Discover more from Creative Destruction
Rabbit Holes 🕳️ #41
◉ Turning Moral Injury Into Moral Compass ◉ A National Care Farm ◉ Greenhouse Buses ◉ Citizen Science & New Stories ◉ Deliberative Democracy & Climate Change
Since last week’s Rabbit Holes, we’ve had 71 (!) new subscribers joining. Thank you all for subscribing and welcome to the Creative Destruction Club! 😉
THIS WEEK ◉ Turning Moral Injury Into Moral Compass ◉ A National Care Farm ◉ Greenhouse Buses ◉ Citizen Science & New Stories ◉ Deliberative Democracy & Climate Change
Rabbit Holes 🕳️
As always, here are five perspective-shifting ideas that I’ve come across lately, plus some fun extras. Enjoy!
#1 🧭 Turning Moral Injury Into Moral Compass
Are you hurt and overwhelmed by what’s happening in the world these days? Are you struggling to cope, with climate breakdown, burnout, meaningless stuff, social injustices, rising inequality and non-action (or non-systemic transformation) by those in power? Then that’s good news! Because that means that YOU...your moral compass, your value system, your personality, your feelings, your courage…is what’s needed to build a new and better world.
“These days? It feels like we’re the crazy ones. Go ahead and admit it. I know you feel it. […] You see these horrific headlines about extinction, fascism, authoritarianism, climate change, stagnation, and so forth. And that part of you just…goes into overdrive.
Your empathic centre’s needle suddenly dials into the red. Your heart pounds. You feel…all those creatures…dying. All those people…hurting. You wonder, you think, you feel. It threatens to overwhelm you. Maybe you feel a little dizzy, and you need to sit down. All this, you say to yourself. How terrible!
It makes you hurt.
You are suffering what is called a “moral injury.” That’s a modern way of saying what’s really an ancient concept. You are wounded, deep down in the soul. […]
But I’m here to tell you something. We’re not the crazy ones. […]
The Indifferent can’t face reality, and block it out with escapism, and the Regressive turn reality inside out, like the Trumpists, thinking of themselves as the real victims, and the world as their persecutor, which means they should have the license to stage coups and take away rights and so forth. Blocking out reality. Inverting it. That’s what’s really “crazy,” in the colloquial sense of the word. It is empathically not crazy to feel the way you do, or probably do, if you’re like me.
To care. To hurt, just at the way things are right now. To wonder, to know. To not just hope, but long and ache for betterment for all life, all creation. To believe in civilization. To grieve for the loss of all these things, lives, ways, histories, stories, moments, relationships, which become absences. None of that is crazy. […]
Who’s going to be left to rebuild, after this age of irresponsibility, negligence, arrogance, ignorance…is done? Well, it’s going to be up to people like you and me. The Indifferent aren’t going to do it, and the Regressive will still be trying to build their neo-fascist brutalist empires.
It’s up to us to carry on these values. Love. Truth. Beauty. Justice. Grace. Meaning. Courage. Dignity.”
» Eduamonia and Co. | If it feels like the world is going to shit and so are you…read this by Umair Haque
#2 🧑🌾 A National Care Farm
In order to fix climate breakdown, we need a massive-scale initiative to regenerate soils and to rewild nature. The article below suggests we should combine that with a Universal Basic Service and allow everyone to take part in care farming using regenerative methods while decentralizing and democratizing food production. This idea reminds of the half-farming-half-x concept from Japan which I shared in a previous Rabbit Holes.
“Care farming is an evidence-based therapeutic paradigm in which people with disabilities and mental illnesses are provided opportunities to work on farms. […] What might society look like if care farming was a central public institution? […]
Akin to the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), a mainstay of the New Deal in the United States, the National Care Farm would be a federal job guarantee offering union jobs. […] Unlike the CCC, however, which only employed men between the ages of 18–25, the NCF would strive to employ anyone who applied. And whereas the former carried out a wide range of ecological projects on public lands, the latter would focus exclusively on regenerative agriculture (I discuss why below). In alignment with the ideal of worker self-determination, teams of farmers would be democratically self-managed. After feeding themselves and their families, they would distribute surplus food to public schools, hospitals, eldercare facilities, and food banks. […]
A National Care Farm ensures every person’s right to produce their own food from the earth. (Wait, do we have that right? I argue that we do and that people have fought for it since the beginning of capitalism, if not since time immemorial.) Without a public institution which guarantees equal access to the tools, land, time, knowledge, and community needed to produce one’s own food, some people are bound to fall through the cracks.
