No End Incited: When is the Time For Change?
How Perennial Endings Shape a Permanent Culture — and Why That Matters
This essay is written as a response to the second book in my social permaculture reading list: Ends, by Joe Macleod.
A multi-faceted inquiry which addresses the overall inadequacy of closure experiences in most business models today, this book is an interesting study into a pattern of our culture which (at least in the structure of today’s mainstream world) gets pretty awkward at the stage where one life cycle comes to its inevitable completion.
On many levels, the subject of completing a life cycle resonates with the quest of a social permaculture designer.
Cultivating new social systems, starting from the values of earth care, people care and fair share, asks us to create compost out of the aging beliefs and practices of a society.
And just like a farmer handling manure or a fisherman handling guts and blood, this practice requires confrontation with decay.
Playing on the metaphor of culture, we might think of this particular stage of life as fermentation.
A pattern emerges through this book which hints at conditions in which we might cultivate healthy cultures.
As the Dragon Dreaming philosophy teaches, the season of Celebration is where we reflect, learn and make space to improve, as individuals and as a society.
In a world which is observably speeding toward mass species extinction, the Era of Ending is well upon us. Becoming aware of the trend of distancing ourselves from endings supports the kind of work that systems-designers are called to do, in any field.
About Death and Griefwork
Early in the book, Macleod takes us through an anthology of religious influence on societies’ need for closure; from the level of food waste, to our beliefs and practices around death.
Intersecting forces from Protestantism and Industrialism began to intertwine the act of consumption with the promises of heaven, leading to an age where “…emotionally, death and the concept of heaven have lost their meaning for some people as we progress towards a more secular society.
“…This distancing of death has been mimicked in our consumer experiences… after we have used a product, exhausted a service, or given up on the latest app, we fail to acknowledge that ending. This means that an important tool for dealing with reflection, meaning and responsibility around consumption has been removed. I would argue that this has fuelled the failures linked to consumption.”
Setting the tone for Macleod’s tapestry of interacting similarities around hypermodern (predominantly, but in no way limited to, Western) cultural behaviours writ large, this paragraph offers some of the avenues and antidotes which social designers may consider making more available through our work.
For those new to Grief Work (note: Harrison Owen also points to its significance in The Practice of Peace, the first book in my reading list), the work of Joanna Macy and the Work That Reconnects (WTR) is a fantastic point of entry.
Effective recycling/off-boarding of products and services.
Holding grieving/celebration ceremonies.
All of these themes connect through the archetypal season of ‘Autumn’.
By abstracting into the seasonal view, taking full advantage of the meaning emerging from the collection of indicators that Macleod’s extensive research weaves together, we might learn to better recognize symptoms of the same overarching societal disease.
Such pattern-to-detail thinking, as expressed in the permaculture design principles, provides culture creatives with a clearer understanding of the zeitgeist and reveals a way to respond; it suggests the use or adaptation of skills and practices borrowed from fields which address grief and addiction.
From Landscapes to Experiences
The concept of a ‘proper ending’ plays a central role in a permaculture design.
Beyond the obvious aspirationally self-sufficient questions such as, “What happens to this once I’m done with it?”, the social permaculture designer is tasked with curating healthy ‘closure experiences’ of the systems we partake in; a somewhat more emotional and spiritual realm of practice, as demonstrated through the messages in this book.
Joe Macleod, who I have not experienced in his element as a designer, does an adequate job of telling an overarching story of waste, consumption and othering as themes to address in modern culture’s inability to approach death wisely (or adequately at all).
His style of writing may be nothing so spectacular, but his ideas — and the great job he has given to exploring and explaining this issue from a variety of perspectives, including historically and psychologically — at least create a valuable narrative to consider through our Social Permaculture lens.
I will build upon a few of these themes, with the intent of constructing ideas for the practice and pedagogy of this burgeoning field of design.
We might view the concept of ‘off-boarding’ as a social equivalent to waste management. Physical waste can be directly integrated in landscape design through the ongoing cycle of elemental, nutritional rebirth — off-boarding seems somewhat less pragmatic or simple to implement in a social ecosystem.
The question goes beyond the manufacturing of products or the policy of the customer service department; it bleeds through into corporate accountability and individual responsibility, and somehow demands a paradigm shift on many scales at once. Talk about a coordination challenge!
As with other aspects of permaculture design, this invites us back to ancient wisdom, without taking us backwards; calling on the use of modern (social) technologies to make an evolutionary statement of cultural resilience by questioning our role in the various systems that we are part of — and our responsibility to all these overlapping communities that we depend on.
