Welcome to the GeoDomeMay 20, 2010 Leave a comment
Last Thursday my IA colleagues Ashley Welch and Andy Atkins and I teamed up with David McConville of The Elumenati and Ned Gardiner of NOAA to take a group of cross-sectoral leaders and thinkers on a unique journey. This trip included a visit to the outer edges of our universe, passing through our solar system, galaxy, and neighboring galactic bodies. Then, out of breath, we zoomed back in to take a new look at our planet Earth through the lens and visualized overlay of data about our terrestrial home – warming trends, population density, biodiversity and traffic patterns. Welcome to the GeoDome!
The GeoDome is “a portable immersive environment” that allows participants to experience interactive simulations derived from scientific data from the likes of NASA and NOAA. These visualizations are used to communicate complex interactions between ecological, social, and economic systems with the goal of providing a compelling way to help participants rapidly understand conditions contributing to humanity’s state of affairs. The purpose of last week’s experience was to test a budding partnership and help a group of change agents experience a shift of perspective that might support their efforts in promoting more sustainable behaviors. Following this collective experience, we facilitated group reflection through the sharing of individual reactions and organizational implications, World Café style.
Reactions were interesting and ranged widely from despairing to hopeful, validation to enlightenment, fear to awe. Some were quite shaken by the news of global trends. Others felt heartened that this way of presenting what is going on might help more people “get it.” Most agreed that this kind of experience brings an otherwise missing vitality to scientific data, which can engage recipients more fully and stimulate curiosity. Some felt that the experience lacked a certain intimacy that would have made it even more powerful – there were suggestions for having group members get to know one another better before hand, to pause and check-in while in the Dome, to present data that speaks in finer detail to places and issues that are more immediately familiar. And there were many who believed that this kind of experience should be made available to as many people on our planet as possible.
For me, I took away a question about how we can keep the Dome experience alive on a day-to-day basis. How can we remind ourselves more often that our view and so-called cosmological truths that inform our everyday (and often unsustainable) actions are always occluded? How can we inspire more systemic awe and curiosity? How can we combine the power of systemic understanding with a deeply felt sense of connection to the whole, as well as particular and dear places within that whole, that moves us in the direction of action for sustainable change? And how do we adequately prepare people making important decisions to “get it”? Together, IISC, IA, The Elumenati, and NOAA will continue exploring these questions, and if you have thoughts, please do share!