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Sustainability 2: The Universality of Design
Many of us wonder how we can go about creating a more sustainable future for ourselves, our societies and our descendants. Key to any striving for sustainability is design, and design is a universal human pursuit, restricted to no single profession or trade.
Each of use designs our body through such means as diet, exercise, rest, work, style, fashion and choice. Each of us also designs our personality through mimicking and learning, apprenticeship and training, conversation and humor, education and socialization, aspiration and actualization. As we begin our families, we design our children through the choices we make on their behalf, and through the example and support and training we provide them.
We design our perceptions of the world through philosophy and religion, politics and culture, art and literature, news and gossip. We design our cultures through language and history and society and politics. We design our careers, our foods, our pets, our homes, our cities, our vehicles and our belongings. At all times, and in all places — consciously or not — we are busy designing our very futures, as well as the future of the world around us.
Furthermore, design is undertaken universally, by humans of every age, size, shape, color, ethnicity, faith, nation and culture; no one group or subset holds the reins of design in exclusivity. A young hacker creating a nifty software packet is no less a designer than a cadre of architects shaping a city center. All that differs is the type and scale and impact of their designs. The impact of design may be felt bottom-up, as in the case of that young hacker independently inserting a bit of computer code onto a network, or it may be felt top-down, as in the case of that cadre of architects working at the behest of a public commission. Who is to say that, as the world turns, the nifty software packet might not change our collective future more than the gleaming city center?
Each and every one of the better attributes of good design — correctness, fitness, proportion, balance, harmony, narrative, focus, intent, contrast, efficiency, impact, meaning, clarity, vision, and so on — may thus be applied to virtually any of life’s pursuits, bottom-up or top-down, from virtually anywhere. Throughout this series of articles, I will therefore discuss good design as applied — variously — to our selves, our bodies, our clothes, our homes, our belongings, our careers, our vehicles, our professions, our cities, even our cultures. And I will discuss ways in which good design may be applied by virtually anyone anywhere.
- Sustainability 3: What is Good Design?
Good design is, in essence, doing more with less, across a wide range of parameters: social, cultural, aesthetic, physical, economic, and environmental, among others.
- Sustainability 6: Population
Rays of hope One of the prime movers of the world’s sustainability crisis is its population. The more mouths to feed, the more thirsts to quench, the more children to clothe and educate, the more families to house, the more sick and infirm to...
- Sustainability 10: Density
To many, it seems counter-intuitive that packing the globe's inhabitants more tightly might actually be good for the planet's sustainability, but it's a fact.
- Sustainability 13: Transit-Oriented Developments (TO...
Conserve precious water The sustainability of our cities and towns can also be enhanced through the creation of Transit-Oriented Developments (TODs). Quite simply, a TOD is any MXD centered about a transit facility or node: a subway station, train...
- Sustainability 47: Green Labeling
Label him green? With the world’s ever-increasing concentration on environmentally sound green design and sustainability, there has been an ever-increasing set of green design standards, guidelines, certifications and labeling. Here are some of...
- Sustainability 50: Earth Day
Love this Earth? Little did I know, as I helped assemble display panels on environmental issues on a campus quadrangle in the spring of 1970, that I was taking part in launching a sustainability event that would resonate around the globe ever more...
- Sustainability 54: The Kyoto Protocol
Let's clear the air The Kyoto Protocol has for years been a lightning rod to anyone discussing climate change and Earth’s long-term sustainability for humans. To green advocates, it represented a best first step forward in mitigating man’s...
- Sustainability 69: Solid Surfaces
Solid Surfaces In our striving for sustainability, we are essentially pursuing four major goals: 1) maintaining our health and that of others, while 2) reducing our consumption of renewable as well as non-renewable natural resources, such as fuel,...