This week, I learned a lot about turning ideas into actions and change, and the multiple, multi-faceted ways that can be done in many different societies. There are so many unique problems, and then multiple possible solutions for each problem, and then each solution can be implemented in many different ways. In other words, wicked problems are incredibly complex, and this holds beauty and distress at the same time. I learned about many specific problems, and possible solutions to those problem as well as how to implement them, specifically through our Poverty/Environmental Degradation reading, our Green Construction/Government vs. Free Market reading, the TED Talk on Poverty, Money & Love by Jessica Jackley, and my research about my wicked problem that I am writing about in my investigate report. While these assignments gave me specific, detailed accounts of certain problems, our other assignments, such as the Story on Stuff video by Annie Leonard and A Wide Angle View of Fragile Earth by Yann Arthus-Bertrand, opened my eyes to more of the damage we are doing not only to the earth but to ourselves, and general ways on how to address these things.
In The Story of Stuff video by Anne Leonard, Anne walks her viewers through the five steps of our economy, (extraction, production, distribution, consumption, and disposal) and how those steps, along with everything that is being hidden from us in them, is destroying us and the planet. While these ideas had been presented to us before, this video opened my eyes more to the true evils of those in control, and the evils of the way they have forced us to live. In my opinion, this video was the most eye-opening of all the accounts we have viewed to get our attention. While the other materials we have watched and read were convicting and eye-opening as well as to the way we live, this one was definitely designed to scare, and it accomplished its goal. For example, Leonard’s focus on the amount of chemicals that we use in our products and the amount we pollute the earth with is terrifying, and its results of cancer and disease in people is the scariest part of all. Sadly, I have personal experience with this, watching relatives of my close friends pass away from cancer, and hearing about cancer appearing in so many people i could be acquainted with. Even experiencing a cancer scare appear in my own mom—the danger is real. The results are unavoidable, and hearing someone address it directly was refreshing. After the cancer scare with my mom (who thankfully avoided the development of the disease and is now living healthier than ever) my family changed the way it lives completely. My mom dove into researching, and is many years later still continuing to, living in the cleanest way possible, and avoiding all the terrible pollutants of the industry. She has even gone onto implement those clean ways into her dental practice, and is staying away from harmful chemicals and medical procedures in her dentistry, hopefully saving others from cancer and other diseases in the future that those chemicals may have caused. Sadly, it took a life-threatening scare to change our ways, but we are thankful that it was only a scare. Hopefully, we can keep others from experiencing the same things in the future.
Leonard’s points about planned obsolescence and perceived obsolescence were extremely infuriating to me. It just shows how money-centered our world is, and how selfish those in charge are to trick the public into destroying themselves and the environment just so they can make money. I believe by pointing out the evil of their ways, Leonard was doing good by not only opening our eyes to it, but by making us angry about it, which can hopefully be fueled into more action for change and good. There are few things one hates more than being duped, and the anger created to turn that around can be a very useful energy.
The Poverty, Money, and Love talk by Jessica Jackley, however, created the opposite reaction. Her emotion and raw, genuine spirit and care for helping the poor by hearing their stories, and therefore, contributing to saving the earth, created compassionate emotion in the viewers that hopefully moved them deeply to take action. Seeing her tears over the impact we can make to help people, and her joy over the results over helping them, hopefully lit a fire to people to see what a full life serving others can bring. Sometimes, just knowing facts and being told to take action isn’t enough—one must visually experience the emotion and images of something to be moved to action, and that is why I believe this video was so important and influential to our learning.
Arthus-Bertrand’s display of the earth and its people became another visual, image emotion connected learning tool for this week. By showing us these beautiful images of the earth, and how we have the possibility to destroy it and images of what that looks like, should hopefully move something deep within people that they can’t explain. Listening to the people our consuming and disposing culture can affect as well should also make a difference. While hearing facts and studying problems is important and necessary, without images and emotional, heart-driven motivation, people are less likely to act.
However, learning more about details in specific wicked problems through our readings was fascinating. The complexity of the connection between climate change and environmental degradation and poverty was baffling, and frankly, it was difficult for me to grasp the multi-faceted issues and views. I believe it is frustrating, honestly, that people cannot even agree on the nature of the problem, because if people cannot even agree on what the problem is, it makes it a lot more difficult to take action and fix it. But i guess that is what contributes to it being a wicked problem in the first place. The opinions on the relationship between poverty and climate change just seemed very numerous, with many different sub-views for each opinion. Therefore, it seemed to me to be one of the most complex and difficult wicked problems to fix. The reading on Green Construction, however, was fascinating to me. The ideas that people have come up with to implement green living just into the way our buildings are built was beyond me, and I greatly enjoyed learning about the simple and complex ways we can save energy in our most energy-consuming sources. Maybe I particularly enjoyed it because I am studying interior design, so buildings are affiliated with my field of study. Hopefully, I can implement these green-building strategies into the way I design and maybe come up with some of my own, even though I am not the best at ingenuity. It is unfortunate, that it is significantly more expensive to build green, but hopefully over time, and with more incentives, that will change and it will become more popular. It was also encouraging to know that green standards have been applied to building codes in years past already. Improvements, however, still need to be made.
Throughout this week, all of our assignments have come together to hopefully accomplish one main goal—to implant in us a sense of social entrepreneurship: the fact that we can take action, come up with our own ideas, and make a difference in our own lives. By conducting research for ourselves, we have acquired a sense of what it’s like to take these problems onto our own shoulders, and contribute in our own ways. Hopefully this practice has also given us desire to continue to pursue these problems in our own lives. Personally, it has made me aware of all the opportunities for sustainable change in the interior design industry I am studying, and I am excited to one day make a difference and make my own contributions. I have learned that there are so may different ways one can design sustainably, either through the materials I pick for the floor and rugs, or how many windows and ceiling fans I put in each room.
Through all of these many readings, videos, and personal research, I have definitely learned the importance of living sustainably, and have been given many different options of ways I may implement it into my own life. As for now, I may contribute by being a communicator/educator. My activism may be limited considering I do not own any large companies or design buildings (yet), but hopefully one day I will be in more of a position to do such things. I may even be a facilitator, using my own sustainable design processes and passing them onto others. I am greatly excited about all that I have learned, because it gives me sort of a new purpose in the way I may design. Even though these possibilities are far in the future, I look forward to being able to use what I have learned on a larger-scaled level. As for now, I will do what I can and encourage others to do the same.