Situated Engagement: Climate action in the multi-level context of social life

| Relationship, place, and levels of scale |

At the 2013 Climate, Mind, & Behavior Symposium, Chicago-based sustainability and diversity specialist Jennifer Hirsch presented her research on strategies for engaging with diverse communities in Chicago on climate action. With a focus on local narratives and their influence on community-based action, Hirsch illustrated the potential that a broader ‘place-based’ model of communication could have across diverse communities. This model focused on the ways in which people’s lives and daily interactions are contextualized in multiple levels of relationship.

We live our lives at the neighbor level … at the regional level … at the national level … and at the global level … And then what this indicates to us is that the “local” is one place-node embedded in a broader conception of place, and that is the way we need to be thinking about [the notion of] place … What we discover through this work is that conceptions of place are embedded in these broader cultural frameworks that inform residents’ understandings of nature, the environment and climate change, and that they are embedded really in narratives of kinship, family, and community.

Lessons for Action:
Working in communities, across scales…

  1. Is key to meeting people “where they’re at” and tapping into things they care about
  2. Requires focusing anew on heritage — which can be thought of as an additional co-benefit
  3. Allows community-based climate work to support and benefit from regional planning efforts
  4. Encourages collaboration & systems thinking
  5. Nurtures creative problem-solving

Re-thinking “place” as a strategy for climate engagement | Jennifer Hirsch

What’s culture got to do with it? | Jennifer Hirsch