Creating “Otherness” and Pushing Problems Away
The way that we marginalize waste speaks to a trend of ignoring the diversity-generating potential of edge spaces at a social level.
Increasing scale distanced humans from traditional homesteading practices, relegating the by-products of new inventions to ‘over there’.
When one state of being (creation) does not plug into the next state of being (rebirth), the result is degeneration — a symptom of poor systemic conditions.
What once would have been a natural input became unnecessary work concealed within unprecedented, often invisible and complex problems, setting the conditions for an addictive spiral of self-destruction:
“As the changes in actionable waste removed our ability to handle, break apart and control what is useful and what is not, we distanced ourselves from the presence of waste. Where we once tolerated our own mess, we have now framed it, defined it and distanced it, disconnecting it from our consumption.”
Further down the same page, Macleod borrows a quote from Susan Strasser to explain the psychological navigation of consequences that emerge from new inventions, particularly as humans historically began to separate between ‘resource’ and ‘waste product’.
“Sorting and classification have a special dimension; this goes here, that goes there. No trash belongs in the house: trash goes outside. Marginal categories get sorted in marginal places (attics, basements, and outbuildings), eventually to be used, sold or given away.”
“This changing definition of waste reflects a history of boundaries between the consumer and the consequences of their consumption — storing it, using it, or disposing of it. We establish rubbish at the boundaries of our society. That boundary transitions, out of the house, beyond the yard, to the street, to the city wall, to the sea, to the next state.”
This indicates the location of our intervention; at the marginal.
Looking to the margins of society, maybe we can reclaim the ‘other’ and meet that with an integrative approach, such as in cases highlighted by Institute for Local Self-Reliance’s co-founder and director of their Waste to Wealth program, Neil Seldman:
“There’s one company called Recycle Force in Indianapolis, the national recidivism rate is about 75-76%. In these reuse companies, speaking about Recycle Force, the recidivism rate of their workforce is 25-26% and that dramatic reduction in people, young men and women going back to prison is an incredible savings in terms of expenses but also reduced crime, reduced hardship from criminal activity etc for both the victim and the perpetrator.
So the social impact of reuse is dramatic and I always point out that in Eugene, Oregon the cost of living for low income people has gone down about 3% because through their 13 thrift stores, they sell all their refurbished materials, so not only are they creating good jobs for people but they’re providing people with furniture and appliances and clothing etc at a very reduced cost.” (Source)
Here is a case where the problem is the solution, directly associated with the waste management of local governments and the wasted potential of marginalized members of society (although the wasted potential of a human relegated to trash collector against their deepest desires could be another hot compost of a topic, I leave this as a good start in thinking, considering that employing the traditionally unemployable is at least a step toward better conditions for self-actualization than being institutionalized).
Often, we simply don’t know what to do with these new materials.
Of the 384 million disposed devices in US in 2010, only 19% were recycled.
We don’t yet see the problem from a heightened perspective, where the problem can become an opportunity, because we are stuck in old stories.
In the same way that a poorly designed city/municipality/bioregion’s recycling system often misses the potential of reclaiming valuable materials, the ending of a service or use of a product, Macleod demonstrates, is a wasted opportunity for companies — particularly given research into how people experience things, such as the 1993 study by Kruglanski, Webster and Klem regarding what they call the ‘NFCS’ (Need For Closure Scale).
Designing Satisfying Experiences
“As a consumer, off-boarding isn’t a nice memory to be recalled, and we don’t think about the consequences of not doing it.”
-Page 92 of Ends
Evidence suggests that people remember only the “peak” and the “ending” of any experience, no matter how long in duration or how varying our emotions are during this experience. This is illustrated by Macleod by building on Daniel Kaheman’s theory about the ‘experiencing self’ and the ‘remembering self’.
When we are reduced to such a poor, sometimes even horrifying experience in closing an account, or obscured from a decent closure experience for a product (tossing it and getting a new one, or maybe letting it collect dust in a drawer for years or even decades), this lack of ceremony stalls the flow of life force, building our reserves of denial and suffocating our practice of grief.
We may begin to behave as though death wasn’t really part of life after all, given the lack of direct experience we have of letting things go and moving on. We don’t need to preserve the tomatoes; they’re shipped from Spanish fields and Dutch greenhouses every month of the year.
How would a world that honoured the impermanence of the material look like?
How would losing a customer provide a space for celebration in a business model?
