Tag Archives: environment

Word Associations

Let’s play a game.
When you hear the word ‘politics’ what comes to mind?

Here are my answers:
Politico news magazine
Bills and laws

I’m gonna be honest though, I don’t really follow politics.
So, to many (specifically my friend Alex Vitale!), those answers couldn’t be more general or dissatisfying.

Let’s try another one.

When you hear the word ‘environment’ what comes to mind?

An image of a vast wilderness?
Global warming?
Al Gore’s face?
Polar bears?
Recycling bins?
The Amazon?

I’ve tucked away the idea of me fully understanding politics with distant memories of trying to pass freshman Civics class and constantly feeling out of the loop with the news. So, I know that everyone has certain issues where their word associations may not align with the day’s leading experts.

I am obviously no exception to this rule, but I am here to give readers some better words to associate with ‘environment’ than those given above.

I don’t claim to be an expert on the topic, but in this blog I want to continue to play the word association game. I’ll call it the Frame Game.
Hear me out here.

When I started my sophomore year of college at Madison, I would have grouped ‘environment’ with:

SOS club at my high school
Bikers with peace sign buttons on their backpacks

But, what I have come to learn is how the environment can be framed in any way you want, and like politics, its importance doesn’t diminish – it just becomes more or less personally important. What I fear though, is that the vastness of ‘environment’ or the vagueness of ‘green’ makes it sort of out of grasp; a project that will inevitably be saved for another day. I still feel that way sometimes.
Everyone has an idea of how the world may or may not be warming and that it may or may not be my or your fault. They may know that the polar bears are going extinct, and someone somewhere is probably asking them to turn down the air conditioning….

But what’s the big picture?

My goal here is to remove partisanship and hippie pretenses, and continue to evoke a passion and concern about the environment in you and myself while adjusting the focus from blurry, random word associations, to a clear frame of whatever image of ‘environment’ best fits into your life, your knowledge, and your capabilities. I think it’ll be different for all of us.

Here are words, exciting words, that I have come to associate with environment:

Good, healthy food
Seeing, expanding, and appreciating natural beauty
Healthy living
Looking out for posterity!
Lessening the gap between social classes and societies
Fresh Air

What’s not to love about that?
So, while even I get sick of hearing about saving the environment by buying a Prius or taking a shorter shower, I know that if everyone had the chance, and the time, to learn enough (and be scared enough) about the environment, they’d be sitting here writing this blog too. Since I have college professors and volumes of reading to tell me of its urgency, the will to write, and the motivation to improve my frame of ‘environment,’ this will be a place to explore the optimistic, practical and necessary side of making some environmental progress in everyday life.

I hope you join me!


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