Sustainability Slang is a poem (of sorts) that shows how little the language of sustainable development has entered our society's lexicon and our culture's psyche.


How can we talk sustainability
without learning the language first?

How come we expect sustainability
without teaching the language first?

And how come everyone gets their own language
except us sustainable development supporters?

Like ...

Integration for the nation, my friend. We don't talk profits
without talkin' people and planet, too.

Hey, knock it off. That just isn't
intergenerationally equitable, ya know?

Think it through, man. If you want my buy-in, what you're proposin's gotta be fair
to our brothers and sisters in developing nations, too.

No way. We're not paying for that! Polluter pays, dude.

Have a seat 'round my round table, friends.
It's the only cool way to make things happen.

You wanna step outside for a little
multi-stakeholder consultation in the parking lot?

Hey, dude, slow down.
The precautionary principle rules around here!

If what we do is what we can think, and what we think is what we can say, then we've got to start people talking the language of sustainability and respect for everyone, of every species, for all time.

Please note: I once submitted the original version of this "poem" to a journal on transformative dialogues in teaching and learning. Let's face it, our education system is a big reason we're in the mess we're in, and we need to talk about it. The reviewers both liked it at first, but then had questions about the intentions (intentional or otherwise) behind the poem. I have since edited the poem slightly, hoping that the point I'm trying to make is more clear now:

We're never going to reach "development that's sustainable" if people don't even talk about — let alone implement — its principles and processes in their everyday language and lives.

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