A space for conversations in a time of global disruption
I am a Visual Communication Design (Graphic Design) Student at the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa. I became interested in deep ecology this year, while doing research for my year project (I am looking at the relationship between humans and nature) and have since been reading about deep ecology as much as possible. I now consider myself as a supporter of deep ecology but I am currently struggling to translate this support into a practical form.
I am trying to convey my interest in deep ecology (and possibly 'uncivilization') in a practical and visual form which will inspire other students to become exited about deep ecology as well.
Since I am studying Graphic Design my question is if this is possible through design? How can I inspire other students to want to take interest in deep ecology, and would this at all be useful? Do you think there is a place for designers (like me) to become a part of the practical activist part of deep ecology?
I am well aware of the deep/shallow distinction, and also realize that many 'design solutions' fall under shallow ecology, thus I am trying to avoid shallow 'solutions'. This is why I am trying to find a way to make sure I use deep ecology in my work, or 'promote' deep ecology through my work.
If you have any thoughts on how I can incorporate deep ecology into my practical work, or what the role of a designer in this context could be, please let me know.
I would love to hear any comments or advice.
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How about designing instructional videos for sustainable farming techniques. These could be done in a layered sort of way. Starting by presenting an overview of a succesful system with hyperlinks that allow you to go to more detailed descriptions and explanations of a particular plants or methods.
These videos could be organized by growing zone.
The videos could be put out on DVD, but I think flash memory sticks would be better because they could be updated as more information is gathered and organized. Some sort of code embedded in the stick could allow the purchasers to download the updates.
Notice that I said purchasers. Selling this information would be the only way to be able to continue to fund the refinement of the videos.
There are a lot of videos on permaculture and other techniques on the net, but the information isn't organized and the production values aren't great. They are a start though, and I say hooray to those that are putting the effort out to make this information available.
hi Mariet -
I have been working with these ideas in communication design for some time and am now doing a PhD in the visual communication of ecological literacy, very much grounded in a deep ecology approach. I will publishing this on-line later this year. In the meantime there is quite a lot of work on my website: www.eco-labs.org
I have also been attempting to embed ecological thinking in the wider design industry and especially design education. We have a network established for this purpose here: http://teach-in.ning.com/
we all know what 'deep ecology' is of course !? I can 'google' on it but still I would have been nice to translate it in layman's terms. There is also deep space and deep time and deep sleep of course.
Humans are part of nature - that's what I believe natural sciences show. Apparently this is hard to accept. We rather like to believe that our mere consciousness places us very near the top (just below the great creator) of a (non-existent) hierarchically organized universe. Which compels us to organize ourselves hierarchically as well. In doing so we distance ourselves from the way nature does it ... this can go on for a while ... but in the end all hierarchically organized societies will topple and fall. Let's study non-hierarchical cooperation like 'open source.'
We could ask Mariet how she defines 'nature', for she is looking at the relationship between humans and nature .. from a ecological point of view, which implies that a scientific methodology is followed, and the ecologists will surely have defined there study object.
To the question: I don't .. nature defines me.
Interesting article, that, by Robert Fletcher (Against Wilderness).
I found myself disagreeing with the text, until the sting in the tail.
I agree - it's a facinating thesis. Worthy of a discussion in its own right.
It made me think that there is a possibility that the human mind might never be capable of reaching a point where it is unable to distinguish the difference between "civilisation" and "nature/uncivilisation". And as such, therefore, humans might always be "civilised".
Interesting reply, bert louis.<snip>
Incidentally, thanks to Jody Boehnert, above, whose links took me to an interesting paper by Robert Fletcher, 'Against Wilderness'. I don't agree with his analysis or accept his conclusion, but it's a stimulating argument to consider.
We could ask Mariet how she defines 'nature',
To the question: I don't .. nature defines me.
My first thought was that you were a man of few words - I was wrong.
When you say that 'nature defines me' in reply to my question, all you have done is invert the order of the words.
I had hoped that when you took my reply in context with my first reaction to Mariet on the relationship between humans and nature .. you would gather that I can not begin to define nature. Nature is a word and, as all other words it can only have meaning in context with other words - in the context of a situation, or a field of study. Let me associate on 'nature' so you may get an idea : physics, biology, matter, energy, Darwin, cells, big bang, light, species, rocks, minerals, clouds, language, symbols, evolution, attraction, hate, ecology, deep-time, cells, fractals, mathematics, birth, live, decay, death, birth, movement, change, beginning, end, beginning, end,..
And now I am wondering if I should add 'consciousness' to the list .. ah, what the heck I will. :)I assume you must have some notion in your mind as to what you, personally, mean, when you use that word 'nature' ?
Yes I did, and I hope that my free association on the term 'nature' did help a bit to clarify my understanding of the term. We can of course look it up on wikkepedia, but that would be to easy. No?
Here is an other thought that may help to define 'nature' :
All that is subject to change is part of nature, what does not change transcends nature.
Hola! Should 'consciousness' than not be taken of my list of things belonging to nature? (smile please :)
Anyway, I tried to give Mariet some idea of my point of view on the relation between humans and nature she is interested in,.. namely that the leading cultural paradigms (maintained by the powers that be) about our selves (our origin, meaning, purpose, et) may be very wrong or at least arbitrary, and that only scientific research with the old but proven trial and error method will yield true (not the Truth) and workable knowledge about the workings of nature and the relationships within.
