We’re going for a conversation a bit like Sustainable Lens but with more currency around the current situation. And deliberately positive. How are people living their bubble lives, working from home, keeping kids entertained, staying connected and getting exercise? And how are these things presenting us with opportunities to find new ways of living?
The show is by the Sustainable Lens team – Samuel Mann in Sawyers Bay Dunedin and Mawera Karetai in Whakatane. We have daily contributions from Tahu Mackenzie (with Andy Thompson and Liesel Mitchell for the first few weeks).
The Blowing Bubbles archive is here. We will eventually merge the two archives, bringing the total (as of June 2023) to 863 shows.
It’s about building a movement, sometimes with civil disobience, but always restorative and non-violent.
We have to exercise dissent – to show that there is a better way.
Jack first studied french and psychology before turning to law where a focus on justice meant for him a focus on social and environmental justice driven by a sense of care and compassion, but also a sense of impending crisis of ecological and social collapse.
We are arguing for better – we can show that “better” with a festival approach. To celebrate and take people with us.
“The tide is changing…” he says, “…the activism is back in politics”.
We can’t be too scared to be transformational, too scared to be radical.
Tim Jones of Grow Good tells us he realised that the credo statements on the walls of many businesses are a complete lie – they claim values based on people, but really, its about profit. He describes a “purpose journey” of discovering what companies (and the people who make them) can contribute. This brings a sense of optimism, and reveals who you really are.
Karsten Henriksen has held education leadership positions in several communities in rural and remote northern Canada, most recently Nunavat Arctic College and at Lambton College. There he has specialised in aligning programmes with the needs of communities. We talk about growing up in Vancouver, sociology, remote communities, storytelling, and indigenising curriculum and self-determination.
Was I really a person who deserved to be there?
Aligning programmes with the needs of communities
Complexity of challenges
Authentic relationships with rural and remote communities
Being authentic means focusing entirely on relationship – everything else will come from that.
Sustainable: We are stewards of the world in which we live. Our actions today will impact future generations – and we will be judged by that.
Activist: Facilitate improvements
Superpower: Lessons learned from others. Never ask someone to do something you are not prepared to do yourself. Being authentic.
Motivation: The challenge of the day – making life better for that one student. Creating an environment where people feel they belong.
Advice: Be kind to one another – think about global society and coming together collectively.
Dr Indrapriya Kularatne of Otago Polytechnic Auckland International Campus discusses educating international future leaders to be sustainable practitioners. A specialist in International Sustainability Education, Indra makes use of the diverse perspectives of students from all over the world. The first step is an appreciation of the real environment that includes themselves. He works to ensure that his future managers see sustainability as the solution, not the problem.
We can’t live alone
Do something right. others will follow you.
Superpower: Blending scientific knowledge and social aspects and ability to communicate with future managers.
Creating change agents – we take people from nowhere practicing sustainable practitioners.
Dr Walter Poleman is a Senior Lecturer and Director of the Ecological Planning Programme at the Rubenstein School of the Environment and Natural Resources at the University of Vermont. He is coordinator of the Greater Burlington Sustainability Education Network which is a United Nations Regional Centre for Expertise for Education for Sustainable Development.
I love to see how things connect – and place is crucial in that.
People and place are inseparable.
We are all the parts connected together in a whole.
The best educators help students see connections
Relearning an integrated whole
Restorative justice and restorative environments are in the same place – healing can occur, and they are both dependent on the health of the whole.
Sustainability: ecological flourishing plus human flourishing
Walter teaches courses in integrated field science, landscape ecology, and measurements and mapping of natural resources. He also serves as the director of the Place-based Landscape Analysis and Community Engagement (PLACE) Program, a partnership of University of Vermont and Shelburne Farms, which provides local residents with a forum for exploring and understanding the natural and cultural history of their town landscape.
Diseases of Modern Life - Samuel Mann with Sally Shuttleworth discuss diseases of modern life - what we can learn from Victorian responses to change.[ 56:18 ]Play Now | Play in Popup | Download
Prof Sally Shuttleworth of St Anne’s College University of Oxford discusses diseases of modern life – what we can learn from Victorian responses to change. She talks of astonishing rates of change – just look at journey times – that created bewildering changes to society, and brought forth both optimism and anxiety.
We discuss how a Victorian sense of duty came with a strong desire to improve things, with a sense of legacy for a future ourselves unknown. Also how technological development emboldened a imperial mentality. The Victorians were deeply aware of the tensions of industrialisation and fought for the survival of health and the environment – including through sanitary organisations. There is much we can learn from the responses to these “Diseases of Modern Life“.
People at all levels in Victorian society followed (and contributed) through books and periodicals – the latter being notable for what we would now describe as eclectic mix of subject areas – from engineering to arts to life sciences. The mill workers had a breadth of understanding that might surprise us now, including taking active roles in constructing scientific communities.
