Taking Appropriate Next Steps to Progressive Change:
A Social Ecology Perspective - 2007
(presented at the Natural Resources Institute, the University of Manitoba, Canada; 22 October 2007)
In most 'modern' societies environmental governance (for responsible 'environmental maintenance’) remains a minor concern, an add-on, or minimalist, 'shallow' (green-wash) program, designed to avoid litigation and voter disquiet. It is the poor cousin of economic governance (for ongoing growth in productivity, profit, and associated inequitable access to power by the few).
The roots of this situation may be traced to our history of collective personal distress and oppression, associated compensatory behaviours, institutional accommodation of and support for this, and beliefs in futures based on extrapolation, substitution, control and curative product- and service-based responses to crises. This defensive, reactive, expert-based, back-end, problem-solving focus contrasts with our need for imaginative, proactive, front-end, design and redesign approaches to personal to planetary health and wellbeing.
Social ecology (Australian version), with its focus on the interrelationships between the personal, social, ecological and the 'unknown' (for some, the 'spiritual'), and sustainability, wellbeing and change, provides an effective, inclusive, evolving framework for reconceptualising our political structures and processes for enabling improved futures, and for supporting the ongoing psychosocial evolution of our species.
Appropriate next steps are deeply personal and highly context specific. This is why formulaic, centrally-directed and imposed change always fails to achieve its stated aims and invariably causes more problems than it solves. Consequently, the collaborative task is to design and implement institutional and community structures and processes that can enable all of us to take those appropriate next steps, and to evaluate, celebrate and learn our way forwards as we go. This presentation was designed to support this process through challenge, inspiration and the sharing of relevant stories, theory and practice.