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Dream, Design, Redesign, and Re-communalize
Re-thinking how we connect to our world and each other
Everyone is a futurist because the systems we live in were built for the past. SATs, summer breaks, and the 9 - 5 were all designed to teach people how to be better machines. It’s been 200 years and we’re still stuck in systems designed for the Industrial Era, but we’re so much more than that. So what does our next evolution look like?
Greta Gaard, a professor and author of Critical Ecofeminism, defines the pluriverse as “a world in which diverse hopes can be sown, multiple opportunities can be cultivated, and a plurality of meaningful lives can be achieved by the richly different and caring people we are.”
Considering the overwhelming undercurrent of dissatisfaction in our modern age, it only makes sense to look toward more long-standing wisdom from indigenous, local, and natural knowledge systems. In "Designs for the Pluriverse: Radical Interdependence, Autonomy, and the Making of Worlds", anthropologist Arturo Escobar calls for us to dream, design, redesign, and re-communalize - meaning to shift away from dominant, individualistic, and often extractive approaches to prioritize communal ownership, shared decision-making, and stewardship of resources. He challenges readers to develop expanded ecological selves.
In the call to dream, design, redesign, and re-communalize, I’m using AR to prototype redesigns of system artifacts that no longer work. Maps, for example, are more than geographical guides; they're powerful tools for shaping our perceptions and realities. Colonial powers often use maps to undermine indigenous communities, such as ongoing land grabs in Northern Thailand.
But now, thanks to open-source technology, maps can be shaped by everyday people, allowing us to construct entirely new relationships with our surroundings.
“We need to address head-on the exponential increase in the destructive capacity of technology but in ways that do not cede human’s ability to construct an entirely different set of relations with other living beings through technology” - Clive Dilnot (2015)
Depending on the specific place and community, these redesigns serve as a tool for reimagining rather than a one-size-fits-all solution. While the allure of flashy new tools may seem promising, there's a risk of unintentionally sidelining indigenous practices and cultural wisdom in favor of commercial solutions. I can’t say what the pluriverse looks, feels, and acts like - but the prototype below shows my guess.
“The experimental and open-ended qualities of prototyping have become a surrogate for new cultural experiences and processes of democratization” - Corsin Jimenez (2013)
Aboriginals believe that "land doesn’t belong to people; people belong to the land.” Every bead of sweat and every shiver in the rain reminds us of this. My aim is to create reminders that show our role in the continuous process of creation, where land, people, life, and the spiritual world are all interconnected.