Prof Shuttleworth was in Dunedin as the William Evans Fellow in the Department of English and Linguistics at the University of Otago. Her work “Speed of Modern Life” involved a multimedia projection onto the side of the Richardson building (a collaboration with The Projection Studio). This piece tracks the transformation from rural communities to industrial production with an increasing pace and sense of pressure.
Scott Willis believes in community action. We talk about all the ways the manager of the Blueskin Resilient Communities Trust has put that belief into action. Recent successes include the launch of the Blueskin Energy Network that provides a market to encourage small-scale renewable community energy sharing. The completion of the first Climate Safe House was a real milestone on a project to progress new housing models to demonstrate adaptation and innovative ownership options.
The vision is to energise our communities, to be talking about and taking action on the big issues
As I move away from myself, my influence gets less, but the potential sphere impact increases…community is a great scale to affect good change.
Demonstrating what we can do at the flaxroots, we can make change at a different scale
Energy enables us to thrive more than survive, but our profligate consumption has caused the long emergency
We need to engage with the cost of profligate use of energy
We’re democratising our electricity sector
There is always something we can do, but don’t feel burdened to get it right, be humble enough to know we are always learning how to make a difference
Prof Joseph Haldane is founder, chair and CEO of the International Academic Forum (IAFOR).
With a doctorate in french studies, his research and teaching is on history, politics, international affairs and international education, as well as governance and decision making.
We talk about global governance and ethics and the politics of fear. The Machiavellian playbook of fear is being used quite deliberately – setting up the “other” and changing the balance of victimhood. From this we see “fake news” and strongman politics. But Haldane is positive and sees a path of positive politics and international cooperation . Travel, he says, is breaking down racist paradigms. But to do that we have to change to a future of thriving and regenerative future. While the challenge is intergenerational, it is also urgent, so we can’t be forced into inaction by negativity.
Definition: We have to be the best version of whatever we have at the moment
Superpower: Decent host, bringing the right people together.
Activist: I have the ability to run, to be excited by projects, and to focus on the long term drivers of change.
Miracle: Inequality is the most egregious injustice. We need meaningful international and national public policy to address.
Now he is a human rights researcher, but as a young man Brian Aycock joined the military. He was sent to provide security for international war crimes investigations, including watching the uncovering of mass graves. Trained to dehumanise the situation he instead developed a strong empathy for the other and returned to study history and literature.Â He found community and connection in those who are activists in their daily lives, and a kinship with the downtrodden. He joined the Peace Corps and through genuine connections in places such as Malawi learnt his most important lesson – be nice to everybody. For Brian this means a respect for the other and indeed a breakdown of otherness.Â Returning to the US again he worked with poor and disenfranchised on a â€œget out the voteâ€ campaign – learning much about the value of positive communications.
Further study in the UK in economics led to marriage in Japan and working on refugee resettlement programmes and from there to an MA in refugee law.Â He is now working for the International Academic Forum (IAFOR) in Japan, bringing people together in international cooperation of research and learning.Â Â Â
We talk about the inequity of an international system that has globalised except for labour – privileging money and goods over human beings, and that we have failed to recognise that migration is at the heart of human security.
He is continuing to research refugee law, focusing on climate refugees. Brian argues that we urgently need an international framework for burden sharing for such environmentally displaced persons.
Definition: Solved before handed onto next generation.
Activist: Yes, if youâ€™re not, youâ€™re failing as a human. If youâ€™re not doing anything, youâ€™re letting life pass you by.
Motivation: Respect for human beings
Miracle: Seeing each other as humans – be kind to each other
Advice: Say hello to the people around you.Â
This conversation was recorded at Lingnam University in Hong Kong in November 2019.
We talk about the personal development of the ethic of care – asking can we train for that? A passion for making a difference to other people is crucial. We talk about the challenges of caring for rural communities whose aging small populations are spread out which means special challenges across the sphere of nursing from emergencies to mental health to community wellbeing. This community wellbeing also applies to rural nurses themselves with challenges for maintaining a community of practice.
Audrey was in Dunedin for the Australasian Nurse Educators Conference.
Deane E. Neubauer is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the University of Hawaii, Manoa. Over the course of his career he has focused on a variety of political and policy areas including democratic theory, public policy, elections and various policy foci, including education, health, agriculture and communication.
We talk about the rapidly changing world driving change in higher education including climate change, AI and resurgent nationalism. The implications of these forces are far-reaching, from the challenges to old disciplines, massification and the notion of truth.
But before that we talk about growing up in Wisconsin, and accidentally stumbling in academia then sociology and political science. And then a cornucopia of topics encompassed by “the politics of everyday life”: alternative healthcare; globalisation; resurgent nationalism; interdisciplinarity; politics of resentment; and how we get real change. While change may come from an emergency (he points to Californian fires), we need, Deane says, to find a way to “overcome the forces of despair”.
