Firstly, I’m a big fan of the shared emphases among these varying approaches to transition design (Escobar, 2018), “cosmopolitan localism” being my most preferred. Writing with less than a week until an election for the leader of a country of 300+ million people, the candidates two unbelievably disappointing men unsuited for addressing our most pressing issues (arguably purposefully avoiding real “solutioning”), the vote-counting procedure effectively muting voices across states, it is difficult to resist the claim that democracy is dying if it isn’t already dead. (Was it ever alive? For whom?) Among the common threads between these transition design practices, decentralizing/distributing our life forces (production, decision making, etc.) is critical.
However, I am concerned with how effectively the practices described throughout this week’s readings can address such wicked problems that have approaching (while not demarcated) “deadlines.” Recognizing that the roots of wicked problems run deep in space and time, Irwin states,
Designing for systems-level change… will be slow, patient work with “emergent outcomes.” It will also challenge dominant paradigms that demand fast, concrete, predicable and profitable results. (2018)
How, though, do we reconcile our patience with a closing window of opportunity?
According to climate scientists, humans may have a narrow window of opportunity (perhaps only three decades) to change direction radically in order to avoid the catastrophic effects that will come about with an increase in the Earth’s temperature above two degrees Celsius. The space evolving from such a dire predicament is already being populated by myriad tiny transition islands where unsustainability and defuturing are being held at bay. But there is still a long way to go until such islands give rise to the new continents where life might again flourish. (Escobar, 2018, emphasis mine)
I wonder whether “only three decades” is even too generous: among whatever number of disheartening pieces, a report on one of the least desirable positive feedbacks loops for warming potentially rearing its head.
That in mind, what of transition design makes addressing wicked problems, namely climate change, with time constraints possible? How do patience and urgency coexist in this framework? To make matters worse, how do we handle stakeholders with conflicting desires who actively undermine progress (e.g. fossil fuel capitalists)?