4 Principles for creating positive social change, Dr Niki Harre

This article featured in The Kiwi Diary 2013, and is one of my all time favourites.  Author Dr Niki Harre is an Associate Professor of Psychology, and Associate Dean of Sustainability at Auckland University. In 2009 she received a university award for sustained excellence in teaching.

1.    Use the winds of change

The kuaka or godwit is a bird that flies from the Arctic Circle to New Zealand every year. This is a distance of over 11,000 kilometers and it makes the trip without stopping. How does it do it? First it eats a lot, so it is strong and well nourished. Then it waits for the tail winds to propel it on its journey. Principle number one is to do social change like a kuaka. Build resources and networks and then look for opportunities. If possible, ignore barriers and people who will not listen. Move around resistance rather than confronting it. This will allow you to make the most of your strengths as an individual or group.    

2.    People are happiness seekers

Notice how moths fly around a flame. People are similarly attracted to happiness. We want it, we seek it, and when we’ve found it we stick around. Principle number two is to understand that people will be attracted to activities that make them feel good. They will shy away from those that make them feel threatened, bored, lonely, or fearful. Not only that, but positive emotions prompt creativity, cooperation and openness to change, exactly what we need to bring about new ways of living. Think of a ratio of at least three positive messages to every negative message. 

3.    People copy each other

People are natural imitators. The simplest explanation for why we replicate a way of life that has passed its use-by date is because of our tendency to copy each other in an endless cycle. Principle number three is to step outside the cycle. Demonstrate new ways to be a person. Ride your bike and leave it somewhere visible. Carry a reusable coffee cup. Work with others in your organisation to enable and highlight innovative practices that will
be part of a flourishing future. 

4.    People want to be good

One of the great myths about people is that we are mostly selfish. It is more true to say we are mostly cooperative. Look at the great feats of cooperation that have produced our industrialised, globalised world.  People have a strong sense of fairness and a desire to protect innocent others. Principle number four is to work with these values. Trust that your fellow citizens want to leave a world in which future generations can thrive. Speak and act from the heart and people will want to join you. 


What to know more? Psychology for a Better World: Strategies to Inspire Sustainability is a book and short film for people interested in positive social change. www.psych.auckland.ac.nz/psychologyforabetterworld.

Plentifull Deli's Carrot Dip

Wellington's Plentifull Deli, located at 21 Majoribanks Street on Mt Victoria, does nearly as much for the suburb's desirability as the all day sun!  Plentifull's Wendy Hillyer is an under-recognised asset to Wellington foodies, her deli turns out perfection with every crumb.  This dip is another satisfyingly delicious way to sneak more life-giving plant matter into your belly in a styley hors d'oeuvre format.

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The Ultimate Everything Miso Dressing

Every so often, we experience something new that rockets past the upper limit of our sensation scale; something that demarcates life to before and after that experience.  The dressing I tried that inspired this recipe, was one such experience.

And what inspired the creation of this recipe?  Miso really hit the foodie scene, in the West atleast, during the macrobiotic and vegetarian movements in the 60’s.  Miso’s origins can be traced to China, and It was introduced in Japan by Buddhist monks in the 7th Century.  Made from fermented soy beans, miso is an amazing health elixir, full of beneficial bacteria.  This any season, umami-flavoured liquid happiness will tie together any meal, whether hot (warmed and dolloped over a dragon bowl of rice, tempeh and steamed vegetables) or cold, as a salad dressing. 

2 cups of water
1/4 cup coconut oil
2 T toasted sesame oil
2 T rice vinegar or mirin
1 T honey or maple syrup
2 tsp tamari
2-3 large garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp tahini or peanut butter
1-2 Tbsp minced fresh ginger
A glug of sweet chilli sauce

1/2 cup GF flour of your choice
(chickpea, rice, coconut etc)
4 T miso paste

Combine all the ingredients in a small pan, except for the sesame oil and miso paste.  Bring to the boil, remove from the stove, add the miso and
the sesame oil and process in a blender until smooth.

Serving suggestion – Dragon Bowls
In a bowl place cooked brown rice, steamed vegetables (cauliflower and brocolli are a great combo), cooked tempeh, then top with grated carrot, grated beetroot and some sprouts.

Now the magic happens, pour the warm miso gravy over, and bedazzle your dinner guests!  Sit back and wait for them to ask for the recipe...

Our Rivers, By Dr Mike Joy

At home New Zealanders are repeatedly told that they must accept the many evident environmental impacts resulting from intensive agriculture because it is the “backbone of the economy”.  Implicit in this message is that it’s the economy or the environment. 
But, it is simply not true that environment impacts are inevitable, in fact it’s the opposite - the most economically viable farms have smallest impacts and in reality the economy is dependent on a health environment not vice versa.

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