As a person who’s been criminalized and arrested for the sole act of being poor in the US, it’s probably something I’m always walking with, speaking on, and trying to effectively change just by…in some ways not so much raising awareness, which seems very passive to be, but more about sparking people’s understanding and change.
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There’s a lot of beautiful things. And I think if there’s one thing I’m most deeply disquiet about it’s…power. Why are we doing almost nothing about climate change? It’s because despite the fact that most people on earth and many government on Earth do, the oil corporations and the governments most closely allied to the oil corporations, notably ours, don’t want to do anything.
We have even in the United States serious and growing water scarcity challenges. We have contamination problems with chemicals that we have not adequately regulated here in the United States. We have conflicts between states in the United States about who gets to use what water to do what. We have evidence that climate change is already influencing water demand, affecting water availability, changing extreme events. There are a whole suite of water-related problems, here, unrelated to these basic human need challenges that’re pressing in other parts of the world.
If you were to ask me what the crisis in the present is, as an evolutionary biologist I have to go back millions of years and try to connect all the dots, going back to man as a single-celled organism to present time, and saying what is it that is causing modern consternation? More importantly, is there a pattern? Has this happened before? Were there some ordinary people like you and I, shopkeepers in Rome, who were standing around and saying, “You know, our leaders don’t seem to be on top of our problems. They seem to be getting worse one generation after another.”
As we’ve moved into increasingly digital spaces, so online worlds, we’re moving away from your traditional physical spaces where you have public streets; where you have public squares; where people can go to protest, and into areas, if you would call them that, that are entirely controlled by corporations.
We’re in an era of overlapping crises, and I think that’s what makes it sort of unique. We’re aware of the financial aspect, which is sort of exponential increase in debt. We’re also aware that energy, the cost is going up because we’re reaching to deeper and more expensive reserves of energy, at least fossil fuels. So that’s another if not crisis then um… Well, actually it is a crisis, because the world we’ve constructed is based on cheap fossil fuels.
I think our work is much more interested in questioning the notion that architecture is a static entity. Part of our thinking in terms of architecture is how we make a building breathe. How do we give a building a kind of like, almost a nervous system.
Benevolence isn’t inefficient and I’m a big fan of benevolence. It’s just that it’s not enough. It’s okay for a group of twenty-five or fifty people where everyone knows everyone. But when you have 300 million in the US or 7 billion in the world, if we were self-sufficient and we had to produce everything for ourselves we’d all die, or 99% of us would die. So we have to cooperate with each other. But the only way to cooperate with each other in such large numbers is through markets.