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Chapter 1 Sustainability and Communication

Abstract In response to growing global environmental problems and threats associated with global warming, organizations are recognizing that business-asusual is no longer sufficient and that it is time to go to scale in responding to impending challenges. Effective communication is absolutely essential. Strategic communication is needed to alert, persuade, and help people enact sustainability initiatives within and between organizations. Strategic communication also orients our consciousness by inviting us to take a particular perspective, by evoking certain values and not others, and by creating referents for our attention and understanding. Sometimes effective communication is characterized by strategic ambiguity. Organizations face multiple challenges in terms of their sustainability-related communication. Some are silenced because of their fear of speaking out. For others, the messages they create are not processed because message recipients are unmotivated. Knowledge regarding the elaboration likelihood model of persuasion and the use of repetition are important tools when designing strategic communication. Communicators need to think critically about where their audience is in their understanding of sustainability and how to present information in an accessible way. Attention to message design and message framing can help. Interview data

drawn from Aspen Skiing Company; Heifer International®; the City and County of

Denver, CO; the Arbor Day Foundation; and ClearSky Climate Solutions illustrates the concepts being discussed.

Lewis and Clark's Story Expands The public's first glimpse into the Lewis and Clark Expedition's adventures emerged through newspapers and government documents. President Jefferson's Report to Congress was published in 1806. One year later, the journal of Corps of Discovery member Patrick Gass was published. The first official publication of the journals occurred in 1814 when 1,417 copies of the two-volume work became available. Almost 30 years later, they reappeared as a part of the Harper Family Library. This edition was reprinted 17 times during the settlement of the territory the Corps of Discovery had traversed. In 1904, during the centennial observation of the expedition, all the known journals were printed together for the first time. In 1999, incorporating newly discovered journals, papers, and maps, a 12-volume work was completed. This example illustrates how, through communication, awareness and understanding expanded over time. The Lewis and Clark story grew from one report and some newspaper articles to become part of the US national story. Today, books, reports, and articles dealing with sustainability are helping to shape the next chapter in the story of the USA and the world.

 
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