Is ‘ending’ irreconcilably at odds to the capitalist growth model?
I enjoy Macleod’s comparison to the stimulating promises of desire fulfillment behind advertising, vs. the solemn procedural monotony of customer-provider relationships coming to an end.
The one which stood out for me was this point that nobody is around to congratulate a customer from paying off their debt.
“In dramatic contrast [to the Grameen loan], the Western financial culture praises us when we increase our loans, but it appears indifferent when we pay off our debt. Like the social narrative of marriage, we are often told it’s good to start a commitment, and are congratulated when a marriage happens. Banks and loan companies congratulate us on a new loan, but react coldly or indifferently when we pay one off.”
Yet this could be such an enjoyable moment of recognizing and sharing our personal triumphs and/or stage of growth, akin to a coming-of-age party, celebrating with a community who care about and want the best for each other.
In fact, it doesn’t take a huge imagination to consider a world where money-lenders actually practice common decency and care for other community members. I was unaware before reading the following passage that the job of bank manager has previously played such a supportive role to the members of a town.
“In the past bank managers were highly respected members of the community. This reflected the personal responsibility they had to local people. A recent paper from the University of Salfrod, by Pal Marathon Vik, describes them as the main “providers of and gateways to financial services for households and businesses”. The bank branch had the autonomy necessary to provide cheque books, loans and mortgages. They also held responsibilities locally, which saw them sponsoring local teams or charities and sitting on boards of local businesses. Members of the community would value this meaningful relationship, where a genuine personal touch came with a personal responsibility to make sure the long term welfare of the customer was given priority. It wasn’t about signing customers up to more services, about up-selling yet another loan. It was about understanding the wider picture and getting to grips with what the individual was trying to achieve in life. This was mostly intangible stuff and hard to capture on paper, but it is well understood by humans.”
Imagine what this could be, if instead of distancing ourselves by default, we leaned forward, to connect with the various members of a local workforce and reclaim the human touch from extractive business models.
Like a career coach of sorts, the person at the bank who approved your requests for a loan could actually support you to put together a sound business model, to consider the resilience of your ideas, advise you how to set your charging rate and perhaps even act as a weaver between others in the community who may be around to collaborate with.
Our dream could be incubated in the process of applying for funding, the way that a local credit union might act as a sounding board for an individual seeking financial assistance to a larger problem, at least in those exceptional communities practicing this (whether through progressive tendencies or lack of alternatives, as in systematically disadvantaged communities).
If those who loaned us money were available for person-to-person (or p2p) support through the ups and downs of our entrepreneurial journeys, then that moment when our net worth transcends our debt price-tag would be a moment for shared celebration.
The lack of a proper closure may not earn a company the up-front sales statistics that seems to have hooked the modern economy into a frenzy of poor choices and repeated mistakes (as in, an addiction); yet the returns are substantially richer with meaning.
Healthy choices lead to the improvement of life for all. At least at the level of local exchange, this becomes visible, even tangible. The mutual success is clear in a vibrant, versatile and resilient economy which is shared between the members of that local community.
And what’s more, the potential impact of this design doesn’t rely on it being attractive to CEOs or not (although this might minimize trauma). The choice to engage with an ending will be (and in some cases, already has been) made for us through self-regulating mechanisms.
On page 64, Macleod quotes a 2008 speech by Paul Volcker, the former head of the Financial Reserve, who acknowledges that the systemic issues were indicating lack of responsibility on too great a scale:
“An economic system that was “apart from being ‘too big to fail’, was also too complicated to see, too complex to grasp, too good to be true, and too focused on the short term. Based on greed, it was a biased customer experience with lots of on-boarding and no way to off-board.”
What does this narrative suggest for a designer?
Adding to the duty of producing functional beauty from complexity, a designer is also asked to have the end in mind at the beginning, and to create experiences which guide users through processes of self-empowerment as they use the product or service. Bringing responsibility back to a level which is tangible and direct not only avoids future disaster scenarios, but also offers us those gooey sentiments of meaning and connection, too.
A decent social permaculture design would indicate a pathway of closure which reduces government intervention and makes consumer rights advocates obsolete. It would ask “where is this going”, and without knowing the answer, design a system that listens to — and acts upon — early feedback which suggests we might be going too far in the wrong direction.
Permanent Culture vs Permanence Culture
Permanence is in the pattern. The pattern is what remains constant. Rebirth, at least on the level of material transformation (whether you want to extend that to a concept of soul reincarnation is not in the scope of this writing), is a constant aspect of any process of life. A plant flowers on its way to creating seeds, so that it may again have a shot at a species regenesis.
