Games for Didactic Use

One of the things that is important to me is creating positive change in the world.  While I loved teaching, I felt that there had to be a better way to connect with people.  After watching the failures of schools to produce responsible students and that of the environmental movement increasing changes for the survival of the species it seemed clear that there is a better way.  So I researched and read and looked at what appeared to be successful.  What I’ve come to is that games area fun and engaging way to connect with and communicate a message.  While the message can be communicated through both the theme and the mechanics either should provide a better way for information to be retained as behavior change.

The use of games for education is a growing field, although it has been in practice for decades in experiential education.  Using games in education, in a didactic purpose, is linked with greater understanding and better assimilation of the information by players.  I may not be a scientist, but I can observe that there is movement on the games front as this understanding percolates through society and more play pops up. Continue reading “Games for Didactic Use”

Shades of Green

What is green?

We all see initiatives and products advertised as being green or sustainable.  Whether this is done as a component of corporate strategy or arises from a true belief of inherent ‘goodness’ most of the time on the scale of true worldwide sustainability, they are not without some impact.

My answer is that there is no black and white definition.

Within communities, corporations, small businesses, governments, and families there are different degrees of progress.  When a corporation is announcing a greening strategy or movement, good for them.  They have made progress.  But by no means are they now officially GREEN with nothing left to do.

Think of this situation like being in a dim room.   In a room that the occupants are used to they can see and because that is what they know, they accept it as being good, normal or right.  There is no questioning whether or not the light can get brighter.  They think it’s as bright as it can be perhaps, or they might not even question that more is possible.

If additional lights were added to the room it would be obvious to the occupants that at first the room was dark and now there is more light.  Who is to say that it can’t get brighter still?  Why settle for what we have if we can have and create a better world and society for ourselves?

It’s obvious when you see a green product.  It’s obvious when you see a sustainable community.   I think the question that we need to ask is can it get brighter?  Can it get greener?  And I believe it can.

How to present the case for sustainability

Big Bucks advertising and marketing have got it down. They know how to begin marketing to someone at a very early age. They know that the wording of a slogan matters. They know that how you phrase an ad changes people perception. They know the colors and symbols used evoke emotion and connection. We should be using the same effective principles when we’re trying to help people to understand the new ideas and creativity we need to see in our world.

Too much of the green movement and those driving sustainability have been operating by making documentaries, writing books and doing talks.  If that were the best way to get a product or concept to be purchased and believed in, well you’d have tons of pro-Wal-Mart documentaries.  The bookshelves would be lined with books about Target being the solution. Scientific conference sessions would be dedicated to Nikes conforming perfectly to the feet of most humans.  But you don’t see that.  My intuition tells me that one of the reasons those tactics are not primary to corporations is because they don’t create a big demand in a short period of time.

We need to learn from this.  We, as in those of us who are interested in the sustainability of the planet. We need to take a lesson from the corporations who have been so effective in getting their goods and products into our minds. We need to market positivity and transformation in a way to generate ‘fanatic evangelists’ for these life sustaining practices. Gloom and doom, end of the world, ‘you need to change’, and non-interactive mediums will not create vibrantly alive communities. Interactive, hands-on, culturally aware, co-created approaches will.

‘How?’ You ask. Well that’s something for me to continue writing about, and for you to hire me to implement.  Check back in as these ideas unfold through my writing and feel free to share your thoughts via commenting.

What’s Peak Oil?

Out to dinner with my friend the other night I casually referred to Peak Oil in a discussion. We were talking about topics that might be potential articles on Earth Thrives. As it turns out he didn’t know what Peak Oil was. Hadn’t heard about it and didn’t mention the fact until I had rolled on to another topic.

This friend had spent at least the past two years running a company whose focus sales demographic was the triple bottom line business, and so I assumed that he of all people would know what peak oil was. Turns out I was wrong.

Over the next week I asked another ten colleagues and friends if they knew what Peak oil was. I expected that they would know when I asked and was not prepared to find that all but one of them didn’t.

I shouldn’t have assumed that my friend or anyone else, for that matter, has the same knowledge that I have. This is not to say that I am amazing, but more to show that my foci are unique to my interests. We all have our own interests which lead to what we read, look up and study in depth. The topics that I have spent more time with include (but are certainly not limited to):
Urban gardens, Peak Oil, sustainable communities, organization development; leadership development, GMO’s (genetically modified organisms), socially responsible business, alternative economies, and local living economies.

While I have spent that last two years immersed in the world of green and sustainable while working on my Masters degree from Goddard College in Socially Responsible Business and Sustainable Communities, not everyone else has gone as in depth in the same topics, even industry professionals.

Let’s face it, many people still think of sustainability as a topic that stands on its own, when it is really a lens through which you see the world.

So, don’t assume that if you bring up something like the Andersonville Study in a conversation about why buying local is important that the person you are talking to has a clue to what you just referred. Ask if they have heard about terms, studies, and topics that you otherwise might take for granted that they know. It will help you to educate yourself as well as others and that is what we need to have happen in order to build the breadth and depth of our information.

Big Yellow Taxi

What a great opportunity we have in our everyday lives to educate others about ‘going green.’ Teachable moments are often given to us several times per day.

I think that sometimes they pass not because we have not taken the opportunity, but because we do not know that there is an opportunity there.

Big Yellow TaxiIn the words of Joni Mitchell…
“Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got
Till its gone”

Let’s not make that mistake. Let’s work to have discussions with those around us. You can educate without pontificating (instructions to follow.)

I know that I feel totally immersed in the green movement and sometimes when someone asks me ‘what’s new?’ I feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to begin. This also happens when asked ‘what can I do?’ There is just so much and so many way to answer that. I think that the main difficulty is because it is hard from an open statement like that to judge a person’s level of knowledge and understanding.

My suggestion is instead of waiting to be asked, begin a conversation and listen – really listen – to where a persons interests lie. Ask them questions. Eventually you will find the intersection of your knowledge and their interests and will have a natural opportunity for discussion that is not forced.