Tag Archives: environment

The power of transformative experiences

12 Jun

When I visit intermittently what Chris Jordan is doing about Midway, when I look back from the first photos, the follow-ups, the TED-talk, see the development to a film project, read some blog entries, read Victoria’s (Chris’s wife) accompanying poetry, read how others have been touched and gotten onboard,  and hear his voice in the trailer, then I think that the story of the fate of the albatrosses on Midway Atoll is a transformative experience. And it is a transformative experience with tremendous power, to touch and change people’s lives, to sustain a change.

What I think I see happening is something very valuable. Its something that has happened to others before and unfolded a similar power. The story of Aldo Leopold is one I would mention here. Leopold’s transformative experience came from watching a mother wolf he had killed – this is before the first world war – die and the subsequent changes he observes in the relationships between deer, wolves and mountains. He went on to become one of the most powerful voices in conservation, making the systems thinking that is ecology eloquently apparent. The experience and his reflections are best captured in his very short essay Thinking like a mountain which you can read here. If you want to know a bit more about Aldo you can read a short summary here or visit the Aldo Leopold Foundation here.

via http://www.eco-action.org/dt/thinking.html

Luxury as a path to sustainability?

29 Apr

Contemporary artist Stephanie Senge, Munich, visits issues of consumerism, appreciation and affluence again and again in her work. In one project (Tüten-Demo für den Wohlstand) she used shopping bags as a communication medium for social taboos such as our prosperity. About 20 retail stores put their customers’ purchases in Senge’s special shoppers one summer’s day: Shoppers that sported messages designed to make passers-by and fellow-shoppers rethink consumerism and wealth.

In another series Senge uses ancient cultural techniques such as Japanese ikebana or Tibetan Buddhist mandalas to create consumer-ikebanas or consumer-mandalas, made with cheap everyday-items.

Luxury as a path to sustainability? Most of us do not think of luxury when we think of sufficiency, downshifting or voluntary simplicity. Yet Senge, Bazon Brock and Wolfgang Ullrich used specially made pure gold chopsticks to interpret environmental care. If chopstick users in Asia (or elsewhere) were given chopsticks of gold, forests would not need to suffer continued losses and these valuable items would be passed on down the generations. The trio thus created the Convent of the Ascetics of Luxury. Voluntary Simplicity does not need to mean Voluntary Poverty?

golden chop sticks