.., we must ask the question ,When , if indeed it does , does nature begin and end..Good luck with defining ...
There are two leading ideas: It all started with a big bang, or/and it all started when X ( a transcendent being or will with countless names) began separating light from dark. The first idea belong to physics and the second to metaphysics.
In natural science (not metaphysics) we need to define - to make clear enough - what part of the physical reality we study, and what theory we have about that part. In metaphysics we only need a plausible theory, empirical proof is not required - faith suffices.
In metaphysics nature is defined, but still only known to X for all the ins and outs and reasons. In natural sciences nature as a whole is not defined - 'it' is just to BIG.
We can't really travel 14 billion light years to the edge to go outside and get an objective perspective on the end of 'it', and we can't bottom out though the Planck level and get a fix on 'its' beginning.
we seem to have gone way of the original topic ... well, never mind.
what I mean by 'nature' is important to you - rightly so.
We were talking about the word 'nature'. You seem to be using it as synonymous with 'the Universe'. ( that's not how I use the word 'nature', myself, but nevermind for the moment ).
The word 'nature' somehow has a strong association with life and living things, while 'universe' doesn't have that.
Set against the deep-time of the universe, life in any form will only be possible in an infinitesimal small frame of time, and that time happens to be now.
So, what is the nature of Nature ?
Is that even a question, or is it more of a koan? :)
The quotation of Adam Curtis is too short to get an idea of his point of view, but I thing the idea of 'natural order' is about as old as mankind. I can't figure out from that text whether he is in fact talking about 'design' or about causality - cause and effect.
I am really not sure that you are right in saying that a Buddhist principal says that everything is subject to change - even the thing that is not a thing - the proverbial 'observer.' It maybe purely philosophical, but I don't concur.
This may be an oversight of your - you write about belief systems that are based upon science, ... Is that really what you mean? It is hard for me to accept that you (or anyone) would confuse scientific modelling with believe systems! This really is not the division between physics and metaphysics as I understand it.
Your 'third way' sounds interesting. "The true nature of nature is, by finding it in one's own being." Would that mean the same as: the true nature of nature may be found in one's own being?
But haven't you just only switched one mystery for an other? My idea is that one cannot 'find' his own being for one is already there - it is just a matter of accepting. Ahh .. I sometimes hate myself when I get philosophical with semantics.
On a more serious note - hopefully more to the point - I am hoping and anticipating a new cultural paradigm that will allow us to see 'consciousness' inherent to all of nature. Maybe, in the not so far future, it may even become convenient for the developmental of advanced physics to incorporate 'consciousness' as a fifth force of nature into there equations.
I like your writing - I hope you like mine ..
For me, without looking at either a dictionary or the wikipedia .. Nature is the organic and inorganic world that exists within the boundaries of planet Earth. In this respect, the way Nature is used implies something personal to us but of course every planet has its own Nature which is personal to the inhabitants (organic or inorganic) within the boundaries of that planet.
What is interesting is whether human-made artifacts are still classed as part of Nature when it is common for the artifacts created by other life-froms on this planet to be considered a part of Nature, such as bird's nest, or the dams made by beavers, webs made by spiders. In essence they are just transforming what is already there in a destructively creative way (or is it creative destruction). Therefore I would say that computers, phones, houses, cars and all the other human-made artifacts are also part of Nature.
Does this begin to question what is civilised and what is uncivilised since the question becomes what is civilised Nature and what is uncivilised Nature? I presume like everything else, the answer is relative to the person/life-form answering the question!
For me, the question of what is civilised (or artificial) Nature and what is uncivilised (or natural) Nature is relative to the person/life-form answering the question.
For me, the Nature of the Sun affects the Nature of the Earth as does the Nature of the Moon affect the Nature of the Earth. For me, everything is inter-connected and possibly inter-dependant. Again for me, I see no seperation between human and Nature and so artifacts created by humans are, for me, also a part of Nature. For me, the word artifical is subsumed by Nature since like I said, I think everything that is part of the organic and inorganic world within the boundaries of Earth is Nature.
Obviously for you in your own unique relative way, there is a clear distinction between what is artifical Nature and what is natural Nature. Do your distinctions correlate with what is civilised Nature and what is uncivilised Nature?
For me, another aspect of Nature is the life/death relationship between all life-forms. Again for me, what should live and what should die is relative to the life-form answering the question.
Mmmmm ... I said the Nature of the Sun affects the Nature of the Earth. Volcanoes cause pollution as do bogs as does a rotting carcass in the river.
Is a bird's nest partly made from human-made textiles artifical?
Are the creation of metals due to the heating processes of the Earth's core artifical?
You make a distinction between the technology of different life-forms and label one as civilised and the other as uncivilised. For me, these distinctions are artifical. Ants live as socieities as do bees and so do many other life-forms but when humans do then somehow it is implied as wrong and artifical.
The boundaries of the Earth isn't a paradox or a riddle, it is simply that. Most people will take that to mean when we leave the atmosphere of the Earth.
To say that Nature is the organic and inorganic world within the boundaries of the Earth is precise and well-defined. What is yours?