WORDS WITHOUT MEANING ARE JUST LETTERS, floating in space. But when you understand words, when you learn their meaning and see the people behind them, you discover their links to other ideas. Other words. Words that may change the way you think. THE LEXICON uses these tools to help build strategic partnerships and coalitions around regenerative principles in food, agriculture, and water.
The Lexicon’s award-winning, multi-stakeholder storytelling approach connects you with the people and principles that define sustainability, and shares their solutions to help drive behavior change.
To accelerate the acceptance of new ideas, we work in close collaboration with those in the best position to activate change, including government agencies, universities, foundations, television networks, publishers, non-profits, community organizers and sustainability advocates from around the world. With our food systems work, for example, we illuminate the meaning behind powerful ideas that help people pay closer attention to how they eat, what they buy, and where their responsibility begins for creating a healthier, safer food system. To share our stories we then choose a diverse set of partners, ranging from local advocacy groups to federal agencies like the US Department of Agriculture, and from national broadcasters like PBS to mainstreet farmers markets. It’s behavior change that works on a local and regional level to transform communities and shift the marketplace.
AT THE LEXICON, WE DO OUR BEST to mitigate what we call information waste. Food waste is one of the biggest challenges facing attempts to fix our food system. Nearly 40% of all food produced is never eaten. There are inefficiencies in production, distribution and even by consumers, as anyone who’s had to clean up the back of their fridge knows (if you’re interested in food waste, check out our work on the subject here).
So what does that have to do with information waste? Well, if we’re going halfway around the world to tell a story, we design a process to capture the complete experience using photography, filmmaking, and audio recording; this allows us to transform these amazing ideas and experiences into everything from films to podcasts to traveling exhibits to school curriculum to ebooks to websites. You never know where or how you’ll meet your audience, so it’s critical to take a platform-agnostic approach to storytelling.
THE LEXICON OF FOOD, OUR MULTI-YEAR SURVEY of food and agriculture in America, is produced with support from hundreds of partners, and can be found on a stand-alone website featuring an interactive collection of videos, information artworks and short essays on the most important terms and principles that define a sustainable food system. We also share our storytelling tools with LEXICONLab, master classes that help empower good food advocates across the globe. The initiative is led by Douglas Gayeton, the Lexicon’s co-founder, who initially developed People Practices and Power with support from the Future Food Institute. The course is now taught at UNISG, Slow Food’s master’s program in food communications based in Pollenzo, Italy, where participants learn to apply the Lexicon’s unique storytelling methodology to advocacy campaigns designed to help transform our food system. Their initial work looks at the Italian region of Puglia. Learn more here.
Project Localize, the Lexicon’s food literacy initiative for high school students in the US and Mexico, shows teachers and students how to identify and promote sustainable economic, cultural and social progress in their communities. Students research what happens in a locally-based food system, conduct interviews with food producers, farmers, and key stakeholders at the local level, then turn their findings into information artworks that illustrate what sustainability looks like in their own backyards. This project-based learning experience concludes by showing students how to share their findings with a series of pop up shows and public events that put a name and a face on food in their communities. Learn more here.
The Lexicon makes its information artworks freely available to community leaders, students, farmers, activists, gardeners, and cooks so they can curate their own Lexicon Pop-Up shows. By putting our storytelling tools in the hands of local good food advocates we help build grassroots movements that spur dialog and bring communities together to strengthen local food systems. Aside from hosting shows in their local communities, our curators also act as a “lending libraries”; they share these works with local schools and community groups planning their own sustainability initiatives. To learn more click here.
THE LEXICON OF SUSTAINABILITY WAS FOUNDED by social entrepreneurs Douglas Gayeton and Laura Howard-Gayeton in 2009. Their work accelerate the adoption of practices that build more resilient food systems and help combat climate change. With support from team leaders Mary Tesch and Pier Giorgio Provenzano, they lead an international collective of public and private partners including entrepreneurs, food producers, researchers, activists food system analysts, and regenerative experts from across the globe.
Douglas is an information architect, filmmaker, photographer and writer. He has created award-winning work at the boundaries of traditional and converging media since the early 90’s. He directed the KNOW YOUR FOOD series for PBS and GROWING ORGANIC for USDA, and has authored two books, SLOW: Life in a Tuscan Town, and LOCAL: The New Face of Food & Farming in America. Laura is a producer, farmer, entrepreneur and executive director of the Lexicon. She pioneered the art of multi-layered narrative approaches to film and video during her life as a commercials producer in Hollywood, then later moved to Northern California and founded the first goat milk ice company in the United States, LALOO’S.
The duo are frequent public speakers. They incorporate films, artworks, interviews and animations into lively public lectures held at universities, companies and conferences. Their subjects range from sustainability to storytelling to the development of socially responsible business models. Other events include Edible, Google Food Lab, IACP, Blake School, UNISG, the Commonwealth Club, Transition USA, Disposable Film Festival, SLOW Money, Bioneers, LOHAS and more. For speaker enquiries and event requests, professional and campaign advice, please email here. Students should initiate contact through an invitation from their academic institutions. If you’d like to collaborate on mission-aligned media projects that might benefit from our vertically integrated storytelling approach, email us here.
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