Annual review 2014
Our latest annual review provides an overview of STWR’s activities over the course of 2014 as well as our key areas of focus for 2015, which includes ongoing research and writing projects alongside the promotion of STWR’s ‘global call for sharing’ campaign.
- The ‘global call for sharing’ campaign
- Research and publications
- Key areas of focus for 2015
Having set up a new website the previous year, STWR launched the ‘global call for sharing’ campaign in 2014, which will remain a central pillar of our activities over the next five years. The initiative was accompanied by the release of a new report called ‘Sharing as our common cause’ as well as an online campaign statement that individuals and organisations can publically endorse. The overall campaign forms part of a new strategy that will orientate STWR’s activities towards more active engagement with progressive organisations and campaigners in the period ahead. As well as promoting the campaign, we are continuing to publish numerous reports, articles and blogs that examine pressing political and environmental issues through the lens of sharing. In 2014 this included a primer on global economic sharing, and an initial series of unique essays that examine the principle of sharing from spiritual as well as socio-economic perspectives.
In 2015, STWR launched a new five-year initiative as the first part of an ongoing program of campaigning, networking and public outreach. As explained in our strategy document, the ‘global call for sharing’ campaign aims to promote the role that a call for sharing can play in uniting citizens and progressive organisations across the world in a common cause. At this initial stage, the launch of the campaign included the publication of a preliminary report and campaign sign-on statement, both of which are outlined below. Over the course of the next five years, further promotional tools will be developed, including videos, articles, blogs, reports and other initiatives that can help communicate our message to a wider audience.
The campaign report
STWR’s preliminary campaign report, Sharing as our common cause, outlines how the principle of sharing is already central to diverse calls for social justice, environmental stewardship, global peace and true democracy. Whether expressed in implicit or explicit terms, all of these urgent demands relate to the need for a fairer sharing of wealth, power or resources throughout our societies - from the community level up to the international. As such, the report introduces the many reasons why a call for sharing should be more widely promoted as an ‘umbrella issue’ or common cause that can help connect civil society organisations and social movements under a united call for change. The 50-page A4 report was designed by Anna White, with assistance from Susie Blackburn, and is available in both print and PDF formats.
The campaign statement
To accompany the report and help achieve the campaign’s overall goals, STWR also launched a sign-on statement to encourage engaged citizens and progressive groups to explicitly acknowledge and embrace sharing as a common cause. Those signing up to the statement also commit to engage in this emerging debate on sharing through their work and campaigning activities. As individuals and organisations increasingly frame their work directly in terms of this all-embracing political demand, diverse forms of sharing and redistribution could gradually become more widely accepted as central to resolving the interconnected global crises we face. The campaign statement is hosted on our website and has been translated by volunteers into nine languages to date, with further translations to follow over time. With the assistance of a London-based web agency, functionality has been incorporated to enable individuals and organisations to sign the statement online, and for all signatories to be clearly listed on separate pages.
The common cause report and the campaign statement are only the first in a series of STWR initiatives related directly to the global call campaign. Together with future publications, videos and other advocacy tools, STWR will communicate the campaign to a wider audience and make an increasingly comprehensive case for supporting a global call for sharing. The ultimate aim of the campaign is to facilitate a shift in public debate and policy discourse whereby the principle of sharing is regarded as an integral part of any agenda for social justice, environmental sustainability, true democracy and global peace. To help achieve this, we have established an ambitious set of objectives for the next five years which includes writing additional campaign-related publications; gaining support from internationally prominent and influential individuals; strengthening ties with civil society groups and organisations working in different countries; as well as obtaining many thousands of endorsements for the ‘global call for sharing’ campaign statement. Through our networking and outreach work over this period, we also aim to encourage more progressive organisations and activists working on diverse issues to frame their work explicitly in terms of sharing – whether in their reports and articles or through their advocacy activities.
The campaign so far
After a series of technical delays in setting up the additional website functionality that was needed to host the campaign’s sign-up forms, the initiative finally went live with a soft launch among colleagues and associates on the 5th December 2014. This was followed by an official launch that was accompanied by a newsletter mailout to our subscribers, a series of posts on our social networks and a worldwide press release to media and progressive organsiations on the 9th December.
