Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Using Comics To Communicate Sustainable Cities

Humour has the power to cut through conflict, and art has the power to bypass reason. Cartoons equal art plus humour. So all credit to the 4th Future of Cities Forum for using comics to log in real time what delegates were debating and concluding in their workshops last week.

Drawnalism is the name of the artist who was commissioned, who in reality is two people: the cartoonists Matt Buck and Alex Hughes. They were bought in by the organisers, Energy Cities, to lighten up what can be a too-serious process of tackling the world's problems, by tapping into people's creativity and encouraging lateral thinking as a form of problem-solving.

Coincidentally Matt and I have worked together before, on two series of cartoon strips, Public Servants and Managing Hell. It is really good to see him in action, both of us now working to promote sustainability in cities.

The first cartoon kind of sets the stage for the discussions, as delegates laid out the problems facing cities on the route to sustainability:
Cities as the problem and the solution cartoon small
This little cartoon exemplifies in one brilliant image how one person can release so much energy in another when they become inspired:
Creating engagement cartoon small

Imagine is an ongoing project form Energy Cities which is about envisaging solutions to problems of energy and cross-border issues in Europe. Although there are an increasing number of cities working to minimise their energy use and generate energy themselves, they also come up against many obstacles, one of its is quantify the extent of the changes required and finding ways to overcome these problems.

This cartoon sets out the result of workshop on this subject:
Learning from imagine small

Part of the problem facing cities leaders is getting others to buy into the sustainability agenda, and this cartoon summarises the results of a workshop on this subject:

Getting stakeholder buy-in for sustainability cartoon small

As delegates prepare to leave the conference they need to take with them the energy generated by committing to do particular actions, and this cartoon is intended to energise them in this respect.

Getting delegates to commit to act cartoon small

Cartoons are a great way to facilitate decision-making, and create memorable but enjoyable encodings of the messages that arise from that creative process. They reach the place other forms of communication cannot. #FutureOfCities is to be congratulated for having the imagination themselves to commission cartoonists to work with them.

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