Tag Archives: communication

Does a pig have the right to play?

28 Nov

Last Friday we took the second half of our B.Sc. students (Course: Nutrition Ecology) on an excursion to a local commercial pig farm with about 2.000 swine. The course is built around a value chain approach to the food system and thus includes a ‘chapter’ on food production where we look at typical and alternative production forms. The piggies we saw had an outside stall area in addition to the inside stall. The outside stall had  playthings: a chain with a piece of wood on which the piggies can chew, which they like to do.project-buta-tot-zo-ver_001-540x405_klein

That pigs like to play is not new. Thus you can find many shops with hog toys such as this one. As a matter of fact there is a Dutch research project on this: Playing with Pigs. The project is an outcome of research on “Ethical room for manoeuvre in livestock farming”, a collaboration between the Utrecht School of the Arts, Wageningen University and Wageningen UR Livestock Research. Within the project, a game which allows interaction between pigs and people was developed; see it in a clip on vimeo here. The researchers say one of the things they’ve discovered is how much pigs like to play with light.

playingwithpigs_kleinNot just pigs like to play. Many animals have been observed, photographed and filmed at play – within their own and across species borders. I still have an old National Geographic edition with the title story Animals at Play.

23594676[1]One of the animals-at-play featured was a crow that was photographed lying on its back and sliding down a snow-covered incline, only to get up and repeat the process. This has been filmed and featured again and again, and many other stories too, such as here as well as this whole entry on tail-pulling by mischievous crows on Jenn(ifer Campbell-Smith)’s lovely Corvid blog here.

article-2259232-16A1EDFC000005DC-642_634x359_kleinLnU2h_klein

How to communicate sustainability

14 Nov

IMHO one of the sustainability areas we are struggling with is that of communication. Sure, there are some neat green ads out there, and maybe some smart campaigns and initiatives, and arresting visuals, as we mentioned here. But how much is really changing at the ground level? How much transformation are we effecting?

A lot of the messages going out about any aspect of sustainable development, and there are a whole host of attention vieers (just look at our lorem sustaina ipsum for a few), are based on one dimension, on one premise.

They are positioned mostly in the intellect, in knowledge and facts, such as when you are confronted with CO2e or virtual water data for consumer goods, with rise in global temperatures and sea levels data, or with numbers of species or forest units lost per second. The message senders hope in vain for a mental light to be switched on in the darkness of unsustainable habits and activities and an immediate conversion from Unsustainable Saul to Sustainable Paul.

NGOs and CSOs and some individual Sustainability Missionaries tend to position their messages in the emotions, making sure they are personal and designing them to touch you. Suffering animals, people and planet are a recurring motif. But a Bleeding Heart has largely moved people to donate time or money on a guilt-filled once-off excursion.

There are to date very, very few communication initiatives that position themselves solely in a do-message, in an active principle, in action. Maybe the various challenges, like the 100-things challenge would qualify for this dimension.

I think Messages for Sustainability, to be successful, need to Speak to the Head, the Heart and the Hand in concert. If you are not explaining to someone’s mind, while reaching for their empathy and giving them a leg-up to get doing, your message is not going to work sustainably.

Communicating Sustainability: Nudging with Pictures

21 Aug

Are you a graphic designer? If yes, then this book is for you.  If no, then this book is for you. It’s a new coffeetable-sytle book just out, called Cause and Effect. Visualizing Sustainability. In 240 pages it showcases examples of sustainability communication in various media around the world. The fascinating thing about communicating sustainability is the challenge of the sheer complexity of sustainability issues that you need to bring across in, say, one picture or 30 seconds. That’s the challenge for Sustainability Humour too, isn’t it? Add to that the number of disciplines often involved and sprinkle it with the interested parties and you have exponential data. How do you reduce or perhaps transform – and this is where the visualization examples are really neat – that complexity to something quickly graspable? Have a look for some inspiration in this book, it’s well worth browsing through (you can do that here). The Berlin publisher gestalten provides two of the three editors, Robert Klanten and Sven Ehmann, while Stephan Bohle of the think-tank futurestrategy is the third. (found via MocoLoco)