A job guarantee encouraging participation in regenerative care farming would yield substantial social dividends in terms of public health, inclusion of people with disabilities in the formal economy, and societal resilience to natural disasters and other shocks.
Integrating more of the population into socialized and ecological forms of food production will both infuse ecological wisdom into the body politic and help mend what Marxist scholar John Bellamy Foster calls the “metabolic rift” between human and more-than-human worlds.
Like many on the Left who value utopian thinking, I believe concrete proposals are needed to inspire us, give us direction, and stir up healthy debate. […]
So let’s imagine a society where we grow food together, for our families and communities, and feed our most vulnerable first. Through the lens of mundane capitalist realism, it may appear fantastic — but as its contours come into focus, continue to ask: “if I was already living in this future world, how would the neoliberal food system appear to me?” Once the status quo bias is flipped, does it really seem so radical?”
Quick interlude in case you didn’t know yet… 😉
Thank you 😊
#3 🚌 Greenhouse Buses
I love visualizations, or art in general, that imagine a better and alternative world. And as many of you know I’ve had my own fun with AI-generated imaginations – see Visualizing Brand Pivots. Emilio Alarcón’s work here dreams up moving greenhouses that purify and cool city air. A somewhat crazy idea but only maybe until you see this in combination of rising air pollution rates in cities, as also explained by this article: The Second Age of Smoke.
“The Greenhouse Buses project by Emilio Alarcón aims to transform intercity mobility by turning electric buses into mobile greenhouses addressing the challenges of global warming and the lack of green spaces in cities. The digital art series proposes the utilization of the available space inside buses for growing plants, shrubs, and small trees, and their conversion into itinerant oases in the middle of urban environments. The project is achieved through a careful iterative process utilizing the popular artificial intelligence platform, Midjourney. […]
Buses’ enclosed structures allow for a controlled greenhouse-like environment as sunlight can penetrate through transparent or translucent bubbles made of materials such as glass, ethylene teflon, or polycarbonate, providing plants with the necessary amount of light for photosynthesis. […]
These mobile green spaces can also function as mini-parks, offering a more pleasant and natural environment for passengers and pedestrians. During hot days, windows and top openings of the greenhouse buses can be opened to allow air circulation, maintaining a suitable temperature and preventing overheating of the plants. It is also important to create acclimatized areas for passengers’ comfort.”
» designboom | emilio alarcón's AI series reimagines intercity mobility through mobile greenhouse buses
#4 🔬 Citizen Science & New Stories
We are in between worlds. The old world is dying, while the new one hasn’t started yet. What’s missing is new stories, new narratives that envision alternative worlds and better future. Moreover, we need to reconnect with nature and get rid of that us-versus-nature thinking. What if citizen science could help?
“It may seem trivial by comparison with the physical peril we find ourselves in, but the Anthropocene is also a crisis of storytelling.
Is there a way to redress our proclivity for making up false narratives that often keep us wholly distracted from physical realities? Can we keep our beloved fictional, imaginal, mythical, and more or less fantasized art forms, and yet find a way out of our delusions? Yes. There is another way to tell stories. It is based not on individual adventures but on crowdsourced data points. It’s called citizen science.
Citizen science has roots in traditional ecological knowledge. It has been practiced by Indigenous people for millennia. Today’s citizen science is focused on collecting direct observations of nature and sharing them to help create a fact-based, nonfiction narrative of what is happening to the biological world. […] When species are shown to be in trouble, we can intervene. Even when the data points don’t add up to disaster, they help us more precisely understand the Earth system patterns we live in and depend on. […]
Citizen science can help us by adjusting our heroic myth focused on the trials of individual Homo sapiens to recognize the foundation of the cycle of biotic life upon which it is based. […] Making individual observations of species in nature reserves and in overgrown city parking lots, we can track the heroic journeys of other life forms. The perennial wildflower comes up in spring, cued by the sun’s seasonal proximity, and a butterfly drinks its nectar. The wildflower senesces, and the butterfly lays eggs. Depending on the species, caterpillars emerge and are eaten by local and migrating birds or by small mammals. Caterpillars that heroically avoid being eaten now wrap themselves in a chrysalis, a dark place of mystery in which the organism literally dissolves and reforms itself as a butterfly. This is the cycle of resurrection and renewal of life.
And we can observe it with consequence. With tools like iNaturalist, we can make individual observations of single species associated with a latitude, a longitude, and a time. These co-occurrences of time, place, and species will never come again, and to document this instantiation is an honor, it is special. The soul of citizen science doesn’t quite lie here in the individual observation, however, but in the sharing of these observations, which allows for global visualizations of what is happening where, so we can become conscious of what we are doing, and correct our course. This is the practice of citizen science. […]
Late in Campbell’s life, he said the age of the hero’s journey is over. It was useful for cultures when we lived in tribes, but now we live in a global world, and we’re all one tribe. Now we have to find a story that we all relate to, regardless of what country we’re from, or what kind of religion we do or do not practice.
