Positive and empowering messaging around a Wellbeing Economy is incredibly important and a vital part of our work in catalysing the transition toward a different economic system. On January 20, Positive Money, NEON, PIRC and WEAll, hosted a webinar to present findings on the ‘howto’ of effective messaging around a Wellbeing Economy to a diverse audience. The discussion officially launched the new Wellbeing Economy Messaging guide, which you can find here.
Dora (NEON) introduced the guide and provided 4 key messaging tips from the guide:
Relating to the first point, shared value is a key tenant to beginning conversations around changing our economic system. What values can we agree on that can underpin our economy? WEAll and its members created the 5 WEAll Needs that showcase the values we believe to represent a Wellbeing Economy:
Dora spoke about how it is key to ensure that people know that they are a part of the economy and can contribute to its development. Most people continue to believe that the economy = money. However, we are the economy and therefore, have the ability to change it.
A feature of the guide that is incredibly useful is a list of Messaging Do’s and Don’ts:
During the webinar, we discussed the importance of shared language. This list above provides the language that we suggest using in order to shape people’s understanding of a Wellbeing Economy and how people can contribute to its development.
After Dora’s presentation, we ended the call with a rich discussion with the audience; we’re sharing some of the key questions, comments, and resources discussed. Watch the webinar to learn the answers to the questions asked below. Questions that were not answered on the call, are answered in italic. For privacy, we’ve removed last names.
From Robert : How do you deal with words like ‘capitalism’? Do you actively avoid them?
From Madis : Instead of capitalism, some suggest to use the term “growthism”, which sounds more neutral. What are your thoughts?
From Rhiannon : Can you give any more examples of that common ground starting point? What shared values should we lead with?
From JOANNA : How much does the word ‘wellbeing’ resonate with people? Is it understood what it means?
From jo : Absolutely don’t problematise, but if we are trying to say the economy as it is, harms people, many people will think ‘really?’ as they live very comfortable lifestyles. How do we persuade them this is not so?
From Morven (she/her) – Sustain : Question – what about communicating to people we know are quite opposed to our ideas? i.e. to national govt, or specific Tory politicians. When someone has ideological preconceptions, they will turn off to certain messaging but listen up when they hear things like ‘jobs creation’.
From Roger: GDP is a measure of income. How do we talk about GDP without addressing people’s incomes?
From Juliet (she/her):
1. Can you share some do/donts on avoiding the elidiing the goals of a wellbeing economy with a wellness/yoga/healthy eating frame?
2. Are there good ways of responding to the attack ‘but the economy does currently depend on growth?’
From Hayley : Have you explored any messaging with ‘ordinary people’ / people outside our ‘bubbles’?
From Bridget: ECG : How can we collaborate more between our networks to use case study examples of practical tools, models and approaches of what is working now in practice to create wellbeing economies locally and regionally?
From jack : Thanks so much for that Dora. How do we try to make this seem less radical/revolutionary and more common sense, given that we don’t hear much on this from the likes of Labour?
From Linda (Loving Earth Project) : I agree with Joanna on jargon
From Rhiannon : I think people can connect and understand the word wellbeing a lot more than other economic concepts
From Linda (Loving Earth Project) : Whose « wellbeing » is the immédiate question.
From Alice, Equally Ours (she/her) : And on top of if people understand ‘wellbeing economy’, do they see it as a legitimate and important goal or as an unrealistic ‘nice-to-have’?
ANSWER: It depends on the audience. It seems the reasons why a Wellbeing Economy is important are becoming ever clearer. Our current economy is incredibly fragile as the COVID-19 pandemic has shown. This is obvious to many. There are still the die-hards that are not going to accept a change in the system as they may be benefiting hugely from it. The WEGo partnership shows that there are a number of countries that are serious about undertaking efforts to shift towards a Wellbeing Economy, which is positive for the movement as a whole.
From Auska : Do you think this messaging should also translate into changes in visual communication and graphic design?
ANSWER: Absolutely. If you know of anyone that would be willing to do some of this work on a volunteer basis, please let Isabel know.
From James : On the “wellbeing economy” point being jargon… I suspect I’ll immediately turn people off with this one without a lot of further information. “Get with the real world”
From Sally she/her : yes me too – ditto to Juliet’s question 1) re ensuring we don’t end up leading people to be thinking we’re talking about individual wellbeing/wellness
From Peter : The trick is to be short and snappy, and to realise that we are trying to put across what seems like incredibly complex issues for people, and questions such as ‘who’s going to pay for this?’ will almost inevitably surface.
From Mila P’s : true. one word has different meanings for different people. meeting people where they are at kind of mindset. And that comes to mind, who is the audience ?
From francine : I’ve read that Scot Gov is quite into the wellbeing economy, as are some other smaller country govs like new zealand and denmark…is your wellbeing economy promotion today all part of this same thing?
From Peter : I would urge that we all get acquainted with the basics – at least – of Modern Monetary Theory
From Jon : I like wellbeing as you can link it to people (the meaningful and fulfilling journey/ destination) and the planet (the outer ring of the doughnut). I agree with Rachel it is wide umbrella.
From francine : In recent years, before wellbeing was linked to wellbeing economy, the word wellbeing has always been linked to mental health…
From Siddhartha (Medact) : I Organise healthcare workers to call for economic change. this guide is super helpful. we are working right now to call for financial support for people to self isolate. we are planning to also campaign on liveable incomes (wages and benefits) and secure housing as well. what advice would you have of communicating theses specific issues that fall under the need for a wellbeing economy
From Linda (Loving Earth Project) : Isn’t it about a whole social-political-system rather than just ‘economy’.
ANSWER: Absolutely yes. One may argue that the economy IS the whole social-political system.
