Using Collective Impact to Bring the Goals of the United Nations Home to San Francisco

The Charter of the United Nations, signed here in San Francisco in June of 1945 begins with these words: WE THE PEOPLES OF THE UNITED NATIONS DETERMINED

  • to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and

  • to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, and

  • to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained, and

  • to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom, ...

“DETERMINED to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war”! These are words to be honored, and with the 2015 passage of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, a new opportunity arises for the cities of the world to bring about lasting peace. San Francisco can use this opportunity to bring the words of the UN Charter home.

Who We Are

Collective Communication, Inc. (CCI) is a California nonprofit with 501(c)(3) status. We are seeking funding for a “collective impact” project to bring the goals of the UN home to San Francisco.

CCI has developed the “Voices of Humanity” (VoH) a free open source online social medium as an action oriented platform for human unity and diversity. VoH provides communities with collective voices for the genders and ages as well as overall, thus building gender and age equality into the process. We already have a working online forum with monthly collective results and by the end of 2018 will have an app-accessible “together-and-apart” discussion format whereby the nations will each have their own collective voices in alternation with the collective voices for humanity. In the first quarter of 2019 we will implement bottom up inter-community networking.

The together-and-apart feature will also be ideal for “across the silos” partnerships, which makes VoH a promising candidate for the “continuous communication” component of a collective impact project. CCI needs a suitable partner to be the collective impact “backbone organization” for the San Francisco UN Goals project. See below for more about collective impact.

The Proposal

The proposal is to persuade the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to pass a resolution by UN Day, 2020, October 24, 2020, establishing a UN Goals Advisory Committee to be charged with developing detailed proposals how each of the Goals of the UN may best be supported/implemented by the City. To this end, the grantees will build a civic / business / government coalition for a collective impact project. The proposed City resolution will include clauses covering each of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Human Rights, CEDAW, nuclear disarmament and world peace, and a blanket clause covering all the other goals of the UN.

The UN Goals coalition is expected to provide core members for the San Francisco UN Goals Advisory Committee, opening up many avenues of action, but this proposal is deliberately limited in scope to the initial establishment of the new Advisory Committee. By keeping it simple, we can expect a success that will generate much good feeling for the follow-up efforts to actually implement the UN goals locally, a task which will be considerably more difficult.

The cities of the world are moving towards adopting the SDGs in any case and they already support nuclear disarmament. At the global level, the SDGs were approved in 2015 by all the nations and there is a major push on from the top down to bring the SDGs to the local level. Awesome as the SDGs are, they do not include nuclear or general disarmament. Inclusion of disarmament would have doomed the adoption of the SDGs at the international level, but at the city level, nuclear disarmament and peace are highly desired goals. By including all the goals of the UN in a single package to be adopted by San Francisco, the coalition can build on the SDGs momentum to establish a new path toward world peace that includes nuclear disarmament and the great original goal of the UN to end the scourge of war.

Grant Request

CCI is seeking a “backbone organization” for the proposed collective impact project. CCI and the backbone organization will apply jointly for a $300,000 grant, with the backbone organization receiving $200,000 to staff up for the project through October 24, 2020 (UN Day), and CCI to receive $100,000 over the same time period for staff and programming support. CCI would very much welcome an opportunity to apply for a smaller grant of $15,000 to bring in a part-time paid intern and to continue developing Voices of Humanity until the larger grant is secured. Currently CCI has one programmer who puts in only six paid hours a week (at $50/hour), so progress is not as rapid as it could be. Funds remaining unspent after the success of the project will be transferred to the new UN Goals Advisory Committee.

Collective Impact (CI)

An article in the Winter 2011 Stanford Social Innovation Review outlined five ingredients for successful collective impact (CI) at the local level. The idea took off in a big way and is still going strong. See the original article here:

The five ingredients for successful collective impact.

  1. Common Agenda. Collective impact brings local people and organizations from different sectors (civic, business, government) together to work on a particular initiative. All participants must understand and agree on exactly what the initiative intends to accomplish. By focusing on a particular set of goals, chaos is reduced and success is more likely.  

  2. Shared Measurement System. For each goal or subgoal, measurable key indicators are specified. All participants must be open with the measurements that they can provide. This can be problematic for some participating organizations and agencies, so it is critical that all participants honestly agree to be transparent.

