I’ve had a love-hate relationship with sustainability. Rather, the “sustainability movement”.
I had the pleasure of driving halfway across America last weekend, from Seattle to Chicago. I use the word “pleasure” playfully, as it was a grueling trip, full of inspiration and reason to change the world.
One highlight was in reading aloud to my companion who is now in Chicago (and I back in Seattle) the transcribed “sermon” from William McDonoughs address in 1993 to the congregation at the Cathedral of St. John in NYC, called “Design, Ecology, Ethics & the Making of Things.” It was a great refresher to McDonough’s philosophical roots and reminded me of much of the banter while in Environmental Sustainability Courses for my sustainability minor in college.
“I am going to speak about the concept of design itself as the first signal of human intention and will focus on ecology, ethics, and the making of things. I would like to reconsider both our design and our intentions.” – William McDonough
McDonough sets up the sermon with a simple call to reconsider if we have actually bettered ourselves with all that we’ve created. If you don’t come away reading it with a desire for a more “sustainable future”, you don’t get the premise: Our intentions are given form in our designs. There’s alot of room for corruption there. He proposes changing our designs. That’s wise, because he realizes there’s not much he can do to change peoples intentions. The problem with the sustainability movement is McDonough’s forte: Lets not touch people where its uncomfortable. Lets not push people’s buttons. Lets focus on the design. Not people’s intentions. My intentions. While it doesn’t seem like McDonough is not much more than a Deist, I appreciate the rhetoric from a holistic world of life & death, new and old, utilizing the practice of “stewardship” over ownership. Following his writings for some time, I believe he (as well as many others) falsely assume we can rationalize ourselves out of the problems of our own creation, albeit, save ourselves (LIE). BUT, I’m all for STEWARDSHIP. And it starts with me. I have a lot to change and learn.
I found alot of what McDonough said in this transcript intriguing and would like to share it. I’ll be posting the next three Thursday Theory blog posts on the subject, and spending the next few months tweeting out some of my favorite stanzas.