Transformation, Explored

Transformation, from dictionary.com – noun

  • the act or process of transforming.
  • the state of being transformed.
  • change in form, appearance, nature, or character.
  • Theater. a seemingly miraculous change in the appearance of scenery or actors in view of the audience.
  • Logic. Also called transform. one of a set of algebraic formulas used to express the relations between elements, sets, etc., that form parts of a given system.
  • Mathematics.

The words I see in this definition include process, change, relationship, result, mapping. In defining this noun, most of the qualifiers are words of action, words that detail a movement from one place or state to another. This reveals that transformation is not a moment in time, or a simple switch that can be flipped, but an iterative alteration of the status quo to a newer state. And this alteration or emergence of knowledge and result may take days, weeks, years.

Do we have years? Perhaps not. This is the challenge we face. How do we support our transformation as a world and increase the speed of that change without derailing it?

There are many who say we are doing this wrong. That electrifying the world we live in (e.g.) is a false and dangerous approach, not aligned with Nature’s systems, and therefore dooming us to a merely slowed demise. That none of our efforts matter if we continue to breed. That no travel is the only right answer. Or that meat must be entirely eliminated. We must live within Nature’s rules and we have distanced ourselves so dramatically that we cannot survive with any of the current incremental, small, or individual changes. I agree on many levels, and yet we cannot do this work without engaging people.

We risk everything if we do not include behavioral science in our toolkit. By alienating people who feel they are making progress we define that intensely horribly colloquialism of “cutting off our nose to spite our face”.

What good does it do any of us to be “correct” while we risk stopping any progress?

Transformation of our world to the new paradigm of working with Nature’s systems from the existing process of “take, make, waste” will take time to ensure it is a pervasive, transcendent, and sustainable alteration. This REQUIRES the engagement of people; We are a part of Nature, after all. In order to engage people we need to:

  • invite their curiosity
  • celebrate what we are each already doing
  • take steps that are, perhaps, imperfect, and learn from those misstep
  • make improvements in our individual and societal lives that allow us to then see additional improvements
  • aggregate the successes and change the affected systems that are in place
  • and do this over and over again

I encountered this video (warning, MANY F-bombs throughout) and, although I understand the point they are trying to make, I find it unconscionable that they belittle the individual efforts people are making. The message contained herein not only flies in the face of behavioral change needs, but is a mark of a privileged approach to climate awareness. It is only in aggregating smaller efforts that we can create systemic change. It is only through the understanding of personal experiences that we can create the needed changes in a way that provides some environmental justice and access equity.

And, most importantly, it is only in making a first effort, then an additional change, then perhaps seeing a new opportunity for change, that an individual will grow to be able to see their direct and usually unhealthy dependance on plastic, processed foods, single occupancy vehicles, fossil fuel, and more. I never realized how much plastic was in my life until I started eliminating some of it. Voila, I saw more to eliminate. I never fathomed not using a car for weeks at a time until I tried taking the bus once a week, and occasionally walking to work. I now miss it when I don’t walk, bike, or bus.

It is the job of change agents such as me, and privileged people in positions of implied and actual power, to amplify this individual level of recognition into community programs, divestment from fossil fuel infrastructure and funding, and introduction of services to break down food deserts, access education, prioritize healthcare, and provide multi-modal access for everyone, no matter their economic standing or color of skin.

Nature is a complex system with many amazing answers from eons of applied learning. Once thing that she has taught us is that we cannot flip a switch. In fact, the desire to be able to flip a switch to fix things is actually one of the reasons we are in this mess. Her timeline is much longer that ours, and her timeline respects the layering, diversity, redundancy, adaptation, resilience, and iterative transformation of our human species. Our job is to remain attentive, focused, supportive, innovative and communicative.

Our job is to aggregate and amplify EVERYTHING that is being done better.

Be greener,

Jodi

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