It was a Tuesday afternoon. I knew it was coming, yet nothing could prepare me for the moment I caught sight of the butchers paper stacked proudly on the table. Taunting me with the inevitability of more mapping.
I smiled, but internally…
Thankfully, this weeks mapping exercises were different. A variation on a theme, but one which finally allowed me to make sense of all of the things that I’d been researching and mapping in the lead up to this moment.
Issue mapping / problem statements
Prior to mapping (enthusiastically) with my two other group members, we set out to construct various problem statements. The idea was to capture the essence of our research on Climate Change. This in itself was quite a challenging exercise as I had fallen into the trap of not refining my search parameters.
Granted, Climate Change is a massive issue and if my many stakeholder maps have taught me anything, it’s that EVERYONE is involved in some very complex, interconnected way.
Anyway, after trifling through my blogposts and some of my old maps, I decided on a few positions to map. So as a group we each chose one and set out to unravel our statements with around 100 that could respond to the issue.
Our chosen problem statements were:
- Climate Change negatively affects birdlife.
- Climate Change action correlates to individual and group values.
- Climate Change disproportionately affects those on the fringes, particularly Indigenous Communities.
As we were all a little mapped-out, we decided to begin our session with a few rounds of scattergories. Having a timer and being forced to think on our feet put us in the right mindset to quickly list ideas (no matter how tame or crazy) without inhibition.
As a bonus, it also made the process way more enjoyable and I could let go of my inner Ron Burgundy.
Working collaboratively on each problem statement also meant that we came at each very specific issue with different vantage points. We worked very quickly and were able to draw connections between ideas without much conscious thought.
Unlike some of our earlier maps, this process felt much more natural and intuitive. I have no doubt though that this was only the case because of all of the things we researched/mapped/discussed in the weeks prior.
I will say though, it was difficult to come up with 100 ideas. And by difficult, I really mean unachievable in the format we were undertaking. While we wrote with ferocity at the beginning and it felt like the idea-well would never dry up, we found ourselves stuck around the 50 mark trying to mould some half-sensical propositions out of the dregs. As is pretty evident in my writing, I can easily go off on tangents, but I found 100 ideas too superfluous even for me.
Key Findings about the Mapping Process
- It’s easier to map when you have a very well defined problem statement from the outset.
- Sometimes mapping can feel pointless. It isn’t, but that usually doesn’t make sense until you have that a-ha! moment of insight down the end of the track.
- It’s best to be fast and messy in your approach. Get all of your ideas on paper no matter how wild and wooly they are.
- Draw connections, make branches, find the common point between two things and you’ll usually be gifted with another idea.
- Work collaboratively to see the problem from more angles.
- Don’t be precious with your ideas – give them to others as well!
Rambling thoughts about my motivations + direction
It seems that the further I delve into Climate Change and the state of our planet, the less shape it seems to hold. Each time I am made privy to a new facet of the issue, I’m pummelled with what feels like a million other and equally as pertinent problems.
As I’ve mentioned previously, I’ve struggled with choosing a direction to focus my research. It’s not for lack of trying, I honestly just find this topic insanely engaging but also overwhelming. There’s no one area that really speaks to me. For that reason, I’ve had to go back through some of my earlier posts (which are much less informed as I had less foundational knowledge) to see why it is that I came to this issue in the first place.
Initially I chose to research Mental Health but decided to switch directions on a whim somewhere between week 2 and 3. My understanding of and investment in Mental Health is incredibly intimate. I have a personal stake in the issue that would inform and drive my design. So why then did I make the switch?
Of course this is all speculative and only driven by my own experience, but I know that when I am sad or unwell I contract as a person. I become guarded, insular and unwittingly selfish. In this state I’m unable (or unwilling) to access my imagination, I don’t want to imagine a better future and I’m stuck entirely in the throes of my wavering emotions.
The attitudes we have to the state of our planet – apathy, impassivity, denial, a lack of imagination -are remarkably similar to the attitudes I’ve exhibited when depressed. This is not to say that the entire human population is just a sea of depressed people, but I find it interesting that there are connections between clinically diagnosed mood-states and climate change attitudes.
When we talk about climate change we contract when we need to expand.
I guess all of this is a longwinded way of saying that my pull to the climate change issue was preceded by an interest in the psychological underpinnings of our reaction and relationship to external things. Perhaps it would be worthwhile looking into the way we approach mental health issues to help reframe the climate change conversation.
I mean, telling people to recycle and drive hybrid cars because it’s good for the planet seems to be just as useful as telling a depressed person to go for a walk and be happier. We love magic pills but rarely want to swallow them anyway.
This all boils down to the fact that we don’t act as we are told we should no matter how much information we’re given if we don’t innately believe it to be a truth in our lives. What we consider true forms our values and our values guide our behaviour. Within this is the complex issue of how we accumulate our truths. I can’t speak for everyone, but I know that what I value is typically shaped by lived experience.
This of course throws a spanner in the works in terms of climate change. The crux of the issue of inaction seems to be that it’s a phenomenon that is not easily experienced in our day-to-day lives. We grow up being taught that the weather is something external to us, that it’s an erratic force of nature that we have to just accept.
But what if it wasn’t. Maybe we have more control over the weather than we were ever lead to believe.
It’s a strangely empowering thought, but one that certainly doesn’t fit into our current model. In my eyes, climate change attitudes/behaviours won’t change until there is a systemic change in the way we understand and relate to the natural world. This is no easy task given the fact we are becoming increasingly dependant on technology and reliant on urban sprawl.
To end this very wordy ramble, I leave yet again without a clear sense of direction. This is problematic given the rapid approach of deadline but I feel like I’m edging ever closer to the vein of the issue that most fascinates me.
Gadoury, S 2011, Calling Home, collage, viewed 15th September 2016, < https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/474x/d2/4c/dc/d24cdc612ae4be1c8137b9ab267f3cf0.jpg >
Anchorman 2004, photobucket, gif, viewed 15th September 2016, <http://s430.photobucket.com/user/GobiLux/media/animated%20gif/glass-case-of-emotion.gif.html>
Ellis, R., Glasson, E., Wong, M. 2016, Service Design Maps, photograph, Sydney, Australia.