As I prepare to start my MA Ecological Design Thinking at Schumacher College, I am thrilled to have been awarded ‘The David Orr Scholarship’ to help finance the course. Schumacher College “awards one scholarship for each full-time master’s programme to cover a percentage of tuition fees.” ‘The David Orr Scholarship’ is specific for the Ecological Design Thinking course that states:
“We believe in a future where the things that we design no longer need to be detrimental to the wellbeing of our planet.
We believe in a future that pioneers ecological possibilities that redress social, environmental and economic imbalance.
We believe in a future that encourages creativity to explore integrated solutions that are beneficial to all-of-life.”
David W. Orr is an American professor, writer, academic and activist who specializes in sustainable design. He wrote many books including Earth in Mind and Ecological Literacy. The prompt for the scholarship was “It is now more than 25 years since the principles of ecological design were enunciated yet the practice of ecological design thinking has been slow to follow. Why do you think this is so and what would you do to improve the situation?”
My response was:
Ecological design is a necessity not a trend. Like Nature, good things take time to grow in order to be sustainable and not disappear like a fashionable trend. Yet, I believe that ecological design thinking is well developed on a grassroots level. I am lucky to be surrounded by like-minded people who are aware of the importance of sustainability and willingly share information about it.
However, most people still haven’t grasped the urgency and don’t seem to want to take responsibility for their actions. People need not to consume Nature but engage with it to feel the connection. Destructive actions have tragic consequences and the key is to understand that personal daily changes can actually make a difference.
The ongoing change needs to be more established to reach people who can invest in sustainable opportunities, making it more accessible. Sustainability is not about making a profit but about making sure our environment is safe to pass on to the next generations: human, animals and plants alike.
What I can do to shift ecological ideas, is advocating the merge of sustainability with scenography. The impermanence of Theatre is a wasteful industry; therefore we need to shift our thinking of how we create work. I wish to be part of the people who create socially and ecologically conscious work, to inspire and guide colleagues and audiences alike, to act responsibly. This is more than just recycling, but to be aware of our ecological footprint by using reasonable transport during touring, as well as knowing where the items we use come from and at what cost.
Recycling has been part of my work for a long time. This probably started with the challenge of having small budgets before realising the substantial waste of what is made or sitting in storage. Letting found objects that already exist tell their stories, instead of constructing from scratch, is a better way to reduce waste, stimulating the circular creative economy.
I like to work within the permaculture ethics, caring for people and for the Earth. Start early and there won’t be any need to use spray paint to create last minute fast decoration. Replace the use of toxic glues with strings to attach things. Re-think touring more locally to avoid use of fuel and increase the community connection. I am interested in using architectural natural built ideas in set design.
Theatre should also serve this purpose of social dialogue in engaging the audiences to understand the problems and create solutions. I enjoy designing performances for children, as they pass on information to their parent and elders, ideas reaching people of all ages at a community scale.
I want to be able to design shows that only use what is already available around to inspire and guide for a better way of life. Tell people it’s not a fiction. Taking care of us as a whole isn’t an option, it’s the future that we need to create.