Our primary means of measuring the success of the campaign at this point is by monitoring the number of people and organisations that sign the statement on our website. By the end of 2014 – just three weeks after the campaign was launched – more than 500 individuals and 18 organisations from 42 different countries had already endorsed the statement, which was an enthusiastic initial response to the campaign. Although the number of new endorsements dropped during the Christmas and New Year period, we expect momentum to pick up in 2015 as we actively pursue our networking and outreach work as detailed in our strategy document.
Over the course of 2014, the team at STWR published 38 original items on sharing.org, including two reports, four long essays by Mohammed Mesbahi, and numerous articles and blogs - all of which were widely shared through social media networks, communicated through our newsletters, and republished in various websites and magazines in the UK, the US and other countries.
A primer on global economic sharing
Prior to publishing ‘Sharing as our common cause’, STWR released an updated and fully referenced version of the static content that was originally created for the new website. This primer presents a comprehensive overview of issues that are central to our work, and outlines what we mean by economic sharing, why it is now so urgent that nations find new ways of sharing global resources, and how economic sharing can be applied as a solution to converging global crises. The report is published as an A5 booklet and is available in print and as a fully designed PDF.
Studies on the principle of sharing
In this ongoing series of long essays by STWR’s founder, Mohammed Mesbahi, he investigates the meaning and significance of the principle of sharing from spiritual and psychological as well as social, economic and political perspectives. STWR’s editor is continuing to work closely with Mesbahi as he develops further material over the course of the year ahead that will eventually culminate in a book. Many of the essays published to date have been widely reprinted online and fervently discussed in social media. In 2014, the following four new essays were released, and our network of volunteers also submitted 11 translations of Mesbahi’s work in French, Spanish, Italian, German, Slovenian and Japanese:
- Rise up America, Rise up! – “The time has come when America must rapidly transform its values through a more inclusive and spiritual vision, based upon a just sharing of the world’s resources. It is up to you, the youth of America, to lead the way by organising a non-stop demonstration in every state, until that nationwide wave of peaceful protest eventually catches on globally.”
- A discourse on isms – “How can we bring about an awareness that sharing is the solution to a planetary crisis, and our last remaining hope for rehabilitating a divided world? Central to this question is the problem of 'isms', in which our complacency has intellectualised itself in order to justify its existence as being normal.”
- Uniting the people of the world – “Uniting the people of goodwill throughout the world is our last remaining hope for social transformation on a planetary scale. A vast bulk of humanity has to come together on the basis of sharing, compassion and justice – which can and must be achieved with the greatest possible urgency.”
- Commercialisation: the antithesis of sharing – “We cannot talk about the importance of sharing without at the same time perceiving the dangerous, socially divisive and destructive effects on humanity of rampant commercialisation. As long as we live in a society that is blindly guided by market forces, the principle of sharing will always be eclipsed.”
Articles and interviews
Over the course of the year, STWR staff wrote various articles exploring sharing-related themes in relation to contemporary issues. For example, with climate change high on the political agenda in 2014, we published articles highlighting ‘post-growth’ economics and the need to embrace ‘one planet’ policy measures that can ensure prosperity for all within planetary boundaries. We also highlighted the impact of corporate lobbying during the ongoing United Nations climate change and sustainable development negotiations, as well as in connection with the secretive Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) agreement. In response to the growing and illegitimate power of corporations, we also explored the potential role that not-for-profit business models could play in transforming the private sector and loosening the corporate stranglehold over public policy. As economic inequality continues to widen in countries across the world, we considered the possibility and consequences of another global financial crisis, and asked what our collective priorities should be during any future revolutionary process. In line with these themes of inequality and revolution, we also weighed-up Thomas Piketty and Russell Brand’s best-selling books, and examined their core arguments in relation to the principle of sharing (a longer version of the former article to appear in the Jan/Feb 2015 edition of Solutions Journal). And with ever more people engaging in inter-personal forms of sharing and collaboration, we outlined a perspective on the political evolution of the sharing economy and put forward a critical overview of its limitations and necessary future direction.
