi who has dedicated her life to peace and reconciliation in Somalia; and Monika Hauser, founder of “medica mondiale” which works to prevent and punish sexual violence against women and girls in wartime and to assist the survivors.

Recently, a new initiative emerged from this politically independent Swedish charity viz. The Right Livelihood College, (RLC) hosted by Malaysia’s leading University, Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM). This educational initiative will offer programmes that will support the Laureates in passing their knowledge and skills to a new generation. In particular, the RLC will: help make the knowledge of Laureates accessible to all; assist the Award Recipients' projects to develop and flourish effectively and sustainably for experiential learning; connect the global community of Award Recipients in order to achieve their common goals; promote the most successful solutions to urgent global problems through the development of information, communications and education activities including web-based learning materials, meetings, networking and an internship and research scholarship programme; and actively link with like-minded institutions that foster programmes that resonate with the goals of the Right Livelihood Award Foundation.

The Director of the College, Professor Anwar Fazal, stated that the initiative plans to include: lectures by Laureates, scholarships and internships, international courses, “The Alternative Nobel Prize” series of books, documentary films, and “days of action” series to promote such United Nations days as World Biodiversity Day, World Peace Day and World Health Day. For more information visit: www.rightlivelihood.org/college.html ; Anwar Fazal, Director, The Right Livelihood College, c/o Centre for Policy Research and International Studies (CenPRIS), Universiti Sains Malaysia, 11800 USM, Penang, MALAYSIA; Tel: +60-4-6532042, 6532047; Fax: +60-4-6584820; Email: college@rightlivelihood.org

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AVAAZ.org is a new global web movement with a simple democratic mission: to close the gap between the world we have, and the world most people everywhere want. The Internet and technology have transformed communications and now people can connect and mobilize as never before. According to Avaaz, the rise of a new model of internet-driven, people-powered politics is an agent for change and is connecting people across borders, thus balancing the lack of democracy in the process of globalisation, where decisions are often shaped by political elites and unaccountable corporations, rather than the views and values of the world’s people. The key aspect of this online community is an email list operated in 13 languages, which sends out alerts and messages on global issues to members of the community, which has grown to over 3.2 million members worldwide. Avaaz members respond to alerts by rapidly combining the small amounts of time and money they can give into a powerful collective force. In a few hours, hundreds of messages can be sent to political leaders about issues such as climate change, genocide or the terrorist outrage in Mumbai. An example of the collective action of the Avaaz community was demonstrated last December, when over 175,000 people, from over 192 countries, signed a climate petition in relation to the European Union’s climate package. Furthermore, small donations paid for independent opinion polls in Germany, Italy and Poland with a “huge majority” in favour of strong climate action despite the economic downturn. Also, in relation to the crisis in the Congo, the Avaaz community responded with adverts, polls, briefings and a symbolic protest in order to support a European Union peacekeeping force. For more information about Avaaz and all of their major campaigns visit: www.avaaz.org ; Avaaz Foundation, 857 Broadway, 3rd floor, New York, NY 10003 U.S.A.

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Gaia Education, founded in 2005, is an international programme whose aim is to develop courses on sustainable community design and development. The courses are designed by a team of eco-village based educators known as GEESE – Global Educators for a Sustainable Earth – and are an official contribution to the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development 2005-2014.

Ecovillages around the world offer valuable experiences and lessons about the design and creation of sustainable communities in rural and urban settings, and the aim is to make the knowledge and skills widely available. Ecovillage Design Education (EDE) has four core pillars: World View, Economic Design, Social Design, and Ecological Design; and these are woven together in rapport with the local environment. The curriculum is relevant to peoples of both developed and developing countries, rural and urban regions and the host sites are a diverse selection of well-established ecovillages and occasionally urban sustainability centres.

