Thursday, 30 June 2011

Doing the Vision thing

Last evening to an interesting talk by Prof. Stephen Sheppard of the University of British Columbia who was visiting the School of Psychology at Plymouth Uni. His talk was called "Visioning low-carbon attractive resilient communities" and covered work he has been doing getting community engagement with climate issues.

His background is in Forestry and this came out of work he did in the 90s on engaging people with the issues of large scale clear cut logging which was destroying the local environment unseen by the mass of people in communities around the logging areas.

Recently he has been working on developing tools for converting scientific data on climate change into visual imagery which people can relate to at a very personal and local level.

He showed some examples using data on the projected movement of the spring snow-line in the mountains overlooking Vancouver, and sea-level rise mapped onto images of the waterside communities in Vancouver. These images are then used in workshops with local people to provide a framework within which productive discussion of climate impacts and mitigation and adaptation strategies can be evolved by the people themselves.

There is some good evidence that this approach really works at the grass roots level in getting a wider range of people taking action than is often the case in Transition talking shops. In fact it is very similar to the visioning and backcasting activity which is a core part of the Transition process - but the need is to engage a wider range of people than the usual suspects at the early stages.

We need to find some opportunities around Saltash to try this sort of approach - it seems that there needs to be some issue which directly touches people in their personal life to provide a hook for them to become engaged.

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