The age of humans
Hilary Bradbury, the Action Research Journal editor, and I were listening to overlapping interviews recently.
Hilary: We found out while chatting about the anthropocene over zoom (as one does these days) that we were both struck by talk of “bright spots” and a “good anthropocene.”
This light is in an interview between Dr. Karen O’Brien and Terry Patten. Karen says “A lot is actually happening, we just don’t hear about it in mainstream media. Yet.”
Bright and good are encouraging and unusual perspectives when talking about the entangled ecological and social emergencies around us.
A global age
The term Anthropocene names our current point in the world’s history—we are the main influences on our planet. Human activity has had an outsize influence on climate and the environment.
What caught Hilary’s attention is how Karen and Terry then start to talk about action researchers becoming more self-aware and how important that may be for having more bright spots appear.
Terry: How can action research become self aware with everyone learning from one another better?” asks Terry. “What are the examples that come to mind for better?… so we’re not putting knowledge into action later but iterating as we go and learning from each other?”
Karen responds: There is a whole field of Action Research and a network of AR led by Hilary Bradbury that is going beyond research as usual and [suggesting] that we have to come in self-aware. There is more emphasis on co-design and co-production of knowledge. We don’t stay in our heads and deliver knowledge to power. That’s shifting. We are not separate. We are always connected in an entangled system. So be self-aware about it.
You start to see bright spots of the good Anthropocene. The question is not do you believe in the science of climate change but how do we create a thriving world, deliberatively and consciously. Many more people are involved than we actually may think…
What are we doing? By us and to us
One of the striking things about this is what the climate and covid-19 crises have in common. Reflexivity seems central.
Terry: asks about the community of people who are likely to be listening (that’s us!) and “… going through, maybe, multiple profound shifts, even in our way of being. The whole picture isn’t going to change without us changing too. I need to challenge myself, challenge my assumptions. What can you tell me that might help me show up better?
Karen responds: “I can really relate to that. There are so many people who are really feeling it and hurting. I think we all have to really occupy a new paradigm and show what it is to actually live to these ideals…To be able to be teachers, healers, to be the ones that can, through very gentle actions, help people to move when they’re ready is like being an attractor. A lot of people are opening up. If you’ve ever had a crisis where your worldview no longer works, you know about such shifts!
How do we empower people to see the transformations that are right in front of us?