First Session: Preferred Futures – Sustainability Utopias


 09:35 Karen Blincoe (dk): Sustainability Utopias

Karen Blincoe is Founder and Director of The International Centre for Creativity, Innovation and Sustainability (ICIS) and Chairman of Danish Designers. From 2006-2009 she was Director of Schumacher College and headhunted to develop one of the world’s leading ‘hot spots’ for the advancement of sustainable societies. Karen is currently writing her Ph.d. thesis on sustainability utopias and will discuss whether sustainability is utopian in nature, and what we can learn from utopian societies that have been created with a sustainability bias. Karen is also a member of the Core Group of the project In100years.

Why is nothing happening in terms of sustainability? Karen Blincoe asked and she answered: Because the vision of sustainability is a utopian vision.

We live among dystopian stories, as described in the latest issue of the magazine The Big Issue:

  • The Mayan calender predicting the world going under in 2012
  • Economic Meltdown
  • Asteroids
  • Atomic War
  • Virus Attacks
  • Digital Take-over
  • Life Elsehwere

Karen urges us to redicrect our focus and spend our energy defining a sustainable future.

Sustainability is a collective vision created among other by:

  • Our common future (UN)
  • The trippel bottom line model (John Elkington)
  • PPP/EEE preconcepts to TBL (SustAinability)
  • Tetrahedron of sustainability (SERI)

They are all about creating a better world. And if we really want to create a sustainable world we must be prepared to change everything in our society. It is okay that it takes a while;o)

A major challenge is to communicate both the big vision and make it very concrete in terms of what for instance a new energy solution may cost a family a year.

Let’s not be too harsh on our selves by the fact that such major changes take time and will lead to making mistakes.

The Venus Project

A man made technological project – an alternative vision for a sustainable future. It offers a comprehensive plan for the co-existence of man and nature.

There are a number of new visions taking form as concrete architectural projects. They all represent some sort of top down initiative.

A number of Living models are bottom up initiatives with a holistic approach. Finthorn in Scotland for instance.

It is very important to raise sustainability literacy on all levels of society. It must be raised so people involved in law making, urban planning, energy solution development etc. can begin to speak the same language and create sustainable top-down initiatives.

And it must be raised on a personal level so people become more and more able to create bottom up initiatives. Personal sustainability can be raised by paying attention to the four key levels of being human: 

  • The Spiritual
  • The Mental
  • The Emotional
  • The Physical

“Acombination of raising sustainability literacy bottom up and top down and a good bit of patience and acceptance of qualified mistakes is the path towards making our visions for a sustainable world come through”, claims Karen Blincoe.

My comment: I found it very inspiring to listen to a dual approach where patience is a key factor. We have only just started and the changes we are facing are massive, so it is okay to take time to reflect and debate and define the future we want.

Both this presentation as well as Bill Becker’s stressed how focused our cuture is on catastrophe, doom, fears and anxieties and how few ressources are spent on visions and positive images of the future. By changing that focus just a little I’m sure we could start a tidal wave. Some say it only takes 21 days to change a habit so maybe we should start by refusing to let our minds be negative and fear infected for 21 days? And then 21 more days and then again… 

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