Lessons from EcoGather16 – Truth Hurts

Alberta Ecotrust Foundation has wrapped up a successful first annual Environmental Gathering. It was an amazing opportunity to hear from range of speakers and dive into discussions. Some of the insights are just too good not to share.

Stephen Carter, political mastermind and our keynote on Friday,  let’s start with you.

You were an enigma. No one around the table the next morning knew quite how to sum up your presentation. Now, you did call us weird in trying to change the world on a Friday night but I don’t think that was it. (I thought an evening with entertainment and making new friends was a pretty good way to spend a Friday night but I may need to get out more).

I think you did what a good speaker should do – make us question our thinking until it hurts. And there you succeeded.

People are (your word) idiots.

Gasps and snickers from the crowd. We thought you were kidding. We hoped you were kidding.

It was discouraging to hear and while not totally empirically correct it did make your point. Those words had to pop into our minds while listening to other presentations and workshops the next day as we heard from people battling the same challenges you mentioned:

  • People don’t get their news from fact-checked media anymore. No one knows what is true or not.
  • They look for the answers that support their decision (not make their decision based on the facts).
  • Getting people to change what they are saying doesn’t mean they will change their behaviour.

Wonderful.

But with our minds now sufficiently opened to your reality I think we gained more from the next day’s information. Presentations on emotional intelligence reinforced the complexity of delivering message in a biased world. We saw the how multi-faceted and long term approaches are needed in a world where we are expecting a tweet to make a difference. 

What hurt us made us stronger. I thank you for that. And for an enlightening Friday night.

I do need to get out more.

Recommended Reading: The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt