In my opinion, the whole human race is lacking one very critical characteristic: mindfulness of its surroundings. This includes being mindful of the people and environment around you, and the consequences your actions have on them. The problem is that the thing keeping us from being mindful is ourselves, and it starts from within. Marc Cohen’s TED talk hints at the idea that we can not reach our true potential for happiness without being mindful, and that the more mindful we become the more fulfilled our lives will be. The readings from this week introduced the cycle of mindfulness to me. This cycle starts with being mindful of yourself, taking a small amount of time out of your day to step outside of yourself, when you’re more mindful of yourself you are more aware of others and your effects on them, and finally once the doors of your world have been opened thus far, you start to see the effects you and your family, your little slice of the population, has on its surroundings. The cycle factor comes into play because the more you wake up to the bigger picture the more conscience you are to your part in it. You become aware of just how big your individual carbon foot print is.
My investigative report will analyze human welfare and the built environment. I view our built environment as a wicked problem for a couple reasons: 1) Our concrete jungle allows us to further separate ourselves from nature which further allows us to think of nature as just a resource as opposed to the home that it actually is. This detachment encourages a society whose foundations are built on depression, anxiety, and self destructive tendencies. 2) Our current building processes create more than 548 million tons of construction and demolition debris as of 2015 (USEPA, 2018). 3) The only holistic solution to this issue is to utilize, in its entirety, biophilic design. Biophilic design incorporates earth into the living space (trees in your living room type of stuff). The issue with this is that this switch would cost way more money than anyone wants to calculate, not to mention the dramatic lifestyle change. People will be forced to interact with nature, and some will fight the change. The collective mindset (paradigm) has to be won over before the world will ever see any real change. We have to change people’s ideas of what a home is supposed to look like, what a corporate office is supposed to look like, what a grocery store looks like. Did you see a tree in any of those ideas? Maybe in the parking lot, right? Maybe one or five, scattered around, right? But what if your grocery store was built in between the trees? Imagine if the “AISLE 5” sign hung from a tree branch and there was an orange blooming on it.
The “Yes” argument for western values gives me hope that our society can utilize our technology to better our world. It opened my eyes to optimistic solutions that I had never considered previously. The romantic in me wants to believe that the version of humanity painted by this argument can be sustained, but I also believe that the first step has to be collective mindfulness and we are currently too preoccupied with making it to the top of the food chain both socially and biologically.
United States Environmental Protection Agency. (2018, August 22). Sustainable Management of Construction and Demolition Materials. Retrieved September 1, 2018, from http://www.epa.gov/smm/sustainable-management-construction-and-demolition-materials