opening ourselves with the hinging daylight hours

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Tipping Point and Sustainability Stories

This past week I was studying sustainability in an academic setting again, at the NJ Learns program through the Cloud Institute. I traveled with a team from Camden with formal and informal educators to study with others from all over NJ. We unpacked the mindsets of unsustainability and also shaped templates for sustainable mental models.

Sustainability is the intersection of ecological, social, and economic concerns woven together to measure the quality of life in a manner that values future generations and healthy ecosystems.

One of the alternative mental models in teaching sustainability is through STORYTELLING.
One thing i know for sure is the stories that we tell become our realities. Yesterdays' science fiction become our realities as in the case with most Japanimae films touching Fukishima and radioactive meltdown.

I've been thinking about stories to tell that describe Tipping Point, an aspect of inspiration that moves us within the construct of transitioning into sustainability.

Tipping Point:
Tipping point is a mystery momentum central to our work in sustainability. A tipping point is when enough people are doing something different and an entire shift occurs. Think about a scale. If you have one side that is heavier, as you place coins on the lighter side, one coin, two coins, and carefully watch as the weights approach equilibrium when the light side becomes marginally heavier, that side slowly begins to fall as it has now become the heavier side.

Tipping Point Story
There was an island deep in the jungle on the far side of the sea. On this island there were a group of monkeys who loved to run and swing from the trees. One of the monkeys named Chunky loved eating the wild sweet potatoes that grew on the edge of the river, in fact the sweet potatoes were one of the favorite foods for most of the monkeys. He pulled up a sweet potato and began to swing from the vine back across the river. He accidentally dropped the sweet potato and it rolled slowly toward the edge of the river. It didn't roll the whole way into the water though, and he jumped down and picked it back up. He bit into the sweet potato and realized how the sweet potato tasted so much better, and he didn't have to eat the dirt on the potato anymore. Chunky was so excited about the clean sweet potatoes that he began to tell his friends and show the monkeys in his area how to wash them off.

There were some scientists on the island who were watching and charting this behavior, when a monkey tasted the clean sweet potato it showed other monkeys. It was helping the scientists to understand monkey communication style and patterns, travel and learning. They watched and waiting. They observed that every monkey that tasted a clean sweet potato never ate a dirty sweet potato again and changed their eating and gathering behaviors, most of the sweet potatoes the monkeys ate became the ones beside the rivers and waterways. Then one day a few weeks after Chunky first dropped his sweet potato in the river the scientists saw simultaneously every single monkey on the entire whole island, washed their sweet potato, even the monkeys that had never been taught.

That day the monkeys reached a tipping point.

Living in Camden I am often thinking about the tipping point. Perhaps one of the stories that I am loving to tell is that we have reaching a tipping point, an act of magical realism in Camden.

Read about it here

When a tipping point is reached , no other coins are needed to be placed on the lighter side, we sit back and watch as the momentum is the mover from potential to kinetic.

Now if we look at the standard lever we know there is the lever, the fulcrum, the force, the distance, the weight, and the counterweight. This simple video describing the lever is blowing my mind as an analogy for tipping point with sustainability and mechanical advantage . I have heard recently that only 34% of the population need to be doing something to birth us into the tipping point. Perhaps this is due to the location of the collective psychological fulcrum.

Some other sustainability stories
-rock soup
- IndigenousVictoria Salmon Run We put the spirit back into the river
-Werner Herzog: fluidity and permeability: Cave of Forgotten Dreams
Miazaki and Fukashima
-wild boars in Chernobyl

tipping point videos: Guerrilla standing upright for dancing and wading Guerilla standing upright for fighting


em said...

I love this, and I love the idea of stories as an agent of change. I really want you to take the storytelling institute -- and bring a friend!

Kimi Wei said...

Nice post, Andrea!