The GEESE meeting in Thailand in 2007 involved educators from 13 nationalities thinking through ideas such as spreading the message of low-impact and carbon-neutral activities across the globe. The EDE has been piloted in settings as varied as urban São Paulo; Lotan, a desert Kibbutz in Israel; and Findhorn, a spiritual eco community in Northeast Scotland. During the meeting the above mentioned centres as well as Tamera Ecovillage in Portugal, Ithaca in upstate New York, Instituto Tonantzin Tlalli in Mexico and Sarvodaya in Sri Lanka gave presentations of their versions of the EDE pilot activities that had taken place the previous year.

The EDE activities are best illustrated by a few examples: Lotan used their experience of permaculture and ecological living to sustain a practical 10 week programme where planting and harvesting crops, creating recycling waste systems and building mud houses were a hands-on part of the curriculum. Findhorn offered an intense one month training that combined the unique social and spiritual practices that have been developed at the Findhorn Foundation with hands-on experience of local right livelihood initiatives and ecological design projects. In addition, the programme was offered as a training of trainers, using an experiential empowering approach and daily meditation sessions to explore a shift in the culturally dominant worldview, as well as participatory teaching methodologies. In São Paulo the EDE took the form of weekends and evenings over a period of time allowing 100 city dwellers working in or interested in the complex challenges of urban sustainability. Many participants were in a position to take what they learned and directly apply it in their place of work in and around the city, such as the group of Public Parks Caretakers that joined the training. Next Steps in São Paulo include working with teenagers, involving public administration, and creating a distance learning programme and university courses. For more detailed information visit: www.gaiaeducation.org ; The Park, Findhorn, Forres, Morayshire, IV36 3TZ, UK; Tel: + 44-1309-692011; Fax: + 44-1309-691301

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The City Montessori School (CMS)based in Lucknow, India is the world’s largest school by pupils in a single city. The school was founded in 1959 by a young visionary couple, Jagdish Gandhi, a socially motivated Gandhian, along with his wife Dr. Bharti Gandhi, a child psychologist. It caters for the education of over 35,000 students, from the Montessori method for pre-school children through to higher education and degree level, and has 20 branch campuses spread over Lucknow. Nearly two-thirds of its students are children in the pre-primary and primary classes from 6 to 10 years, and over 80% of CMS students in higher classes have been studying at CMS before the age of ten. The School was honoured with the UNESCO Prize for Peace Education in 2002 and was congratulated for its efforts in promoting the values of peace, religious harmony, tolerance and coexistence among children.

The School has an extensive range of modern educational and recreational facilities, for example, a swimming pool, a vast playground, and a newly built auditorium with a seating capacity of 3,500, as well as modern research and training facilities.

One of the most distinctive features of CMS is the emphasis on the twin poles of Godliness and Globalism. The school actively strives to inculcate in students the philosophy of 'Jai Jagat' (Glory be to the World!). This thought empowers them with a global perspective and the concept of world citizenship. The CMS educational system strives to break down the existing narrow domestic walls and to open up new possibilities for global cooperation in all fields of human endeavour. It seeks to develop in children the oneness of God and mankind as well as unity of all religions.

Daily prayer assemblies ensure that children are spiritually nourished, and world citizenship is inculcated through activities such as camps, exchanges and various other international events that CMS organises every year to provide an opportunity to children from different cultures and nationalities to come together and experience cross-cultural interaction. All CMS events begin with a prayer for world peace. World Peace Prayer Ceremonies are organized under the aegis of World Peace Prayer Society of Japan with its headquarters in New York.

Inspired by the values instilled by their education, CMS students serve their local and national communities; for example, they have founded Eco Clubs, hosted environmental seminars, organised tree plantings and clean-up projects, and lobbied state legislature for water pollution control.

