Metaphors influence our lives in many subtle and often overlooked ways: from the idea of life as a journey to the rhetorical wars on drugs and terror, metaphors help shape the world in which we
live. Some conjure up, very effectively, a particular set of circumstances: the "iron curtain", the "green belt", and the "glass ceiling".
But some of the most pressing ideas and circumstances today are short of illuminating or imaginative metaphors. 'Sustainability’ is one, narrowed by the language defining it and lacking the surprising metaphors that would express its significance, encompass its contradictions, and evoke its potential.
To encourage a shift in this situation, I’ve asked people to suggest a metaphor for ‘sustainability’. Over the next weeks, I’ll be presenting the metaphors that performance and visual artists, writers, architects, cultural commentators, environmentalists, activists and scientists have suggested. Each person’s metaphor will appear here on Ashdenizen as a blog, and all of them will be compiled on the Ashden Directory.
The project is not about finding the metaphor, but about revitalising the discourse. I wanted people to approach sustainability from the perspective that had meaning for them, whether sceptical or supportive. The first metaphor appears tomorrow.