What if we are already there?

On October 31 this year, Stephen Woroniecki, a doctoral researcher at the University of Lund in Sweden posted a blog called Doing Sustainability as if the World Wasn’t Going to Shit. An updated version of the blog appears below. I love Stephen’s challenge – let’s pretend we are already living in the world we hope for and see what happens. He ended his blog with a request for people to share their thoughts. If you have a response, please send Stephen or me an email, and we’ll compile what we get for a future blog on our respective websites.

The double whammy of the Mass Extinction and Climate Crisis news reports could prompt us to act in certain ways, or even not act at all.

I think, as shitty as the state of the world appears to be, it’s worth remembering that good things are happening all around us. People are creating meaningful change, are finding new ways to relate, or are rejecting received ‘wisdom’, to name just a few examples. Perhaps we are further towards what many of us have been fighting for, if I can take the liberty to frame it thus: a transformation in human consciousness to recognise our ecological being.

As Fred Peace argues in this article, it’s even possible that the systemic and structural dimensions of our economics and societies are starting to shift to reflect this.

I’m curious what you think it means for our mind-sets and behaviours if, instead of waiting in frustration for sustainability transformations to begin, we are actually already witnessing (or even missing) the unfolding transformation.

These seem to me to be significantly different mental frames under which to go about our day as sustainability workers. What does taking one frame or the other mean for people like ourselves who make sustainability an explicit part of our lives and work? Does it change how we see ourselves?

Personally I like to think that it means we can be a bit more agile, fun, innovative, and able to relate to people in different ways. Not bound up in panic, stress, grief and apathy. Instead of frantically fighting fires left, right and centre, perhaps it means we can be a bit more careful – choosing where to put our efforts, taking time to develop the most effective partnerships, and being even more conscientious about the need for a ‘just transition’.

It may sound pretentious, but I see people as drops in a fast-flowing river, teeming with life. And that river can shift, quickly, to a new course. How does our awareness of the direction of the river affect the ways in which we try to steer it’s course? Does it help us to be a little bit more aware of what we’re capable of?

So what would you do if the world was already sustainable? Please send us your thoughts.

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