Marketers and demagogues have long recognised the critical importance of shaping public consciousness in their favour, and they devote time, money and imagination to this endeavour, even if at times they do it crudely. Rupert Murdoch has the largest media empire in the world, and it is not just about money. He shapes public opinion.

Likewise we in the environment and progressive movement should activate our imagination to shape public opinion, not just about specific issues, but also about the visionary transformative changes necessary for us all to succeed. We have vast resources for this that we have not yet utilised: the millions of groups that are working on aspects of environmental and social well-being, and their members. Aligned we can become a powerful force for shifting mainstream consciousness ... because we are all part of the mainstream, and we canIntroduce transformative ideas to our friends, neighbours and larger networks.

Our proper goal at this time is to inspire mainstream commitment to transitioning to a life-sustaining society. We should aim to win. Getting a critical mass of mainstream people on side is critical for a successful transition.

Inspiring Transition is an open source communication platform supporting the Great Transition to a life-sustaining society. We have a refreshingly simple communication strategy that can engage thousands of organisations and millions of people without a complex administrative structure. We have a variety of imaginative communication tactics, some of which have almost no cost, and which take very little time.

Let’s look at what the Great Transition will look like when it is powerfully accelerating.

At a local level, we will see millions of personal conversations. These conversations will be unusual, because their purpose will be to help people think better. Our kit of imaginative communication tools, Kitchen Table Conversations, will be used by citizen educators to help people connect-the-dots and think for themselves. (I highlight Kitchen Table Conversations because they are purpose built for conversations that affect people’s thinking).

People will also use other excellent tools for communicating about the Great Transition to a life-sustaining society including Annie Leonard’s Story of Stuff video series and Paul Raskin’s Great Transition: the promise and Lure of the Times Ahead.

Leading thought leaders such as Richard Heinberg (Post Carbon Institute), Johan Rockström (Stockholm Resilience Institute), and Naomi Klein (This Changes Everything) will all talk about transitioning to a life-sustaining society, and our intention to win– to actually succeed in becoming sustainable. They will encourage their audience to use the Kitchen Table Conversation modules and other tools to communicate with people in their networks about what is involved in successfully transitioning to a life-sustaining society.

Likewise, large online protest groups such as Avaaz, MoveOn and GetUp will be encouraging their members to act as citizen educators. Speakers and panel members at conferences will encourage their audiences to step up and become citizen educators.

Newspapers such as The Guardian will carry articles on the systemic changes needed to solve global warming, and they will offer Transition Leader seminars to their membership.

Renewable energy and solar power companies will frame their work as value for money, a solution to climate change, and as a contribution to the transition to a life-sustaining society. Outdoor clothing brands such as Paddy Pallin and Patagonia will promote the need for whole system change to preserve the wilderness.

Millions of people will be talking about the Great Transition through social media. Companies will offer Transition Leader training to their workers, with a vision that their staff will use the skills developed through the training to talk with their friends and neighbours, and thus contribute to seeding the vision of transitioning to a life-sustaining society into mainstream culture at a local level.

Professional offices will have plaques affirming their support for the transition to a life-sustaining society on their walls, as well as flyers that refer people to the Inspiring Transition website. Some will also have kiosks showing short videos in their waiting rooms.

As a result people everywhere will be hearing and learning about the Great Transition to a life-sustaining society. ‘Transitioning to a life-sustaining society’ will become a powerful meme in public consciousness. It will increasingly compete with ‘economic growth’ as the guiding principle of our times. People will feel a sense of inspiration that we are creating a humane, ecologically sustainable society, and they will see many ways that they can contribute to it.

This shift in consciousness will provide the political will to support large-scale reforms in economic policy, campaign finance and trade agreements. We will see massive public will for breaking up the big media and financial conglomerates, restoring democracy as a vehicle for fostering community well-being, and designing every aspect of society to promote emotional and environmental well-being.

In time, political leaders will campaign on the basis of how they can contribute to transitioning to a life-sustaining future. And the public will hold them acutely accountable for this.Certain forms of protest will become a thing of the past, because leaders will be elected who understand the need for transitioning to a life-sustaining society, and who make policy consistent with that vision.

The process will be contentious, of course. Those of us who choose to become active communicators will become more and more adept and imaginative in our ability to communicate with people who think differently than we do. We will find ways to help people move past their despair and apathy, and connect with the parts of them that care about life, nature, and the well-being of coming generations.

Medical centres, which currently show commercial TV in their waiting rooms, will instead show videos about the Great Transition along with videos on different aspects of cultivating personal well-being.

Poets and musicians will sing about the Great Transition to a life-sustaining society, and there will be inspirational videos on YouTube.

Local Inspiring Transition nodes will put on events to get people excited about the Great Transition. Flyers advertising talks about the Great Transition will be posted in shops and libraries, with links to the Inspiring Transition website as well.

There is important work going on now in areas as diverse as organic farming, personal development, local economies and, in the US, campaign finance reform. When the Inspiring Transition initiative is in full flower vastly more energy and money will flow to such initiatives.

The news, especially from public broadcasters such as the BBC and Australia’s ABC, will highlight constructive change, instead of providing the usual dismal dose of murders, wars, accidents and scandals.

People who are accustomed to saying grace before eating may dedicate the nourishment from their meal to contributing to the evolution of a life-sustaining society.

We will see week-long think tanks in which business, government, academia and civil society nut out how to make the transition work while taking care of people and maintaining a well-functioning economy.

As the Inspiring Transition initiative continues, more and more businesses will train their staff in The Natural Step principles of ecological sustainability, and they will reengineer their operations to vastly reduce energy and material throughput, drawing on design approaches outlined in Amory Lovins’ Natural Capitalism.

Hundreds of thousands of companies will offer Transition Leader training to their staff, equipping them to conduct useful conversations about transitioning to a life-sustaining society with family, friends and neighbours. Some of the companies that do this will be transnationals such as Unilever and Interflor Carpets, both of which have long championed ecological sustainability, as well as consulting companies such as Kinsey, KPMG, and Forum for the Future. These companies will mention the Great Transition on their websites and marketing materials, and refer people to the Inspiring Transition website to become citizen educators. Staff within companies of all sorts will urge senior management to take such measures.

In parallel, companies will invest extensively in programs to cultivate emotional resilience in their staff, drawing on approaches such as Mindful Self Compassion, Non-Violent Communication, Conflict Resolution and EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques). In conjunction, the trend towards non-hierarchical organisations will accelerate.

Organisations will recognise that embodying the values of cultivating emotional well-being and collaborative workplaces contributes to the evolution of a sustainable society. It also makes good business sense. Training in skills of self-awareness and resolving emotional disturbances will greatly reduce interpersonal fiction, thus allowing the organisation as a whole to become far more efficient. Talented younger people will choose to work for these companies, rather than for their competitors, because of their commitment to a life-sustaining future. And they will work enthusiastically, because the organisational climate feels good, and their work is meaningful.

At a local level we will see a renaissance of learning and self-development. The shift in consciousness necessary for evolving a society that celebrates life involves individuals investing time and energy in resolving their own emotional issues, in opening up their creativity, and in learning to think more comprehensively. This requires personal mentoring, at least to get started. Perhaps a resource for this is the millions of people who have undergone psychotherapy, practiced meditation, and the like, or who are skilled in facilitation, non-violent communication, or conflict resolution. Many of these people have the insight and communication ability to introduce people they know to rudimentary self-awareness skills and techniques for cultivating emotional resilience. Such learning will not be confined to professional offices and ashrams; it will occur in people’s lounge rooms or in local venues, carried out by volunteers.

As people’s inner well-being and systemic understanding increases they will be less prone to compulsive shopping to fill emotional voids or avoid pain. They will have richer relationships with family and friends, and they will deeply appreciate the need for materially modest lifestyles. Their increased emotional resilience will make them less vulnerable to responding thoughtlessly to the blandishments of demagogues, or the realities of terrorist attacks. They will not be easily led into war.

There are a few skills that are common to almost all systems of self-development, and these are fairly easy to teach (to those who are interested to learn). There are also highly effective do-it-yourself methods of resolving our own emotional disturbances. As part of the Great Transition teachers, mental health professionals, and psychologically savvy individuals will teach these to their communities, often on a volunteer basis.

As you imagine, communicating about transitioning to a life-sustaining society can become highly contentious. We will be dealing with people’s fears and disinformation, and at times with active malignment and hatred from vested interests. Our ability to remain centred, compassionate and effective as communicators will be tested. At times we will not succeed, but we will get better with practice.

The good news is that the transition to a life-sustaining society is already underway. Research shows that 35% or more of the population in America and probably Australia are cultural creatives with life positive values. Paul Hawken shows in Blessed Unrest that there are millions of groups working on different aspects of environmental sustainability and social well-being. Business leaders such as Amory Lovins and Elton Musk are pioneering the large-scale technological changes that are part of the Great Transition to a life-sustaining society.

However, we are in an ecological emergency now, with ominously increasing ocean acidification, climate change, and the potential of a vast methane eruption from gas hydrates in the floor of the Arctic Ocean. Our task is to vastly accelerate the Great Transition.

Volunteers who participated in the Sydney Olympics in 2000 were awed by the collective positive energy throughout the games. When the transition to a life-sustaining society is in full flower people will feel inspired by a deep sense of purpose. We will feel proud to be part of something much greater than ourselves that is a contribution to life’s evolution.