3 Fs for sustainability: it’s about tools, not grades

3 Fs for sustainability thinking

My sustainability seminar for Kauaian leaders introduces 3 tools we can use to think about, talk about, and measure the sustainability of our human support system.

I call them the 3 Fs-- feedback, framing and footprints-- and we use these tools in focusing each of our sustainability challenges.

Feedback is the essential feature of systems thinking. Framing is about how words express and activate our values. Footprints are the emerging standard for assessing ecological impacts.

Understanding feedback can help us avoid ‘unexpected outcomes’, while framing can help us motivate 'green' behaviors, and footprints can help us explore our sustainability options.

For the scholars among you, here are the thought leaders we reference in these discussions:

I haven't seen others approach sustainability thinking in this way, yet it seems to work for us.

We follow the feedback loops to identify 'vicious' cycles and places to intervene in systems, guided by Meadows' approach to "dancing with systems".

We focus the framing choices to identify words that work (or not) and ways to connect values with behaviors, guided by the "Warm Words" research on global warming communications and the "Fast Clean Cheap" research on energy and global warming.

And we flesh-out the footprint measures to identify 'full cost' impacts and choices that have the greatest consequences, guided by the Wackernagel's approach to 'One Planet' living.

We're having lots of fun and generating lots of learning in this seminar discussion process.

I'll return in future posts to offer examples of fruitful discussions as they emerge in our 12-week seminar.

Ultimately, methinks, how we talk about sustainability is prolly most important, especially as we learn to think about and measure sustainability in new ways.

Published by Ken on February 11th, 2008 tagged HI-specific, Systems Thinking

Comments are closed.