Rebecca Manson Jones, 27 January 2013

convened by Rebecca Manson Jones

attending: Mhairi Grealis, Mary O'Connor, Ashley Steed, Russ Hope, Jen Lunn, Lucy

Avery and others

So this comes from a piece of work I've been doing for the last year or so and the

phrase was identified for me by some sustainability experts I've been talking to. In a

nutshell we all want the world to save the world but we don't quite get it done.

the session started off as a little look into procrastination and it was quite broad

ranging and thank you for all your contributions. My intention is to represent them but

the action may not get that far because I really really want to go to the pub!

Someone volunteered that their Gap was about the size of a housing estate, others

were characterised as the space between two houses and others as a Frightening

space, where a dark and amorphous animal might live. So crossing the gap is difficult.

other people like being in the gap. they have the intention, they dwell in the gap, taking

action means risking failure. The gap is a place where possibility still exists and ideas

can be processed.

The work of a doctor on a shift was mentioned who can quantify a series of actions

taken and at the same time an artist can also evaluate what they do in that time and

perhaps it equates although it feels very different and sounds incomparable.

Lots of self-help books were mentioned: The Fluent Self among them

In terms of why we don't as a population engage with action over climate change:

- if we step over into action for climate change, we find that we keep having to commit

to further action, it feels like anything we can do will never be enough, so if we;re not

prepared to go to the logical conclusion, is there any point starting?

- if we overthink our response to climate change we can't get started

-making the gap smaller by taking small actions can help to find stepping stones

across it

- often we need external incentives to get us going -

we don't engage with climate change because we can't see it, and we think we will fix

it when it gets here

- no-one is modelling living to respond to climate change - I was fascinated that people

felt that if all politicians, stopped using cars, planes and if they all put it far up the

agenda we'd all follow. I was struck by this particularly since we don't generally regard

these people as role models but we might follow if we see such examples

Lots of suggestions about how to act at the local level, WI, freecycling and transition

communities. Buying better, buying less. And how joyful doing all of those things can

be which improve quality of life on a local level.

the intention action gap for sustainability was identified as being big because people

think living sustainable involves sacrifice. The postive messages associated with it

aren't talked about it enough. We need a Mary Popplns to make it fun. I realise I make

the play I'm working sound more earnest and preachy than it is. It is in fact an enquiry,

designed to be a creative exploration, asking questions, not knowing the answers,

A film to see: A crisis of civilisation, a book to read Treasure Islands and the Julie's

Bicycle pamphlet which is briliant, can't remember the title will add later

People get overwhelmed by realising that the climate change thing is linked to the

economics thing and we don't understand it, and so we stop. How to empower

ourselves and use individual agency to make meaningful positive steps?

Vote with your money

There was talk of dieting and how to get it done, can you give yourself rewards also for

adopting a sustainable lifestyle and arts practice?

Which brings us neatly onto the voting process which is in the show I'm making.

Thanks to all for reinforcing my general direction of travel, feeding both view points for

the debate contained in the show.

I am surprised whenever I test the vote that people vote for the ethical trading and I

dont' believe them. intention/action gap. in the group, it seemed that people felt that

we will vote “correctly” in a social situation and if that is always going to be the case,

my ending needs to show the implications, or the implications need to be clear already

in the story. Sorting out the stakes is imperative (we know - we just have to do it).

interesting side issue that the only man thought his urge to punch the people who

made a show that annoyed him was a male response. All the women all have felt the

urge to punch people who make a show that annoys them (and Phelim we don't think

that's a gift).

The urge to punch came from making the audience feel bad and that they are bad

people for having such a big gap between intention and action. I really dont' want that

for my show. I am working from the point of a question, a dilemma. I genuinely don't

know the answer, I'm still searching.

One action we all take that I attempt with grace and have learned from the

sustainability people who work with governments, multinationals and grass roots types

like me is #askquestions - when you buy something ask where it's sourced from. you

have to do it with grace because the people on the counter don't usually source the

items but it's about asking them gently to ask the questions if they feel they can.

And some of the MNCs are doing this in the other direction and we need to reward

them for doing that.

We all agreed that we need to make this theme feel like a positive set of achievable

actions and change the language of despair and self-sacrifice.

This can be done by giving people information, tangible outcomes

We talked about many other things and I'm grateful for being able to have thought out


Generally, getting through the gap from intention to action seemed to be helped if

there is a sense of urgency or if there is an external prompt or something which makes

us feel accountable.

I think that's all I'll say for now. I have other things but I need to process them

Big thanks - I feel like I pushed something on and you helped me do it


action, intention, gap, climate change, ask questions