Internet notebook about my work: deep listening to facilitate positive change


Saturday, 19 April 2008

The message of the oldest living tree

Referring to values is a good way to frame a conservation message. Age is something we respect. This immediately struck me when a Swedish colleague sent me a picture of the world's oldest living tree discovered in her country. Reading about the 9,550 year old spruce in the Dalarna province of Sweden, I got this vision of a biodiversity campaign focused on historic values. At the same time the latest WWF study Weathercocks and Signposts arrived in my in-box. This is a critical assessment of the campaign and communication approaches of the environmental movement. Current behaviour-change strategies are increasingly built upon analogy with product marketing campaigns. They often take as given the 'sovereignty' of consumer choice, and the perceived need to preserve current lifestyles intact. This report constructs a case for a radically different approach. It presents evidence that any adequate strategy for tackling environmental challenges will demand engagement with the values that underlie the decisions we make - and, indeed, with our sense of who we are. Reading the report I realized that focusing on the oldest tree or on historic values may not always be the right way of framing a campaign message.


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