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Rabbit Holes 🕳️ #52
From more enjoyable frames and becoming a person of place to ancillary design, external trappings of success, post-growth living and father earth
THIS WEEK → 🌍 Becoming A Person of Place ✳️ Ancillary Design 🪤 External Trappings of Success ➕ Post-Growth Living 🚿 Father Earth
Rabbit Holes 🕳️
As always, here are three perspective-shifting ideas to create a better world, plus some fun extras below. Enjoy!
#1 🌍 Becoming A Person of Place
How has the disconnection from a 'place' or community influenced our perception and actions towards climate change? Let’s imagine a life where we are deeply rooted in a specific place, surrounded by a network of strong relationships, and engaged in a community that actively cares for its environment – how would this shift in identity and belonging impact our behaviors?
The challenge of creating social change:
“As social creatures, we wait for “social proof” that a stimulus is worth acting on. We are constantly looking to others to validate “correct action", while never wanting to be the first to act. […]
When we adopt a new frame (e.g. “the climate crisis is an emergency worth our sustained attention”) we put at risk any reward systems in conflict with our new frame. […] For example, meat eaters might feel awkward around vocal vegans, and friends may feel guilty about their recent flight in front of a climate activist friend. Friends are unlikely to abandon you completely, but you may find yourself increasingly isolated, suddenly at odds with a world sailing on different winds.”
The key insight:
“The truth is, people don’t give up enjoyable frames until they stop being enjoyable, stop being possible, or there is something more enjoyable on offer. […] If we want to usher in a new way of being, we need not just one framework but also an enabling factor. We must uncover and popularize a new mode of living that feels more enjoyable than the old frameworks (especially in light of knowing facts and information).”
“Time and time again I keep arriving at the same conclusion, one of the most potent frameworks we can adopt to reinforce climate-positive behavior is becoming a person of place. […] Becoming a person of place means drawing closer to things we’ve been estranged from so we can begin a process of reconnection.
One of the larger projects of our modern society and economy is a project of dislocation and disconnection. The more we can untether people into individual units, the easier it is to mobilize them for maximal utility to the market. Most of us are not people of place, we are people of a market. Many move away from our hometowns, we follow opportunity to college or for a job to maximize our economic/career opportunities. Most people do not use their place-based identity as the prism they bend all decisions through, and most people do not integrate into the places they inhabit.
That’s no one’s fault, it was the logic of the system that pushed us into a stream laid out before us. The untethered, after all, are often the “winners” of our economic system, mobilizing to capture value anywhere it can be found regardless of invisible expense to others or the planet. However, the untethered are the losers of the next system, the system that will emerge from the logic of climate change. This new system that will require resilience, which like a spider’s web only claims it’s strength through an interwoven network of strong relationships. […]
Becoming a person of place makes long-term investments desirable, because the future becomes more valuable to you. Those who have committed to a place, an ecosystem, a community, feel those as an extension of themselves. They cheer for their place like a favorite sports team, they envision its success beyond and after themselves. […]
There are particular joys afforded to being a member of a community, of finding esteem in your peers, of contributing what you can, of seeing wildlife thrive, fruit drip from trees, of being helped by your neighbors when in need, of tangibly witnessing the results of your efforts. The joys and rewards of being a person of place is the missing reinforcing framework for climate positive behavior.”
#2 ✳️ Ancillary Design
This is a super interesting design idea that reconceptualizes design as something that enables responsiveness to oneself and an enactment of ecological relationality. It’s basically a design method that recognizes our entanglement with nature. Would be super interesting to explore how this could be applied to product, service and organizational design.
“The operational conditions of ancillary design do not follow a top-down process, nor can they be anticipated, systematized or plotted on paper. The operational conditions of ancillary design require us to reopen our imaginations to a design practice that is akin to mycelial growth.
Mycelium travels the dark recesses of the Earth; it moves through unseen spaces and emergent conditions, and as it moves it finds and forges new connections and alliances. […] Such a cooperative interface is essential for ancillary design.
The term ancillary comes from the Latin for “subservient, subordinate, serving as an aid.” […] Ancillary spaces are not the primary reason for a building to exist, yet they are integral to its functioning. They are transitional or circulation spaces: opportunities for serendipity, for unknown synchronicities, for new emergent connections to be formed. […]
One of the key concerns in ancillary design is to resuscitate an ongoing responsiveness to self and other and nurture a responsibility to the Earth. Before we can address the planetary emergencies we face, we must view ourselves as not separate from “nature” but deeply entangled in it. We need to foreground how we’re a part of a larger ecology rather than the masters of our surroundings. […]
I hope ancillary design and the way it can embrace ambiguity, remain open to the unknown, foreground dark emergent potential and encourage plural actions could constitute the practice of finding our way collectively, rather than being stranded on either side of a fault line with no means to cross. There is the potential to knit stories of care, justice, collaboration, love and tolerance that, like myth, can endure and enact ecological relationality.”
#3 🪤 External Trappings of Success
It feels like more and more – especially young – people are increasingly realizing that the pursuit of outward signs of accomplishment overshadows intrinsic, soul-satisfying pursuits. So how could we champion intrinsic values more, and promote a deeper sense of fulfillment, interconnectedness, and overall well-being?
"Rising materialism and individualism are defining characteristics of modern Western culture. Both have conferred benefits to people, including to their health and wellbeing. However, there is growing evidence of diminishing benefits and rising costs. The costs include a heightened sense of risk, uncertainty and insecurity; a lack of clear frames of reference; a rise in personal expectations, coupled with a perception that the onus of success lies with the individual, despite the continuing importance of social disadvantage and privilege; a surfeit or excess of freedom and choice, which is experienced as a threat or tyranny; the confusion of autonomy with independence; and a shift from intrinsic to extrinsic values and goals. [...]
An intrinsic orientation means doing things for their own sake. Intrinsic goals tend to meet basic human needs for competence, affiliation and autonomy. They are "self-transcending" and good for wellbeing. An extrinsic orientation means doing things in the hope or expectation of other rewards, such as status, money and recognition. It is "self-enhancing" in the sense of being concerned with self-image. It is not good for wellbeing. A focus on the external trappings of success and 'the good life' increases the pressures to meet high, even unrealistic, expectations — and so the risks of failure and goal conflict.
The change is not just a matter of greater vanity, selfishness and greed (although many people today express concerns about these traits). It is something deeply existential and relational, about how people think of life and how they see themselves in relation to others and the world, and this profoundly affects their wellbeing."
» salon | More young people are struggling and there is no quick fix. Why being young is getting worse by Richard Eckersley
📕 Post-Growth Living: For an Alternative Hedonism by Kate Soper
”[Kate] calls for a renewed emphasis on the joys of being, one that is capable of collective happiness not in consumption but by creating a future that allows not only for more free time, and less conventional and more creative ways of using it, but also for more fulfilling ways of working and existing.”
📕 A New Reality: Human Evolution for a Sustainable Future by Jonas Salk & Jonathan Salk
”The book shows us that a fact-based understanding of present conditions can lead us to a new reality reflecting interdependency, collaboration, and concern for the well-being of the many.”
💡 Seeding and Growing Imagination Infrastructures by Cassie Robinson
“As well as needing to grow our imaginative capacity and / or capability, we are stuck in world views, and are just repatterning. We need a different soil altogether to be able to imagine differently.”
💡 What It Means To Have A Simple Life, And How To Live It by Bronwen Sciortino
”A simple life is about finding the things that are important to you and then creating the simplest pathway to have them in your life. That’s it.”
🚿 Shower Thoughts
That’s it for this week!
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