From martin: In relation to growth, is there anything to be gained from redefining what we commonly mean by “economic activity” to embrace activities that create wellbeing?
ANSWER: This is a great idea. When you think about it, ‘economic activity’ is rather vague. Curious what these activities could be defined as..
From Tabea : In Wales we have a “wellbeing of future generations act”, and “wellbeing goals” set in law – it does seem to resonate with the public as well as politicians (…although someone will always try and redefine it to suit themselves….)
From jack. : Talking about a fairer economy can work quite well as right? As fairness resonates with people.
From Mila: There are at least 81 types of new economies, how does wellbeing economy collaborate either these others?
From Tamsyn (FrameWorks Institute) : @Jack: fairness is a tricky values frame. It can trigger zero sum thinking, or an evaluation of individual deservingness. We need to think beyond resonance, to ‘where does this particular value take people’?
From Lisa : @Tabea – there is a Wellbeing Economy Alliance (WEAll) hub emerging in Wales and Wales is a member of the Wellbeing Economy Governments (WEGo) partnership. More info on WEAll Cymru here if you’re interested in connecting with them https://wellbeingeconomy.org/cymru-wales. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you want the details
From francine H (Melrose) : I like the idea of new language and words. You gave a few examples – THIS gov rather than THE gov…words like fulfillment and meaningful lives…and the positive concept that everything human ddesigned can be redesigned. Could be useful to publish a whole list of ‘replacement’ words/ vocabulary that can quickly become mainstream and alter our way of thinking?
ANSWER: Yes. The start of this work is in the guide itself. Will note to continue as it’s useful
From Linda (Loving Earth Project) : A system that dépends on growth is doomed to failure in a ‘spaceship earth’.
From Donald : This is all very well for academics and activists, but where exactly does the debate about wellbeing happen with ordinary people at the grassroots?
ANSWER: In short, it starts with small conversations amongst each other about what we want to see in our futures. Back to shared values. What values do you have with your neighbor who may be of an opposing party. Can you agree on some? This begins to shift our framework away from just economy = money = good to economy = people flourishing = good.
From Lisa : A clear distinction is that the wellbeing economy is about shared, societal wellbeing rather than individual wellbeing
From Linda (Loving Earth Project) : Is the phrase « the common good’ a useful one?
From Peter : it often seems to me that current mainstream capitalist economics is based on a kind of quasi-religious concepts, like ‘balancing the books’, ‘staying on top of debt’, ‘living within your means’, etc. which lead to the ‘wrong conversation’. it’s finding the punchy messages that take us ‘through’ these quasi-religious concepts, and makes our points.
From Laura : Just a fyi as a small real life example or what works with current govt audiences, we tweaked the second sentence of this EDM on Carnegie’s report on Gross Domestic Wellbeing in order to get Tracy Crouch as a sponsor. Before it said something like: “gdp growth is a poor measure of progress” as you’ll see it’s a bit softer now: https://edm.parliament.uk/early-day-motion/57830/gross-domestic-wellbeing (leaving aside the ridiculousness of EDMs as a format for communicating anything…)
From Juliet (she/her) : Great answers, thank you! Really love the ‘which bits of the garden’ metaphor
From Lisa : @Donald – we’ve run some fantastic community sessions on a wellbeing economy in Scotland where people were very energised in design sessions for what a wellbeing economy would mean where they are. People know what is needed locally, you’re absolutely right that the conversation needs to be out of the bubble!
From Mila: if it’s not growth as measurement criteria, what about collaborating with the living system economy folks? Align economy to how it impacts all life forms , focussing on shared prosperity?
ANSWER: This is a part of the goal, yes. Shared prosperity, human flourishing, these are the terms to use to shift the metrics we use to measure ‘success’.
From Bridget: ECG : Economy for the Common Good has the concept of the Common Good Product as an alternative to GDP ecogood.org
From Peter : I think often an essential concept to get across is that a household/individual’s budget is not the same as a State/Governments’ budget.
From Laura : Not a very important Q, but wonder whether there are any good examples of business comms on wellbeing economy or closely related that we can also draw on? This springs to mind: https://www.imperative21.co/
From Hayley : Would love to connect with PIRC as they are also based in Wales
From David Thomas : Partly related and may be of some interest, we at Social Value International are supporting and championing a UK campaign called ‘How Do Companies Act’ looking to reform company law and regulation to better protect people and planet, and also looking to replicate this in other countries. www.howdocompaniesact.org
From Mila : yes collaboration .. there are already 81 new types of economies… why work in silos?
From Lisa Hough-Stewart : Bridget, let’s continue that conversation…the idea of having a shared international PR person perhaps across orgs could be very exciting (I’m comms lead at WEAll, just back from mat leave) – email@example.com
From Mila : the only part of collaboration to may be mindful is about focussing on the best interest of the whole rather than the self-interest of one,like living systems naturally do .. ie trees in forests, bees, ants etc
From francine H (Melrose) : @david – great point – make it legal – in the same way as there’s a campaign to make ecocide illegal!
From Caroline she/her : feasta.org (Foundation for the Economics of Sustainability) very happy to network too – global focus, and some focus on Ireland too
From David : @Francine, thank you! Will look into the ecocide campaign!
From David, SCCAN : Such rich ideas – hopefully helping all our social justice and global justice and climate justice and racial justice movements to achieve engaging, ways of hooking citizens into a different narrative which looks forward to the future we all seek. Great collaboration. Thank you from someone involved in grassroots climate campaigns – look out for Transition – Bounce Forward Summit that Transition Network and ControlShift are running 3-20 March
From safia minney : Why not “New Economics” rather than Well being economy.
ANSWER: A ‘new’ economy infers that this has never been done before. When in fact, these economies may exist in other culturesor have existed before our time. A Wellbeing Economy also embedded int he name, sets a clear focus.