Our reporter Max is happy; last week he found a rather complicated way to use our economic system to assist powerdown, a controlled reduction in use of fossil fuels. (To see the full story of his foray into the world of inventing for sustainability, see earlier chapters.) However, the sweet taste of victory, finding a way to preserve the use of money and thereby retain some sort of order for the good, wore off fairly quickly. Instead, he started pondering the education system. Can people learn this sustainability stuff? He grabs his tape recorder and sets off again on another adventure.
Today the bench in the waiting area is not oak but redwood - beautifully varnished redwood. It curves in a long arc. I am more nervous now; I need to muster up courage. The creative process is not painless. I see how closely-held values get challenged in processes like these
Past a newly varnished boat-like shape, a cream coloured lift and a grey coloured lift stand invitingly .I feel I should take the grey one.
In the lift there is a whole array of buttons. And paintings. I push the button which says UP. Alone in the lift, I check out the paintings: juvenile depictions of cows and fields and farms.
When the lift arrives, the doors open up in front of a group of young kids. They are just playing. See-sawing right in front of the lift having fun - it's like a playroom in kindergarten.
In the quest to understand how a community can adopt the PORENA way, I end up in a playroom. Is this right, is the method playing games with me?
Get a grip on yourself Max; you promised you would give the method a chance. Keep describing.
'Hello, is there anyone in charge here?'
A little girl wearing a black dress comes up to me so I ask: 'Hi, is your mummy here?'
'She's at work.'
'Who is in charge here?'
'Can I meet her?'
The little girl takes my hand and leads me to Mrs Fernaster's office.
'Hi! I'm studying how societies use technology to live in a sustainable way. I'm interested in how sustainability, or the principles on which the community lives, is brought across to members of the community. I have picked up that one of the keys to this may be the understanding of stress on the organism.'
Mrs Fernaster replies by promising to show me something that will help me. We look at a wall covered with children's paintings. A tree. A house. A dog. A river.
I glance at the pictures but don't get it. I remember how I tried to look through someone else's eyes in a previous journey. I stand behind Mrs. Fernaster.
The children's paintings show that the ability to perceive and understand natural processes, and to be a part of them, is in-built. The pictures themselves show elegant composition. And the ability to understand complex interactions and relationships.
What I am wondering about maybe seems so hard to find because it is already there. Inside of everyone. Child development in fact mirrors the biological process, and includes everything man needs to adapt to the world. It does not need to be taught, but it needs to be learned. It doesn't need to be learned, that will happen. It needs to be given the right conditions to be learned.
That's quite an insight.
'Mrs. Fernaster, is there anyone you could put me in touch with, like a professor or something who could give me a deep theoretical briefing?'
I feel a bit like I am intruding on the kids, they seem to be having a good time.
I am standing in front of a man in a brown suit, with wire-rimmed glasses wearing a woollen knitted waistcoat. He invites me into his office.
On a large whiteboard he starts to draw vertical lines about 5cm apart. Horizontally he draws a flat line through the middle of the vertical lines, which rises to a peak and then tails off.
Straining to understand, I catch that the curve represents biological stress, negative and positive. It has to do with hormones and the period of formative years up to the age of ten. I am getting that education as I know it is completely wrong. It is the environment the child experiences that forms the ability of the organism to survive.
The functional efficiency of the epimyler. (I must research this one) changes over time up to 17. So if it is good for the child, it will benefit the adult, and the formative years are a preparation where the child and the environment interact so the child, naturally programmed to take in the processes around it, reaches a state of intuitive capability. Feeling like I have taken in more than I can digest in one go, I thank my hosts and leave.
Epimyler: The Professor points out that the nervous system, or the learning capability, is an intrinsic part of man. As the youth reaches maturity, the ability to understand the natural cycles she is part of diminishes.
He said something about the functional efficiency of the epimyler. My short research revealed that.
- nerves are covered with myelin, a fatty sheath
- dysfunction of myelin is implicated in Autism and Parkinson's disease
- there is little reference to what is outside (epi) the myelin.
Some other research turned up a combination of computers and Bushmen knowledge. Scientists have given Bushmen somewhere in Africa hand-held computers to register animal observations. Apparently, these Bushmen can read animal tracks, or spoor to such a high degree they can, for example, tell if an animal is being chased by a human or another animal. All intuitive knowledge.
My linguistics classes from way back told me that you need to learn a language at a young age in order to get the best chance to sound like a native. Combinations of muscles and nerves not used up to the age of about 20 simply wither, so you may not be physically able to make some sounds in the foreign language.
So, sure, by living and interacting in the environment at a young age the child / youth will pick up all they need to know to survive in that environment.
According to an article in NEWSWEEK, way back in October 2003, research reveals suburbanites are walking less, and gaining weight. In fact the less dense housing is, the more likely people are to be overweight. Town planning is given as one of the causes, as there are no 'meaningful' places to walk to, like neighbourhood shops.
'We are building obesogenic environments,' says Dr Billie Giles-Corti of the School of Public Health at the University of Western Australia in Perth.
Some good news… Prince Charles is building an experimental town in Poundbury, designed to get people out of their cars.
Sounds like the technique of RADIALITY, touched upon in an earlier visit would be useful. Unfortunately I did not go into the techniques very much. Something for a later trip.
Next week: Max searches for a way to focus on sustainability. Who is monitoring how far down the road to counter sustainability we have traveled? To order the entire book in paperback or as a downloaded pdf, go to http://stephenhinton.avbp.net.
Started out as a Science Teacher, went over to management training and then Program Management. Was Managing Director of a sustainable drinking water company for nearly two years. He is now offering his services as change agent and releasing his book INVENTING FOR THE SUSTAINABLE PLANET.
Some environmental credentials:
trained in internal environmental auditing at Ericsson
Worked as specialist reporter for technical magazines, covering environmental issues
Familiar with GRI reporting, ISO systems in general specifically 14000 and the work environment methodology
Attended numerous environmental seminars in Sweden including the pivotal "After the peak of oil"
One of three original founders of Oil Awareness Stockholm