Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Crisis, Resilience, Relevance and Transformation


This is an article I wrote for the newsletter for our local currency. I have found many similarities between my research in transformative learning in science education and what I read in articles such as the one referenced in the article below. 
In a nutshell, new learning seems to happen most when the learner recognizes the relevance of that new learning. The recognition of relevance can be brought on by a crisis, as in the article referenced below. These combined can lead to a transformative learning experience, the result of which may be - you guessed it, as shown in the article referenced below - a greater capacity for resilience in the learner. 
Peace, Estwing

The warnings continue to come from Internet prophets like Nicole Foss and Guy McPherson. Although they spoke their words of warning in Whanganui in April and July respectively, their presence on the web remains constant. These modern day Cassandras speak of a future yet unseen, yet if we turn to Greece we may be able to see that future happening now. I read an excellent article from Reuter’s news service about a group of young people who fled Athens to start an eco-village/commune in the countryside. The article can be found on the 30th of August, 2012.
For me, highlights of the article include the following passages:
The commune is one of several ecological initiatives that have benefited as the debt crisis forces Greeks to rethink their way of life - especially the big-spending, consumerist urban lifestyle partly blamed for bringing Greece to the brink.
"As a general trend, the crisis for several people was an opportunity to change the way they think and try to be organized in a different way," said Theocharis Tsoutsos, professor at the Technical University of Crete who has studied sustainable energy projects.
"For instance, doing things on a smaller scale, creating their own garden, or trying to promote ecological issues on a small scale, or promoting low-cost agricultural initiatives."
The commune would have found few willing takers among Greeks riding high on an economic boom a decade ago. "People then were more interested in their welfare, making money, the stock market. These people would have been laughed at - Greek society was not ready to hear this kind of message," he said, adding that other, less developed eco-communes have also sprung up in Greece in recent years.
"Now it's really relevant. It goes to the core - every Greek knows someone who is moving to these practices."
My question is, how many people who scoff at REBS now will join it enthusiastically if (when according to Foss and McPherson) high unemployment and austerity come to Whanganui? 

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