Hello all, happy weekend! And thank you for taking the time to read this. Today I have some reflections for you on word choice:
A few months ago, a chance encounter with a fancy man named Dr. Clotaire Rapaille had my mind a bit blown.
After applying to work for a landscape design company and making friends with the adjoining gallery’s manager, I was invited to attend a luncheon featuring Dr. Rapaille and a few other folks associated with the gardening company. Not quite sure what I was getting into, I jumped right in–just like Goosey here…
With a striking presence and refined air about him, I was pleasantly surprised when Dr. Rapaille began the meeting by asking all of us to introduce ourselves. I was surprised he would even bother to get to know any of us ancillary people personally.
After introducing myself as an “environmental activist,” he immediately stopped and asked why I would use those words to introduce myself. Didn’t I think that was a rather negative way to characterize myself?
Holy balls. He was right. Activist does have somewhat of a feather ruffling air about it (think: eco-terrorist)…BUT its what I learned to call myself in school and thought was an appropriate title for what I do…I’d never thought to question the label before.
In any case, he had a point, and for a few moments we brainstormed other labels. I came up with Environmental Spokesperson, Environmental Advocate, and “Lorax” after he turned down Conservationist and something related to sustainability. Who wants to merely conserve when we could flourish and grow? This was the Doc’s point.
All in all, I found the whole conversation quite interesting and mind boggling after so many years of thinking a certain way. If this type of thinking could be applied to Environmental Studies coursework, I think it would make the discipline easier to swallow and produce less anxiety for everyone…oh my nerves:
Beyond the activist label, Dr. Rapaille went on to discuss word choice as a tool in marketing, specifically for the landscaping company. He highlighted words such as growth, and advised us to shy away from words such as sustainability and conservation, since these terms suggest limits. Very interesting.
So, after all this, I wonder, what can I say about myself now? WHAT AM I?
I suppose now I’ll consider myself an environmental advocate.
I’m still searching for a replacement word for sustainability….any ideas??
Think about it as the word pops up in your life.
I hope this article in some way leads you to re-think the words you use to label yourself and encourages you to swap out any stale or limiting words. Just a fun exercise.