Updated: Mar 1
by Kevin Bolland
Sustainability science is actually more about community closeness and access than it is about our personal, individual decision-making processes.
In other words, a consumer can only consume what the market provides to be consumed. If people relied on one another in a closer-knit community, the process of sustainability is made much easier.
If we create community and foster explorative education, many of the needed solutions for global sustainability concerns may be easier to reach than before. And who know, the answer might be right in front of us.
It isn't really our fault that we've ended up in such a complex environmental, social, and governance situation. For many years we have let money talk and science take a back seat to marketing, public demand, and potential expansion...
I can hear the maniacal sales pitch in the back of my head...
"Who cares if its wasteful and damaging to the planet... Idiots will still buy it, and we'll all make gobs of money along the way! Bwahahahaha!"
-Evil Salesman to Corrupt CEO
For hundreds of years, if not for all of human history, we have attempted to control or "outsmart" nature. And I mean, look at how amazing things have become!
Our whole world is "Miraculous" in every sense of the word.
Truth is, for all of human history, we have had to face challenges, and create opportunities to improve and grow together. We've always relied constantly on the innovations and successes of generations before and other cultures, even if we didn't know it at the time.
Generations before us have worked hard, suffered many similar anxieties and socially challenging changes. Some of these changes are hard fought victories, and others are in progress. Many of these changes take decades. Some of those technologies that have sustained the human race have taken hundreds of years to assimilate across the face of the world.
Some of these changes are yet to come in my opinion. Changes related to Sustainable Community and Survivability.
See, the thing is, personally, there isn't really anything I can do to "earn" what I already have access to. At least, in terms of most generalities.
Things like, the Internet if it's available in your neighborhood,
Transportation and fuel,
Established government structure and regulations,
Penicillin, or access to healthcare at all,
These things are often considered essential in the world today, but still depend very much on your location. Even building codes are like this nowadays.
If I tried to build a sheet metal shack covered by a tarp in my neighborhood, It simply wouldn't be acceptable by the standards of the community. Building codes and inspectors, insurance agents and parking regulations, sanitary service, water availability, whatever. A shack might be a suitable place to "shelter" but not necessarily an acceptable version of shelter depending on definitions or conditions!
What good is it to be a billionaire if you have no cell or internet service, no bank to go to, and no access to goods and services?
If you grow up in a place that is impoverished. Such as an environmental justice community, or a place that has no access to water or resources- often times, the only way out up is to physically move locations.
I think that societies have taken access to some things very much for granted by assuming that the solution has been achieved, and we can simply just move on to the next problem. But in my experience, there is often a ton of work that needs to happen just to set up for the real job.
Just because we figured out "how to make ________" doesn't mean that everyone suddenly knows about it, has access, or even wants or needs it. But the marketing agent for that new poduct has a mission to try and convince you that you do.
Concept Art by: Kevin Bolland x NightCafe AI, Actuallyitsafish
It's like in remodeling a house and removing a wall. Sometimes, the first constructive step is to build another wall or two to support the roof while you remove the first one. This prevents the whole house from falling down and makes your work safe.
Technically, removing one load bearing wall isn't about just one wall. It's about building two more walls, fixing the problem, and then removing three. I feel this is how sustainability may need to be achieved as well.
When access to everything and expectations about its' quality become the same, we set ourselves up for conflict or disappointment when that access eventually becomes limited. I always did laugh at "lifetime guarantees" thing.
But when sustainable community is part of the solution, reliance on these externalities becomes less important and less critical.
For instance, even if your wrench with a "lifetime guarantee" breaks, you could simply borrow one from a neighbor and build community at the same time instead of just getting another new one. This saves in so many ways. It helps the community get closer together. Saves on transportation costs for something small. And what's more. The wrench still does the same job regardless of the brand name or place you got it from. In fact, the chances are that you and your neighbor could share the wrench forever and never need it at the same time.
"God only knows that most work benches don't need more wrenches.
But there are still plenty of projects to do. Borrow one and see where it gets you."
There are many places around the world that are barely able to make ends meet, while many other places live lavishly and turn a blind eye to the inequality it creates. Even though there are enough tools of service available, they're concentrated in the wrong places and offered to the wrong people.
Even our assumptions about controlling nature are generally whimsical. Flooding and natural disasters have always and will always ravage places that are susceptible to them. Trying to laugh in the face of mother nature by building a home effectively ON the beach doesn't make you immune to, or smarter than mother nature. But it does make more needless work for insurance agents, pollution cleanup teams, permit technicians, and other people when it is mercilessly destroyed by the sea.
The only way to ensure that sustainability becomes the norm in the future, is to invest in, and develop more connected communities with an integrated awareness of the environment. Where we share important resources instead of throwing them away or wasting them on heating our empty homes.
I believe it was how humans were designed, and I believe that it's how we will succeed. Shared resources in a smaller community lead to changes that will be more inclusive of all humankind.
Even though I didn't work for, suffer for, or otherwise do anything to deserve to be alive during this time in history or to be born where I am; in my opinion and from a place of deep gratitude, I think we live in an era with the greatest access AND the greatest opportunity for the greatest change humanity has ever seen. Eight billion people have a lot of potential.
I, for one, am looking forward to it. I want to see the world's development change from a narrative of war, hate, and survival, to a unified culture of people who cherish their own environment and community out of a sense of self respect and awareness.
I want to see and live in a world where it is my pleasure to work in shared gardens and fields with my neighbors. A place where the tragedy of the commons doesn't apply.
Alas, the only way to do it is to build that type of community yourself, with those closest to you first. For the sustainable benefit of everyone.
Thanks for reading!