I write this post today on the anniversary of my beloved son’s death, May 10th, 1998. It is interesting how grief flows, starts and stops, and then moves on. Those who have yet to experience it, don’t understand those of us who live this journey. I think sometimes they think we are stuck when we remember after so long. It is not intentional, some years I almost forget and other years, it is like yesterday.
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Just read an interesting article on visioning exercises. Essentially, it claims that most visioning exercises are not grounded in reality by being absent from place, we are bound by our ‘expectational reflexivity’. Further, by ignoring our fears and uncertainties over the present and the future, is a major barrier to fully engaging with the challenges and opportunities of a sustainable future.
Similarly, my former doctoral supervisor, dear colleague and friend, Dr. Stuart Hill, leads visioning exercises by asking people to tell the most outrageous lies about the sustainability accomplishments they have achieved, and then they backcast to talk about what is preventing them from acting on their ‘lie’.
I am going to write Stuart and ask him if he has a paper on his technique. Stay tuned.
Saunders & Jenkins. (2012). “Absent fear”: Re-envisioning a future geography. Futures, 44: 494-503
Kaid Benfield, director of the Sustainable Communities and Smart Growth program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, in a recent article, reviews a book by Jeff Speck entitled Walkable City. It is a novel way to review a book, an excellent communications technique by offering to sit down with the author over a drink to offer his critique. His article goes on to share a very substantive discussion about urban walkability.
I found this video to be very powerful, we forget how everyone, every step makes a difference. Acting builds even greater agency to do more, to make a difference. There is an article by Bandura, entitled, Human Agency in Social Cognitive Theory, that talks about self-efficacy, the ability to get on going even with setbacks and failures. For example, Gertrude Stein continued to submit poems for 20 years before one was finally accepted. “Early rejection is the rule, rather than the exception, in other creative endeavors.” Van Gogh sold only one painting during his lifetime. Hollywood initially rejected Fred Astaire for being a balding, skinny actor who can dance a little. Decca Records turned down a recording contract with the Beatles, “We don’t like their sound. Groups of guitars are on their way out.”
The time between between discovery and technical realization typically spans several decades. Maybe we have been more successful at communicating sustainable development than we believe, now we need to get the urgency out there without forgetting people’s needs for self-esteem, showing the successful innovations and building more agency.
This video on ethical oil makes me wonder if we can get farther communicating the issues with humour than with messages of ‘doom and gloom’. But what is the balance between facing the problems without becoming disempowered, between realism and hope? Perhaps through multiple ways of communication, through multi-media channels with humour, and I think, most importantly, always illuminating the power and beauty of nature. You may wish to view our youtube channel, HEADTalks, where we are experimenting with multiple ways of communicating about sustainable community development.
Maybe this video answers some of the questions I have asked about how to communicate, how to engage more people in our conversations to live more sustainably? What are the 10 things YOU know to be true?
This list of readings gives some great ideas about our failure to communicate and things we should think about when trying to get people to move to action, including ourselves.
Jay Griffiths. 2009. “The Transition Initiative: Changing the Scale of Change.” July/August 2009. Orion Magazine. (Last accessed November 1, 2011).
Franke James. 2009. Bothered By My Green Conscience. British Columbia, Canada: New Society Publishers.*See: newer visual essays and more about her workshops at http://www.frankejames.com
Frances Moore Lappé. 2011. EcoMinds: Changing the Way We Think, to Create the World We Want. Philadelphia, PA: Nation Books.
Renee Lertzman. 2008. The Myth of Apathy. The Ecologist. (Last accessed October 26, 2011).
Renee Lertzman. 2011. The Myth of Apathy. Sustainable Life Media. (Last accessed October 26, 2011)
A Dialogue Between Renee Lertzman and Kari Norgaard. 2011. Ecopyschology 3 (Last accessed October 26, 2011).
Kari Norgaard. 2011. Living in Denial: Climate Change, Emotions and Everyday Life. Cambridge, MA: M IT Press.
Amy Seidl. 2011. Finding Higher Ground: Adaptation in the Age of Warming. Boston: MA: Beacon Press.
Sandra Steingraber. 2011. Raising Elijah: Protecting Our Children In an Age of Environmental Crisis. Philadelphia, PA: De Capo Press.