  3. Mutually Reinforcing Activities. This is where real progress can be made. Each participating organization, as it learns what the others are doing, can make modest adjustments in their own activities in order to mesh better with the others, thus improving outcomes all around. But this requires real friendship, with everyone being delighted to boost the overall result. A tit for tat approach will bring only minimal benefits.

  4. Continuous Communication. Clearly everyone has to be kept up to date and new ideas must be encouraged to percolate through the collective impact community. In person meetings are often possible, since everything is happening locally, but an online process is also required.

  5. Backbone Organization. The independent backbone organization provides paid staff. The wikipedia article on collective impact lists six functions of the backbone staff: “Guide Vision and Strategy; Support Aligned Activity; Establish Shared Measurement Practices; Build Public Will; Advance Policy; and Mobilize Funding.” Clearly a backbone organization is a requirement, but that organization is ever so likely to have its own agenda, however much it tries to be purely supportive of the collective impact initiative it has adopted. The process will only work if the participating organizations trust the backbone to be open and not heavy handed.

A Shared Agenda

The shared agenda for our proposed CI project has three parts. First is the building of a coalition of civic, business and government organizations to support the creation of a San Francisco UN Goals Advisory Committee by October 24, 2020 (UN Day). Second is the drafting of a City resolution to create the new Advisory Committee. And third is to persuade the City of San Francisco to adopt the resolution without changes that might weaken the ability of the new Advisory Committee to pursue its goals.

Measurable Goals

There are seventeen SDGs with 169 targets as sub-goals, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) has thirty articles that overlap considerably with the SDGs. Additionally, San Francisco is already implementing CEDAW through its Commission on the Status of Women. Nuclear disarmament is closely allied with the issue of general and complete disarmament under the heading of Peace. Various UN Conventions cover more issues, some of which are still pending ratification by the U.S. Senate. Additionally the UN Calendar of International Days lists many issues, most but not all of them covered by the SDGs and the UDHR.

Our first measurable goal is to bring in organizations to our coalition for all of the SDGs, for nuclear disarmament and peace, and for as many of the 169 SDG targets and UDHR articles as possible, while also welcoming organizations focused on other UN goals. We will count a) joining the coalition, b) participation in the VoH continuous communication process online, c) participation in local in-person meetups, d) provision of volunteers for outreach, e) willingness to join the new UN Goals Advisory Committee once it is established, and f) provision of funding.

Our second measurable goal is a high level of agreement on the text of the proposed Board of Supervisors resolution establishing the new San Francisco UN Goals Advisory Committee.

Our third measurable goal is the actual passage of the proposed resolution by the Board of Supervisors.

Mutually Reinforcing Activities

The participating organizations can build a sense of solidarity by adjusting their activities to mesh more efficiently with those of the other coalition members. This applies both within the separate goals and across the silos. The Voices of Humanity online social medium is structured to help build a kindly and active community with an intelligent common consciousness. These features will make mutually reinforcing activities a natural outcome of the project.

Continuous Communication - the Role of Voices of Humanity

Voices of Humanity can be a big help for collective impact in general as well as for this particular proposal. VoH implements geographic levels, so it can bring together multiple local CI endeavors into a larger national or global project. As a bottom-up process, it can bring balance to the top-down influence of the backbone organization. The built in voices by gender and age can be augmented as needed with other intersectional breakouts. The ability to break out sub-groups by issue adds an “across-the-silos” capability that intersects with the identities, so we have a hugely flexible matrix of identities and issues that can be brought into play as needed. And finally, the voice of humanity-as-one maintains the holistic perspective which can otherwise get lost in the emphasis on measurable outcomes. The voice of humanity-as-one will also reinforce that sense of camaraderie which is needed for the CI endeavor to implement mutually reinforcing activities.

VoH features that will be useful for collective impact:

  1. Communities and community hashtags. For instance the “@sdgs” community is for VoH participants who support the UN Sustainable Development Goals. It is easy to see the list of messages in the VoH forum written by @sdgs members. Each community has a corresponding hashtag. For instance if one specifies hashtag #sdgs in the forum as well as @sdgs, then one sees only messages written by @sdgs members which are meant to be of interest to the SDGs community. Each collective impact project can have its own community. In this way, CI participants from many projects can be rubbing shoulders in the forum, and even belong to more than one project.

