#DearArchitect chapter 1 THE (CO-)MISSION
#DearArchitect is an open-letter from Talina Edwards to the architecture/built-environment profession, in response to the #ArchitectsDeclare movement. What started as a call-to-action, ended up being more of a mini-manifesto, so is now presented as four easily digestible chapters. Written during the intense summer bushfire season of 2020, one year later the message is the same (if not more) important than ever before…
chapter 1 THE (CO-)MISSION
(*Engineer/Building-Designer/Draftsperson/Builder/Interior-Designer/Student/Educator contributor to our built-environment – this is a letter to all of you)
Are you familiar with the concept that you should write the words that you need to read? At the start of a new year and a new decade, I feel compelled to write this letter. I’ve been reflecting a lot on what our indigenous brothers and sisters call ‘connection to country’ and how this has never been more essential. Our country is speaking to us – no longer in evocative whispers – but screaming out in pain to get our attention…and most people seem to have heard and are starting to listen.
I’m sure you are aware of the Climate Emergency Declarations happening across the globe, and the ‘Architects Declare’ movement. If you have not yet pledged your acknowledgement of the climate and biodiversity emergency, I invite you to sign up here.
With the recent devastation of the bushfires, a huge number of architects have signed up to Architects Assist to offer pro-bono services to help with future re-build efforts. So many people across the world have opened their hearts and offered generous support…because this climate crisis is one that affects us all. It often takes a disaster to bring people together to show true leadership and action, so this is our opportunity to make real change for a better future.
This global support has been truly inspiring, however now is also the time to be more pro-active not just re-active…of course the time to start was decades ago (and many of us chose this ethos a long time ago) but we’re here now in the year 2020, and this decade is going to be a hugely important one in the history of our planet. “We’re the first generation in human history to have the data to know what’s coming…and the last with a chance to do something about it.” https://lastenvironmentalist.com/
We have a small window of opportunity to slow-down climate change and its effects…we’re already seeing the consequences of inaction, and if the planet continues heating up at this rate it’s not a good outcome for any of us. (Footnote ICCC 1.5 degree report) The buildings we are designing today will be here for the next 50 years and beyond, so we might want to ask if we’re designing for the future or the past? We might want to ask if we’re doing the best we can, or can we do better?
Hundreds of architects have shown up to recent Architects Declare meetings across the country (and around the world), to go beyond their moral pledge of declaration, and decide how to take action, in our time of need.
You feel deeply that this is of great importance, yet you’re not sure if you alone can make difference. You’re also unsure of what action should look like, or which actions will have the most impact? Where to begin? It can feel overwhelming and confusing, and this can lead to no action at all…or like many of our politicians who instead of ‘leading’ are ‘misleading’…
What if it is actually quite simple? What if, the answer of where to begin, is found by looking at the end?
As an architect, you have to look into the future, and create a vision for the end result for each project.
This is the same process, and it is time to use your creative problem-solving skills, your intuition, your professional and communication skills at a different scale, for the greater good.
- What if you have been commissioned to do this ‘project’…or that This is your mission, should you choose to accept it?
- What if You are the architect responsible for creating the vision for how you would like our world to be in 50 years time, and beyond…
- Your vision will have a positive impact on our wellbeing & the health of all life on our planet, restoring balance with nature.
- It is your time to rise, as you are the leader that everyone has been waiting for, and your leadership will result in a new cultural shift to ensure better outcomes for all.
- What if you knew you had no chance of failing to achieve this vision, and that only success will come your way?
- What is the legacy that you want to leave for future generations?
- Can you envisage the destination?
- How will you get there?
- Who’s joining you on this journey?
- What are the opportunities and constraints?
- Of course you’ll encounter obstacles (this is real life after all and not a fantasy!), but you’ll have the courage to be bold, you’ll be determined, you’ll listen and learn to find optimal solutions from the collective wisdom to overcome challenges.
- What steps would you take it this was an architectural project – can you apply the same process to achieve your vision?
What is YOUR vision?
I invite you to take a moment to really consider the future. Did you know you can scroll through the calendar on an iPhone and go hundreds of thousands of years into the future?
Can you image the world in 300,000 or even 3000 years time? What about 300? What about 30? Some people rarely look beyond 30 days – or perhaps even 30 minutes with our decreasing attention spans!
Indulge me (you) for a moment by contemplating the future and your vision for it. (Footnote: Thanks to Stephen Choi Living Future Institute Symposium – Sydney 2019. Biophilic Design workshop exercise).
- Close your eyes,
- Take a few slow deep breaths,
- and think about your “happy place” or a place that would bring you joy.
- How does this place engage your senses?
- What can you see, hear, smell, touch and taste?
- How do you feel here?
- Why does this place make you feel happy, healthy, joy, peace, or connection?
- How does this place enrich your soul?
These are the clues to the destination you are seeking.
You need to trust that you know the answers, because you do.
Your vision may not be the same as mine. However I’m sure that your vision DOES NOT include more extreme weather, more bio-diversity loss, more major natural disasters, more devastation, more loss of life, more scarcity, more poverty, more illness, more apathy, more greed, more hate….
If not you, who? If not now, when?
Of course, when I speak to you, I speak to all of us.
We each have a role to play. There is no “them versus us”. The reality is that climate action is everyone’s business. We are in all this together, and we’re stronger together.
We need to stop waiting for a knight in shining armour to come and save us; it is time for us all to be heroes (or sheroes if you prefer). We need to have the courage to take off our armour, turn up with open hearts, ready to be seen, ready for the truth and ready to be leaders.
It is not my responsibility to tell you what you SHOULD do, and even if I did, you probably would have a resistance to being told that my way is the only solution. We need to hear may diverse voices and differing views…so mine is just one perspective.
You are an extraordinary human who must make your own responsible choices and travel your own path…so perhaps some clear guidance would be useful to help you get your destination. If you don’t have some directions or signs for your journey, you could end up wandering in circles and getting lost and ending back where you began.
Perhaps by sharing my perspective from my experience, you may choose to meet me and my tribe along the same road…
Read more: #DearArchitect