Five years left to cry in?


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  • Only 10 minutes to say a lot, about a short period of time in which we have to achieve a lot.
  • Time: Meas a teenage David Bowie fan. Shockingly, a quarter of a century ago. Yearning for company. Smoking (plenty of time for wellbeing later in life, I thought.)
  • I liked the frisson of Bowie’s Five Years, maudlin teenager as I was, ‘we’ve got five was really dying’. I used to wonder how old I would be when and if that time would come. As it turns out, many say the moment is now - we’ve got five years.
  •, the conservativeIEA has published a major report saying the same thingHowever, the rich countries decided even before meeting in Durban that a climate agreement would have to wait until 2016, with action from 2020.
  • And this is not just about climate change but the breaching of nine planetary boundaries, all interconnected. The clock is ticking on all of them.
  • So, if the systemic change doesn’t start now, big time, then the end (possibly) is near. Homer is often left alone in charge of the nuclear power station. We’re all ordinary guys, in charge of this planet. It’s up to us. There is nobody in higher authority over our governing institutions, made up of ordinary people. So, the system change must be about generating that higher authority in our common consciousness. We all have a contribution to make.
  • What do I try to do?My work is mostly with museums & galleries, extraordinary places, rich with narratives and resources for our accelerated learning. When I can, and that’s not easy, I urge them to make a radical turn, so that their very mission is to sustain life on earth. Because, really, how can we live with any other mission? Really. But, like I said, it’s hard to make them see and, for example, Tate continues to accept BP sponsorship.
  • My company is named for the theory of Flow, devised by Csikzentmihalyi
  • I’m concerned with how cultural organisations might accelerate our learning, and I’m working on research around this learning model for a book, The Learning Planet. The crisis we face means we need much more challenge in learning experiences, more exposure to diversity and practical problems in real contexts. But, the theory of Flow is that you need to balance challenge with comfort & fails. So, we also have to ramp up the ‘comfort factor’, which can be found in play and in peer sharing.
  • And, also interested in emerging thinking that deep-rooted cultural values are where we need to focus transformative efforts. A group of environmental NGOs has formed a movement called Common Cause which seeks to transform values from self-enhancing (materialistic/hedonistic) towards ‘bigger than self’ – to become more communally-minded. Seeing people not as either your tribe or other, but everyone as your company.
  • Root issue, as we know is the cultural problem of false thinking, that we equate wellbeing with material wealth, and we tolerate ecocide to attain it. We waste what we make and in turn lay waste to the earth.
  • We accept ecocide and we veil or deny the wierd disruptions it causes. These aren’t Spiders from Mars, but from the earth, made too wet by climate-change induced Pakistan
  • It’s important to make a distinction between positivity and pussyfooting. Study of school children (by Sustainable Schools et al) showed that where children had lots of input about the environmental crisis, if combined with tips on what action they could take, they were much happier. Challenge and comfort. Photois by Chris Jordan, albatross chicks are fed plastic by their loving parents, in the Atlantic Gyre.
  • One tactic is to try to bring fun and discomfort much more closely together. Japanese have mastered the art of that, and here’s an invention along those lines. For those who lack affective empathy, a real fish in a goldfish bowl.
  • Or, another tactic is to use the bad for good. Like the old metaphor of turning guns into ploughshares. Carbon is now the big bad killer. But it’s possible to turn carbon into ploughshares. Carbon coated plough to save energy as cuts through soil easier. There are other ways to exploit carbon for good too. This is the turn we need to make, not to stop growth per se, but to turn it to good and for life.
  • I don’t have too much faith in Governments of nations. It’s companies. Some are more powerful than nations. Yes, that can be bad when greed is their business but more companies are now making the earth their business and more could follow. Because Apple has mastered the pleasure principle, by enticing us to buy its gadgets, it’s become extremely rich. Well over $70 billion. This (pic) isn’t a space oddity but Apple’s new spaceship campus commissioned from Norman Foster. Apple’s mission is not to sustain life on the planet, not yet. Has a long way to go. Shareholders rejected two green initiatives. Need to exert customer pressure on them to be democratic, co-operative and green.
  • My father in law, Noel McKenzie, was chief engineer for Philips in the age of the consumer revolution. He invented the VCR. Now they’re ploughing ahead with their EcoVision5 policy, with some amazing examples of sustainable design, like with this beehive and...
  • And this kitchen powered by leftover food. Average family wastes £50 food a month.