  2. Geographic levels (city:metro:state:nation:global). The geographic levels intersect with the communities, so, for instance, if you live in San Francisco, California, you can easily limit the forum list to messages written by the @sdgs community members who live in San Francisco or who live in the Bay Area, or California or the USA. Or you can go global. An initiative looking to have CI projects in many cities in the U.S. can set up a national community, so the local CI members can easily share across many cities. This feature makes it at least thinkable that there might be a national or state CI project with local chapters that meet in person. Even a global CI project might be set in motion. For our local San Francisco project, participants in the higher geographic levels may well provide novel ideas and perspectives for consideration.

  3. Anyone may add their voice or comment on what others have written and may hashtag the message to bring it to the attention of a particular community. The VoH process is bottom up.

  4. Voting on messages. Any participant can give any message 1, 2 or 3 thumbs up or down. The thumbs up or down votes generate an “approval” rating between -3 and +3 and an “interest” rating between +1 and +3. A comment generates an interest rating of +4 for the message commented on. A “value” score is calculated as the average approval times the average interest for the rating. Regression to the mean prevents an item with few ratings from winning the day unfairly.

  5. Voting results are available on the “Voices of Humanity” page where the top rated messages are listed for the Voice of Women, Men, Youth, Experience (middle-aged), Wisdom (seniors) and the Voice of Humanity-as-One. For the Voice of Women, we list the top rated message written by a woman as rated by women and so forth for the other Voices. The Voices of Women and Men build gender equality into the process. A date range for the past day, week, month can be set to include only recent messages. The Voices of Humanity forum can be sorted by value, interest, approval and controversy as well as by date..

  6. “Simply human” is the designation available for those who do not identify with a particular gender or age group.

  7. A platform for community action. It is easy to restrict the VoH forum list to messages designated as “Nonviolent Action” oriented by their author. When in action mode, new items are automatically tagged #nvaction.

  8. New moon and full moon lunar cycles will provide bottom-up guidance for the CI coalition. Each new moon, the highest rated messages at the San Francisco / UN Goals level will be emailed to participants. A single message goes out each new moon with the highest rated items from the Voice of Women, the Voice of Men, the Voice of Youth, the Voice of Experience, the Voice of Wisdom and the Voice of Humanity-as-one.  Each full moon, the highest rated action-oriented messages will be emailed in a similar fashion.

  9. Transparency but with a curtain. When posting a message, the user may specify that the message be restricted to members of the current community. The message will be emailed only to community members. Non-community members may see the message by visiting the community, so transparency is maintained, but members of the community will be able to share within the community without feeling they are adding to the communication overload more widely.

  10. Conversations – Together and Apart (coming by the end of 2018). Together and apart conversations will implement unity-and-diversity in a dramatic way. The same messages that participants write and vote on for the lunar monthly cycles, will also be part of a UN Goals Together and Apart conversation. The standard calendar months will be used with the first half of each month giving highest rated results for all the UN Goals participants together, and the second half of each month providing separate results for each of the Goals. This process will build the “across the silos” sense of unity-and-diversity that we must have for success. A VoH smart-phone app is expected to be available by the end of 2018 to implement the together-and-apart UN Goals conversation for San Francisco.

  11. Bottom up Networks (coming by Spring, 2019). Bottom up networks will enable local CI members to create an across-the-silos network for themselves, such as @peace, @genderequality, and @nuclear_disarm. Easy user access to this network will restrict the forum list to messages that are written by those who belong to all of these communities. There is more to it, but that’s the idea.

  12. Identity Communities (coming by Spring, 2019). This will create communities for all user profile values, such as “Faith tradition”, “Class”, “Cultural affiliation” and “Political affiliation”.

  13. Peer-to-peer networking (coming when we have the funding for it). When VoH goes peer-to-peer, larger organizations can have their own VoH hub hosted on their own computer network. This will enable them to enlist their members while keeping email addresses secure. Peer-to-peer networking will also enable massive participation without fear of losing the network if particular host computers go out of service.

Backbone Organization

CCI needs a suitable partner to be both the backbone for the project and a joint applicant for the grant. We are seeking an organization with excellent San Francisco connections and a broad interest in the Goals of the UN.

