Thursday, May 29, 2008

Change Agents

Why does one person feel compelled to do their part to lessen their footprint while another does not? The answer represents something of a holy grail to the environmental movement as a whole (myself included). The developing field of “conservation psychology” is devoted to it exclusively. Trying to get others to change their behavior – whether the dynamic is parent/child, boss/subordinate, teacher/student, or peer/peer – is a fascinating process all around (to me anyway).

“Change agent” is a popular term nowadays in the world of corporate-speak. It describes someone who is leading the charge to literally change behavior whether it is at the team, division, company, or industry level. Most often, the change is necessary – the result of some sort of burning platform – with the end result leading to significant improvements in performance.

For our topic of interest, I like to think of the change agent as a thing and not necessarily a person (unless you’re Al Gore, of course). That “thing” is slightly different for each person with the resulting change in behavior varying in intensity. You have your “light greens” installing a CFL bulb or using a reusable bag to your “deep greens” who are taking a hard look at how to fundamentally alter every aspect of their day-to-day.

The following stories offer some insight into these different drivers of change and the resulting shades of green:

• Kill-Two-Birds-With-One-Stone Green – “Atlanta Family Slashes Carbon Footprint” (NPR)

• Mainstream Green – “Shopping to (literally) help save the world” (MSNBC)

• Armageddon Green – “Energy fears looming, new survivalists prepare” (AP/Yahoo)

I like to think that here in Sakonnet our change agents are the patches of woods, the little streams, the beaches, the ponds, the neighborhoods, the farms, the conservation land, and all those other elements of our local environment that make our home so special.

So, what gets your green motor running? What shade are you?

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