Well, that story found us. It’s called the Anthropocene. But the hero’s journey is not over. In fact, we find ourselves in the most exciting, the most terrifying, the most important part of the heroic journey. We are in a dark time of not understanding, of being afraid, and we are threatened to our core. Yet as Campbell himself taught us, this is the time of discovery, creativity, spiritual strength, and new awareness. “Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors where there were only walls.” And get out your smartphone and share a picture of life.”
» Big Think | The hero of the Anthropocene has 8 billion faces — one of them is yours by Marry Ellen Hannibal
#5 🗳️ Deliberative Democracy & Climate Change
Super interesting article that argues that environmental sustainability requires democratic sustainability. And that kind of democracy can nowadays mostly be found or developed within cities and towns. I also really like this idea of moving from a “me thinking” to a “we thinking” democracy:
“Democratic deliberation is designed to help selfish individuals reformulate their interests in the language of the communities to which they belong—to allow them to move from “me thinking” to “we thinking” and to substitute long-term, future-minded thinking for the short-term, present-minded, special-interest thinking. […]
In our real world of corrupted, minimalist democracy, we privilege individual, special-interest thinking and ask citizens to do no more than express their private preferences. We confound opinion and knowledge and sometimes even seem to think that by denying expert science we honor “democratic” thinking (as if shared ignorance and democracy were the same thing). In this corrupted version of democracy, “now” trumps “later,” today takes precedence over tomorrow, and no one takes responsibility for that greater democracy about which Edmund Burke spoke—the democracy that encompasses not only the interests of the living, but the interests of those who are gone and those as yet unborn. Generational thinking can only be cultivated in a setting of prudent deliberation; contrarily, our short-term present-mindedness shrinks the temporal zone. […]
The way out is to restore democracy to its deliberative roots in competent citizenship, to liberate popular government from money and reinstate it as a domain of civic competence and citizen participation, and to help democracy cross borders to address global problems. The bottom line is that we will have environmental sustainability when we have sustainable democracy. Rightly constituted, democracy can and will make prudent and sustainable decisions. Yet long-term democratic reform, which is hard but possible, is in tension with the short-term urgency of climate change, which demands action now. Science will not patiently wait for citizens to recognize its relevance. Nature cannot be held in check until the political system is reformed. Is there an alternative?
I believe there is. Where states have grown dysfunctional and sovereignty has become an obstacle to global democratic action […] cities have increasingly proven themselves capable of deliberative democratic action on behalf of sustainability […]. If presidents and prime ministers cannot summon the will to work for a sustainable planet, mayors can. If citizens of the province and nation think ideologically and divisively, neighbors and citizens of the towns and cities think publicly and cooperatively. […]
Moreover, green urban ideas can spread virally on the web and often are the result of city interactions […]. The bike-share idea began decades ago in Latin America, but today is a popular option in hundreds of cities on every continent. Citizens can participate directly in climate actions and feel the difference they make in ways citizens of large nation-states rarely do. This is good for democracy and good for the environment.
Here, then, is the takeaway: if sustainability requires a sustainable democracy, then cities may be the places where democracy is most sustainable. Democratic states are seriously compromised and increasingly dysfunctional in addressing climate change. Democratic cities still hold the promise of real change. They kindle optimism in citizens who are pessimistic about political parties and national politics. In sustaining the planet, the world’s cities may be its last best hope.”
» Humans & Nature | Democracy and Climate Change: How Cities Can Do What States Can’t by Benjamin Barber
📕 Scarcity: A History from the Origins of Capitalism to the Climate Crisis by Fredrik Albritton Jonsson and Carl Wennerlind
🎈 AltShift a Degrowth Festival - August 2023 in Vienna
🚿 Shower Thoughts
“Human beings can operate in ways that are deeply loving, collaborative, imaginative. And our big challenge, I think right now, is that we've created an entire mega-structure of institutions, and ways of working, and policies and frameworks, and regulations that actually stop us from responding to the alive sense of what is needed and what we should do: what's needed, what we should do, what's possible. That's what moral imagination gestures at.”
- Phoebe Tickell via in Imagination Activism
That’s it for this week!
You can support this newsletter by sharing it with your friends and colleagues or by ☕️ buying me a coffee which will help me spend more time on the newsletter and pay for my domain hosting and research tool expenses.
Thanks for supporting my work! 😊