About Smart Change
Where we're at: two global crises
The current global situation, as we understand it at Smart Change, is defined by twin ecological and economic crises. Scientists' warnings that we are destroying the ecological carrying capacity that sustains all forms of life grow daily more dire. At the same time, the global gap between rich and poor has widened from a chasm to a canyon. The crisis of inequality is also a crisis of political power: never have so few controlled so much.
These crises converge because the tiny global elite -- which has concentrated unimaginable wealth and power -- is refusing to address the causes of the climate crisis and other forms of ecological collapse. It has constructed elaborate ways to bypass democratic decisionmaking.
The most crucial tasks for humanity, as we understand them, are twofold: we must permanently redistribute wealth and political power on a global scale, while simultaneously learning to thrive within the limits of our planet's ecological systems.
Canada exemplifies these global dynamics. The country's wealthy elites, business class, and political class have presided over ever-increasing climate emissions, deepening inequality and a steady erosion of democracy. The welfare state built a few short decades ago is being dismantled in the age of austerity.
What is to be done?
There are a lot of different responses to this massive double predicament. Many of these efforts contradict each other, and many have far more in common than current levels of cooperation would suggest. We don't have The Answer, and almost certainly no one person or group does, but our basic understanding includes the following:
• Social movements provide us with the best tools to confront oppressive, unjust and entrenched social structure and the ideology driving them;
• The people who are most deeply and directly affected by the current system are the best placed and most likely to lead deep transformations of our economic practices and ecological values;
• Redistributing wealth and tinkering with the system will not be enough; fundamental changes in the way we relate to each other, our work and the earth will be required on a global level;
• The fundamental characteristics of capitalism, including its undiscriminating drive for economic growth and the use of markets to govern the value and distribution of goods, are at the root of our problems here, and on a global level. Both must be addressed.
We bring this basic perspective to all of our work.
What will we do?
Our goal is to amplify, enhance and bring more people into existing social movements that are working toward a just and ecologically sustainable society and economy.
To do this, we aim to build power with movements. Organizations can provide a level of organization and coordination that is decisively important at times, but these amount to little without broad participation that flows from collective needs and is not under anyone's control. Our objective is to advance movements and organizations that are equipped to address these profound global and local challenges.
Our campaigns and projects focus on growing and improving the building blocks that movements are made of: communication, transformative vision, strategy, relationships, and alliances.
Within these understandings and priorities, we:
• Undertake campaigns
• Provide funding to other campaigns and projects
• Bring people together to discuss how movements can cooperate for systemic transformation
What have we done so far?
Smart Change has provided financial support to over 50 organizations and progressive causes across Canada, with an emphasis on independent media and documentary filmmaking and distribution. In the past, we have organized film screenings, produced a documentary ("Shout Out for Global Justice"), and have worked with NGOs and community organizations to foster cooperation.
Since January 2015, Smart Change is under new management, and in March 2015, we are launching a national anti-austerity campaign centred on popular education and alliance-building. Stay tuned!