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Refining the Environmental Education message in the wake of the Climate Change Report

In my last post I shared how Bash the Trash’s environmental message needs to be refined and made more urgent in response to the findings of the IPCC Climate Change report (see [link]). In this and subsequent posts we’re going to begin to shake out some of those ideas and explore how to make our message more immediate. I’m putting this out there so this process is transparent for other organizations to see and perhaps use as a model to refine their own message; and for our clients to see how we are reacting to the updated research.

Our ensemble uses musical instruments built from trash to present a message of science and environmental awareness for students, families, and professional educators. We at Bash the Trash (BTT) follow a mantra for our educational output: ‘Simple ideas, persuasively presented, backed by science’. There are of course, many variations having to do with age of the audience, the format of the program, the scope of the activities, and so forth, but we always return to that mantra (almost a haiku, really…) to ensure we are staying on mission.

We also have to keep the message light and accessible for children. Gloom-and-doom prognostications are not the way to approach difficult concepts with kids, and indeed, children presented with issues in a confrontational manner often tend to withdraw. At BTT our previous approach has been to model rather than lecture, but the immediacy of the crisis facing us means that pretty much everyone will have to step up - BTT included. We need to prepare this generation of children for the difficult environmental issues ahead.

Within the parameters above, we can start by finding a common thread for our revamped message that works for all of our audiences.

Ideally what we would want in this snappy, attention-deficited, sound-bitey world is a phrase - or set of nice alliterative words - like “Only you can prevent forest fires” or “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”. On the other hand, perhaps the time has past for such simplicity, and our new message needs to be more nuanced, while of course readily scaleable in content and intensity for different age-groups.

So let’s start with a version (with way too many words), that tries to be all things to all audiences. First let’s see if this is a big enough basket for all the concepts that we need, and if we have missed or forgotten anything. Later we’ll pare it down to a more useable format.


The Three “Be’s” (gawd forgive me):

Be Environmentally-smart:

[if !supportLists]- [endif]Keep your eyes open for local effects of climate change

[if !supportLists]- [endif]Keep your ears open for new information about climate change and how to act on it

[if !supportLists]- [endif]Continue to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle, conserve energy, and tread lightly on the earth

[if !supportLists]- [endif]Act locally through direct action (clean-ups etc.); on a policy level (see below); and/or globally through new environmental practices and technologies, inventions, and innovations

Be Internet-smart

[if !supportLists]- [endif]Be careful of where you get information - people can say whatever they want, so always look to the science for confirmation, and always cross-check multiple sources

[if !supportLists]- [endif]Never share information unless you are certain of the accuracy of what you are sharing (see above); putting out false or misleading information is nearly as harmful to our cause as anything else

Be Policy-smart:

[if !supportLists]- [endif]Look for community leaders and politicians who believe as you do, and consider how you can support their efforts

[if !supportLists]- [endif]Work together with others to influence community leaders and politicians who may not believe as you do, through letter-writing campaigns, community proposals, gathering signatures, etc.

Our world is changing, and it is going to happen regardless of whether you believe it or not. So we need to prepare this generation of children to adapt to this changing world.

@2019 by John Bertles

All rights reserved

Bash the Trash Environmental Arts LLC

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