Monday, November 13, 2006

Framing Change: The Trojan Horse Approach?

"It is not always necessary to frame initiatives as part of a sustainability movement in order to get people to think about the environment and peace" said Junko Edahiro, initiator of the Candle Night Campaign (www.candle-night.org) which started in Japan in Summer 2003. Turn off the lights; Take it slow are the key messages of this campaign, for which more than five million people in Japan and around the world turn off their lights for two hours on the summer and winter solstices annually. "People are often willing to spend their time and money to become happier – not to become a sustainable citizen. Sometimes the 'Trojan Horse' approach can therefore be the best way to communicate with non-experts when seeking environmental sustainability" explained Junko.

I was interested by the issue of framing. How would participation in the Candle Night Campaign have been different had it been framed as the Save Energy or Think Peace Campaign? Would people have responded to these worthy causes as much as they did to the more personal Take it slow message? In a way, it is easier to see the impact of Take it slow than it is to see the impact of Save energy or Think peace? And maybe this is a good way to practice doing things together?

1 comment:

Cecilia said...

I like the idea of not framing actions. If they would have called the initiative ‘Save Energy’ or ‘Think Peace’ it wouldn’t have had the same effect. To me it has a moral hint to it and might not be as attractive as just sharing ‘a candle night’ evening. That sounds soft, romantic and easy to relate to. It’s easy. We know it’s going to do us good and we’ll be happy to do this twice a year. On top, it will also be good for the planet.

I think that the more an issue relates to your personal life, the easier it is to adopt it, as we easily see the benefits and the ‘positive change’ in us and can relate to it. Something has to touch us personally to make us change. Not everyone is willing to make ‘sacrifices’ to ‘save the planet’. A Trojan horse is well justified in several cases.