Hi everyone! This week, I finished my last interview: a discussion with Dr. Mick Smyer, a psychologist who primarily studies aging. Dr. Smyer provided a great perspective on the intersection between psychology and climate change, as he is the founder of Growing Greener, an organization that leads workshops to encourage the shift from “anxiety to action” on climate change!
He took me through an exercise that involved visualizing your goals for a place that’s important to you. By focusing on individual examples (such as the place I mentioned–in my case, it was the track at DA, which often floods during rainy weather) rather than tackling abstract concepts, I was able to better grasp the effects of the problem and outline steps I can take to solve it!
Next, I asked him about different aspects of his work, including behavioral change techniques, how to engage your audience, and varying attitudes towards climate change. We discussed the value of providing your climate change story to connect with others on the topic and the power of visualization to strengthen habits. However, the most interesting method I learned about was determining a formal commitment to action! Dr. Smyer described how he conducts an activity that involves participants sorting actions into what they already do, what they want to do, and what they’re unwilling to do. Then, the participants must commit to moving an action from the “want to do” to the “already do” category and start building a habit.
Learning about this “commitment to action” was an aha-moment for me because it presented a solution to a question I had been wondering about for a long time: how do we make climate change action into a HABIT? Often times, we tell ourselves we’re going to take shorter showers or turn the lights off, but, much like our New Year’s resolutions :), it stops after a few days…Dr. Smyer’s method of making a formal promise to take an action, partnering with a friend to keep you accountable, and designating a “punishment” (for example, donating to a charity whose cause you don’t support) gave these actions an impressive success rate. He even described stories of communities who had gone from climate apathy to installing solar panels and families who made the transition to electric cars!
Overall, I really enjoyed speaking with Dr. Smyer, and I learned a lot about how to encourage the “worried middle” (people who are worried about climate change but aren’t sure what to do) to take action! Check out his organization, Growing Greener, here, and learn more about my interview with him on my Interviews page!
This week, I also communicated extensively with Ms. Caruso, Ms. Bessias, and Ms. Danser to explore options for a final product. Unfortunately, my options are a bit more limited than I had hoped due to restrictions on in-person learning, but I’m still very excited to explore creating an activity. After getting some inspiration from Dr. Smyer’s climate cards and workshops, I’m hoping to build a final product that includes information about simple steps towards sustainability, a discussion to connect with peers, and a formal commitment to action.
I’ll update you when my product is finished, but for now, I hope you have a great rest of the summer! 🙂