Check out the new Mobilisation Cookbook from Greenpeace's Mob Lab

by Patrick Reinsborough

Greenpeace has been designing and implementing high impact, headline grabbing campaigns for over 40 years. Our work at the Center for Story-based Strategy has been greatly influenced by the original Greenpeace ideas around using media spectacle to create “mind bombs”. This is why we included a case study of the iconic Save the Whales campaign in our book Re:Imagining Change. We’ve also been honored over the years to partner with Greenpeace USA to provide training as well as lead narrative strategy sessions with different configurations of their staff.

So we have been excited over the last few years to see the global organization that some have affectionately called “The Big Green Machine,” orienting more towards broader social movements. One great project to pay attention to is their Mobilisation Lab a kind of R+D department for GP’s new strategies and technologies which aspires to “transform how campaigns are fought and won.” They are consistently sharing out some of their experiments and insights. They have just released an interesting new resource you should check out: The Mobilization Cookbook: A Greenpeace Guide to Cooking Up People Powered Campaigns. After all who doesn’t love a good activist culinary metaphor?

The guide is understandably quite GP-centric but has lots of useful frameworks and insights for practitioners beyond the Greenpeace universe as well. The cookbook offers GP models such as...

  • Key Ingredients of "People Powered Campaigns” (Pg 11+12)
  • Different approaches to designing “Engagement-Centric Campaigns” and “Six Elements of Open Campaign Strategies” (Pg 33)
  • Story-based strategists will appreciate the call to “Tell Bigger Stories” and want to check out GP’s perspective on Old Story versus New Story (Pg 21)

Additionally, it’s intriguing to see the evolution of GP’s understanding of heroism in their own organizational narrative. CSS (and presumably many other GP allies over the years) have cautioned GP about letting their powerful brand be artificially narrowed to just be professionalized superhero activists who will Save-the-Planet while the rest of us cheer them on from home. As the guide acknowledges, the ecological problems that face the planet require far more than any one organization can address so “the era of the lone hero is over,” (Pg 35). Hopefully this doesn’t mean we’ll see any less of GP’s unique and iconic direct actions. But hopefully it does mean, GP will continue exploring how to connect with more people powered and movement building strategies and keep sharing out their learning with the rest of us!