Title

The Boiling Pot: Constructing a Social Space to Instigate Sustainability Conversations

Presentation Type

Presentation

Abstract

Although the majority of people in the United States is aware of climate change, the issue is notably absent from personal conversations, as individuals engage in what environmental sociologist Kari Norgaard calls “a matter of socially organized denial.” We hypothesized that creating a sustainable, appealing social space and making it accessible to the public would promote conversations about sustainability that wouldn’t occur otherwise. In order to test this hypothesis, we designed and constructed The Boiling Pot, a mobile sauna built with sustainable methods and materials, which we intend to deploy in open spaces around Missoula. In the design and construction phase, we noted the frequency, nature and intensity of the conversations our project sparked in the community, from in-person communications to social media interactions. We described them through a networking map, which will continue to grow with each deployment. We also kept close track of our design, construction and collaboration process; we have created a detailed manual, which we will share through social media connections established over 10 months. Together, our manual and our networking map will demonstrate that building a social space from scratch, based on sustainable principles, does indeed instigate conversations about sustainability and climate change. To the degree that our sauna can be used as a model for similar DIY projects, the experience can be replicated around the globe, potentially drawing out a much greater number of people than those who gathered in and around the Boiling Pot. We hope that others will adapt and further develop our model depending on their own circumstances, environment and specific needs.

Category

Social Sciences

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Apr 15th, 2:40 PM Apr 15th, 3:00 PM

The Boiling Pot: Constructing a Social Space to Instigate Sustainability Conversations

Although the majority of people in the United States is aware of climate change, the issue is notably absent from personal conversations, as individuals engage in what environmental sociologist Kari Norgaard calls “a matter of socially organized denial.” We hypothesized that creating a sustainable, appealing social space and making it accessible to the public would promote conversations about sustainability that wouldn’t occur otherwise. In order to test this hypothesis, we designed and constructed The Boiling Pot, a mobile sauna built with sustainable methods and materials, which we intend to deploy in open spaces around Missoula. In the design and construction phase, we noted the frequency, nature and intensity of the conversations our project sparked in the community, from in-person communications to social media interactions. We described them through a networking map, which will continue to grow with each deployment. We also kept close track of our design, construction and collaboration process; we have created a detailed manual, which we will share through social media connections established over 10 months. Together, our manual and our networking map will demonstrate that building a social space from scratch, based on sustainable principles, does indeed instigate conversations about sustainability and climate change. To the degree that our sauna can be used as a model for similar DIY projects, the experience can be replicated around the globe, potentially drawing out a much greater number of people than those who gathered in and around the Boiling Pot. We hope that others will adapt and further develop our model depending on their own circumstances, environment and specific needs.