The Network describes itself as a "dysorganisation" – that is, a group of people without any desire or expectation to create a formal structure. Our methodology is simple: We 'think' of ideas for change and activism; by working co-operatively and sharing skills we 'do' or 'make' them happen; then we 'document' and 'share' those ideas for others to play with, and in return they share their experience back to us.
The Network first emerged from activists working in a number of green groups around 1994 – initially organising as a means to escape the restrictive nature of the newly 'professionalised' mainstream campaigns system. By 1995, this web site sprang up, and a year or so later we gained the 'FRAW' domain name.
Since then we've used this outlet to support grassroots campaigns on issues as disparate as GMOs, drones, fracking, and incineration. Drawing on the experience and skills of those working with the Network, what we've always sought to communicate is, "this is how the bureaucratic system works" - where possible supporting that with information, exhibitions, leaflets, handouts, and workshops, which tie that general approach to the specific issue of concern.
It's all about adapting to change: Technological change may currently be accelerating; but at the same time, as it presses ecological limits, that system is going to experience unpredictable failures as its inherent complexity unravels over the next to to three decades.
The reasons for this are clear – though seldom discussed in the mainstream of politics and the media:
Given the annoying contradictions of everything we see and hear around us today, is it any wonder that people are confused and disillusioned about our modern lifestyle?
More importantly, how do you move beyond the "fear, uncertainty and doubt" that these contradictions create in order to change your own circumstances?
What we lack in society is a structure to communicate the information for us to learn "stuff-less" values – how to realign the measure of how we view ourselves and the world around us, to create change in the portion of the world we can individually influence, in order to have "less".
The media have become increasingly uncritical, and subject to the demands of lobbyists and public relations companies – due in large part to the Internet removing their monopoly on information distribution. At the same time the management of information via social media by computer algorithm has trapped people in an echo chamber, where they overwhelmingly hear only their own, self-reinforcing opinion.
That restricts the ability of the mainstream agenda to carry a radical or controversial message, and thus achieve 'large-scale' change to society as a whole; at the same time it leads the ‘echo chamber’ of social media to recycle the same old memes.
We need to think and view problems differently.
What this new situation necessitates is looking at change as an individual, person-by-person process, rather than a coarse process of trying to get large groups to change behaviour.
As individuals we can move past the "fear, uncertainty and doubt" of modern society through finding our own understanding of the issues before us – taking responsibility for our own lives, and our own potential and options to respond to change. That is the purpose of the Free Range Network and the Free Range Activism Website.