Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Final reflections, work in progress, is this the future we want?

My thesis is due to be submitted on 29 September, 22 days from now. I've sent a 'nearly complete" version to my supervisors, but the last two chapters in particular need some work. I'm working really hard to finish this but it seems like such a slow process.

I'm going to work through the final reflections (update - by this I mean my final reflections, I've worked through participants' final reflections already) here I think, and as with the feedback discussion, I'm going to do it as a work in progress so I publish it but keep updating it as I work through.

So just briefly, the point that I think it most significant now, in terms of my personal reflections, is when I left ISEPICH. It was significant for the project as it led to a major change (not by my choice) but it was also, I think looking back, significant in changing my perspective and maybe altering what came out of this research, for better or worse.

For worse was that I lost contact with most (though not all) community members participating in the project. For better, maybe, is that I was probably able to see more clearly the political challenges facing health promotion. That led ultimately I think to the question posed by one of the research participants
what future do we want for our world?

Thinking about this, the other day I took a photo when my tram terminated on City Rd South Melbourne and I had to walk along that busy stretch of highway. I've posted a lot of photos of beautiful scenes on this blog, and talked about how we should look after our "beautiful world" but I haven't really posted many of the alternative. So there it is, with the question: is this the future we want?
Update 12 September 2017
I've written before about different approaches to 'transition', how we can become a more ecologically sustainable society. There are different approaches to this, one being to focus on technological transformation, particularly through renewable energy, and another being to look at more sustainable ways of life. More details here

The approach in this project focuses mainly on sustainable ways of life, and fairer, more inclusive ways of life, which are seen as interlinked. So this would include more walking, cycling and public transport, more social connection, more locally grown fresh food, more sustainable and affordable housing. It could also include more community solar or wind - I'm not sure how far health promoters are getting on board with this, but it's certainly something I recommend.

Clearly none of this is incompatible with renewable energy and the right technology. I don't think people on this side of the way of life focus /technological focus difference (I wouldn't call it a chasm or a gap, but I would say there's definitely a difference in focus between what you would see discussed at this blog, and what you'd see at Brian Banisch's blog Climate Plus or John Quiggin's blog, for example, the latter two having much more focus on technology) are against the right use of technology.  I do think, however, that a focus on technology may address some of the problems around climate change, but won't entirely fix the broader problem of environmental degradation, and won't fix the worsening, connected, problem of inequality. Those participants in the project who've given me their opinion on this issue also tend to agree with that.

So this returns us to the place where we started, those of us involved in this journey - looking for an integrated way to promote equity and environmental sustainability. It's been a long and complicated journey, for complicated ends, and many of us have gone different ways. It's sad to think that I've lost the companions I set out with, even though nearly all of them are still friends and I'm sure they still believe in the original goal. I gained the sanctuary of a university, which, whatever its faults, does let me pursue my research in the directions I want. Other companions  in the original ISEPICH project have moved on to other things, and others are still there, even though ISEPICH as such doesn't exist any more.

It's tempting to blame this fragmentation on two, or even just one, misguided managers, and it's true that quite a few of the 'founding members' of this project, including me, went their different ways because of one manager (who was a woman - her gender is not relevant except that I often talk about patriarchy here, and I want to make it clear that that is not the same as blaming men - female managers in a hierarchical system can also be a problem). Individuals and their skills and competencies do matter, and from what I could see, this manager did not understand community development or health promotion very well and was not very suitable to supervise such work (14 Sept - just edited this section because in making public criticism of this sort, even in a little read blog and about an unnamed person, one should be very cautious). However she didn't create the hierarchy and she didn't put herself in the position of manager. The higher up managers appointed her and the hierarchy - well as I keep saying, that's been around for thousands of years. Time for a change, surely.

I never have any luck with embedding videos, I don't even know if blogger can do it really, but I'll put in a link Time for a Cool Change (the lyrics are completely wrong for my message here, so let's just stick with that line). (Here's the freebie link, sorry about the ad but I guess a 'freebie' has to come with an ad in a capitalist society Cool Change)

Time for a cool change - that's a great message when you're trying to mitigate global warming and promote a fairer more inclusive society! Although maybe not so welcome in Melbourne right now when we're all hanging out for Spring to finally get started. Anyway time for a break for me.

More to come ...

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