Aug 29, 2010

Change your definition and be happy.


What is now happening in some areas is a grieving process for the future we expected that is no more.
Formal presentations by Next Step and The Alliance for Sustainability have brought in the stages of grieving for the environment. They use it as a tool to help people understand the stage they are in, addressing personal environmental issues. I did that along with redefining common terms in future tense. I seems to me that personal definitions, mindset, expectations and assumptions that were "sold" and people "bought" have drastically changed.

For example, I am redesigning community gardens and redefining the term garden by changing its shape and access. The shape is defined by the human body and the plants, not machinery or traditional thought. I believe as soon as the new shape appears, old definitions fall away and new ones are created.

The structure is changing the user. The Mandala forces people to look at each other while they work and focus energy to the center. It uses the space more efficiently by creating niches for plant types that encourages them to be densely inter-planted, not segregated (unlike what is on the seed packs. Most of all, it is a fresh definition with principals based partially on Zuni waffle gardens, Mandan mound gardens and Ojibwe medicine gardens. Ancient designs that allowed civilizations to thrive for pre-Columbian centuries. But I digress.

I have been surveying community gardens in the past couple years. The grid garden is designed for depletion from the start.
Degradation, compaction, abuse, waste and other issues are encouraged by the access and design. Sound metaphorically familiar to other deigns.Where do we go? We change the user, by changing the definition by changing the design. Repackage expectations. Redefine personal happiness outside of consumerism.

Another example of this is in the bathroom. A year ago Wendy Jedlicka, a sustainable packaging consultant to major multinational corporations, gave me a thorough interrogation of my personal habits. I was on the hot seat as she delved into my default habits and personal choices for products. It was incredibly disarming as I found all the corporate marketing that had driven my choices.  She started with shampoo, then toothpaste, laundry detergent. Then moved on to my food. The deeper questions of WHY I buy disclosed an undiscovered area of default decisions based on long term, sentimental, and traditional habits that were counter to what I believe.  Start the change in your own bathroom and survey the products and habits you have there.


Try this.
Imagine walking into your bathroom. Look at all the stuff lining the sink or shelf. Ask the questions of why you use and act as you do in the bathroom.

You pick up a the bottle of shampoo. Then you ask, why buy water in a plastic bottle that has 95% inert ingredients.
Then you pick up the toothpaste, a modern invention, again water and grit in a foil tube.

Then the liquid soap
The towels
The deodorant, mouthwash, lotions, conditioner,
The stuff under the sink.

You start a lifestyle assessment in the bathroom and begin to make the changes.
You use up what you have and begin to replace the old thought with the new thought by changing the shape of the things you buy. you redefine the future by changing the shape of the present.

Change definitions and question everything familiar.
This is starting small. Redefine yourself in the bathroom, then move on to the kitchen.

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