Dig Deeper into Effective Action

Dig Deeper into Effective Action- make the most of what you have

Since we have limited capacity, we think a lot about taking effective action.  We want to use all we have, in the best way, to make our work count. In my life as a community organizer, I learned this helpful acronym to work toward solving difficult social problems. Today, we are using the tool since we have no time to waste to re-habilitate degraded systems and cool the planet.

Herb spiral close to the kitchen with water for birds.

In order to document our learning and process, we, keep a journal in a central location to list upcoming projects. Our original permaculture design is also within reach.

To remember these steps for taking effective action, imagine baking an Apple, Cranberry PIE.

(Apple) Step 1- Assess Needs:  to assure actions are appropriate and targeted

  • Observe, and compile a list of needs, resources, and readiness
  • Analyze the list to decide what would have the greatest impact
  • What is the most pressing?
  • Consider how often things happen, what is related, where, are there patterns?
  • What are consequences of not addressing, or addressing the issue?
  • Are there particular places, times, and players driving the issue?
  • Are there outcomes that stand out?
  • Assess what are the potential beneficial or detrimental impacts?

(Cranberry) Step 2- Build Capacity: Take into account cultural competency, sustainability, and long-term support

  • Find support and information to fill in your knowledge base. Visit other sites.
  • Assess readiness, accept challenges and take action
  • Prepared to recognize prioritized problems as genuine concerns
  • Motivated to commit resources to address those problems
  • Are there opportunities for collaboration, stakeholders, volunteers, neighbors, suppliers, market, others?
  • Expand resources- data, staff workloads, education, coordination, funding, space, materials, food, equipment, plants, seed, soil, compost, and infrastructure
  • Other suppliers, teachers, shamans, students
  • Local champions who will support these efforts
  • Expand ideas; brainstorm, build your library, and connect on the web

(P) Step 3- Plan:  Develop a Plan

  • Keep a notebook or files of maps,  lists, and notes to think through actions
  • Keep records to document the process
  • Select potential actions that could be effective
  • Take into account all systems and individual parts impacted
  • Plan for sustainability of outcomes with resources to maintain them

Look for strategies that are:

  • Evidence-based
  • Good conceptual fit
  • Good practical fit

Think through consequences of potential actions:

  • What might happen if we try this?
  • Is there a more simple elegant solution?
  • Is there one time or place where it all comes together or falls apart?
  • How do you know it will work?
  • Is there clear logic?
  • Is the idea similar to others that work?
  • Evidence based?
  • Deemed appropriate?
  • Gut knowing/guided/intuitively right?
Map sketch
Map of Patos Suertudos’ 13 Hectares used for planning effective action

(I) Step 4- Implement: develop action plan to implement actions and adapt as needed. Stay aware of factors that may influence how it is implemented.

  • What do you expect to accomplish?
  • What are the logical steps to reach goals?
  • Who will be responsible for doing what?
  • Develop an action plan for each action
  • Consider factors that may influence implementation
  • Budget, materials, staffing, sustainability, leadership aligned with values
  • Time; how much it will take, when is it best to implement?
  • Personal preference, experience, and vision
  • Education, skills, training, feedback loops
  • Ongoing education, willingness to fail and try again
  • Build on successes
  • Action is matched to stakeholders and the systems

(E) Step 5- Evaluate: quantify the challenges and successes of actions.

Systematically collect and analyze information about actions’ activities, characteristics, and outcomes. Use that information to refine future actions.

  • Evaluate the process and the outcomes
  • Record results
  • Share what you learn
  • Spiral in growth
  • Remember, that until you’ve taken your last breath, you’re never done, especially in a garden.
  • Keep the faith, find support in others doing similar work.
  • Take breaks. Take time to recharge your personal batteries.

You are not alone. A world-wide movement is emerging from the ground up.

Join the fun.