J500 Media and the Environment

Spare me the drama! by cindyol
July 16, 2009, 12:30 pm
Filed under: J840 Week 5, Society + Media | Tags: , , ,


Is all the sustainability drama necessary?

Is all the sustainability drama necessary? (image from http://www.daivdandgoliathtees.com)

Everywhere I turn I hear about the need to be sustainable. And I agree, we are at a global crossroads. But the opening act of whom ever has the stage always seems to lead with a negative story. Any positive spin comes at the end, if at all. To them I say, “Spare me the drama!”  The most important component of a definition of sustainability is that it is uplifting and inspires us to choose what is best.

Sustainability is often defined in terms of “R” words. From “Leading Change Toward Sustainability,” we get “redesign, replace, reduce, refine and recirculate.”  Toyota uses “refine, reduce, reuse, recycle, recover.”   Based on several of our readings this week, I would also add “repair.”  We have to move forward, and we have to fix what is currently broken. The undercurrent seeping out of these words is the act of building. For me, a personal definition of sustainability includes creating processes and actions that fix, support, and build up people, cultures and environments – the structural under pinnings of life.

Often in sustainability discussions humans seem to be placed separate from the environment – interacting with it but not a part of it. A definition of sustainability must include the inter-relatedness of humans with nature. In my research, I ran across the term ecosophy, associated with psychoanalyst Felix Guattari. As I understand it, he holds that ecology alone (ecology being a component of sustainability) obscures the complexity between humans and their environment, and a much more holistic approach is needed to “change mentalities.” Ecosophy encompasses the marriage of mental, social and environmental ecosystems. This approach is exciting and allows for the creativity to build the things we need to implement the “R’s” while making sure that the physical (environmental), cultural (social) and spiritual (mental) nature of life is accomodated.

So, for Cindy Olsen, sustainability is the creative processes of repairing, maintaining and moving forward the physical, spiritual and cultural life on earth. I’m inspired, are you?

Cindy Olsen


2 Comments so far
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I am not sure that Guattari’s use of the term ‘ecology’ is such that it obscures the complexity between humans and their environment. In fact ecology encompases all complexity in living systems, both materially (body, biology) and informationally (mind and spirit), and Deep Ecology in particular raises the human to the ecological level entirely.

Comment by wizardx

Because of the time constraints I was under in writing this blog post, I am drawing somewhat on the help of others more intimately familiar with Guattari. I did run across Naess’s use of the term ecosophy and its connection with Deep Ecology in my research. I did not have time to investigate it thoroughly enough to reference in my original post. (I do plan to follow it up, as it also intrigued me.) I think, though, for the purposes of the post (which was to put forth my personal definition of sustainability), the idea that many who use the term ecology don’t use it in a way that includes a spiritual or cultural reference, only a physical one. Guattari’s ecosophy combines ecology (physical), mental (spiritual), and social (cultural) elements that make it a much more well-rounded approach to sustainability in my mind.

Cindy Olsen

Comment by cindyol

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