IMAGE AND IDENTITY—BENEATH THE SURFACE

Most definitions of the word “image” include

“appearances” or “physical representations” of

objects, places, or people. Aesthetics are, of

course, very important in the creation of positive

images. Research indicates that 87 percent of

people’s perceptions are derived through the

sense of sight (Agriculture Handbook 462).

 

Scratch the surface and the word image can

reveal a sense of integrity and true identity.

Much like the saying that “beauty is more

than skin deep,” a positive image for the built

environment goes beyond appearance to include

a complete fit in the landscape and the global

environment.

 

Our agency’s public image is based upon people’s

impressions of the Forest Service. These

perceptions may be based upon a casual reading

of newspaper articles, a visit to a national

forest a decade ago, or the experience of driving

through a national forest without stopping.

 

An image that creates positive impressions

determines not only whether a person will visit

a national forest, but also whether they become

curious enough to learn more about the natural

environment. It may encourage them to learn

more about the Forest Service mission of

conservation and stewardship.

 

Beyond public image lie the issues of our agency’s

identity—who we really are and our values. The

basis of a successful image is the factual truth

that our identity matches our image. In short,

we must constantly reinforce the positive image

of the Forest Service as good stewards and

conservationists by making sustainable choices

in the built environment.

 

Moreover, we must make a visit to a national

forest a legible experience—one that helps

people understand the forces of ecology, the

nature of the landscape, and the goals of the

Forest Service. We can only achieve this by

creating a legible built environment where

buildings and structures complement the

landscape, signs are clear and instructive,

and minimal impact on the environment is

strongly evident. Even during a short stay,

visitors will easily grasp the essence of the

landscape and the Forest Service’s role as

stewards.

 

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