Permanent culture refers to the continuation of these total cycles; a pattern which includes the death, the necessary impermanence, of the individual expression of that particular genetic strand. How else would renewal come forward? How else do we reflect and find the development in our evolution?
It’s worth being cautious, when speaking about a Life-Affirming Culture, that we don’t become Death Denialists.
A resilience culture is not one which ignores death as an aspect of life, but one which makes room for impermanence, affirming life by letting things go, and grieving our losses, rather than distancing ourselves from this process of transformation. Macleod references Freud’s less popular theory of the Death Drive and Terror Management theory to indicate that,
“At the off-boarding of the customer lifecycle we might well be seeking out some level of destruction.”
If our needs for renewal are not met by a naturally occurring process of death, we might seek destruction on a subconscious level.
This, dear readers, is what I like to consider when referring to that holy virtue of “sacrifice”.
And yet, with the increasing loss of religious practices in the Western world, the spiritual sensibility for sacrifice has removed the balance between light and darkness, favouring consumption while inadvertently dishonouring Kali.
A great deal of consideration, thought and legislation has been devoted to the relationship between the consumer and the moment of purchase, in stark contrast to the consumer relationship at the off-boarding stage, the moment of waste-creation.
“…the definition of ownership moves quickly from individual responsibility to a societal concern. The abrupt transition in the object’s status from ‘my product’ to ‘society’s problem’ arguably frees the consumer from the wider consequences of consumption. Because it takes but a moment to off-board ownership of an item, the opportunity for reflection and responsibility is removed.”
The Art of Sensing What’s Next
As regular readers of mine may come to recognize, I apply the term ‘art’ to any practice of ‘polarity management’, as the successful response to a complex problem can only ever be as perfect as an artist’s expression; a series of choices about where to draw the line.
Working with endings will inherently be a sensitive field; often tasked to shamans, priests, and elders. When we consider the ending of a product life-cycle, and images of plastic oceans and noxious landfills come to mind, one might not need a compelling case for believing that entrepreneurs may not be the best leaders at this stage of the company’s development.
Macleod points out that industrialism has led to a culture where, instead of dealing with our tired and malfunctioning products, deleting our data or ending our unhealthy relationships, the instinct has become to simply move on to something new.
It’s too hard/tiring/annoying to deal with the closure, and so this spurs an addictive cycle of consumption.
Rather than continuing this approach, a society may again look at ways to include elders, and even go further, by developing a culture which encourages such long-term thinking as part of our upbringing.
Early life experiences with satisfying endings (as we become accustomed to in films and novels but not necessarily in TV shows or Instagram Stories) can support the habit-forming of completion, raise our sensitivity to recognize appropriate moments of transition, and provide us with the wisdom to discern between the things we can change and those we can’t — a skill we all carry already, as demonstrated by the felt sense of a ‘good ending’ in popular TV shows.
Macleod points out that this is often missed due to the greed of those profiting off the enterprise:
“In cases like Dexter and Friends, it proved hard to end the shows because of their commercial potential, not because of the audience’s deep need to see more. Humans can and do adapt to change and death. But maybe network executives and businesses have more of a challenge, mired as they are in denial.”
In the realm of product design, we can learn to recognize the value of a department who ask, “and then what?”, a task force dedicated to closing the life-cycle with dignity and grace.
In the realm of policy, we might consider how to safeguard against addictive patterns of businesses and citizens, as protectors of the commons.
Councils can measure the broader impact of collective behaviour, and address symptomatic behaviours by adjusting the balance between innovation and renovation through choosing what to endorse in education, subsidize in expenses, or supporting the development of circular economies.
However, the temptation — and danger — of relying too heavily on policy to manage our waste practices is that this will only ever be a short-term fix, reducing the personal growth potential of individuals (like spoiled children, if you will) and the problem will perpetuate as something like an unintended consequence to the last solution.
The benefit of creating a culture which honours the ‘Celebration’ stage of a life cycle is demonstrated through in a case put forward by Macleod, of a game that is ranked by players to be in the top 10 of virtual games.
“Creating this sort of reflection for the ending of an experience is a welcome approach to closure. We could learn a great deal from games like Spec Ops: The Line, which introduces powerful emotions that encourage people to reflect on their previous actions.
And it certainly fulfills Elizabeth MacArthur’s interpretation of endings as an “attempt to preserve the moral and social order”.
