Sustainability Action Focus 3: Communicate and Connect
The following text is from the How Sustainability Education? A Solutions Summit Report
How do we ensure that our mutually created discourse continues to be transformative?
This action theme embraces the need for a transformative discourse, one that weaves a new story about our place in the world, what makes a good and prosperous society and why and how sustainability education can get us there. Many participants discussed developing tools and approaches for collective and collaborative visioning. They also urged us all to reach out beyond the institutions and organizations we are members of and talk with the people in our communities and within the wider public sphere. To do this well, we need a common and accessible language to work with. Sustainability is a complex and sometimes confusing concept and the better we are at helping people connect the concept of sustainability with their own lived experiences, the more likely our discourse will be truly transformative.
Communication is the starting point for involving everyone, since how we communicate can make the difference between engaging people and alienating them. If we can’t communicate with each other, we can’t work together.
Participants at the April 27, 2009 How Sustainability Education: A Solutions Summit event, discussed developing strong relationships within and outside the movement, building systems and tools for ongoing networking and dialogue, creating our own media and messaging outlets and going out into our communities to speak face to face with people directly. Learning and teaching members of the movement about interacting with the media, developing marketing materials and engaging in effective public relations was also deemed important. Finally, there was an emphasis on communicating hope and celebrating successes as a central theme of all communication efforts. While climate change and other environmental crises are a serious threat to us all, and we all need to be aware of this fact, scary messages of this type do not always get people engaged effectively. Participants recommended that we pair the facts with inspiring messages of hope and possibility as much as possible.
QUESTIONS developed by participants
• How do we collectively develop a common language to speak to each other with?
• How do we create a metanarrative/new story to connect agendas?
• How can we keep the dialogue, conversations and brainstorming going?
• How do we get our message out to the general public and decision makers?
HOW developed by participants
• Build personal relationships within our organizations, our sectors and across organizations and sectors
• Create tools and spaces for visioning a preferred future
• Focus on communicating hope
• Engage the community/public through the media, public forums/blogs and face to face
• Develop effective messages to meet people where they are. All communication must take into consideration people’s lived experiences. Think about how you can talk meaningfully with anyone about sustainability issues
• Online portal/clearinghouse for sharing information, connecting with others, posting best practices, sharing success stories, sharing tools, developing mentorship relationships and coordinating efforts.
• Hold multi-stakeholder School District dialogues on sustainability as a step toward creating a culture of sustainability within the K-12 school system
• Submit Short Videos About Sustainability Work
• Develop a Walking the Talk Channel on YouTube
• Infuse Sustainability Indicators Into Everyday Language
• Work on bringing visioning exercises that inspire action to students, creating leadership that they can carry with them
• Gaining access to or creating an institutional website for teaching and learning on sustainability ” (p.16