David Sibbet | Graphic Facilitation
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SunWheel - Visualizing SustainabilityMerc Martinelli—CEO of a new startup, Verdafero, focusing on green business.—sent me a link to an incredible website that has collected 138 illustrations of sustainability concepts. See Computing for Sustainability’s Visualizing Sustainability, a full panorama from simple to complex, mapping onto every conceivable base map. Here is a sample; visit the website for lots more.

I’ve contended for a long time that a sustainability mindset requires systems thinking, and that systems thinking requires visual thinking—even if the display is just between your ears. You can’t understand relationships if you don’t have some display structure to illustrate the elements that are in relationship. This collection is a great testimonial to that assumption.

 

reamp_goals - Can We SEE Progress on Global Warming?Since late 2004 The Grove has been supporting an ambitious RE-AMP project in the upper Midwest to clean up the energy system there. Its goal is to reduce global warming pollutants 80% by 2030 from a 1990 benchmark. When we started there were six foundations and 27 NGOs who wanted to approach the problem with systems thinking and collaboration, funded by the Garfield Foundation. Now in 2008 the project has 15 foundations and over 93 members organizations, expanded beyond environmental groups to faith and youth groups, and 140 were going to Ames, Iowa for the annual meeting.

In talking over the design, Rick Reed, one of the initiators of the project at Garfield, posed the challenge. “We’ve got to see what we are doing and where the gaps are. How can we possibly do this at this scale?”

RE-AMP is without question the most organized effort in the country at the moment. But are we making progress? It’s challenges like this that always push us to something new… and this time our solution was a breakthrough in visualization at the system-thinking level.

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Graphics in Denmark — A Universal LanguageI was in Copenhagen last week after VizThink, training our partner Strandgaard & Co in graphic facilitation. I was struck by how universal a language graphics has become. The fact that I don’t speak Danish meant that I was thrown back on these visual cues to make sense of what I was experiencing.

My sense of this began as we flew in over Copenhagen and I saw the long line of wind machines in the harbor. How quickly these have become icons of change!

I was able to spend a weekend exploring the old city. Here again, the ubiquitous bicycles spoke of a different culture in relation to energy. “Do people ride these in the winter?” I asked Vagn Strandgaard. “All year,” he said.

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