Using Your Body, Mind, and Heart to Understand Wicked Problems

Looking back on my life I have found a few common denominators when it comes to how I approach certain topics and situations. These denominators are shown in the goal I set this semester. My goal was to understand wicked problems intellectually, emotionally, and somatically. This means to use my whole body and mind to understand these problems with compassions and curiosity. I have made great strides this semester in understanding that wicked problems will never have a perfect solution. This means that no matter how hard we try to get people to agree and fix every aspect of the problem, it will likely never happen. 

Over the course of eight weeks I have taken the time to learn more about wicked problems and how it affects both the world and the industry of fashion. I have learned that there is a lot of waste. The waste includes waste of materials, water, and energy. I have also found that as consumers we play a role in making these problems better. We vote with our money and with who we put in charge. Our demand for things we want drives the industry. When we buy things it is our way of saying that what this company is doing is ok. If we change our buying habits to only buying what we need or buying from sustainable companies, then we can start to change the industry. 

I believe doing research on a topic is good but we would never understand how it relates to us without our emotions. I am more likely to have interest in certain topics if I am familiar with and have done research on a topic. This prepares me to have discussions on the topic and share my view. Even though having a way to relate to a certain topic should be a good thing it also gives me a certain perspective. Something I started this semester has been meditating. This allows me to take a look at how I feel about problems and change my perspective. I am able to see other people’s perspectives and why they might feel a certain way. It also allows me to evaluate my emotions and perspective. This helps me to put my best foot forward when it comes to having discussions and gaining new knowledge. 

When our emotions are in check, it leads to our bodies also being in check. I have found through mindfulness practice that when my mind is at ease my body is at ease. This  allows me to control my actions to improve the problem versus making spur of the moment decisions that can have a negative impact. Our actions go a long way and when we don’t have control it can give the opposite effect of what we wanted. 

When it comes to these problems, we have to develop humble and compassionate responses to them. Humility comes from accepting we are wrong or made a mistake. An example is when a company accepts responsibility for causing a problem and tries to make it better. Compassion comes when we recognize the feelings of others. Through our actions we can affect how others react to certain situations. We can show compassion when we acknowledge their feelings and do something to help the other person. A way this could be shown is by giving a refund or discount to certain customers. Until we accept responsibility for our actions nothing will change. If we are going to change the way the industry is run we must first change how we act as consumers. 

Over the course of this semester I have been working on being humble and compassionate. I have been humble by not showing pride when it comes to my accomplishments. I also accept that I am not perfect and make mistakes that could impact others. I show compassion through both my actions and words. I recognize others’ feelings and try to see the situation from their perspective. This allows me to see how to best show compassion through a kind act or conversation. I can usually start a conversation by addressing their feelings by saying, “ I understand you are feeling (disappointed, sad, upset).” Then I can listen to their feelings or give suggestions. 

In this course I learned about how the industry impacts our culture and environment. The trend of “fast fashion” leads to a “throw away” culture along with a ton of waste. While there will always be waste there are some things we can do as consumers to make it better. We can show the industry what we like and don’t like by our spending. Buying from companies that share our values can make a difference. Another thing that can produce change is to donate clothes we no longer want. This way someone can use it for its original purpose or repurpose it. 

The industry can also make some changes to improve the impact they have on the environment. They can limit the amount of resources they use. These resources include the amount of water, electricity, and materials they use in production. Another thing the industry can do is spread awareness about their beliefs for sustainability. This will allow consumers to make educated choices when it comes to purchasing products. Lastly, companies can use sustainable materials to produce their product and inform the public of their goals. 

Through my experience, I have found that changing the industry takes a lot of work and time. I believe through small steps we can change the way the industry is run. We can make small changes to reduce the amount of energy and resources we use. I have also found that everyone has a role to play. The consumers, even though we don’t think about it, can make huge impacts on the industry. If people stop buying a product the company that produces it is going to change how and what they sell. While we live in a culture that buys on both needs and wants, through awareness, positive change can be made. 

My outlook to create positive change, is to be aware of the problem I am facing and to change my perspective and actions. I have a voice as both a consumer and designer by making changes in my own life. I can discuss possible problems with other people in the industry. This will help me to become more educated. Then, I can research these problems and possible solutions. This way I am aware of why it is a problem and some things I can do to make it better . Finally, I can watch what I buy and who I buy it from. This includes materials for garments I’m producing along with buying clothing for myself. 

Wicked problems are extremely complex and will take a while to find a solution, if one can be found. I believe the solution can be found if consumers, the industry and the government work together. Everyone has a part to play, but the world we live in makes it hard to change how we act. That is why I believe we have to change our perspective. We need to understand the problem with our mind, heart, and body. Companies should also be humble and compassionate to the problems they have created and should try to make them better. Lastly, I believe consumers have control through how they spend their money. When each person plays their part we get a step closer to finding a solution.

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