msb ~063 The problem with awareness

The problem with awareness  

being aware is not enough

This old but excellent Discard Studies post demonstrates how, in transforming choices for greater sustainability, our focus should be on infrastructures that produce waste etc or lock in unsustainable consumer choices further down the line. In contrast, our usual focus on making individuals ‘aware’ – despite its merits – depends on many steps, reaches a limited number of people and has to battle against those same infrastructures. “Focusing on these systems for change actually scales up to the scale of the problem.”  Continue reading “msb ~063 The problem with awareness”

msb ~062 Connecting with change

Connecting with change 

Looking to pasts and futures…

I’ve mentioned the book Anticipatory history and how I keep returning to it. The term also describes a loose collection of approaches that extend beyond the book’s collection of texts, each a means to open up conversations about change in places we feel deep attachment to, now facing uncertain futures.

To help us bring in new perspectives when we try to make sense of change, ‘anticipatory history’ approaches might include:

  • Looking imaginatively at past changes and at the contingencies which underlined (and could have undermined) the events and actions that shaped what it is now. Examples are reverse chronologies, timelines, oral histories and artistic representations.
  • Taking a fresh look at the language we use to talk about the natural and cultural processes at play. The book itself provides one way into this, as a form of glossary arising from a dialogue between specialisms.
  • Imagining and naming unfamiliar or new ways of living with change that might be adopted in this place.

Continue reading “msb ~062 Connecting with change”

msb ~059 Only connect

Only connect  

Path: space to connect

Louisa Thomsen Brits’ Path narrates place and personhood through poems that make ‘a short story about reciprocity’. This small book treads lightly through wide scapes of spirit and land; beginning with a quote from Robert Macfarlane: “paths connect. This is their first duty and their chief reason for being.” Perhaps all beings (human/non-human) are also paths: expressions of particularity and process; routes and roots to our essential connections.

I am footfall and track,
trail and trace,
thread of passage and possibility.

Trodden-through with a region-specific ‘word hoard’, Path is both intensely local to those paths Brit walks and universally translatable to our own natural geographies, histories, biographies.

I offer to make sense of the world,
to unravel tangle to intelligible thread,
I am your next natural step,
a silent, sinuous course stretching ahead of you... Continue reading “msb ~059 Only connect”

msb ~057 Creativity: a bright idea

Creativity: a bright idea   

Q&A? Not that simple

At The Conversation, Gareth Loudon argues for education for greater creativity as a bridge between silos of knowledge. This includes that famous ‘two cultures’ gap identified by CP Snow decades ago: the separation of sciences and humanities. Specialisation, of course, involves people becoming more expert in smaller areas (that unkind old joke: you learn more and more about less and less until you end up knowing everything about nothing). The separation is then reinforced in how we’re taught, how we expect the world to work and be managed. Continue reading “msb ~057 Creativity: a bright idea”

msb ~055 Brave ambition

Brave ambition  

Call for bravery

I’ve been enjoying this post looking from the IPCC 1.5C report to the next intergovernmental climate conference, COP24 in Poland next month. I think Sarah Sutton’s choice of two words has impact: ‘ambition’ and ‘bravery’. COP21 agreed the goal of limiting the global rise to 1.5C; can COP24 agree a plan? As Sarah says, “for complex geopolitical entities, and highly-complex problems, setting goals while the path remains unfocused is how you establish ambition – the contagious desire to achieve more than ever before.” Continue reading “msb ~055 Brave ambition”

msb ~051 Launching Waterlight

Launching Waterlight  

Waterlight project – exploring a local river

It’s a slightly nervous moment when you know that work you’ve just handed over is receiving its public launch, and you’re not there to see the looks on the audience’s faces, to hear their questions coming back! Today’s the day the Waterlight Project team showed off the website we’ve been working on for a couple of months now. I’ve been handling the impressive array of materials — articles, children’s films, poems, oral history transcripts, photos and blog posts — that the team have been generating about their local river and assembling this into an integrated whole, with room to breathe. And it’s a joy to take a step back and look at it all now as a ‘real thing’. Continue reading “msb ~051 Launching Waterlight”

msb ~049 Last call?

Last call?  

Last call for reality

As the BBC reported before today’s IPPC special report, “for decades, researchers argued the global temperature rise must be kept below 2C by the end of this century to avoid the worst impacts. But scientists now argue that keeping below 1.5C is a far safer limit for the world. Everyone agrees that remaining below that target will not be easy.” Going for Gold in the Understatements Olympics? Continue reading “msb ~049 Last call?”

msb ~047 Climate grief

Climate grief

Climate grief, the emotional reality of global warming

I’m putting final touches to the next ClimateCultures post. Our latest author is writing on the topic of climate grief, and that’s sent me into other reading on the web in search of extra resources to support her post. I came across a graphic story from artist Perrin Ireland where, in a couple of dozen drawings, she captures some of the weight of anxiety, foreboding and, yes, grief that climate activists — even the simply ‘climate aware’ — can feel weighing them down. Reality is hardest for those facing dire times in the here-and-now, of course; but anticipated realities can be hard for the presently comfortable. Ireland finishes with a hint on how to take it head on: together, rather than alone. Continue reading “msb ~047 Climate grief”

msb ~040 Making sense of weak signals

Making sense of weak signals

Listening mode…

In this 2009 article, Paul Schoemaker and George Day identify biases we unconsciously apply to our worldviews, blinding us to important but weak signals of change. Once we “lock in on a certain picture [we] often reshape reality to fit into that particular frame. Humans tend to judge too quickly when presented with ambiguous data; we have to work extra hard to consider less familiar scenarios.”

Such biases render reality as familiar, expected: reducing the scope to consider different perspectives. We become overconfident in our way of seeing: filtering what we see according to our mental model; rationalising it to sustain our belief in the model as reality; seeking evidence to bolster this. Continue reading “msb ~040 Making sense of weak signals”

msb ~039 The truth? Dream on

The truth? Dream on

Mapping certainties

Following Philip Dick, here’s another favourite speculative writer: Christopher Priest. I just finished the Ordnance Survey ‘Britain’s islands’ quiz after rereading Anticipatory History‘s Dream-map entry, so it’s no surprise that Priest’s Dream Archipelago came to mind. There’s a slipperiness to his decades-long project of stories set on these fictional-but-familiar islands on a world (un)like ours. In a 2011 interview ahead of The Islanders he’s asked, “Creating the climate, topography and various customs of the islands must have been quite challenging … Did you use a map or some other technique?” Priest: “No map is allowed. Not even to me … Living in the islands, or trying to travel through them, you almost always get lost. No one knows the way, everyone is a bit muddled.” Continue reading “msb ~039 The truth? Dream on”