Thoughts from October 2020

So here I am in my flat in Barcelona on a cold October day. I just about got my six-year old daughter ready to leave for school when I found her sobbing in her bedroom because she didn’t like her outfit. This is new territory for me, and definitely gender specific and related to social life at school. For today a change of leggings worked, but who knows where this is going. She definitely isn’t wearing enough clothes for the surprisingly cold weather though, and how will they manage to keep all the windows open (COVID protocol) when there’s a freezing wind coming in? These classrooms full of very spaced out six-year olds, in colourful masks, with the wind howling through the open windows and blowing papers around, and a teacher trying to deal with all this.

When I was working as a teacher the social life in the staffroom and at lunch was a huge, huge benefit to the job. What are teachers doing now in between classes, avoiding each other? and how do they manage the dining room? I haven’t got the answers to these questions yet because all my ex-colleagues are so busy we haven’t even managed to meet up. 

A parent from my daughter’s school was told by his company yesterday that workers had to avoid eating lunch together, as meal times pose a high risk of contagion, and today here in Barcelona they closed all bars and restaurants. Well actually the terraces are still open at the moment. We’re not sure if that’s because the bureaucracy to write the law is causing the delay (they literally didn’t get the BOE written yet), or because someone sensible suggested that since contagion is low outdoors that we could keep them open. The rules never seem particularly clear even when the laws are passed, and people running restaurants have an impossible job of trying to manage how much food to keep in the fridge. Add to this the fact that noone really believes it will be a 15 day closure. Last time they said the schools would be closed for two weeks, they stayed closed for 4 months. 

You might think following news on COVID and politics would help clarify what’s going on in the world, but I honestly don’t think so. What you know today changes tomorrow, and then you realise all your social time has been lost in clashing about COVID rules, or getting angry about awful leaders. I feel pretty healthy after not seeing a single piece of USA news for over 6 days. (Although I admit I did look up what Stewart Lee has been writing recently. After reading Lee’s book on Brexit, in which he shared utter disdain for Boris Johnson long before he became prime minister, I was always wondering how disgusted he must be by the current situation, and in a recent column he goes all out. AND it’s related to the only news that’s important – about ecological collapse and regenerative cultures!)

I found some old unpublished writing from the beginning of Boodaville this morning. I wrote this ten years ago! 

“I always thought that if i had millions i would pay for giant adverts telling people the stuff i usually just post on facebook – i first remember thinking about it with the whole “your tv wastes energy when on standby” thing. Many years before people actually changed their behaviour on that one it seemed obvious to me that people, at least as a first step, needed to be informed. I feel the same way about the spoon picture i shared a few weeks ago, (you’d think it was obvious right?)

I wonder how much influence the graffiti next to the M40 in the 90’s had on my ideas – “why do I do this every day?” written in huge white letters  along a fence. Anyone else remember that? It must have reached millions.

Looking at it now my whole life plan has been guided by the idea of informing people about the stuff big companies and the government don’t want to tell you. At least let people hear both sides of the story.

And now i’m starting a whole “Positive Impact Project” based around providing practical guidance on making changes towards a happier, healthier but most importantly sustainable and just lifestyle. Informing people is obviously the first step towards making a positive change, i mean you have to work from the standpoint that people don’t do things because they are told to. I’ve been teaching for ten years and know the difference between “don’t swing on your chair” and “what would happen if the chair slipped?”. So there is absolutely no way anyone will change their behaviour on a long-term basis just because of laws and fines.”

And here are some reflections on this from my 40 year old self..

Well firstly Facebook. I’m shocked to see I’ve been using it for 10 years and right now, and the reason I’m writing this as a blog post, I am struggling to hold on in there. It seems like I reach people, but at what cost? FB is a damaging force in the world, and this week an article I shared from the Guardian, about ecological collapse of course, was flagged as misleading. In the old days I feel like I could search online and find forums where people are talking about these kind of incidents, but now SO much is ON facebook, these other platforms aren’t there any more. I have no idea whether they are also doing the fact checking on actual crazy stuff like QAnon and have this immovable feeling that they are crushing news on the ecological crisis which is (maybe?) very slightly misleading before they get involved with misleading info that would promote say, racial violence. The worst that can happen with misleading info on ecological collapse is.. environmental action? (possibly a psychological reaction and feelings of despair, but those are actually healthy in the circumstances and a starting point on a beautiful journey)

Ah, and as you probably know the “Positive Impact Project” is now…. Boodaville!

And finally – “laws and fines”. I still believe these aren’t the best way to design a better world, but what is fairly shocking ten years on, is that there aren’t even laws or fines to combat ecological collapse. There are more laws on banning XR than on banning single use plastic. 

Anyway my 40+ year old self, in October in the craziest year yet, is stuck with the same ideas about how to get people’s attention. Where do I go with brilliant ideas I want to share? For now I leave you with some recommended resources and favourite quotes. Enjoy! Oh and did you know that youtube “influencers” make money by being paid to turn up at events, which in turn shares the event with their followers? It’s kind of obvious I suppose and all sorts of tricks to get our attention have been tried in the past. It’s very innovative*

*see resources and quotes below on innovation vs imagination

The Social Dilemma (Netflix Documentary) 

“Trees are worth more to GDP dead than alive. Whales are worth more to GDP dead than alive. People are worth more to GDP staring at screens than living fulfilling lives.”

“Facebook is like .. imagine if Wikipedia was different for everyone who reads it, depending on your profile” No truth. 

Designing Regenerative Cultures, Daniel Wahl (book)

I’m designing my 2021 courses around this book. But in a micro nutshell the regenerative culture solution is to discuss relevant questions with real people in our communities. (Opposite of falling into a youtube hole and absorbing information from anyone who said anything)

From What is to What if – Rob Hopkins (book)

This book has an amazing and scary chapter on screens and social media which ties in with social dilemma. and these amazing quotes on INNOVATION vs CREATIVITY vs IMAGINATION

Ursula Le Guin once wrote “In the market place the word creativity has come to mean the generation of ideas applicable to practical strategies to make larger profits. This reduction has gone on so long that the word creative can hardly be degraded further. I don’t use it any more, yielding it to capitalists and academics to abuse as they like. But they can’t have imagination,”

Think about pizza for a moment. With pizza, you have something that fundamentally works. The basic model is sound. Everyone understands what it is. There are lots of opportunities to innovate with pizza, with new toppings, different kinds of dough, different kinds of crust. But its still pizza. There is no need to reimagine pizza, because it works. It is fit for purpose. But there are lots of things about the world right now that don’t work. They are not fit for purpose. Our modern consumer economy is one of them. It is pushing the living world around us to the brink of extinction. Innovation won’t cut it. It needs reimagining. And it’s here – not only adding new toppings but creating a different meal entirely – that the power of innovation can’t even begin to hold a candle to imagination.

Indymedia Reboot (youtube video. inspiring)


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