We talk with Prof Marc Wilson of Victoria University of Wellington. Why is there such a gap between science and people who don’t believe in climate change? Psychology. Marc says that what we believe, we believe for a reason, and in this case a lot of disbelief can be linked to views on hierarchy versus equality, and orientation to authority. And this leads to entrenched positions that can’t be overcome with more facts. He says that we’ve probably saturated the market of people who will be convinced by facts.
So how can we make a difference? Marc points to changing the way we communicate “what kind of world do you want to live in in 50 years?”.
Marc is encouraged by the crowds that turned out for School Strikes for Climate. He says the very act of coming together with like-minded people is an accomplishment. Despite criticism, marchers shouldn’t feel guilty because they are carrying a mobile phone, or wearing a plastic jacket – they are part of systems that will take a long time to change, and that calls for perfection are intended to be dis-empowering. So rather than aiming for perfection, it is OK to aim for good.
Definition: Language of sustainability has been misused. Need to describe in terms of passion and energy.
Superpower: Tenacity, thick skin (Brian Dixon says he should have said communicator).
Activist: Increasingly. Did think that soience had to be objective, but now realises that everything is value-laden and to pretend otherwise is to do science a disservice.
Motivation: Sense of obligation. But not hard as every day exciting and different. We (university) everything has to change because the students do.
Challenge: Ongoing research into adolescent self-harm
Miracle: Emotional skills curriculum
Advice: Aim for good.
Marc was in Dunedin to speak as part of NZ Psychology Week “Living Life Well”. His talk The Elusive Climate Consensus:If itâ€™s so obvious, why doesnâ€™t everyone believe (or not) in climate change?
Adrian Friday is Head of Department and Professor of Computing and Sustainability at Lancaster University.
Adrian Friday is Professor of Computing and Sustainability at Lancaster University talking about programmers power to create responsibly.
I loved creating new things
Vision for future
(Can computing save the world?) Computing has a role to play – it helps us understand the world.
Creating better systems
I think you have to be a bit of a party-pooper. Our business models and the way we chose to run society, the way those businesses run that want to see more demand..and as society I think we have to hold that to account. As scientists it is our responsibility to say ‘hang on a second, we are creating systems that are putting more computers into our homes just so you can switch the lights on, with an extra energy footprint, extra resource footprint’ and I think it is our responsibility to try and highlight that these are design elements that are not currently factored into our processes.
Technology is innately situated in the world –
There’s a perception that green technology will save us…because it is more efficient it is more sustainable…but I personally don’t believe that the future is more of the same.
There’s a community who care about the impact technology is having on the world and on people
Programming superpower to try to save the planet
We’ve got a bit hooked on new stuff, more convenience.
Socioecological systems…look at where people’s lives have impact
On demand shopping… how (in)efficient is that? And what of the social impact? If we just look at the movement, that’s a traditional computer science problem (travelling salesman), but when you add in the social, we have to talk with other people
(Is computing sustainable?) It’s on an unsustainable trajectory.
Unsustainable computing, we’re locked into cycles of updates. We’ve created an expectation of updates – people aren’t happy with keeping things the same.
How do we create systems of longevity? – that we want things to last?
We’re very good at design things that are quickly going to be obsolete.
Ubicomp as a scientific lens – computing is throughout the chain, affecting people’s lives in very direct ways – we have to be responsible practitioners.
People are focused on a particular thing – like being a really good computer scientist – they’re not there necessarily to become a sustainable computer scientist. So there’s a challenge in how we communicate that in an engaging way.
Definition: environmental sustainability… energy and carbon impacts…not the business interpretation that is often conflated.
Success: Freight transport projects, walking and hybrid routing problem – hoping that this will change policy – so having a greater impact.
Superpower: computer science, being able to create my vision through the power of programming. It’s one of those tools that lets you create the future, and realise your dreams. It sounds a bit saccharine but you could be passionate about crowdfunding for a charity, or transforming cancer care – you could go out and help people achieve that with your programming superpower. So I’m going to apply my programming superpower to try to save the planet.
Motivation: Work ethic. I do have a passion for this topic, and that’s a little bit selfless because it’s probably not a career maker if I was to be purely self-centred, but I do think that it is really important.
Challenge: I can speaking to academic audience really well, but there are huge changes, we have to address the climate change emergency, we academics fly too much. We have to have more impact.
Miracle: A global summit about climate change that focuses
Advice: Read Mike Berners-Lee’s book.
There’s this idea that sustainability is about giving things up. But actually sustainability is about valuing the human and doing things differently. If we get it right, we can have quiet roads, less pollution, places for the kids to play, more wildlife…lots of benefits for humankind that we’re not currently realising.
Engage with the impacts., and lobby politicians so that it’s clear that it’s important to you.