The Au Links Page
These external links are threaded together in a narrative
Falling so fast
So Utopia seems further away
- But if we forget how to think beyond the possible - politics will become dangerous.
- It could be a civic duty to envision a better world
- As John Lennon (& Yoko Ono) suggested: Imagine Peace
When dreams seem unattainable (i.e. improbable) we tend to assume they are impossible
Miracles are not impossible...
You might like to take the Buckminster Fuller Institute Challenge
We can act against climate change
- Although Utopia may not be attainable we still need to make the journey.
- First, we must allow ourselves to dream of how we would like to live.
- We need the space to Explore, Express and Discuss our Creative Potential...
- This may entail transforming ourselves from an 'information society' to a wisdom society
- Then we can connect our dreams to the 'realities' of population growth and natural resources.
- We can theorise the wholeness and connectedness of dreaming using a map of Systems Theory.
- According to essay service we should act now, global warming isn’t a problem of the future, it’s a problem now.
Beyond Representative-led Politics
- Individual human rights, and the right to human development are important.
- But when we become too humanistic we risk overlooking climate change and loss of biological diversity.
- If politics overemphasises the ideological aspects of human well being, the well being of children and social well being the process can become counterproductive.
- Camila Batmanghelidjh started Kids Company as both a political catalyst, and as a practical project to help neglected children to get the help they need.
- Daniel Barenboim and Edward Said created an Israeli/Palestian orchestra to heal political obstinacy.
- The aim of economic development is usually to attain prosperity with fulfillment.
- But economic growth became a fetish that causes serious problems.
- These include environmental pollution and other negative effects of science.
This might fit here? Design Will Save the World (but This T-Shirt Will Not) (interesting site - video on the home page, might be an idea? - jb)
Governance by Shared Envisioning
- The idea of Social Enterprise has already shifted politics a little (see the Young Foundation).
- A design-oriented example is the Sustainable Everday Project - an open web platform to stimulate social conversation sustainable futures.
- In industry, Gerard Fairtlough describes the emergence of worker autonomy
- Ricardo Semler speaks in a similar way about heterarchy.
- Transparent, participative consultation is important, but it is sometimes too pragmatic, bureaucratic, or even cynical.
- Can the Independent Diplomat liberate government protocols by transcending the tools of diplomacy?
- In the social sphere, James Surowiecki has shown how crowds can be smarter than individual experts.
- Group actions can emerge from quasi-spontaneous groups as described in Howard Reingold's idea of smartmobs
- the New Econonomics Foundation's research into citizen-led initiatives for democratic change, or democs.
- Arguably, the most important knowledge is group thinking that can lead to a kind of collective intelligence, or 'CI'. (e.g. see knowledge garden and a working CI group in Denmark).
- These initiatives may be crucial for helping us to maintain our place within the natural world. Ideas such as symbiosis and altruism are slowly entering the commercial discourse through initiatives like the Free Software Foundation and the more pragmatic Open Source movement.
- This led to attempts to reduce monopolies in other areas such as publishing, where CopyLeft has challenged the 'copyright' approach. Other relevant initiatives include the wi-fi movement, the Creative Commons and free access to resources such as Patents online.
If we believe something is impossible it can soon become 'unthinkable'
Diversity and the butterfly effect
- There is a positive side to every problem.
- One positive approach is to seek synergy (see our synergy ideas and what Buckminster Fuller called 'synergetics').
- There is also an environmental 'Tipping Point' by which - in natural systems - large improvements can be made with the smallest of interventions.
- This means that everyone can make a difference.
When the impossible can be visualised by enough people it can be named
Make a difference
- If we want to address serious problems such as global warming we may need to make more radical changes
- We must measure progress beyond GDP (Gross Domestic Product).
- We must encourage viable future solutions and better economic thinking in order to have more effective fiscal policies.
- We are at the peak of global oil reserves.
- We must therefore re-use and recyclethings; and develop safe, solar-based economies to eradicate our addiction to fossil fuel.
- Each day we delay the decision, the higher will be the eventual cost of delay for future communities.
When we name the impossible it becomes a little bit more possible
in a smaller world
Where do you stand?
- What are your travel habits?
- How much is your annual income?
- How much non-renewable fuel do you use?