Designing an experience to include reflection empowers the individual to practice this intuitive skill of ending one thing in order to make space for the new. It produces wiser citizens, able to make our own decisions more often, rather than relying on an institutional body to take that responsibility off our hands.
If we want to shift into a wiser paradigm, ending the drama-triangle of Market =Villain, Community =Victim, Government =Hero will allow each realm to come into its own full expression of power, leading to a healthier balance for all involved.
Civic Sensuality and the Mythic Archetype of the Governing Parent Body
“At the end of the consumer experience, the voice which describes replacement, or discard will be that of the civic role, of society. That voice will encourage responsible community actions like putting the bins out graciously, recycling properly, driving a high powered car slowly through a village, quitting smoking, and a variety of other social requests. The end of the customer life-cycle isn’t the selfish indulgence we’re fed at the beginning of the transaction. It is a group responsibility, and so today’s endings are often group experiences.”
“According to Marianna Torgovnick, author of Closure in the Novel, the things we tend to expect from narrative endings are big communal ritualised events like weddings, births or funerals. These bring us together in real life, a transitional stage after which we separate and move on.”
It is not the role of the government to regulate, enforce and penalize those who refuse to engage in healthy celebration practices.
The archetype of this ‘mum’ who comes to scold us for being bad or messy is a crude narrative, ignorant of the actual power-with potential for addressing our needs as a group of citizens.
Changing the narrative of citizenship to become closer to our senses is a term which I call “civic sensuality”.
A good example might be the joy of my childhood Inorganics Collection, an (annual?) event where everyone puts out their unwanted items in front of the house, and others can come and pick what they might call ‘treasure’ from the trash. A similar mechanism is the popularity of loppis, or fleamarkets, in much of Europe.
Calling to this unofficial goods-swapping or even earning a partial income from moving pre-loved items into new territories where they can be appreciated is an inherently social thing, and can become a way to develop culture, rituals and stories.
An ownership economy, in practice, would reduce the constraints of runaway capitalism and oppressive socialism. It is an untapped superpower, providing a third way to influence society, a way which allows us to transition into a regenerative culture.
Conscious Consumption as an Antidote to Waste
“Strange as it may seem there is a very good reason for that [eating trance]. When we do something that is essential for our survival, like eating, breathing deeply or making love, we release a ‘happy chemical’ in our brain is called serotonin.
“People who are overweight often shovel food into themselves as quickly as possible in order to get a serotonin high.”
-Paul McKenna, quoted on Page 93
“We’re metaphorically shovelling consumption down our throats, uninterested in the taste and the aftermath.”
Considering the vast waste-and-pollution byproducts of our mindless addictions, how might we tune into our ‘experiencing self’ in its capacity to create more meaningful encounters with the intimate life-and-death cycles we experience in community on a daily basis?
After all, doesn’t the sustenance of any life require the death of something else?
Becoming more personally responsible for our consumption habits is the antidote offered by Macleod and echoed by David Richins (creator of the youtube series Building an Ownership Economy ).
Mobilizing our civic relationships and returning to ceremonies which honour the impermanence of all things may just be more powerful than the governments’ approach to the changing climate. It’s not that hard to beat, really.
According to the Climate Tracker website:
“There remains a substantial gap between what governments have promised to do and the total level of actions they have undertaken to date. Furthermore, both the current policy and pledge trajectories lie well above emissions pathways consistent witha 1.5 or 2 degree world.”
“It’s no surprise that these agreements [from Conference of Parties] have been broken in the past. We no longer have a common vocabulary around endings, and we’ve been pushed way beyond personal, meaningful attachment to the decisions that need to be made. We relinquish responsibility to governments and organizations to control our waste, and with that have removed the direct connection to us. Now waste and responsibility is proxied to others, who often have a mandate for economy, not ecology”.
- Macleod, Page 63
In a likely future where our access to the resources we currently take for granted is severely threatened, the shock might be reduced by practicing more self-reliance now.
This begins with paying attention to the hidden costs involved in everything we consume, and recognizing what we truly need in order to be sustained, vs the crutches we rely on for short-term serotonin fixes (obscuring the deeper emotional, psychological and spiritual root issues of our un-wellness).
To become a truly healthy society, social designers can consider new and resilient ways to meet our true needs, which I suggest involves two key considerations: providing access to information and resisting the urge to solve others’ problems.
And considering the design of bigger organizations, what could be different in market and governance, to support individual self-responsibility? Macleod demonstrates a perpetual problem with off-boarding, through the weasling of banks in the UK that inhibits the choice of the customer to leave if they wanted to.
