AfS logo inverted

facilitating understanding | empowering change | creating the future

  • Sustainability WHAT?!

    Ever get the feeling we're talking a different language - so ingrained in what we mean, or so passionate about our aims, we forget that we need to keep our language appropriate to the audience?

    Action for Sustainability is investigating the language we use around sustainability along with Sandra Lee from the University of Leicester, and co-ordinator of the Behaviour Change Communities of Practice for the EAUC. We have been "harvesting" the language that sustainability professionals use, and noticing when and with whom they use different terms. I'll add some of our initial findings here soon.

    In the meantime, take a look at my new animation - Sustainability What?! It is my first attempt at animating, so would love to know what you think!

    And it would be great to hear your stories. What words do you use - and what words do you avoid - when communicating with different people?

    Have a lovely ...Winter / Solstice / Christmas / Hanukkah / Festive Time*

    *wasn't sure what best to use - delete as appropriate!

    Kirsti Norris - Action for Sustainability

    6 Comments

    • 1. Dec 13 2012 1:08PM by Steve

      My favourite one liner is "Walk the Talk" which is what I told Waitrose they should do after hearing they were planning on getting into bed with Shell. It worked because now they've ditched the idea, doubtless all thanks to me ;)

    • 2. Dec 19 2012 8:48AM by Iain Patton

      I'm having flash-backs to Marvin the Paranoid Android!

    • 3. Dec 19 2012 11:23PM by neil spencer

      Love this conversation and aniimation. What a brilliant way to share these thoughts and challenges. It has inspired me to try this tool. Language - I have stopped using the s word because of the way it has been co-op & corrupted by the busines as usual / marketing peolple Have a happy Winter Solstice time

    • 4. Jan 22 2013 11:13AM by Nigel Rayment

      Good stuff, Kirsti - like it! I'm really interested in the business of making the complex simple, while not making it simplistic. For me, part of the real challenge is helping people to see, think and act as though they were part of a system. I have a suspicion, though, that many of us who are drawn to SD have a natural predilection to see things holistically; it may be that for others, linear thinking is what they do because it's actaully the way they perceive and interpret the world. Would it be unfair or unconstructive to try to foist a systemic worldview on them?

    • 5. Jan 22 2013 12:18PM by Kirsti

      Thanks for the comments.

      Nigel - thanks for your query. I am realising more and more that identifying the connections between actions and impacts is really important to motivate behaviour effectively - the "WHY" - why should we adopt positive sustainable behaviours? I learn so much from my children - they are really motivated when they know WHY they should do x, y and z. Telling them to just do it is a waste of breath (and adds to the number of nags I give out on a daily basis) - and I realise I have left the WHY out of the animation!

      So in response to your query, my thoughts at the moment are that I don't think we can foist a systemic worldview onto people, but we can highlight interconnectedness in a gentle manner. How does this sound to you (and others reading)?

Blog

Photo crop (passport)