The Vision: Overview

The world, our world, Planet Earth is in trouble, a trouble of our own making. Humanity, by a combination of population growth and an ever more powerful technology, has overstepped Nature’s limits. Civilization as it goes is not sustainable and will collapse, and in the non-linear way of things, all too likely sooner rather than later.

The peaceful transition to a sustainable world requires global trust and cooperation between the nations and religions, and also the active support of the people everywhere. We love our nations and our religions, and won’t give them up, so in this shift to a larger sense of unity, we need to be thinking how we can motivate the nations and religions to be willing partners.

Voices of Humanity Will Bring in the Nations and Religions

The six voices of humanity will create the global consciousness that is the sine qua non of the transition to a sustainable civilization that we need. At the global level, messages from these six voices will be extremely likeable in the facebook sense but more than that, they will be important because so many people from all over the world will read them. Because love, wit and spirit are what everyone appreciates, we can expect the six voices of humanity to be consistently kind, intelligent and upbeat. Narrow minded and hateful messages will always draw a large negative vote from one segment or another and so can never be selected to represent humanity as a whole. The ever wise and gentle humor of the voices of humanity will redefine the “other”. We can even hope to deliver a salutary shock as the participants realize one by one that the human race is on their side.

As the VoH network grows, unified voices for the nations and religions will develop. Dare we imagine a voice of America and of Russia, India and Pakistan, Israel and Palestine? A voice of Islam and of Christianity? It might seem a foolish project, but when we realize that the nations and religions are being unified and strengthened within the context of a unified humanity, then the true genius of the Voices of Humanity project becomes apparent. It is by supporting the nations and religions that we motivate them to be willing partners in the unification of humanity.

Consider the hardliners’ dilemma when deciding whether to participate in a Voices of Humanity discussion. If no, then they lose all influence within the discussion. If yes, then they are legitimizing the notion that we have a common humanity. At first, the hardliner hawks will shun the VoH discussions, and that will create a safe environment for the doves to get things started. Then, as the process takes off, the persuadable moderates will join in and by “trying on” the global perspective, learn to like it. This is a simplification, to be sure. Hardliners are not a breed apart. Rather, we are all hardliners/hawks to one degree or another. The idea still holds that the hardliner within each of us will be either integrated or marginalized.

The Role of Nuclear Disarmament

Nuclear weapons are an intractable problem that feeds on itself. The existence of these horrific weapons tells the nuclear weapons states (NWS) that we live in an immoral us-vs-them world and they take the lesson that in such a world it would be folly to disarm. At the same time, if we step back and take the larger perspective we see that we have global problems that require international trust and cooperation to be resolved. That’s what the world did when all the nations together adopted the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Alyn Ware is the influential Global Coordinator of Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament (PNND). His take on the importance of nuclear disarmament for achieving the UN SDGs is right on! Here is an excerpt from his Move the Nuclear Weapons Money:

“The achievement of the SDGs and the implementation of the COP 21 will depend on political will and the allocation of sufficient resources. Progress on nuclear disarmament would assist in achieving these goals in four key ways:

1. Through the re-allocation of financial, scientific, intellectual, political and personnel resources from nuclear weapons to SDG implementation;

2. Reducing tensions and conflicts currently perpetuated by nuclear threat postures, and the increased cooperation that would occur from joint verification of nuclear disarmament agreements, would enhance the cooperation and trust required for SDG implementation;

3. Ending the production and testing of nuclear weapons which create catastrophic impacts on the environment for current and future generations;

4. Preventing the use of nuclear weapons in an armed conflict, which would cause even greater human and environmental consequences, and would likely trigger a global nuclear holocaust from which there would be zero chance of achieving the SDGs.”

And the other way around, work on the SDGs can be leveraged to promote disarmament, leading to success on all the UN Goals. A global coalition at the city and provincial levels to implement all the UN Goals can create that sense of human unity we need to transcend the national boundaries. Such a global movement can succeed if we integrate support for the nations (and religions) into the process of building a global consciousness. Creative use of the internet with its BOTH-AND capabilities will give us the tools we need.


CCI needs a backbone organization to co-apply for the grant. Suggestions welcome! Please see Voices of Humanity online.

--Roger Eaton
Exec. Dir. of Collective Communication, Inc.

#nvaction #cci #voh #vohcc

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by Roger Eaton
2018-09-23 23:15
Message Tags: #sdgs, #nvaction, #cci, #voh, #vohcc

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