Waterlines: Confluence and Hope through Environmental Communication. The 15th biennial Conference on Communication and Environment (COCE). June 17-21, 2019, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada

Local Framing for Global Impact: A Case Study Promoting South Carolina’s “Adopt-A-Stream” Program

Sean Williams's picture
Williams, Sean
Callahan, Katie
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When complex environmental issues are framed at a local level, individuals feel more empowered to act to preserve their local ecosystems. This poster reports on a study which sought to find the best frames to inspire this local environmental action by expanding local citizens’ participation in South Carolina’s “Adopt-A-Stream” (SC AAS) program. Beginning with a survey of current SC AAS volunteers, this study suggested that participants found most compelling the frames related to harm, fairness, and ingroup “moral foundations.” Keywords were developed which guided the construction of six social media campaigns with associated infographics. These materials were presented to a focus group to determine the three best approaches and those approaches were deployed as social media campaigns. We hypothesize that a hybrid frame combining the “Harm” foundation and the “Ingroup” foundation and using the key words, peace, compassion, serve, community, member, and united will generate the most effect due to its alignment with values expressed in the volunteer survey. The implications of this study are relevant for helping environmental communicators understand the importance of framing issues related to water at the local level. Additionally, this study moves the conversation about water quality “upstream” from drinking water, drawing attention to the importance of protecting watersheds, the root source of all clean water.