Much of my career is based on communications, or as I like to understand it, on people. The social aspect of sustainability has always been my main area of interest, and it would seem that this is catching on.
Discussions on sustainability have so often been focused on material aspects (the integral design of a system or an object) and on politics (the regulatory system). These are without doubt important aspects but they are the extremes of a discussion pole: the technical precision of design and the strategic oversight of law. And yet, in the middle, there's a rather large entity which only ever seems to figure as an add-on: the users, the communities, the staff, the stakeholders. The people.
I contend on a daily basis with people who think this social aspect is "wishy-washy", a bid to seem reputable in the face of prying eyes or a PR stunt. And admittedly, communications can be all of the above. But in the world of sustainability, it is two-way communications which makes the success or failure of any project.
In his very interesting talk on participatory design, Alejandro Aravena sums up the purpose of communications and engagement very neatly: