Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Making the World Strange

Making the world strange

One of the major roles of sustainability communication is in the naming of the problem and in the identification of ways of thinking that is counterproductive to solving the problem. How we perceive and think about the environment leads us to different treatment of it. Much of the literature on environmental communication points to the historical roots of our relationship with the environment.

Being aware of the embedded nature of dominance, paternalism, and reductionism in science in our current societal values, and common sense ideas of the world, is important for making changes to harmful practices that are the result of these embedded historical structures. A good first step is to question everything. Recognizing the current dominant paradigm in our symbolism, discourse and rhetoric is the essential first step to designing frames and messages that can form a new sustainability paradigm.

Julia B. Corbett in her book titled "Communicating Nature: How We Create and Understand Environmental Messages" points out that almost everything in our society communicates. A particularly good example is the cut green lawn. The suburban lawn is a symbol for human control over nature. This important concept of managed nature is symbolism repeated over and over in the way we design our cities, organize our homes and speak to each other about our relationship to nature.

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