Movement-building: Insulin and unlocking energy

Not quite sure this metaphor* is going to be much use to anyone but myself, but here goes nuffink.

Insulin is a hormone secreted by the pancreas. It helps sugar in the blood get into the body’s cells, where the sugar is then “burnt” for energy. In the absence of (enough) insulin, blood sugar levels are too high, and cells don’t get what they need.

So, kind of turning that around a bit, I want to say that inside the individuals “in” social movement organisations (SMOs) there exists lots of talents, skills, previous experience, aptitudes and energy. Unfortunately, SMOs mostly lack the “insulin” (tools) to help unlock all this and bring it out into the bloodstream of the movement where it can be shared. SMOs mostly seem to think that holding meetings at which about 20 per cent of the people do 80 per cent of the talking, or marches and rallies where the ratio is even worse, is the best use of the food for the body politic. It’s simply not true, but it serves to meet the needs of the “leaders” – allowing them to stay in their comfort zone and maintain their status, regardless of the effectiveness of their ‘tactics.’

What would those “insulin” for social movement organisations look like? Well, that’s a big question, but for starters –

  • proper facilitation
  • care over what the existing and aspired-to skills and knowledge of individuals and small groups are
  • attention to the micro-dynamics of meetings, and of group dynamics between meetings.

See also
The distinction between mobilising and movement-building
ghetto homoestasis (a word that is particularly apposite here)

* Just discovered this quote – “the price of metaphor is eternal vigilance” – it rocks!!


About dwighttowers

Below the surface...
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2 Responses to Movement-building: Insulin and unlocking energy

  1. Arty says:

    Good day Mr Towers,

    As always, an extremely interesting post. I myself have never been involved in acivism of any serious sort. Heck I have never even been in a protest march so it’s always fascinating to hear your accounts and point of view. Keep posting!
    I, er, just wanted to say that using perhaps the hormone “Glucagon” might have been a better choice. Glucagon, also a pancreatic hormone, does the opposite of Insulin and raises blood glucose levels. (So now you know).
    Best of luck battling the bureacratic- the alliteration stumps me (forget it)- good luck fighting the people working to maintain the status quo where they get all the cream. (Btw your phrase “Death by PowerPoint” is just brilliant! I can now briefly chuckle to myself during certain lectures, and suddenly the slow, torture-like experience doesn’t feel so slow and torturous! Thank you!!!)

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