Archive for August, 2014

Green Goggles Metaphor

Posted in Applied Storytelling, Metaphors with tags , , , , , , , on August 7, 2014 by daveroom


This is the power of Pop Culture. Notice the response from the commissioners in this video of the Local Clean Energy Alliance’s Dave Room giving testimony at the CPUC Energy Efficiency proceeding about the Green Goggles from Wizard of OZ, Greenwashing, and PG&E.

This 2010 post on Sustainablog explains where the Green Googles metaphor comes from.

In the Wizard of Oz book, the first Dorothy and her friends saw of the Emerald City was a beautiful green glow in the sky before them. As they walked on, the green glow became brighter and brighter, and they came to the great bright green wall that surrounded the City. It was there they first encountered the gatekeeper, a little man clothed all in green; even his skin had a greenish tint.

When Dorothy explained they had come to see the Wizard, the gatekeeper insisted that they wear the green goggles. He explains “if you did not wear spectacles the brightness and glory of the Emerald City would blind you. Even those who live in the City must wear spectacles night and day. They are all locked on, for Oz so ordered it when the City was first built, and I have the only key that will unlock them.” He proceeded to fit spectacles on Dorothy and her friends, and even on little Toto; and then locked them on.

The gatekeeper then opened another gate, and they all followed him through the portal into the streets of the Emerald City. Even with the green spectacles, Dorothy and her friends were dazzled by the brilliancy of the Emerald City. Streets were lined with green marble houses and green marble pavement. Window panes were green glass; even the sky had a green tint, and the sun rays were green. There were many people dressed in green clothes and with greenish skin. Everything in the stores was green. Green candy and green pop corn, green shoes, green hats, and green clothes of all sorts. Green lemonade paid for with green pennies.

Unfortunately, Dorothy and her friends were sent away by Oz on what he thought was an impossible mission: kill the Wicked Witch of the West.

When Dorothy and friends return after dissolving the witch, they discover that the Wizard of Oz is a fraud, and that the Emerald City is not really green. Oz explains “Just to amuse myself, and keep the good people busy, I ordered them to build this City… Then I thought, as the country was so green and beautiful, I would call it the Emerald City; and to make the name fit better I put green spectacles on all the people, so that everything they saw was green.”

As it turns, The Emerald City is no more green than any other city. “But,” as Oz explains “when you wear green spectacles, why of course everything you see looks green to you… My people have worn green glasses on their eyes so long that most of them think it really is an Emerald City.”

As well as how it applies to PG&E and their 2012 Utility Power Grab – Proposition 16, whose intention was recently resurrected in Ab 2145.

PG&E often presents itself as on its way to becoming the greenest utility, if not already there. They point out that they were named the greenest utility in Newsweek‘s Green Rankings 2009. But the fact of the matter is that they are not even close to being the greenest utility.  Many of the public utilities in Northern California have not only greener power but also lower prices.  These include Palo Alto Utilities with the most successful 100% green power option, Sacramento Municipal Utility District with 19% renewable power, and Alameda Municipal Utility which claims to be the greenest utility with most of its power coming from renewable sources.

On the other hand, only 14% of power delivered by PG&E in 2009 was derived from renewable sources in 2009.  Investor owned utilities are mandated by the 2002 Renewable Portfolio Standard to be at 20% renewable power by 2010; PG&E had 12% in 2003. PG&E has already said that they will not make the 20% target for 2010.

For more information on the latest shenanigans of California’s investor owned utlities, check out this post from the Local Clean Energy Alliance on AB 2145.

REFERENCES

The relevant passages are in chapter 10 of the Wizard of Oz:

“So he is,” said the green man, “and he rules the Emerald City wisely and well. But to those who are not honest, or who approach him from curiosity, he is most terrible, and few have ever dared ask to see his face. I am the Guardian of the Gates, and since you demand to see the Great Oz I must take you to his Palace. But first you must put on the spectacles.”

“Why?” asked Dorothy.

 

“Because if you did not wear spectacles the brightness and glory of the Emerald City would blind you. Even those who live in the City must wear spectacles night and day. They are all locked on, for Oz so ordered it when the City was first built, and I have the only key that will unlock them.”

 

He opened the big box, and Dorothy saw that it was filled with spectacles of every size and shape. All of them had green glasses in them. The Guardian of the Gates found a pair that would just fit Dorothy and put them over her eyes. There were two golden bands fastened to them that passed around the back of her head, where they were locked together by a little key that was at the end of a chain the Guardian of the Gates wore around his neck. When they were on, Dorothy could not take them off had she wished, but of course she did not wish to be blinded by the glare of the Emerald City, so she said nothing.

 

Then the green man fitted spectacles for the Scarecrow and the Tin Woodman and the Lion, and even on little Toto; and all were locked fast with the key.

 

Then the Guardian of the Gates put on his own glasses and told them he was ready to show them to the Palace. Taking a big golden key from a peg on the wall, he opened another gate, and they all followed him through the portal into the streets of the Emerald City.

As well as chapter 11 of the Wizard of Oz:

Even with eyes protected by the green spectacles, Dorothy and her friends were at first dazzled by the brilliancy of the wonderful City. The streets were lined with beautiful houses all built of green marble and studded everywhere with sparkling emeralds. They walked over a pavement of the same green marble, and where the blocks were joined together were rows of emeralds, set closely, and glittering in the brightness of the sun. The window panes were of green glass; even the sky above the City had a green tint, and the rays of the sun were green.

And chapter 15 of the Wizard of Oz:

“Just to amuse myself, and keep the good people busy, I ordered them to build this City, and my Palace; and they did it all willingly and well. Then I thought, as the country was so green and beautiful, I would call it the Emerald City; and to make the name fit better I put green spectacles on all the people, so that everything they saw was green.”

