Thursday, August 30, 2007

Chapter 10- Initiating Action

At the beginning of Chapter 10 (Initiating Action) Hallsmith asks an important question: “How do we initiate action so that our vision can become a reality?” She answers this question by explaining that we must first identify what we want to change and then note all of the links that our challenge shares with the environment around it. At the most basic level, Hallsmith asserts that we can initiate change as long as we understand the many links that join together the actors involved, the resources that are available, the constraints that we face, the values and mindsets that guide the population, and the innovative opportunities that exist. After considering all of these connections, we can form a plan.

Each of the following topics discussed in Chapter 10 caught my attention and pertains to our work in this class:

1) Develop a plan that allows for and encourages feedback from the community. As a class, I think we have already set a standard of open communication that allows for feedback. In our project groups we must do the same by listening carefully to feedback from the community and then by processing this feedback appropriately—whether we disregard it, modify it, or incorporate it fully into the plan. We must foster an environment where it is okay to make mistakes and where people feel respected and valued.
2) Think in terms of processes. I usually regard economic costs as the most important factor in my decision making process. Yet Hallsmith encourages us to recognize that all aspects of life are connected and that we cannot rightfully separate one category (say economics) from another (say the environment). In my group, I need to consciously make an effort to place the same value on natural and social processes as I do on economic processes. I must force myself to recognize the relationship between each of these areas.

I also have a few thoughts to share after reading this section:

We wonder why sustainability does not gain the respect and attention of popular culture, but the answer is simple; sustainability requires people to adopt a new paradigm—one that might challenge everything they believe in. We are not only asking people to change their habits, but we are selling them a belief system. On another note, Hallsmith argues that all members of society should engage in dialogue and in the planning process in order for us to reach the best and most sustainable solutions. This dialogue, however, does not happen easily. Not only do people hold fundamentally different beliefs from one another, but they usually make decisions based on their own personal interests. Perhaps our job, then, is to bridge the gap between these conflicting interest groups and find common ground where everyone can agree.

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