The global impact of CMS can be clearly seen by visiting their website: www.cmseducation.org where an extensive number of international initiatives are revealed. One outstanding example is the upcoming International Conference of Chief Justices of the World (The World Judiciary Summit) which is scheduled to take place in the World Unity Convention Centre, Lucknow in December 2009; the summit will deliberate on the need for enforceable international law and for empowering the International Court of Justice, thus helping to build global public support for ensuring a safer world for children and coming generations. For more information about CMS visit: www.cmseducation.org ; Head Office, Jai Jagat House, 12 Station Road, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India ; Tel: +91-263-8738; Fax: +91-263-8008; Email:info@cmseducation.org

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The Israel/Palestine Centre for Research and Information (IPCRI) is a joint think-tank of Israelis and Palestinians devoted to developing practical solutions to the Israeli-Arab conflict. IPCRI was launched in 1988 in order to promote dialogue at various levels between the Israeli and Palestinian civil societies. As such it is one of the oldest of the bridge-building initiatives, and also one of the very few to survive the onslaught of the Al-Aqsa intifada and its associated restrictions placed by both parties on dialogue. IPCRI was founded on the principle that it should be a joint partnership between Israeli and Palestinian intellectuals, academics, professionals, politicians, and others, reflecting a conviction that peace-making and peace-building must similarly be joint and bi-partisan efforts (assisted by the international community).

The vision that inspires IPCRI is in their words: “peace with justice for all sides, economic prosperity together with respect for human rights, dialogue with tolerance of diversity – but these ideals can only be turned into reality by perseverance, hard work, and sober thinking. Steadfastness of purpose must be met with a willingness for pragmatic compromise. IPCRI combines the heart with the head”.

IPCRI staff have three departments working in a broad range of fields. The Strategic Analysis Unit deals with issues such as: the future of Israeli settlements, security, sovereignty, borders, the future of Jerusalem, and the refugees issue. The main focus now is rebuilding a peace process and creating mechanisms for coordination and cooperation. The Environment and Water Department deals with issues such as environmental standards in agriculture, environment and public health, water pollution, the allocation of water, and the development of new innovative models for joint management of natural resources. Finally, Peace Education focuses on teacher training and on developing text books in peace education for Israeli and Palestinian schools.

IPCRI also provides a forum for creative problem-solving, exploring options, and outlining solutions, including ongoing periodic dialogue between experts in specialised fields such as economic cooperation, water management, environment, the future of Jerusalem, civil society, collective identities, and business law. IPCRI has held conferences in Jerusalem, Taba, Cairo, London, Oxford, Turkey, Gaza, and elsewhere; research has been commissioned and has been published and a library and databases are available. More information is available from: www.ipcri.org ; IPCRI, P.O. Box 9321, Jerusalem 91092, Israel.

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The Millennium Villages project is led and executed by communities on the ground in Africa in countries such as Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Malawi, Senegal, Mali, Ghana and Nigeria. More than 400,000 peopleare leading this bold initiative, giving their time, skills, and resources to make the project a success and one that is relevant to local conditions. The Millennium Village project is based on the findings of the UN Millennium Project andis led by the science, policy and planning teams at The Earth Institute, Millennium Promise and the United Nations Development Programme. Critical to the success of the Millennium Villages is the principle that communities must be empowered to lead in their own development. To ensure success they must give substantially of their time, skills, and resources. Because Millennium Villages are an investment toward a sustainable end to extreme poverty, Millennium Village communities strengthen their local governments and institutions and certify the preparation and implementation of the interventions in their community. This is necessary to ensure that their development will become sustainable and self-sufficient.

With the help of new advances in science and technology, project personnel work with villages to create and facilitate sustainable, community-led action plans that are tailored to the villages' specific needs and designed to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. Simple solutions like providing high-yield seeds, fertilizers, medicines, drinking wells, and materials to build school rooms and clinics are effectively combating extreme poverty and nourishing communities into a new age of health and opportunity. Improved science and technology such as agroforestry, insecticide-treated bed nets, antiretroviral drugs, the Internet, remote sensing, and geographic information systems enriches this process.