 

“But isn’t everything here green?” asked Dorothy.

 

“No more than in any other city,” replied Oz; “but when you wear green spectacles, why of course everything you see looks green to you. The Emerald City was built a great many years ago, for I was a young man when the balloon brought me here, and I am a very old man now. But my people have worn green glasses on their eyes so long that most of them think it really is an Emerald City, and it certainly is a beautiful place, abounding in jewels and precious metals, and every good thing that is needed to make one happy. I have been good to the people, and they like me; but ever since this Palace was built, I have shut myself up and would not see any of them.

Featured image by chris tarnawski

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Metaphor in the Green Pill Inquiry

Posted in Inquiry, Metaphors on August 7, 2014 by daveroom

[I resurrected this post and added an image because it shows how metaphor shows up in the Green Pill Inquiry. It was written after the 2009 Green Festival about the first Green Pill Inquiry. If you feel so inclined after reading, please tell me what you think “we look like to nature” in the comments. Read for more info.]


The green pill green festival 2009 from Dave Room

Despite some technical complications with the audio and video, we did ultimately have a successful workshop at the 2009 San Francisco Green Festival.   It started out with about 25 people, but 10 folks left when they heard that it was in fact going to be a real workshop and they would have to interact with one another.

After the introduction, the workshop had a short GREEN GOGGLES IS GREENWASHING skit based on the Wizard of Oz, and featuring several of the Bay Localize team  (Aaron Lehmer, Jenni Perez, Kirsten Schwind, Leah Fessendenn, and Nile Malloy).  That was followed by a primer on metaphors called “What’s Your Goggles”.

Why do we use metaphor? 

Some concepts are more abstract (like IGNORANCE is abstract)  and more easily understood in reference to something we understand better like spatial orientation and objects.  In this case, it is spectacles but it could also be clouds or fog…

Metaphors emphasize some aspects, while de-emphasizing or hiding others.  Certain aspects of a concept flow from the general metaphorical definition of the concept. Other aspects do not fit well within that construct, and are therefore not addressed.  Some of those hidden aspects can be addressed through complementary metaphors

Some Metaphors are Complementary
IGNORANCE IS OBSCURING WEATHER (CLOUDS or FOG)
IGNORANCE IS BLISS
IGNORANCE IS INFINITE

Note that Einstein famously said “Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.”

Metaphors shape how we see the world.

This is very apparent. A common metaphor is ARGUMENT IS WAR.  We speak of arguments in terms of war, such as she shot down all of my arguments.  This perspective leads us to view arguments in a very adversarial and competitive manner. [click] How might we view argument if we were in a culture that used the ARGUMENT IS DANCE metaphor.  [click] It is critical note, that our perspective determines the possible interventions.  There will be different interventions in an argument in a culture that thinks ARGUMENT IS WAR vs. a culture that thinks ARGUMENT IS DANCE

What are the different types of metaphor?

Mirrors are conventional metaphors that describe the dominant cultural narrative. Magicians are new metaphors which constitute a new way of looking at things. Mutinies are new metaphors that criticize and transform the dominant narrative.  [click] Take the concept LOVE.  LOVE IS A JOURNEY is the typical way of thinking of it – start, end, ups and downs, etc.. LOVE IS A COLLABRATIVE WORK OF ART suggests much greater control and co-creating something that others might consider beautiful.  LOVE IS A DEAD END STREET riffs off LOVE IS A JOURNEY, saying this is a journey not worth taking.

Next was a thought experiment on the notion “If Nature could see us in our entirety, what might we look like?”.   One answer is the ECONOMIC SYSTEM IS A ROBOT metaphor below.  This particular metaphor is not only explanatory abut also actionable; that is, it can be used to identify and target interventions.  It also be can to look at the big picture and also drill down on particular economic subset or holon (e.g., clean energy jobs in Richmond, the state prison system, asthma in West Oakland).

Then it was time for the main event – the breakout groups to find compelling metaphors.  Each groups selected someone to take notes and report back, and then selected a relationship to focus on.  The possibilities were:

  • Humans and Nature
  • System and Nature
  • Humans and System
  • Global North and Global South
  • Indigenous and Modern Society

The breakout groups discussed elements of relationship they wanted to emphasize, and brainstormed examples from pop culture illustrating emphasized elements.  The results of the breakout groups were:

Humans and Nature

  • Child at Christmas – me, me, me; taking not giving back
  • HUMAN IS ZOMBIE – mindlessly consuming
  • Gilligan’s Island – workign with what we have

Humans and System

  • Seen as a monolith
  • We are compelled to be part of economic system
  • Vast, complicated
  • Trope of “missing the forest for the trees”
  • Being caught in a maze and not knowing how to get out

Indigenous and Modern Society

  • Primary aspect: exploitation
  • Modern culture as slave-driver
  • Modern culture as cult leader
  • Idealization of indigenous culture – closer to nature, deeper spirituality, but lots of indigenous people buy into our “shot” more than we do
  • A young married couple that suddenly find themselves living together, trying to get along, with some really dysfunctional (patriarchal) power dynamics and a tendency to simultaneously idealize and despise the other’s gender. (Submitted via email.)

Comments

  • Choosing the right metaphor is important – they can take culture down right or wrong path
  • Comics use metaphors, sometimes in the wrong way
  • Some metaphors can be cross cultural

In addition, the Green Pill Workshop inspired Kirsten Schwind of Bay Localize to use a common Guatemalan metaphor of woven fabric in the Resilience For All panel discussion to explain the subject matter of an anti-oppression workshop featuring the Catalyst Project that Bay Localize had convened recently.

What do you think we look like to nature?