can i ask your opinion?

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In response to being asked to create “opinion pieces” on environmental advocacy issues this month, I started thinking critically about what my opinions are on advocacy in general and what my approach would be in advocating an issue.  In my last opinion piece posted, I mentioned that I consider asking other’s opinions and listening to others perspectives as my own form of advocating.  I believe engaging people in dialogue is the first and most important step in bringing attention to any issue so I thought I would give it a go. I have been out of practice talking to the public and have not engaged with my actual environment (downtown Annapolis) since I arrived here 5 months ago, so I thought I would do both of these things for the creation of my second opinion piece. The photos below are documentation of the opinion experiment I conducted in the Annapolis Harbor.

My focus topic: Advocacy

My first question: “Can I ask your opinion?”

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My second question: “If you had to convince someone to believe something or do something that you really cared about, what would you do first? Would you listen to their opinion on the topic, or would you share your opinion about why you believe what you believe?”

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My third question: If you were going to advocate for or against one environmental issue what issue do you care about most and want to bring awareness to?

The answers:

Out of the 42 people who I talked with, 29 people said they would LISTEN first than before sharing an opinion when trying to advocate a position and 13 people said they would SHARE first then listen. When I asked “why listen first?” Some people expressed the desire to have the last word in a conversation saying that the last thing heard is what would stick the most. However, the majority of the people I talked to said that finding out where the other person was coming from first would give them a better understanding of how to communicate their own opinion to them.  One person made the comment that first there MUST be even a common fundamental understanding and knowledge around the issue at hand before trying to convince them on any topic one way or the other.  How might someone be convinced to buy organic vegetables if they have spent their entire lives growing up in the inner city and have never set foot on a farm? Or if they have never shopped in a place where they organic vegetables are even offered?

About half of the people who stopped to give their opinions stayed to have a longer conversation with me and shared their own perspectives and concerns on environmental issues.  Below are some ideas and questions that they brought up in conversation and wanted to bring awareness to.

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Here are a few more opinions….

“An affordable solution to environmental problems is mindful awareness”

“How can we reduce our waste/impact on the environment?”

“As the population grows, how can we find a way to decrease air pollution?”

“How do we get everyone on board in supporting environmental policies? A forceful change? Are affordable ways really affordable?”

“How much gas are we really using?”

“Is overpopulation an environmental issue?”

“Take the politics out of decision-making concerning the environment”

“Convert chicken waste into fuel/energy (md specific)”

So you might be asking what did I find in doing this short-lived experiment? What was the result or outcome?  Well,  I am not sure there is a specific outcome, as I was not searching for one.  It definitely was not a scientific experiment of any sort devised to solve any problems.  My goals were to engage people in dialogue about their advocacy methods and to find out specifically what people care about concerning the environment.  And I think I did both just by asking for their opinions.

What about you… what is your opinion?  Would you share your ideas and knowledge first when advocating a position or would you listen to another persons perspective first? And what environmental issues do you feel passionately about to advocate for or against.  Please share your feedback here or on the Living Chapters Facebook page

Photos below are brought to you by my good friend Howard who came out to document my experiment – THANK YOU to everyone who stopped to talk to me for participating.

8/28/13

Just finding this blog today? Read more about the Living Chapters project here.

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