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The Carbon CREW Project – Changing Behavior is Easier Together

What can sustainability champions learn from Weight Watchers? The high success rate seen at Weight Watcher’s is in large part due to the support, encouragement, and camaraderie created at group meetings where clients share knowledge and experience. Add to this the intellectual stimulation of a book club, and you have the magic formula of a Carbon C.R.E.W. (Carbon Reduction for Earth Wellbeing) project.

 

The Carbon C.R.E.W project provides a powerful and fun strategy to incentivize climate action through a guided team approach. Individuals form small groups that hold five, 80-minute meetings to learn about greenhouse gas (GhG) reduction strategies and develop ‘personal climate action plans’ (PCAPs) to reduce their individual or household’s carbon footprint: it’s a book club on a mission.  The goal is to reverse global warming from the bottom up by using a visionary, motivating blueprint to permanently shift behaviors, while in collaboration with like-minded people. Growing Climate Solutions wants to pilot this program in Southwest Florida this fall.

 

Erica Chenoweth, a Harvard University-based professor specializing in social movements, noted that it only takes 3.5 percent of a mobilized citizenry to spark behavior change in the larger population. Carbon CREW is a grassroots-based approach to reduce carbon emissions that guides each participant through developing and implementing a PCAP, and then communicating activities and achievements to catalyze further engagement. Developed largely around the Drawdown-based 2040 Handbook by Damon Gameau, Carbon CREW participants are guided through visions of the future and the variety of paths to get there.

 

As a self-paced learning experience, participants read assigned educational materials and brainstorm ideas for their 5-year PCAP before the meetings. The goal is to reduce personal GhG emissions by 50 percent before 2030.  (The United Nations Environment Programme reports that around two-thirds of all greenhouse gas emissions are linked to decisions made at the household level.) Meetings are formatted as peer-to-peer discussion groups and often assign a co-host to lead conversations. Reading is discussed and analyzed, and participants share ideas associated with their PCAP.  Group discussion inspires new ideas and commitments, fosters personal ownership of the concepts, and naturally creates peer-to-peer accountability.  Hanging out with a CREW group is a great way to foster new friendships and being part of a larger network is a powerful motivator to implement change.

 

To catalyze further action, CREW teams also disseminate information and photos of activities to friends and family via social media and conversation, increasing awareness of climate action and inspiring others to participate. The teams have follow-up check-ins one, three, and six months after completing the program. Social science research suggests that reporting on goals and progress increases the likelihood of success from 10 to 95 percent!  Upon successful completion of a CREW, members are invited to guide their own CREW teams. Replication and scalability of the Carbon CREW approach are viewed as fundamental aspects of the program and its potential to foment change.

 

Growing Climate Solutions’ climate awareness and education approach supports the model of personal agency and the collective power of a network of engaged stakeholders.  As many of our supporters ask, “what are the things I personally should do to mitigate climate change?” We are hoping to pilot a Carbon CREW Project Team starting in mid-October, when seasonal residents return.  Those interested in joining are asked to email Josephine DeVincenzi, a Carbon CREW Founder at info@carboncrewproject.org, who will be running this first pilot in our area. This group may be in person or virtual, depending on public health conditions and the desire of the participants.

 

Anyone is welcome to organize a team.  Those interested are encouraged to start the CREW by watching the movie 2040 and Paul Hawken’s 2017 YouTube video on Drawdown, reading Gameau’s Book 2040, and measuring their carbon footprint using an online calculator (earthovershootday.org).  The Guide’s Guide and other resources available on the websitecarbonCREWproject.org, are recommended to prepare for leading a group.  The team at carbonCREWproject.org are available to answer questions and help along the way. Whether you have been looking for a fun way to adopt a sustainable lifestyle, need a more structured approach to implementing climate-friendly habits, or simply want to meet liked-minded friends and mitigate climate impacts, consider joining our SWFL pilot CREW Team, it promises to be interesting and rewarding.

 

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