Thursday, October 8, 2009

PlayWriting Competition for the Environment

This is a fabulous example of building the sustainability related cultural capital of youth not only in BC but across Canada.   

Act NOW! Playwriting Competition

Canada’s only national playwriting competition on sustainability run by youth for youth that engages young people across the nation to learn, evaluate, innovate and act with a splash of creativity

2009 – 2010

The 2009-2010 competition is officially announced! Please check out our pamphlet below for a sneak peek, as well as the navigation on the right for competition details.
Check out the 2009-2010 Act NOW! sponsors, partners, and supporters here!

Transformative Learning: Creating Resilient Communities Through Sustainability Education

Originally posted at 

Conference / Workshop 
A workshop for students, faculty, staff and administrators focused on building capacity for sustainability education in post secondary institutions across BC.

This one day workshop will feature inspirational speakers, case studies, and group discussion on topics such as:
- Trends and opportunities in the sustainability education movement
- Professional development tools and approaches for faculty members
- Building relationships with communities to foster critical sustainability research
- Experiential and hands-on learning
- Identifying sustainability learning outcomes
- Measuring success: indicator reporting

Keynote speakers:

- Paul Rowland, Executive Director, Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education
- Paul Hawken, Author, Activist and Environmentalist

This workshop is proudly hosted by BCIT and sponsored by GreenLearning Canada, Go Beyond, the Walking the Talk Network and the Province of BC.   More information-->  
Location: Meeting Room 19, Vancouver Convention & Exhibition Centre (East), 999 Canada Place, Vancouver, BC  
Price: $75.00 per person

List of all Recommendations based on the Communications Capital Framework

Social Capital Recommendations

Four overall recommendations come out of this component of the Communications Capital Framework for this movement.

First, the movement needs to develop a strong group identity, which current and new members can ascribe to so that solidarity, social norms and trust within the movement can be achieved.

Second, movement members need to be self and movement reflective so that the movement does not become too insular and exclusionary of potential new members.

Third, movement members need to become adept at building relationships with others. This means that movement members need to develop skill sets around and capacity for rapport building, negotiation and dialogue, conflict resolution and problem solving within the movement and between movement members and outside parties.

Finally, movement members should consider consciously developing and utilizing social relationships for the benefit of the movement. Each member has the potential to build the social ties, which could advance the movement and should make an effort to increase these ties. Priority for expanding the social network would be with those in positions of power and influence. Thought leaders, government employees, artists, technicians etc would all contribute valuable assets to the movement.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Building Cultural Capital: Recommendations for the Movement

Build Cultural Capital:

Although cultural capital is usually referred to as an individual asset that is developed by individuals (as is social capital), the collective cultural capital of many individuals within the movement will be influential and will increase the amount of cultural influence and symbolic power held by the movement itself. Educating the movement members and ensuring access to cultural resources might not be a great difficulty for the movement considering it is an education movement. What might be an important focus though is on expanding the forms of culture that movement members have knowledge of and proficiency in. Art and Culture have a significant influence on public discourse. The more opportunities for the development of cultural artifacts which promote sustainability education the better...

Building Human Capital: Recommendations for the Movement

Building Human Capital for Communication

Due to an overall lack of capital to hire communications and technology experts to specialize in promoting the goals of the movement in BC, it is recommended that the movement build human capital to increase the numbers of movement members skilled in media and information technologies. Where there is skill in this area (usually the youth portion of the movement), there is great work being produced to further the movement. A potential approach then would be for the youth groups to educate the rest of the movement on these technologies and processes.

1. Arrange for basic media and communication training for movement members (Potentially run as communication and media workshops across BC designed by communications professionals as volunteers) or as online modules.

2. Arrange for the training of movement members in the development of story frames, press release formats and speaking to the media

3. Arrange for the training of movement members in website and online media design

4. Educate members on writing for radio, newspapers and television

5. Provide training on social networking and online communication such as Facebook, Twitter, Ning and blogging which have become popular sites for public communication and viral marketing

6. Provide training on the development of podcasts, video production and distribution online. The video from the How Sustainability Education? A Solutions Summit event is a great example of the potential of expertise in this area.

