New metaphors for sustainability: the surprises

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Wallace Heim writes:

When we’ve asked people to think of a metaphor, we tried to present the idea of ‘sustainability’ in neither a positive nor a negative light, but to leave it as open as possible for people to interpret it in their own way. Even for the DVD, we filmed the four people without knowing ahead of time what their metaphors would be. We didn’t want to promote any one idea of sustainability.

It’s been surprising how positive the metaphors have been, even from those people for whom sustainability is not a strong idea, or from those who acknowledge its ambiguities.

It’s also been surprising to see how people have found something, maybe not the grand conceptual metaphor, but something in their lives that relates to their view of sustainability. This is as important as the encapsulating metaphor, like the ‘iron curtain’ or the ‘glass ceiling’. The metaphors have not been about a concept imposed from the outside, but about a relation between the idea and something from one’s life that makes sense.

We’ll be presenting more metaphors in the next two weeks.


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ashdenizen is edited by Robert Butler, and is the blog associated with the Ashden Directory, a website focusing on environment and performance.
The Ashden Directory is edited by Robert Butler and Wallace Heim, with associate editor Kellie Gutman. The Directory includes features, interviews, news, a timeline and a database of ecologically – themed productions since 1893 in the United Kingdom. Our own projects include ‘New Metaphors for Sustainability’, ‘Flowers Onstage’ and ‘Six ways to look at climate change and theatre’.

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