This is a call for questions, inquiries, and ideas! I am en route to four days of presentation and workshopping with Dr. Doug McKenzie-Mohr at the Richmond Cultural Centre in Vancouver, BC. Dr. McKenzie-Mohr is the author of Fostering Sustainable Behavior, a book that outlines the steps of developing a Community-Based Social Marketing initiative. Please comment with things you’d like me to ask about or think about as I attend what I expect to be an eye-opening week! Continue reading
Behavior change is a function of a number of things, including but not limited to, information and understanding, a motivation, resources to act, perceptions of efficacy, social environment, and also…culture, the topic of this post.
I mentioned culture in my post on social norming as something that can affect the strength of social norms in a community. Culture also plays a role on its own on how we perceive, create value, and act. It is more pervasive that social influences. Culture encompasses our history, what we value, and how we create meaning in our lives. It is what we believe and how we express our beliefs (definition).
“Culture is about shared meanings. …Meanings can only be shared through our common access to language. So language is central to meaning and culture and has always been regarded as the key repository of cultural values and meanings.“ – Stuart Hall, cultural theorist
To understand the cultural aspects of energy use, Opinion Dynamics conducted an ethnographic study that involved 136 in-depth interviews in homes across California. The goal was to identify the drivers and barriers to positive energy behavior by looking at language use, behavioral choice, and physical and social environment.
This is a great article from Grist summarizes an initiative called Tidy Streets, a feedback exercise that communicated to an entire street (and the world) their energy use over a period of time. While there was initial change (the novelty effect?) the end findings are less than sustained behavior change:
”If you give people feedback on energy use, it does have the effect of reducing energy usage in the short-term,” Bird says. “What is trickier is, how do you get sustained sustainable behavior? Anybody who tells you they know how to do that, maybe hasn’t done it.”
It’s trickier than we think. What makes YOU change your habits or pick up a new practice?
There’s no silver bullet, but maybe silver buckshot. Our changed actions are a product of our perceptions, our peers, our resource (time and money and abilities), and our environment. Bird has found a great way to bring awareness, as he credits himself, but I agree with him that awareness is different than sustained behavior change. Awareness is part of it, but how do you build a culture?
I also appreciate the article’s coverage of the boomarang effect, though a misnomer, it’s really a messaging issue.
The second day of the MN Council for Non-Profits Annual Conference offered two really great workshops on leadership development. One workshop in particular has been on my mind this past week as I prepare for my October monthly report.
A workshop with Christine Hammes from MAP for Non-Profits, Lea Goldstein Moses from the Improve Group, Gwen Cannon from the Metro Regional Arts Council covered many of the concepts I have encountered so far throughout my Bush Fellowship and leadership seminars: Understanding that self-change precedes community change; Building a tolerance for ambiguity and uncertainty; Cultivating patience and flexibility; Discerning between technical versus adaptive challenges; and Self-Care and Reflection. Continue reading