J500 Media and the Environment

A picture can be worth a thousand words, but you still have to listen! by michellemcgown
November 7, 2008, 9:58 pm
Filed under: Society + Media | Tags: , , , ,

I consider myself to be a good listener; however after this course and our research project, I’m thinking I have a long way to go before I’ve really refined my skills.

I feel like questions have really been the key both in the course meetings and in our research work and I love the term “active listening” as a way to make those questions more worthwhile. It reminded me that you can listen to someone and, in the end, not really know that much more than when you started. We’ve been encouraged to question everything. I hope that our group has really questioned the way that farmers want to hear messages about climate change.

Luckily, Simran has really pushed us to dig deep and explore each topic with as many questions as we can. It’s helped so much to hear the underlying messages and concerns instead of just the generic green statements that the common person knows how to throw into a conversation. As we engage in conversations with folks over green practices its so important to make a connection. We learned that farmers just want someone to speak their language which I think is true with everyone. No one wants to feel guilty over their actions but sometimes it is a little bit of guilt that can get people moving in the right direction.

I never imagined it would be such a skill to “frame” a message for someone in the right way. As a designer, I work with images more than words but I think even the way we convey messages to our clients can be very carefully thought out.

Michelle M


3 Comments so far
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I love your points about listening. It is a skill, isn’t it? And it can get flabby if you don’t work it. I thought I was a pretty good listener before I had my son. I had experience interviewing people; I knew how to ask questions…right? Not exactly. He made me realize how you have to listen on so many levels – body language, voice tenor, words not said – to really appreciate what someone is saying.

I think the farmers I talked to take the climate so personally. It rules their lives. So much is out of their control that it’s any wonder change is hard. And talking about it going haywire can be really difficult and threatening to some.

When you were listening to small business, what did they take personally? You talked about the money issue. Do you think this could be one of the biggest factors stopping them from truly listening to green ideas? Are there others?


Comment by cherileb

You’ve got me thinking. I may engage in a deeper conversation with my parents over this issue. Not only can they look at it as traditional crop farmers, but they can also take a step back and think about it as small business owners. We try and engage in green practicing within the basil business, but I’d be curious to find out if they’d be willing to push the idea even further or if the money would truely be the concern. I’m guessing that it will be, only because they don’t have the extra resources to risk the result of a new method or two. Still, it would be interesting to see how they perceive the idea on both levels.

Comment by michellemcgown


We saw in your presentation, which was really good by the way, that some farmers went on the defensive after reading some of the statements. I can see why they would but I’m wondering if some of is that they don’t have the background to come back with educated talking points. I can see that it would be easy to go on the defensive if you don’t have any ammunition. Do you agree?

Comment by jillwilder14

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