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A Note from our Founder

Whether we like it or not, today we are under the spotlight on the worlds biggest stage taking part in the mother of all popularity contests. Harsh but true, as in, a popularity contest us environmentalists don’t often cover ourselves in glory, our narrative is depressing, our outlook bleak, we moan a lot about what other people are or are not doing and then wonder why we aren’t winning… sound familiar?

We all have a friend who we can rely on to be a bit of downer, never positive, full of all the terrible stories, always seeing the negative in everything and sometimes that makes them hard to hang out with, certainly not fun, at times you may infact actively avoid them! As an environmentalist I’m acutely aware how full of doom and gloom our messaging is, how we fill our narrative with all the dreadful facts and predications, in short we make it easy for people to want to turn and walk away from us with their hands covering their ears.

It is by no means our only ‘communications challenge’ - very often those speaking on climate are politicians, business leaders and scientists who the vast majority of people may not feel motivated to listen to, their language is elitist, there may be a lack of trust, fear of feeling stupid if they don’t understand all that is said. Including those of us mere mortals who are well versed on climate matters collectively we are super guilty of using words, language and indeed acronyms assuming others understand them… they don’t! The great news, we can change this! I heard recently that if you want to be sure a large section of society can receive and properly understand a message, design and structure it specifically with 12 year olds in mind; I’m not talking about talking down to anyone, just be cognisant in your approach. 

Know your audience is a familiar refrain but do we spend enough time and energy really addressing this challenge? Think carefully then about who the messenger is, what the message is and how and where best to deliver it. 

Don’t simply rely on words… how about music, imagery, dance, food, we have many senses and many ways we ‘learn’, it’s not simply about intellectual communications. We are motivated in different ways by engaging our hearts, our spirits and indeed gut instinct too. We need to lean into these lesser used ‘super powers’ otherwise we are guilty of coming to battle woefully ill-equipped and its unrealistic to expect to see wide spread change and real growth in the ‘popularity’ of our movement. 

For me personally I believe we need to meet people where they are at and when you think about that literally, today, someone is the most accessible and receptive when in a relaxed home environment, on their day off or night out… but how do you jump them with environmental messaging there… firstly, YOU don’t! They are already engaging with lots of fabulous and fun people so get them to be your messengers, we all need to learn more about and embrace the tools we have today via social and other media channels and who are the raft of characters across popular culture who are our potential super hero’s. But start with who are your target audience, what are their passions, then get creative. If I am chilling at home scrolling Instagram, I may not follow too many environmentalists (too much risk of that ‘doom and gloom messaging’ I spoke about earlier) but for sure I’ll have sports stars, foodies, fashionistas, musicians, artists etc. Messaging from them feels more real, more digestible and accomplishable.

There is an ever increasing number of reports hitting what I believe to be the greatest motivational mark, love. It is my love of nature, animals, the outdoors, my friends and family; that's what my motivation is. Legacy and purpose are fast becoming buzz words. With a melting pot of ways and means to communicate, lets not rely solely on those which to date are failing to deliver what we all so desperately want to see, and instead of blaming everyone else lets explore other methodology, get creative and have some fun and laughter in the mix too. 

Amber Nuttall

Founder, Extreme Hangout


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