To kindle a vibrant popular movement for community-driven policies in research, science, and technology for growing democracy, justice, and ecological sustainability at every level–from neighborhoods to nations.
In this high-stakes century, community-initiated and community-directed policies for research and technology are among the most powerful new tools available to nurture the health of families, communities, and the local ecologies they depend upon. Families and neighborhoods under the most stress stand to gain the most from such social change.
Research and technology policies are now mostly driven by the competitive needs of corporations and militaries - not by collaborative community efforts to address our most pressing social and environmental problems. Community-driven policies will shift public attention and financial resources from that top-down approach to grassroots priorities. They will foster far more democratic collaborations that empower communities both to address their own urgent local needs and to champion the broad public interest in national and international debates about the design and use of advanced new technologies.
We need this social change now. Technologies advance ever more rapidly and have dramatic impacts on every facet of human culture - whether it's the engineering of food, electronic distractions from family relationships, or the threat that weapons of mass destruction could become even more widely available.
Yet community-based research is still dramatically under-funded. And promising new methods to help communities participate with far more breadth and depth in decisions about the design and use of technologies are even more rarely applied. At a time when advanced technologies so profoundly change our lives, technology policy remains primarily in the hands of scientists, engineers, and the commercial and military interests that support them. To redirect technology policies to meet the most pressing human needs at every sphere of community - locally, nationally, and internationally - a coordinated campaign to bring the missing perspective of communities to the table is essential. Loka has the vision, the credibility, the connections, and the focused sense of purpose to catalyze this campaign.
Our emphasis on "community" conveys Loka's core commitments. We seek broad inclusiveness and collaboration with all whose lives are touched and who choose to apply their skills and interest to the issue at hand. We convene open dialogues as opportunities for listening, learning, and shared leadership by all participants, especially youth, who are every community's future. We identify, develop, and promote collaborative methods for planning and conducting research and for evaluating technological issues. We honor and help to develop the leadership and expertise of each individual, especially those who have traditionally been marginalized because of race, income, or age.
Finally, we emphasize community because as members of communities, we are not consumers, customers, or clients whose behavior is studied and managed by powerful outside forces. In communities, we are families, neighbors, and citizens, who recognize the necessity of sharing power and sharing responsibility. To give communities a strong voice in science and technology policy is to refocus science and technology on the most urgent needs of our families, neighbors, and fellow citizens.
That can greatly strengthen communities and also breathe new compassion, creativity, and responsibility into research, science, and technology.