My Learning Journey – Part 1

Thought I would include you on an interview with myself – my first blog post for Introduction to Sustainable Design class.

What issues consistently get your attention?
The plight of the poor in developing nations. The risk of being overly dependent on centralized infrastructure whether it’s water, food, or power; and the value of household and community resilience. The incredible restorative effect of sustainable tourism in restoring culture, peace, and surrounding eco-systems that have been damaged by war or industrialization.

Which ones make you angry?
I despise exploitation in any form, but especially exploitation of children and the poor. I get worked up about the entire commercialized, industrial food production system. In my opinion it needs to be completely dismantled and redesigned. The same goes for reckless destruction of the environment by powerful corporations. I get angry about plastic water bottles and plastic bags and the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. I get angry about McMansions and endless suburban sprawl. And I get angry about consumerism and the hectic pace of life in the West. It’s all so upside down.

There is another thing that bothers me although I might be painting a target on my chest for saying it. I get angry about the radical, fear-mongering propaganda often associated with the issue of global warming and the reverse view where opponents attempt to debunk the topic altogether and act like it’s no big deal. Both sides of the issue are infused with political agendas and I don’t like it. What I want is unemotional objectivity. Of course global warming and climate change are real. That’s not the argument I’m trying to make. My issue is that there is still much data needed to properly substantiate some claims. What’s more, there are plenty of other critical reasons to pursue sustainable practices without making global warming or climate change the “tip of the spear” motivation for embracing sustainable practices.

Which ones inspire and motivate you?
I get inspired seeing design firms like Project H Design and Catapult Design who are working like many other groups to build resilient communities and develop solid social entrepreneurship and micro-enterprise models. I love to see “little people” among the poorest of the poor who are making a living in successful micro-enterprises. It inspires me to see sustainable development actually working among various people groups around the world where the work is not stuck in the mire of perpetual dependency or paternalism.

How do you see yourself contributing to the the sustainable design space?               I see my role as a designer of life-essential systems, and of places and experiences in nature, and of appropriate stuff that might be necessary to enable life-essential systems or the experience of nature.

How can this course and program be of service to you?                                                  I have 15 years of experience as a brand environment and trade show exhibit designer. I’d like to not waste that experience though I don’t want to stay in that line of work. Honestly, I just don’t know how to make use of it. I do know that I want to make the world a better place and I want to help restore what is broken. I’m hoping this course and this program will point me in the right direction.