What is mindfulness practice? Mindfulness practice is a tool we use to clear one’s mind in order to become more productive mentally and physically. This practice consists of mediation, breathing exercises, and affirmations where you become aware of your surroundings. Not only does mindfulness practice ease the brain, but it also helps relieve stress, anxiety, lower blood pressure, improve sleep, and improve mental health. Personally, I believe mindfulness practice has allowed me to truly relax and ease my mind from my everyday tasks/distractions. How does this relate to our modern day wicked problems? A key component of mindfulness practice is to be non-judgmental and really feel emotions in the current moment. This correlates to understanding of wicked problems because it allows you to comprehend the wicked problem with an open mindset. This is very important because there are many factors that go into debunking the different solutions to a wicked problem; this means you have to be willing to understand the opposing sides to different solutions.
Wicked problems were somethings that I never knew existed before this class. I knew about the seemingly “impossible” to solve issues our world has today. However, this class has given me insight to what I thought was how the world worked. Throughout our class, I began to understand what exactly a wicked problem was. After our reading assignments and class discussions, I started to piece together that there are in fact solutions to wicked problems. The only reason why they are classified as “wicked” is because achieving those solutions are seemingly unrealistic for today’s society. Mindfulness practice has really helped play a role in my goal to understand wicked problems because the meditation that we do before class has allowed me to fully clear my mind and alleviate any existing stress I have before we start discussing. This allows me to see the aspects of wicked problems with fresh eyes and really connect emotionally to the situation. When learning about wicked problems, I often find myself putting myself in the perspective of who/whatever the problem effects. This emotionally connects me to the problem and is a way of how I think towards those solutions.
One of the goals for this course is to develop compassionate emotional responses to wicked problems. I believe I have valued this goal and have met this expectation through visualization. Visualization was my key to understanding the emotional aspects to wicked problems because this allows you to put into perspective the legitimate effects the problem has on our world. An example of this achievement is seen through my infographic project. The infographic project allowed me to really dive deeper into the issues surrounding a wicked problem which invoked an emotional response for myself to create strong opinions on the matter. My groups infographic project was surrounded by the problem of plastic waste and how it damages our environment greatly. Plastic is very commonly used among many working industries including my major, interior design. It is a staple product due to its durability and cheapness. You don’t really realize the amount of plastic is used until you begin to think about it. Packages, supplies, bags, buckets, utensils, decorations, and many more are all made from plastic. Disposing of this plastic is incredibly harmful because once it is in the landfill, it won’t break down for over 50 years due to its extreme durability. This causes the soil to become incredibly unfit for wildlife, and the air to become even more polluted then it already is. Not to mention, many items of plastic are disposed of in forms of littering. This arises a new issue because this is incredibly harmful to the wildlife that crosses paths with the waste. Many animals each year fall victim to the horrors of plastic waste and it is all because us humans are driven by one powerful force, money. It is much cheaper for manufactures to use plastic rather than find biodegradable alternatives, and this is the focal point of the wicked problem. I feel very strongly that if we come together and take the hit of losing some money, that it will overall increase sustainability and take years of damage off of our very own planet Earth.
I am so grateful for taking the course Wicked Problems of Industrial Practice because it has opened by eyes to real world problems that I was never exposed to in my years of growing up. Over the time span of eight weeks, I have learned what a wicked problem is, how to practice mindfulness practice, and the causes/effects/solutions to a wicked problem. I have now developed a new perspective on how to tackle my everyday routine with all that I have learned from this class. Before, I never knew the dangers of just throwing away everything and not recycling. Now every time I have to throw some things away, I think of separating waste and recyclables and dispose of them differently. When I’m shopping for things at a market, I now look for environment friendly alternatives to things that might not be as environmentally kind. Another wicked problem that we briefly discussed in class that has altered my perspective on life is the discussion of fast fashion. Fast fashion creates unsustainable clothing items for very cheap prices, which seems like a good idea however in reality, it harms people and our very lovely environment. Fast fashion does their manufacturing primarily through sweat shops. Sweat shops contain very inhumane working conditions including child labor. Fast fashion apparel also commonly ends up in landfills after they are thrown away because the clothing gets ruined fast. I now incorporate this information that I have learned into shopping and I try to steer away from businesses that are fast fashion. Another thing I look for when shopping, is to steer away from big corporations like Amazon due to their monopoly of power that they do not use for the greater good. As an alternative, I try to support small businesses that typically donate a portion of their money to foundations (sometimes foundations that support our environment). Another thing that I have learned in wicked problems is the arising issue with deforestation. Deforestation takes away a valuable component in animals ecosystems. It also limits our worlds supply of oxygen which contributes to another wicked problem known as climate change/global warming. Climate change is the root cause for our many natural disasters including forest fires, hurricanes, tornadoes, and tsunamis. The dramatic increase in temperatures across the world is highly concerning considering what happened during the last ice age. My outlook on this problem is that if everyone could do the simple task of planting one tree in their yard, that in 50 years we would have billions of new fully grown trees. Though that seems like a lot, and a long time to achieve the goal, this would still further out growth to becoming a sustainable community. Not only would this bring us towards sustainability, but this would also be a small step towards reversing the damaging effects deforestation had on our environment.
In conclusion, wicked problems cannot be fixed by one person doing their part. It takes cooperation among all different forces such as regular citizens, the working class, lawmakers, and the industry itself. Though this is a true statement and one person cannot solve the problem, I have learned that by doing my part to try to support sustainability is still a small yet very important step in the correct direction.