STWR was also approached to participate in a number of interviews over the course of the year. A written interview by the P2P Foundation on STWR’s perspective on the concept of a ‘commons transition’ will soon be accessible on their groundbreaking new website. Another interview explores the issue of global governance in relation to the theme of sharing, and will be printed in a forthcoming edition of the World Futures Review journal. Solutions Journal also invited STWR to expand upon an article on the theme of post-growth, which will be published as an editorial in their February 2015 edition. Furthermore, as part of a series of filmed conversations on the theme of ‘Change through Sharing’, STWR’s director was interviewed in Germany about the political implications of global economic sharing for a world in crisis. The interview was professionally produced and is available to watch online on our website.
There are two interconnected areas of focus for STWR over the next 12 months: research/publications and campaigning.
Research and publications
The primary rationale for STWR’s ongoing program of research and writing is to explore, as comprehensively as possible, a full range of social, political, and environmental issues through the lens of sharing. There are a number of priority areas for research in the period ahead, all with a strong focus on the global dimensions of sharing wealth, power or resources. These include degrowth and the economics of sufficiency; proposing an emergency redistribution program to prevent life-threatening deprivation; and managing the global commons sustainably.
As ever, we will also be covering contemporary issues as they arise. This year, for example, STWR will be following the upcoming UN negotiations on climate change and the Post-2015 Development Goals. We also intend to approach key individuals working on sharing-related themes to participate in a series of interviews for STWR, which we can then publish on our website as unique content. Together with our existing publications, STWR’s upcoming reports, articles and interviews will ensure that our website remains a hub of information on sharing in relation to pressing global issues.
In addition to the ongoing research and writing projects mentioned above, STWR has so far published seven essays by Mohammed Mesbahi that constitute the first part of an upcoming book, as mentioned above. These unique essays add an important spiritual dimension to STWR’s work and are intended to inspire activists to broaden the focus of their concerns, as well as inform readers on the more holistic, transformative and global dimensions of sharing which are rarely discussed until now. By the end of 2015, Mesbahi (with the continued assistance of STWR’s editor) plans to have completed the major articles that will comprise the book, all of which will be freely published on the main landing page for Studies on the principle of sharing.
Campaigning and networking
The success of STWR’s global call campaign depends on a growing level of support among a wide range of progressive organisations and campaigners, as well as from politically-engaged citizens. We have identified numerous individuals and organisations already working towards goals that relate to an aspect of our campaign – from tax justice activists to anti-austerity groups, Occupy and other protest mobilisations, to the commons and new economy movements. Where appropriate and possible, we aim to support the work of such individuals and groups over the course of 2015 in order to help amplify their causes and reinforce a relationship with STWR. Furthermore, we will encourage them to endorse the ‘global call for sharing’ and actively promote the principle of sharing in their various activities.
As explained in our campaign strategy, we also intend to connect more frequently with progressive individuals and organisations that are working towards goals that relate to an aspect of the campaign, such as within the commons and new economy movements. Whenever possible, we will also give talks, presentations and workshops to further highlight the campaign and our work. At relevant events and conferences, we will distribute information highlighting our work and actively network with those present to encourage people to join the global call for sharing. Those who endorse the campaign sign-on statement will receive regular newsletter updates on our work and progress in relation to the campaign objectives over the course of the year. We will also continue to use our website and active social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, to initiate and maintain a conversation about sharing. By the end of 2015, our objective is have at least 2,000 individual and 100 organisational endorsements for the global call for sharing campaign statement.
Supporting STWR's ongoing research and advocacy work
Our work would not be possible without your support. STWR is funded entirely through private donations from individuals, and we do not receive any funding from governments or other institutions. Nor are we affiliated with any political party or corporate enterprise. Since we are not a registered charity and all of our funding is provided on an unrestricted basis, we remain free to take an explicitly political position on the global issues we address, and we are able to channel our limited income directly towards our research and advocacy. As is currently the case for many progressive organisations, our small team of staff and volunteers are facing mounting budgetary pressures. Your donations can help us to maintain our website and continue researching, writing and communicating our work while generating support within the global justice movement for the principle of sharing as a solution to global crises. Please consider making a donation by following this link: www.sharing.org/donate