  • If companies have the power, can we turn our local communities into companies, and model the kind of turn we want? This is cafe I’ve helped build, one project of an incubator charity called Bold Vision. It supports 2 shared gardens, a food skills group, the New Cross People’s Library and, most importantly, cultural activities that draw people together. The mural is the Unextinction Machine, by my husband Brian & daughter Megan. Combatting extinctions by the power of collaborative creativity, all the creatures were drawn in response to elements suggested by each other. There’s also events such as a reinvention of supposed local traditions, such as the Garlick Man summer solstice parade and Night of the Beasts for the winter solstice.
  • A project we’re inspired by...uses hydroponics & aquaponics, growing food in unused spaces without needing to use land. Not necessary to rip up land to feed us. As Alex Steffen says, we can live sufficiently in cities and restore more of the land.
  • Imaginative ways to restore the land. Artist Pip Woolf invites volunteers to gather unusable sheep’s wool from Black Mountain hillsides & make sausages or weave nets to lay on top of the peat. Top layer has been destroyed by fire. Peat loses its ability to store carbon & water so it needs protecting as grass won’t easily grow back.
  • Another artist project where top surface of land has been removed. Fuss about this Artists Taking the Lead project, tiny rock island exposed by arctic melt towed down to English shores. Cost £500k. It is a lot, but there is a lot more beneath the surface of this project. It’s a notional state, a metaphor for a new world, a provocation about what this world could be if we ran it? You become a citizen and have a stake in its constitution.
  • Hopefully it will also expose other projects, like the Seasteading institute. Imagining and designing ways we can live with rising sea levels. This is a virtual image but the group are serious about wanting to build seagoing villages. It’s not a metaphor.
  • And the Water is Rising –Tour of 36 performers going to USA.They are from Tuvalu, the first sovereign nation likely to be lost to rising seas. Everyone sings & dances here. I was asked if I might contribute ideas to a virtual Tuvalu, an island to protect and grow their cultural heritage when it has to be detached from their land. We’re all of us, in some way going to be detached from our land and the virtual will be a layer we need to weave together to protect our knowledge and heal the land.
  • So, the turn will take place because of people, working to change the systems of companies and local communities and cultural organisations. I suggested we’re all like Homer Simpson, dim ordinary drunks in charge of the planet, but we’re not all that dim really. Some people are incredible and we need to fund, treasure and learn from them. This is by Theo Jansen, who makes creatures who walk powered by wind. We can change cultures towards sustainability not by making machines or systems with narrow goals to change culture, but by helping people to imagine and make with as much openness as possible, with as much awareness of the context in which we live as is possible.
  • Five years left to cry in?

    1. 1. Five years left to cry in?The means to a flourishing lifeBridget McKenzie, Flow Associates
    2. 2. The tech for any new energy sourcetypically takes 30 years BUT“If we wish to avoid a 4C world:We have less than 5 years to see global emissionspeak, then decline rapidly at 5-9% pa.An unprecedented challenge.Existing political & corporate processes will notdeliver either:•the level of...innovation and implementationrequired•in time, or in substance” Ian T. Dunlop, 2011
    3. 3. Breaching of safe planetary boundaries
    4. 4. By sustaining life, I mean humans as partof global commons of diverse life Not just the survivors like ants True name: ‘Hairy crazy ant’
    5. 5. Challenges,problems,changes Comforts, skills, tools, traditions
    6. 6. Peer-to- peer Divergence Praxis at the core PluralityLearning Planet Playmodel: copyrightBridget McKenzie
    7. 7. Common Cause ‘deep frames’
    8. 8. Root issue: Belief that wealth = wellbeing 12
    9. 9. I saw boys, toys,electric ironsand TVs
    10. 10. To live & feel better we have to see the worst
    11. 11. Save water or the goldfish gets it
    12. 12. Turn carbon into ploughshares
    13. 13. Who has the power to engineer the turn?
    14. 14. Some co’s e.g. Philips are leading way 1970s 2010s
    15. 15. Own the change: make your company
    16. 16. Farm:shop in Dalston – a farm in a shop
    17. 17. Woollen line – Pip Woolf
    18. 18. Why is Nowhereisland valuable?
    19. 19. “All the somebody peopleand all the nobody people...I never thought I neededso many people”
    20. 20. Power of imagination with open purpose
    21. 21. We will need to do more than this, so:• Persistent pressure on companies & media to turn• Fight for Ecocide to be an international crime against peace• Tea Makipaa’s 10 commandments for 21st Century• Put your money & time in eco innovation