This blog is about the relationship between organizations and the people who work for them. And, it’s dedicated to the millions of people around the world who go to work every day wanting to do a great job.
Sustainability is on my mind. Â Â Iâ€™m literally trying to get an urban farming project off the ground â€“ itâ€™s a roof top garden – here in Montreal. Â Iâ€™m attending talks and workshops on urban farming and spending an increasing amount of time hanging out with food security, food systems, social business types andÂ environmentalists. Â I’m learning about their passion and energy and the power of their grass roots orientation.
But in the past month, Iâ€™ve been increasingly struck by how the rhetoric hasnâ€™t changed since the 70s when I was getting my first degree in Biology [e.g. big corporations are bad, our economic and financial systems are at the root of our environmental problems, we need more direct control over our food sources and quality, think local, there are â€ślimits to growthâ€ť, climate change is a real and growing issue, â€śsmall is beautifulâ€ť] And, Iâ€™ve been wondering what we can learn from the past 40 plus years.
Itâ€™s not that advocates and activists have not been making a compelling case.Â Here in Canada, David Suzuki has been speaking out since the late 60s.Â Over the decades heâ€™s had important and influential platforms from which to preach and enlighten – hosting weekly radio and tv shows, writing bestselling books, and doing cross country speaking tours more times that I can count.Â Al Goreâ€™s case was so compelling that the movie won Academy Awards for Best Documentary Feature and for Best Original Song in 2006 and he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 for his work on raising awareness on climate change.
Itâ€™s not that our behaviour hasnâ€™t changed at all.Â A second or third season episode of Mad Men is a good reminder of how far weâ€™ve come.Â Itâ€™s the sixties.Â Don Draper, an advertising exec in New York, buys a Cadillac convertible.Â The family takes it for a spin and a picnic.Â Once theyâ€™ve had their lunch, they stand up. Betty, his wife picks up the picnic basket.Â He bends down lifts the picnic blanket up. Shakes it.Â And they all turn and walk to the car leaving the refuse and garbage from their meal in the field. Â Â Our reaction in the west is visceral.Â We canâ€™t believe weâ€™d every have lived like that.Â And we know we did.
But the unfortunate reality is that though we may be changing, weâ€™re not changing fast enough to make a significant difference.Â Somewhere between our hearing the message and real and significant action something happens.Â We hold back as individuals, families, communities, provinces and nations?
Some friends recently suggested Â the issue needs “The most colossal mother of all change programsÂ ever“.
From a communications point of view Iâ€™m fascinated.Â What will it take to bring this message, this conversation to life in a meaningful and sustainable way [Inconvenient Truth, let's face it is so yesterday in people's minds]?Â What will it take to radically change our behaviour?Â What will it take to make sure the next 40 years sees the change we need – environmentally, socially, economically?Â And how can we as communicators be part of the answer?