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Rabbit Holes 🕳 #28
From rurbanization, to conscious quitting, and playing climate crisis (& action) board games
Rabbit Holes 🕳
Three perspective-shifting ideas that I’ve come across recently:
#1 🧑🌾 Rurbanization
“People have long stoked an urban-versus-rural rivalry, with vastly different cultures and surroundings. But a burgeoning movement—with accompanying field of science—is eroding this divide, bringing more of the country into the city. It’s called rurbanization, and it promises to provide more locally grown food, beautify the built environment, and even reduce temperatures during heat waves. It’s also reversing the longstanding assumption that growing food is straight-up bad for biodiversity because clearing land for agriculture necessitates removing native plants and animals.”
“In a recent paper in the journal Ecology Letters, Jha and her colleagues showed that urban gardens can actually boost biodiversity—particularly if residents prioritize planting native species, which attract native insects like bees. ‘The gardener actually has a lot of power in this scenario,’ says Jha. ‘It doesn't matter how large or small the garden is. It's the practice of cultivating the landscape—and the decisions they make about the vegetation and the ground cover—that ultimately decide the plant and animal biodiversity there.’”
“Jha’s team characterized the biodiversity of 28 California urban gardens over the course of five years. Far from the mono-cropped monotony of a wheat field, they found rich ecosystems humming with activity that, in turn, increased species diversity.”
“This biodiversity is largely due to a strategic trade-off. One of the challenges of urban gardening is that it requires intensive manual labor: You can’t drive a combine through a city at harvest time. But that limitation turns out to be an ecological blessing. Because everything is done by hand, urban farmers can grow all sorts of plants right next to each other, packed in tightly to increase yields.”
“‘There’s a take-home message here for everyday gardeners: With relatively minimum effort, you can make a big change,’ says Camilo. ‘You don’t need to be consciously improving the environment. You can just concentrate on your one little thing—which is the growth of some food—and do it in the right way, and you can have significant impacts.’”
#3 ✊ Conscious Quitting Is Just The Beginning
“In 2022, Deloitte asked leaders what the benefits were of sustainability in business. The #1 response wasn’t, in fact, addressing the climate crisis…
It was “brand recognition and reputation.”
Does this not tell us everything we need to know about why we're failing? Leaders are more concerned with being seen to do the right thing than actually doing it.
Indeed, there is now a plethora of terms to define the nuances of greenwashing: from “greenhushing” (deliberately under-reporting) and “greenrinsing” (regularly changing one’s sustainability targets before they’re achieved; Coca Cola is a regular offender), to “greenshifting” (implying that the consumer is at fault, e.g. BP’s ingenious creation of the carbon footprint calculator).
There’s also “wokewashing” (exploiting social movements like #blacklivesmatter and the LGBTQ+ community), and even “youthwashing” (associating with young activists to improve their image).
It should come as no surprise that people distrust businesses; and are increasingly questioning their values. It’s showing up in where people choose to work.
Paul Polman recently commissioned a survey of 4000 workers in the UK and US to capture how sentiments are changing:
👉 2/3 employees are anxious about the future of the planet and society,
👉 3/4 say a company should take responsibility for its impact, yet
👉 1/2 believe senior leaders don’t care, and are only driven by their own gain,
👉 45% of employees in the UK said they would consider resigning from their job if the values of the company did not align with their own, and
👉 49% of Gen Z employees report having already resigned for this reason.
So, while business leaders may be in denial about the #climatecrisis, there is now a threat closer to home: the rise of ‘conscious quitting’.
For my parent’s generation, it was normal to split yourself between work and home. For my generation, we don’t want to leave our values at the door. And we know that our influence doesn’t lie in tweaking our personal carbon footprint — but how we spend the majority of our time, every day.
Our culture has taught us to box ourselves in: we’re “consumers"; “followers”; “workers”. Yet these labels plaster over the most important identity of all: what it is to be human.
Conscious quitting is just the beginning.”
#3 🧩 Playing Climate Crisis (& Action)
“In the world of board games, most titles involve total victories over adversaries in zero-sum competitions. In the new genre of climate-themed games, creators like Leacock make collaboration the key to success.”
“Board games and puzzles are an $11 billion industry—one that grew 20% between 2019 and 2021, a boom fueled partly by pandemic-related boredom and digital fatigue, according to market research group Euromonitor International.”
“In 2020, Wingspan, in which players develop biodiverse bird habitats, was named the best strategy game by the American Tabletop Awards. The game was reviewed by the science journal Nature, in addition to more traditional gaming publications, and sold over 750,000 sets in its first year.“
“Last year, Cascadia, where players compete to create “the most harmonious ecosystem” in the Pacific Northwest, won the prestigious Spiel des Jahres award as well as American Tabletop Awards’ best strategy competition.”
“These games do more than simply entertain, research shows. Simulation games can measurably facilitate learning about international climate politics, according to a 2018 study published in Climatic Change. The authors found that playing a single round of the climate game Keep Cool increased participants’ sense of responsibility toward the environment and confidence in climate cooperation.”
“A separate 2020 study published in the journal Simulation & Gaming reached similar conclusions. Researchers found that games presented a “simplified alternative to overcomplicated science communication” and that “portraying reality in a highly concentrated and simplified manner” helped players conceptualize climate change in tangible ways.”
💈 Seen On LinkedIn
That’s it for this week!