Thursday, May 20, 2004

IFTSP. Supplementary journey 1


I decide to go further with IFTSP. Up to now, I produced a book based on a series of exercises talking about how the methodology would be spread by stories. I am curious to know how the methodology is put into practice, practically, when it is widespread. I ask to see a country where people regularly work towards sustainability.

Tapescript Supplementary Journey 1
part one

I see a grey lift. But lifts normally have open spaces in front of them. This has walls, rounded at the top that sort of funnel you in to the lift doors. Red lines in the metallic surface of the walls stretch towards the lift. The lift entrance looks like the front of a modern train with its headlights full on.

As I approach the lift doors I see how high they are. Like an entrance to a great cathedral.. I see people in cages being transported up but become confused as to whether this lift has any doors or not.

No buttons to press, you just get onto a cage. People are coming in and out so I follow one and get into a cage.

The lift rises up in a grey brick-lined shaft.

We arrive onto a wide open square, lined with cobblestones.

The square is built on the top of a hill to my right a church-like structure draws me over.

The church is built in a 1600s style. As I come up to the door, which looks firmly bolted and closed I get close enough to read the sign: “No religion”.

(I had had thoughts that sustainability might induce the sort of fervor religion would. I interpret this as being told firmly I am wrong.)

To the left a serving trailer offers rock, trinkets, souvenirs etc.
I ask the guy behind the counter: “anyone working with sustainability?”

“Yes sure, over there.” He points to another building on the square.

This seems to be old as well, guessing around the 1700s. I open the solid wooden door and descend down some steps straight into a meeting room.

.People are sitting around in a circle.

“Come in” they say, “and join us”.
I sit down on the last empty chair in the circle.

“So today’s question is…”, says one of the delegates.

Silence. They are waiting for people to come up with the question.

The silence is not uncomfortable. The room reminds me of a town hall. Many windows. I get the impression of a twelve step program, expecting someone to say “I am Fred I am an unsustainable ..ic”.

You might expect, working with sustainability, there to be whiteboards, flipcharts plans, priorities, process descriptions etc on the wall. I would expect that. But there is nothing.

In the middle of the circle nothing either.

I break the silence: “how does this work then?”

“We sit in a circle and we take whatever comes up” comes the reply.

“OK! My question is how do we get everyone working on sustainability?”

I feel that everyone is with me, giving me their support and attention. Trying to help, being there to help.

“So you mean er…. what do you mean?”

We need to frame the question more succinctly.

Surprised, I feel no animosity from them. I remember meetings I have been involved in at work you always felt people were out to find fault or get out of helping. This meeting feels more genuine and creative.

“How do you go from one single person wanting to do something towards sustainability to working in a group with others?”

The group is helping me along; “OK we’re here, we’re other people. We may well work with you. But you still need to be more precise.”
“When they come together how do they run it, what process do they use?”

“So we are looking for a process”, someone says, “Right?”

“I suppose you are right.”

“The process would start with a question and end up with a proposal.”

“What do you do with the proposal?” I ask

“It should end up with a voluntary action, which is tested and reported back.”

“So we sit here, work out a suggestion and then report it back.” I summarize.

“That’s it!”

End of part one

Sunday, May 09, 2004

Why would we want to do anything unsustainably in the first place? What are the motives and incentives that make us do things unsustainably?

I talk about conceptual space, the world perceived through interpretations. In conceptual space labels are placed, values are set, names are given. Especially, threats are perceived and their size. If we map concepts we could map conceptual space. In conceptual space Mickey Mouse is real ( we pay money to see him, it and money is real, right?) and in that mental world (go see MATRIX for an illustration of this) we perceive threats. If I believe that for my survival I have to have a job, go to work, earn money, be a good citizen (If I don’t, I will be thrown out of society, and I cannot survive on my own as man is a tribe animal). If I believe this, then I will act towards survival first, sustainability second.

To put it another way, humans are going around believing that they must act unsustainably in order to survive. They are living in a kind of mental (Matrix again) man-made world that is not in tune with the natural world. But we know this.

Sunday, May 02, 2004

Question: Is a "state of sustainability" a new concept in the process of being invented, or an old concept in the process of being rediscovered?
You can call sustainability a state, philosophy, concept etc. All of these and more. But the real power comes from understanding the deeper meaning: Sustainability is hot-wired into your make-up, and needs discovering. The ability to enjoy the taste and pleasure of food has been around for ages, and that spawns all kinds of concepts, philosophies, models, etc. Not to mention restaurants, dishes etc. Sustainability is a sense waiting to be, dare I say, enjoyed more.

Look at any child’s drawing and you will see an innate understanding of sustainability. (They all draw house, sun, sky, garden, tree, water, people, and animals.) The ability to function as part of a balanced system is genetic, part of the survival mechanism in the human make-up.

The built – in instinct to behave in a sustainable way can be over-ridden. For example, when a person believes that FOR THEIR OWN IMMEDIATE SURVIVAL they must drop an atom-bomb to wipe out a whole island, or for the near immediate survival of their loved ones they must earn wages at a job in a highly polluting corporation. (This goes back to what I said about stress. Stress any system enough and sustainabilty is over-ridden as survival is the most powerful instinct.)
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