Over a 5-year period, community committees and local governments are building capacity to continue these initiatives and develop a solid foundation for sustainable growth. For more information visit the website at: www.millenniumvillages.org ; Email: trowbridge@ei.columbia.edu; Tel: +1-212-854-9485 (email and telephone for Erin Trowbridge); The Earth Institute at Columbia University, 405 Low Library, MC 4335, 535 West 116th Street, New York NY 10027, USA

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Partners In Health (PIH) is a non-profit organisation focusing on the delivery of quality health care in poor communities. Its mission is both medical and moral and is based upon solidarity, rather than charity alone, and is not only concerned with health care and social services, but also involves applying pressure to drug manufacturers and lobbying policy makers. PIH was founded in 1987, delivering health care to the residents of the mountainous Central Plateau in Haiti, and is now active in other sites in Haiti as well as in a number of other countries, including Peru, Siberia, Rwanda, Lesotho, Malawi and in the USA (Boston). It has a budget of $50 million. The three goals of PIH are: care for patients; alleviation of the root causes of disease in communities; and the sharing of lessons learned around the world. PIH believe that health is a fundamental human right, not a privilege.

The work of PIH is based upon five fundamental principles: access to primary health care in the community; free access to primary health care and education for those in poverty; community partnerships – providing a vital interface between the clinic and the community; addressing basic social and economic needs through community partners – improving access to food, shelter, clean water, sanitation, education and economic opportunities; and serving the poor through the public sector to assure universal and sustained access to health care. The following examples illustrate some of the work PIH is doing:

Zanmi Lasante (ZL, “Partners In Health” in Haitian Kreyol) is PIH’s flagship project, where a small community clinic has grown into a Sociomedical Complex: a 104-bed, full-service hospital with two operating rooms, adult and paediatric inpatient wards, an infectious disease center, an outpatient clinic, a women’s health clinic, ophthalmology and general medicine clinics, a laboratory, a pharmaceutical warehouse, a Red Cross blood bank, radiographic services, and a dozen schools. ZL has also expanded its operations to eight other sites across Haiti’s Central Plateau and beyond. Today, ZL ranks as one of the largest nongovernmental health care providers in Haiti – and the only provider of comprehensive primary care, regardless of ability to pay, for more than half a million impoverished people living in the mountainous Central Plateau.

More recently, the Malaria Net Challenge raised money for 10,000 bed nets – a cheap and effective way to protect against malaria – following the hurricanes in Haiti in 2008.

Inshuti Mu Buzima (“Partners In Health” in the Rwandan national language, Kinyarwanda) is the first PIH project in Africa. Launched in the spring of 2005 at the invitation of the Rwandan government, the project responds to the escalating crisis in global health by bringing the PIH model of care to Africa. Inshuti Mu Buzima (IMB) confronts this challenge as part of an innovative partnership among strongly committed public and private organizations, including the Rwandan Ministry of Health, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and the Clinton HIV/AIDS Initiative. Together, IMB and its partners have undertaken a commitment to scale up HIV treatment and care in rural Rwanda; to strengthen the country’s national training and evaluation programs; and to develop, document and disseminate a rural care model for HIV that can be adapted and replicated throughout Rwanda and other African countries.

In inner city neighbourhoods of Boston in the USA, the Prevention and Access to Care and Treatment (PACT) project serves the sickest and most marginalized HIV patients. Community members check in on HIV patients on a daily or weekly basis, making sure they attend medical appointments, take their medications and have access to other essential needs and social services. PACT also recruits and trains people from at-risk communities to become prevention and harm reduction leaders, conducting education and support activities with injection drug users to help them avoid becoming infected with HIV. For more information visit: www.pih.org ; Partners In Health, 800 Boylston Street, 47th Floor, Boston, MA 02199, USA; Tel: +1-617-432-5256; Fax: +1-617-432-5300; Email: info@pih.org

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GOODWILL IS... an essential quality that bridges between past and future.

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For information on World Invocation Day, 7 June 2009, please go to www.worldinvocationday.info