Resilience, education and community building

Phil K

Doing things differently is an effective narrative.

Phil K runs the Sustainable Skills Summer School as part of Oamaru’s Transition Town movement.

Talking points

Meet people where they are and give them one step forward.

One thing that they could do immediately. Not a hundred things about possibilities – one thing

Live minimally in a way that doesn’t molest the earth – in a way that I think is sustainable and responsible – I think that comes from who I am.

I live minimally because I really like it, there’s things that I love and find satisfying, I’m not about to lecture other people to live like this because it’s going to save the planet, or something they should do, I would say find similar things that mean something to you that you can do and feel are worthwhile and satisfying – then yes, find a way to do it.

Even a small way, I’m not saying that people have to radically change their lifestyle – there’s things that people can do fufil those feeling good criteria, that you can put into your lifestyle.

There’s a really good chance that things are going to turn to custard, and we’ll want people to grow vegetables and share food, and use less, less fuel – don’t know whether that would happen by necessity. I’m not sure if that will be forced upon people.

Logically, we are over consuming, and we can’t keep over consuming for ever.

I thought I was crazy, why isn’t wearing a suit working. I think society has got to change, but that is personal. Do I think society has got to change? Yes, because I think that is the way that is is going, but it’s not like I’m wagging a finger saying “you’ve got to change because you’ve got the wrong way and I’ve got the right way”.

Narrative is incredibly important – you end up living the story you tell yourself.

Doing things differently is an effective narrative.

Commodification of attention

The ethos of the summer school is that individuals and communities will have to be more self reliant. And we get there though community sharing.

Just teach one small thing you know really well.

Summer School offers people seriously going through the door a step in the right direction.

Looking for people to see a wider view from that small thing. A transformative journey.

The way that people change is incremental, so the best we can do is incremental. Whether that is enough, I don’t know.

A resilient community has lots of networks.

The best thing we can do is make non-trivial connections.

People in Oamaru make things happen – they put on events and then they go to them.

We talk about self reliance, resilience, community building – those are all things people can latch onto withou thinking it’s a foreign language or against my politics.

Resilience and community building is a language that connects.

Green, not Green Party – more like earth.

Not ruining things is not the prerogative of any one political party.

(Success?) The way that I live becoming increasingly sustainable.

(Activist?) No. I do this personally as something that satisfies me. I don’t want to push people. I’m happy to live this way.

(Motivation?) Without hippy speak: Love. This is an astonishingly beautiful world. Caring provides the motivation. The cure will come from loving something.

(Challenges?) Physically getting older. Creating reducing systems.

(Miracle?) Cassandra’s dilemma – could tell the truth but no one believes you. My magic wand would have people believe climate change and sustainability message.

(Advice?) Act on things you care about. Stuart Kauffman – work with adjacent possible, what is beside you, possible and feels right. Do one of them, then look for another.

This series of conversations in Oamaru was prompted by discussions with Phoebe Eden-Mann following her OU Geography field trip to explore Oamaru as a transition town.

We are very grateful to the helpful folks from 45 South Television for the use of their studio.

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Author: Samuel Mann

An Associate Professor with a background in both IT and land management, Sam has developed applied IT for regional government, crown research institutes and large organisations. He has taught computing since 1994, at Otago Polytechnic Information Technology since 1997, including five years as Head of Department. Sam has published over 150 conference and journal papers in the fields of augmented experiences; sustainability; and computer education. Sam is responsible for the development of Education for Sustainability at Otago Polytechnic where we are committed to every graduate thinking and acting as a sustainable practitioner

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