If Anything is Possible

I just took my carbon footprint for the first time. I’m glad I went through the trouble of looking up what I spend on utilities because not only did it made a big difference, but I also discovered that I hadn’t enrolled in PSO’s wind power program yet! It only costs us about $2.80 a month to switch to 100% wind power. What a deal! But still, 21 tons of CO2 a year sounds like a lot. I wonder what our minimum could be?

This week in class we talked about cultural paradigm shifts and mindfulness. Mindfulness is something I learned when I worked at a residential treatment center for teenagers, which was a little over 10 years ago. The therapist for our residential unit held DBT groups, and mindfulness is a large part of DBT. I’ve tried to integrate some form of mindfulness or meditation into my life multiple times, but what can I say? It never stuck. I’m glad it’s come up again now, and I’m looking forward to giving it another go. It really does help clear my head, however briefly, and can help me calm down when I feel stressed. One part of the mindfulness article we read last week that has really stuck with me was about how mindfulness doesn’t change your thoughts and feelings, it just changes your reaction to them. I can be pretty negative unintentionally sometimes, especially about American culture and climate change issues. I think mindfulness could help to pull some of those negative thoughts out of the spotlight. And I definitely think that if everyone was more aware, because of mindfulness or meditation or whatever, we would be living in a much better world and have fewer global issues to contend with. Does anyone really think that’s not true? Probably. Learning about the “Titanic Syndrome” in class was, frankly, crushing. So if that’s a thing, then probably there are people who are too distracted to see the benefits of being mindful. I closed my facebook account many years ago, and I’m not on any social media. A kind of silent protest, maybe. I just decided that I wanted to live the life that’s in front of me. I hope that I don’t have to change that for architecture- networking is a huge deal since it’s such a small community.

Marc Cohen’s Ted talk was a downer for me if I’m being honest. I try not to think about the negative things in my life that seem unchangeable for obvious reasons. It was uncomfortable being reminded how much it seems like my husband and I are just surviving a lot of the time and some of our essential needs tend to go unmet. There are always people that have it worse, though. I did like the part about the eternal piece of everyone, and it made me think of returning to that place as a kind of personal “center” to keep me anchored in hard times. I hadn’t necessarily thought my personal center could be the same center that was in everyone else, and I like that.  

Yesterday we did “The Wildest Thing” exercise in class. It seemed a little too quick. We had trouble finishing our thoughts in time, but it was a fun bonding experience in my learning community. I’m sure that’s not the part I’m supposed to be reflecting on, but that’s what I walked away with. For better or worse, I’ve never really felt limited by precedent. Maybe I think “wildly” already.

As for Activity 2, I ended up enjoying writing the problem statement and finding the articles. I found some more information on climate change being tied to the collapse of civilizations throughout history. Even though we talked about Easter Island in class, I hadn’t considered climate change to be a large factor in the collapse of a lot of civilizations. I also found some articles on climate change and cultural ideologies, and I hope to find some more answers about why people are still skeptical. I’m happy that I will be tackling the wicked problem that I really wanted to; the one that seemed too big to tackle. I had trouble deciding on a wicked problem because I feel like most of them have been solved, just not enough people are implementing the solutions in enough places. Our biggest wicked problem now is changing our broken culture. With some help from our professor, I was able to make a connection that will hopefully help me tackle this problem after all. How can you change an entire culture? By integrating sustainability and environmental stewardship into K-12 education. It may not be the quickest way, but it does seem foolproof. There are precedents, which I haven’t read yet, but I am optimistic. How could it not work?

I believe that almost anything is possible. The real question is: what are you willing to sacrifice for it? You can do almost anything, but some things may cost you everything. You have to decide what is most important to you. But you’re the one who decides. If I believe almost anything is possible, and that belief extends to include everyone, then some part of me must be willing to entertain the thought that our society is capable of drastic change within my lifetime. I’m looking forward to the rest of this project. I like having my mind changed- it means I learned something valuable.

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