“Our colleagues in the world of solution-focussed therapy and coaching talk about how important it is to minimise the ‘footprint’ we leave on the lives of clients. By this they mean that the aim of therapeutic conversations should be to build and celebrate the strengths, expertise, planning and decision-making skills of clients. The emphasis should be on treating clients with optimal dignity by maximising their capacity for self-determination rather than the human service worker demonstrating their own cleverness, expertness, skills and resources.
It is interesting that this metaphor about needing to ‘minimise our footprint’ is used in a different way to the more commonly used application—that of our impact on our physical environment.
Is there a connection between the two uses of the term ‘footprint’?
At St Luke’s, (Anglicare Victoria), we believe there is, although it may not be self-evident. Our understanding of what it means to ‘impose a minimalist footprint’ with clients is built around the aim of building the client’s long-term sustainable resilience and health to the point where there is no further need for support from professionals in the ‘helping services’.
In environmental and ecological domains, ‘sustainability’ and ‘resilience’ are key words for identifying what is needed for our earth to continue as a healthy planet.
At St Luke’s we work day in, day out with individuals, families and communities who are doing life tough. We know that these clients and communities will be increasingly and disproportionately disadvantaged as the issues arising out of climate change, extreme weather events, carbon emissions, pollution and reduction in potable water capacity continue to advance”. (Russell Deal)
“We are coming to realise that creating a sustainable future requires us to change much more than the light bulbs. We need to change almost everything about who we are. But it’s not about living in a dingy cave; it’s about making life better than it ever was—more liveable homes, communities and cities; healthy buildings, networked and local energy, food systems and economies”. (Ian McBurney)
Innovative Resources has teamed up with Ian McBurney, Live Ecological, to develop up a set of conversation cards called Talking ecoLogical.
Here is a sample activity that incorporates the use of the cards. To view the full online booklet click here.
Purpose: Identifies the main chapters for a sustainability action plan, evaluates progress, and defines working areas for an annual sustainability plan.
Card selection: Spread cards in a grid on a large table.
Activity: Let participants know that the complete set of Talking ecoLogical cards represents key aspects of creating a sustainable organisation, and that this activity can be used to create a sustainability action plan. Invite participants to work through each card in turn and discuss whether their organisation is doing it well, needs improvement or hasn’t yet begun. Facilitators can use such questions as:
- ‘What are we doing well?’
- ‘What do we need to improve?’
- ‘Have we started this yet?’
- ‘What will we do in the next twelve months?’
- ‘Where will we start?’
- ‘What will be some key milestones along the way?
A scribe can map the discussion on a whiteboard or butchers’ paper to determine the main areas for action by the team or organisation this year.