“Banks took 30 days to complete a transfer…This unwarranted delay prevented customers, many who lived from one month to the next, from switching accounts with regular payments to honour.”
“We were not trapped through loyalty to a close, trusting relationship with a bank manager, but because of the sheer difficulty involved in ending the service.”
Business models can encourage self-responsibility of the consumer, not by pushing their own responsibility discretely onto the unassuming registrant, but by being a lot more specific about the choice that a customer has in their relationship; perhaps hard to imagine in today’s sales-hungry economy, but achievable if the social ecosystem better demonstrated the natural penalties felt by a society who conditioned their consumers to play dumb.
The legalese of Terms & Conditions, the obfuscation of agreement specifics, disempowers the applicant.
It’s all too easy to check the box and click the ‘Agree’ button, even though institutions have the upper-hand in resources to design and enforce systems which take advantage of this. This creates a total charade of choice: valid in court, but bearing no genuine significance by any other measure.
Better stories about the social benefits of personal choice, plus policies which might borrow from the recent conversation around sexual consent, would lead to an empowering omni-win scenario for every customer and company in the market ecosystem, as customers develop the awareness of living systems, the value of impermanent expression, and the rich cultural benefits of maturity.
Currently, a great deal advertizing plays upon the irresponsibility instinct of addiction-saturated customers, repeating a narrative that ‘care is a chore’.
I recently observed a perfect demonstration of this, noticing an ad in Berlin while reading this book on the U-Bahn; a campaign by one shoe company had the tagline “made with care, so you don’t have to”.
This is fundamentally disempowering, considering that care may just be the glue that holds the universe together.
Demonstrating a contrast to this in the book, Macleod cites the work of The Restart Project who educate consumers to repair their own electronics, and a town in Japan (Kamikatsu) which has implemented a very detailed recycling process.
“The people of the town are confronted with the same issues many of us have with recycling, which is interpreting the materials we discard. To resolve the issue, there’s an expert employee at the processing centre who helps them decipher and classify the materials used in the objects they are throwing away. As consumers they are becoming more aware of materials and the ease or complexity they might have in the recycling process.
The small amount of discussion it takes to involve the consumer reflects the lack of consideration the issue has been given as a ‘user experience’ in the first place, earlier in the process. Most of the focus has gone into the beginning of the customer lifecycle, the on-boarding stage. The end of that life-cycle has been left for individual interpretation, quite literally in Kamikatsu’s case. The closure experience for the objects we consume is now deciding what the object is actually made of, so as to determine what to do with it.”
Waste management enthusiasts and critics of planned-obsolescence might be familiar with the seminal text, Cradle to Cradle by McDonough & Braungart.
While ultimately supporting their work, Joe Macleodalso criticizes their theory for ignoring the importance of self-responsibility at the level of the individual, and in fact advocating that the responsibility be pushed back to the level of the government.
According to Macleod, this ignores the emotional needs of individuals, who lack a proper ceremony to thank and farewell something that has been a (sometimes very intimate) part of our journey.
“We put emotion and meaning into our “Hello’s” yet sterilize our “Goodbyes”.
Referring to Marie Kondo’s work and “giving thanks to the spirit of the item”, something fun like this “child-like” or “animistic” practice could be one way to build a cultural practice of offering dignity to impermanent things and embedding more meaning into our connections; just as we ourselves are impermanent, such a practice might offer an opportunity for individuals to come to terms with our own (and our loved ones) existential reality.
Designing For Access, Adaptability, Agency and Appropriate Response.
We can increase self-responsibility through information, provide adequate space for grieving and leaning in to the edges, converting problems into solutions.
In the total serendipity which I’ve come to enjoy as a byproduct of this work, a friend who I met which writing this article pointed me to a resource he developed with his students (he is involved in the pedagogy of ecovillage design).
The website things.info provides information for Estonians on where to dispose of materials correctly. On the material level, such a project is a great example of social permaculture design in action; the small and slow solution to a waste problem begins with making information accessible for those who are searching. As self-responsibility increases over time, the system comes along for the ride.
Naomi Joy Smith (she/they) is a New Zealand-born semi-nomad on a journey of experiencing complex living systems through the lens of social permaculture.
I write, speak, design, engage, host, weave, dance and facilitate.
I sensemake through improv singing and channeling poems.
My collaborators appreciate me for my playfulness and integrity.
Reach out to collaborate in the name of regenerative cultural design!