My buddy Thom who does a lot of interesting ranting at Mentat Musings recently critiqued the use of a road map metaphor to describe policy strategies. He uses the Roadmap to Climate Change as his example but you can see the use of the road map imagery for many governmental plans. I agree with him that using the image of a roadmap is problematic for something that envisions reducing emissions, since it implies driving a car. And in this case probably more than a car. Perhaps a motorcade of SUVs and limousines with motorcycle support creating a traffic jam of idling vehicles backed up for miles.
It’s time for new metaphors. I’m perfectly fine with a transportation or cartographic theme so let’s look at a few.
A Flight Plan for Climate Change Thom already dismissed this one since flying is even more harmful to the environment. Though the goals would be reached quickly, getting there would spoil whatever gains would be made.
A Public Transportation Map for Climate Change Thom suggested this as an alternative to the road map. It makes sense since public transportation is much more sustainable than driving cars. But relying on surface streets seems to be relying on the same paradigm of fossil fuel consumption. If we’re doing public transit then let’s go with…
A Subway Map for Climate Change This image suggests using existing infrastructure to effectively get to where we want to go. Still, it’s dependent on what’s there instead of what could be there. So let’s break out of the whole ‘ride on machines strategy’ to a more people oriented vision.
A Trail Map for Climate Change We’re relying on people power and getting out of vehicles completely to follow a trail that is uncertain but has been traversed before.
A Topographic Map for Climate Change Or we can just look at the barriers and changes in levels that’s needed to negotiate the terrain and plan accordingly.
A Node Network for Climate Change Why do we have to be terrestrial based. Why not create a map of communities that could network with each other to create changes, switching completely to a people-centered model.
A Choral Improvisation for Climate Change Each community, organization, government or business can contribute their voices, blending in harmony with one another to create a movement of sound and change. Why stop there?
A Multimedia Performance Art Guerrilla Theater for Climate Change Why not include many different kinds of groups to participate in the way that they know how and make a big metaphoric art festival out of it? Each group may cluster around strategic themes and have spontaneous collaborative performances that attempt to address those themes. For instance, an IT company, a municipal government, and a labor union could address the theme of reducing commuting time to develop community centers where workers from many companies can work from workstations close to their home in a sort of pan-corporate office complex.
By willing to change the framework or metaphor in which plans and strategies are developed, we might be able to open our minds to new ideas and ways of approaching a problem and relating to each other.