7. Arrange for training of movement members in design principles and Adobe Creative Suite

8. Arrange for the training of movement members in basic photography

9. Arrange for the training of movement members in information technology such as webcasting, video conferencing, online document sharing and telephone conferencing

10. Partner with SFU Centre for Dialogue to provide training and skill building in dialogue, negotiation and facilitation

Symbolic Capital: Recommendations for the Movement

Build Symbolic Capital:


The movement needs to gain control over the symbolism and discourse on sustainability education in BC. In order to do this they need to develop a shared set of symbols and discourse frames, and communicate these symbols and frames in a collective and consistent effort in all avenues for communication. This includes in the dominant and alternative media, through cultural events and products, through public participation and political communication and in person through social networks.

1. Organize regular dialogues which encourage visioning and future planning and help movement members continue to articulate a shared discourse

2. Develop a shared definition of the term sustainability and provide this common definition in all communications documents

3. Follow the recommendations of the 2006 and 2009 Sustainability Poll research done by James Hoggan and Associates on how to communicate about sustainability including using vivid imagery, making sustainability personal and practical, avoiding jargon and remaining hopeful and positive.

4. Include the “Ten Principles of Sustainability” produced by participants of the “Why Sustainability Education” event in 2007 in all communications documents. This should be the shared definition of sustainability education.

5. Develop fact sheets and media backgrounders on the “Ten Principles of Sustainability” and the common definition of sustainability created in recommendation #1

6. Develop and share common communication story frames for each priority audience in BC. Communications professionals working for education organizations and those responsible for developing and implementing communications should work with each other across BC to develop consistent frames to promote. This could be done with a common list-serve or through this blog or other social networking tool.

7. Collectively compile an annual success stories compendium which represents examples of what the movement sees as sustainability education

Strategic Communication Campaigns: Part 1

Strategic communication campaigns go beyond framing an issue and designing an effective message. It involves designing frames and messages for multiple audiences, using multiple tactics and trying to achieve a specific and measurable goal. Below Robert Cox, an experienced campaigner for the Sierra Club explains best practice in advocacy and strategic communication campaigning.

Cox makes the point that critical rhetoric and advocacy campaigns are fundamentally different and play different roles in the environmental movement. He explains that “[c]ritical rhetoric can be defined as the questioning or denunciation of a behavior, policy, societal value, or ideology; such rhetoric may also include the articulation of an alternate policy, vision, or ideology…[c]ritical rhetorics frequently serve to expand the range of social choices and visions that are eclipsed in the day-to-day struggles of a campaign…Although campaigns, to, may take sweeping social changes as their ultimate goal, they differ from critical rhetorics in their approach and are organized instead around concrete, strategic actions that move us closer to those goals…[t]he difference between a campaign and critical rhetoric, then, is not simply the concreteness of the objective but the strategic course of action by which a campaign pursues such objectives”(Cox, 2006, p. 248-249).

Rogers and Story (1987) identify four features of communication campaigns (from Cox p. 250):
1. A campaign is purposeful
2. A campaign is aimed at a large audience
3. A campaign has a more or less specifically defined time limit
4. A campaign involves an organized set of communication activities

Specifically, environmental campaigns differ from other public health and issue campaigns in that “Environmental advocacy campaigns…are usually waged by noninstitutional sources-concerned individuals, environmental organizations, or small community action groups [and]…[most environmental advocacy campaigns, on the other hand, seek to change either certain external conditions—for example, the cleanup of an abandoned toxic waste site—or the policy or practice of a governmental or corporate body. And although some environmental campaigns may seek to influence individual behaviors…such attempts are often seen as steps toward systemic change in society’s treatment of the environment…”(Cox, 2006, p. 251).

Cox describes the three fundamental questions in an advocacy campaign (Cox, p. 253):

1. What exactly do you want to accomplish?
2. Which decision makers have the ability to respond, and what constituencies can hold these decision makers accountable?
3. What will persuade these decision makers to act on your objectives?