Hand drawn cards are always the best ones. This is the image I drew for a friend, telling her I hoped her birthday was a “hoot” hahaha. I love a good pun.
The concept of externalities was first introduced to me in my ethical issues in business class last semester. I hadn’t really thought of the production of a product costing more than the price on the environment for raw material, or the cost to manufacture the piece itself before. It hadn’t occurred to me, the cost it placed on the people surrounding/involved in the production of the product before. It struck a chord in me, reliving that first twinge of pain, when the Story of Stuff reminded me that not just a small group, but whole communities of people get “wasted” when our greed for natural resources robs those beautifully unique third world communities of their way of life. It also struck me to learn that 99% of the products we harvest these resources to produce usually become garbage within the first 6 months. Our garbage, we also externalize on smaller communities with fewer economic assets. As designers we need to be the first to get off of our “treadmills” and pave a new path of production conscientiousness, where cost is viewed from a geographical, and socio-cultural perspective, to a place where “stuff” is made sustainably and made to last.
The Power of Community, if nothing else was an affirmation of my choosing an urban planning project for studio centered on the goal of enriching a sense of community via interdependence among neighbors. It was really inspiring to see the Cuban people, in their recovery during the special period, come together in the midst of their own poverty to help one another survive. In my previous comments I have mentioned collectivist cultures as an example of one seeing one’s relationships with social groups, as an extension of one’s self — fostering more responsibility among community members. The recovery of Cuba shows us how individualist cultures (USA) can redevelop a sense of community, interdependence, and above all relearn how to care for one another. “ It’s not the technology that’s going to save us, it’s the human relationships that are going to save us.” My project aims specifically to create and build relationships among neighbors. “Relationship building is how you survive.” To build neighborhoods of people, who care about one another and take care of each other, is to extend the concept of family. “What we need is more love, more friendship…because we have only 1 world for all of us.” Extending brotherly love to all of our neighbors is to also plant the social seeds of an “agriculture of survival” that ultimately yields the crop of a healthy community. That is what I think makes Cuba reaching peak oil a truly “special” period in modern history.
Before watching this film I had forgotten that “consumption” used to be the word that described Tuberculosis (TB)- a terrible DISEASE. “Consumption,” in the economic sense of the word, is still a deadly disease in American society today. Consumption has become embedded in our culture so deeply that our constant pursuit for “more” is not only separating us from our hard earned cash, but also from our families and sometimes, in extreme cases, our financial security as well; With all of these “symptoms” adding up to become the source of the slow death of our overall quality of life. Ironic isn’t it? How we could enjoy life so much more if we would slow down for a minute to enjoy what we have already, but can’t because we are so focused on and frustrated by our pursuit of the “ideal” lifestyle. We make our lives so miserable in the process of chasing after something we are “told” will make us much happier. In a nutshell, the film calls us to free ourselves from our STUFF and live more simply as part of the cure to our disease. Simple/Minimalist living has been an aspiration of mine for many years now.
Living a simi-nomadic lifestyle while in college has shown me that we middle class Americans just have way too much stuff. Tired of hauling my accumulation of excess belongings around, I vowed to purchase fewer things of higher quality that will last. I plan to make most of my major purchases an “investment.” Buying furnishings, etc. that will appreciate in value rather than depreciate. This “quality over quantity” lifestyle I have chosen for myself also informs my design work in that I will produce products and interiors that are designed/built to last using methods that enhance durability, lengthening the design’s life cycle, and using materials that are both sustainable and recyclable.
The hidden beauty in Disney films is that they age with you. As kids you learn to love the warm and fuzzy endings, but as adults you watch them again and a whole new store of underlying messages are revealed to you. From a sustainable point of view, I will share with you what I noticed during my second viewing of Wall E.
Perhaps my most significant finding was the message hidden in the ships name in correlation with the actions of its captain. The space ships name was the Axiom- you know, a fundamental principle. Through out the film a number of powerful signals make it clear to us that the earth is precious to us is that fundamental principle worth fighting our current “Auto” pilot externalizing behaviors for. The Captains epiphany illustrates perfectly the switching of these two mind sets- a crucial moment. While nursing the withering plant he says to it, “You just need someone to look after you that’s all…” suddenly realizing they had to go back because that’s what they should have been doing with earth the whole time they lived there.
It would “just be easier” for the people of the Axiom to “never return to earth.” To continue to make earth the object of our externalized responsibilities. It’s time to reclaim earth as our home. As designers we can help be the captains of industry that help lead the world back to our ‘base landing’ values. In today’s world of ‘yo-yoing’ weather patterns, air quality warnings, and trash trading we need to “look after” earth so we don’t have to just “survive”, we can “live”. We need to stop chasing after the boundaries of an ever-expanding universe, step away from our telescopes, and bring our focus ‘back down to earth’. — “Back home.”