- How big is your ecological footprint on the natural world? (see European version and the kid's version)
*If being happy with less means enjoying the way we live, then money and mobility may be less important than we thought.
Can designers create micro-utopias'?
- Where do our electrical goods end up?
- Design agencies such as O2, Centre for Sustainable design, IDSA tried hard to get us to 'clean up our act'.
- Early visionaries such as Frtitz Schumacher (1973) called for us to 'think global, act local', and Buckminster Fuller (1969) urged us to 'reform the environment'.
- Others have tried to create biodegradable products, and/or longer lasting products, etc.
- Our short history of eco-design tries to explain why this has not worked.
- We need more ways in which designers can contribute (e.g. see Architecture for Humanity)
A new sense of balance
- Some people are translating the American Dream into a (New) American Dream
- Happiness may be explored looking at trends in happiness.
- How can we become happier? Bring in closer touch with your environment may cheer you up.
- Complex synergies emerge from many types of variety and diversity.
- Did you know that some domestic gardens have greater bio-diversity than any natural space, anywhere?
- The Green Roof movement and industy is another way to bring greater biodiversity to the cities.
- You can check out a Green Roof Database, or look at Green Roof resources, Green Roof education links, Green Roof 'no profit' links, or more professional resources.
*How to reduce our ecological footprint whilst increasing happiness and well being is our agenda
Be happy + healthy
In a consumption-orineted economy, the idea of ethical shopping - with companies such as Ecotopia - plus a healthier lifestyle, may make us feel better. The Soil Association can advise on organic food issues. Eating raw and local food may help to reduce waste and hunger.
- Because a few corporations 'own' the seed rights to 75% of the world's edible fruits and vegetables and have reduced their commercially available variety, it is illegal to buy and sell their seeds without payment.
- However, you can legitimately swap seeds and maintain global gene diversity.
Making negatives into positives
Some research has shown that using positive language makes us feel better and enables us to act more positively. In a callous world of media scandal, newspapers such as Positive News may seem a bit bland, but they highlight the options for actions, rather than dwelling on the criticisms. Several organisations, such as Pay it Forward, the acts of random kindness organisation, (also online), the extreme kindness group, or the Free Hugs campaign have made altruism more possible.
Research has shown that some people not only seem to get more luck than others, but that - with a positive approach - anyone can learn to become luckier. This kind of good fortune can be transferred to groups with what we might call Contagious Optimism. If we consider this to its logical conclusion we may conclude that designing miracles is feasible.
Feel the Flow
Where Joseph Campbell advised his followers to follow your bliss in terms of choosing the right path in life, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi made a more scientific exploration of happiness from 1963 onwards. This led to his popular book called Flow (1990). He claims that certain feelings - e.g. ‘joy’, ‘deep concentration’, ‘emotional buoyancy’, a ‘heightened sense of mastery’, a ‘lack of self-consciousness’, and a feeling of ‘self-transcendence’ - are virtually universal experiences. Csikszentmihalyi summarises his findings as a technique for regulating the subjective ‘flow’ of our daily lives. This entails merging our personal quest for optimum satisfaction with a common purpose. In maintaining, yet transcending our self-interest, we are thereby able to satisfy our quest for personal happiness.
Make it real
- Pledge to reduce your carbon emissions via the Royal Society of Arts.
- Some positive innovations (such as collective thinking, or the roaming resturant) can be surprisingly affordable and fun.
- A seemingly negative approach, the UK's Buy Nothing Day may help you to re-discover forgotten pleasures.
- New modes of political thought and action are emerging - some of them inspired by the new communication technologies
- (see the online straw poll and lobbying system in Friends of the Earth's 'Campaigns' website).
- Even more exciting approaches are the UK's BBC Action Network and the wider access Pledgebank, which invites you to make a public promise to do something (anything you choose) on condition that X number of others will do the same. (visit reduce our ecological footprint first).
- Pledgebank's parent organisation My Society will even help you to build your own web site.
- We are also seeing the emergence of a non-programmers mode of open collaborative, charitable, or share-alike practices.
- See the wikiscanner, which searches for the sources of entries within wikipedia.
- See thinkcycle and architecture for humanity.
- There are also community development and support groups, such as glasshouse.