By Kirsty Costa
Communication. It is the means to inspire change and it is fundamental to the success of a project or campaign. But what happens when nobody is listening? I have been agonising over words while helping to develop the content of the new Sustainability Hub website – trying to get the sentences right, ensuring they are both interesting and informative, including the correct information, making sure there aren’t too many words. And with the 2013 Federal Election drawing ever closer, it is clear that words can change people’s minds about an issue or person. So ‘The Power of Words’ is a pretty relevant topic for the first edition of ‘Our Say’.
Teachers often say to me that one of the things they love about a CERES ResourceSmart AuSSI Vic workshop is that, “someone else is repeating what I’ve been saying for a long time”. It can be challenging to motivate a community and it sometimes to be challenging to keep yourself motivated. So where to start with words?
One of my favourite things on the Sustainability Hub website are project stories written by schools. We have hundreds of them! You can use these stories to get ideas, inspire your school and justify your team’s decisions (“Well, it worked for blah blah school so I think we should try it”). Search Projects on the Hub at http://dev.sustainability.ceres.org.au/project/.
I also love searching for famous quotes. They can be very influential as they can bring people together and remind us of what is important. I often use a famous quote to back up one of my ideas (if they agree with me it must be true!). I am happy to let others speak for me. You can see some of my favourite quotes at http://dev.sustainability.ceres.org.au/resource/motivating-the-masses/. If you’re looking for some famous people to quote, a couple of years ago the Outreach team shared which famous environmentalists inspired them. You can read about some of our heroes at http://dev.sustainability.ceres.org.au/resource/our-environmental-heroes/.
I also love podcasts, especially because I do a lot of driving. I’ve become a bit of a TED Talks addict and I also love listening to Big Ideas from ABC TV. One of my favourite ‘pump up’ podcasts is David Suzuki’s ‘Legacy Speech’ (http://dev.sustainability.ceres.org.au/resource/david-suzukis-legacy/). I find myself listening to it regularly, nodding my head and saying “Yes! You’re so right, David!” (I must look slightly crazy to the people in the car next to me). I am thinking about using sound grabs from my favourite podcasts in my workshops to share the voices of others more regularly. They can often say it so much better than I can!
The final thing I can’t live without are short videos. There are many and they are wonderful! David Attenborough narrating ‘What a Wonderful World’ nearly brings me to tears every time I watch it but thankfully those monkeys collecting flowers crack me up (http://dev.sustainability.ceres.org.au/resource/what-a-wonderful-world-david-attenborough/). I also love everything made by the Australian Youth Climate Coalition who make contemporary, fresh and entertaining videos (and who doesn’t love a good flash mob with a message?) – http://www.youtube.com/user/theaycc
I saw this sign the other day, “Please do not drop cigarettes on the ground, the fish come out at night to smoke them and we’re trying to get them to quit”. So my last point about the power of words is that they can share information in a way that catches people’s interest. They can create a buzz! They can stay with someone long after they’ve been said.
I say, “Let’s embrace the interesting and ditch the boring!”. Speak from your heart. Don’t be afraid to say something that everyone else is too afraid to say. Find the fun. Enjoy your words and the words of others.
Share your stories (sign up to the Hub and share them with the world).
CERES Education is proud of the partnerships it has formed and support it gives to schools, communities, organisations, governments and businesses. Together, our words are not a whisper – they are loud and they are shouting the passion of sustainability from the rooftops!
We hope you enjoy our new website and you stick around to watch it evolve.