Beginning in the mid 1990s, residents of Utah began to debate the merits of the “Legacy Highway,” a large highway that would run near the Great Salt Lake in an attempt to alleviate the clogged commute on Interstate-15, which runs north/south through Salt Lake City, the state’s capital. Perhaps not surprisingly, environmental groups were upset with this proposed governmental project. Groups like the Advocates for Safe and Efficient Transportation and the Utah Department of Transportation faced off against the Sierra Club, Stop the Legacy Highway, and Utahns for Better Transportation. Generous amounts of rhetoric, including public discussion and litigation, resulted from this controversy. At stake for Utah’s residents were both transportation and environmental issues. In light of the extensive rhetoric in this controversy, this paper suggests invitational rhetoric as an alternative approach to help improve the discourse involved in the ongoing disagreement over the Legacy Highway in Utah. Sonja K. Foss and Cindy L. Griffin define invitational rhetoric as “an invitation to understanding as a means to create a relationship rooted in equality, immanent value, and self-determination.” One of the benefits of invitational rhetoric is that it can help parties work towards developing ongoing relationships, which could be beneficial in the case of the parties to the Legacy Highway conflict since both major sides have to live with each other in Utah. Hopefully, an invitational approach would allow parties to open doors to new possibilities rather than keeping open the same old doors that have led to repeated clash. The paper develops its thesis via several sections, including a more detailed statement of the conflict, methods employed in the study, discussion of the rhetorics of the two major sides in the conflict, an explanation of invitational rhetoric, and an application of an invitational approach to the environmental conflict at hand.
Carlo A. Pedrioli, The Controversy Over the Legacy Highway in Utah: An Opportunity for Invitational Rhetoric, in WILDERNESS, ADVOCACY, AND THE MEDIA: PROCEEDINGS OF THE EIGHTH BIENNIAL CONFERENCE ON COMMUNICATION AND ENVIRONMENT 326 (Kevin DeLuca ed., 2007)