Place and Pedagogy

In “Place and Pedagogy,” David Orr contemplates education and community experience and posits that education has been reduced to an activity that occurs in “a collection of buildings” (183), that learning has been siloed into disciplines, and that we are alienated from the place we live in. “Place is nebulous to educators because to a great extent, we are a deplaced people for whom our immediate places are no longer sources of food, water, livelihood, energy, materials, friends, recreation, or sacred inspiration” (184). He describes our environment—the shopping mall, apartment, neon strip, glass office tower, freeway—as consisting of architectural expressions of deplacement, “none of which encourage much sense of rootedness, responsibility, and belonging” (184). Nomadism has been around for a long time but today it exists at a much larger scale, which leads Orr to question how long it takes to cultivate a sense of place. He proposes we work against social and ecological “degeneracy” by exploring the place where we live and work.

Orr, David. 2013. “Place and Pedagogy.” NAMTA Journal 38 (1): 183–88. https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1078034.

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The Transition Companion: Making Your Community More Resilient in Uncertain Times 

Through The Transition Companion book Rob Hopkins seeks to answer the question, “What would it look like if the best responses to peak oil and climate change came not from committees and Acts of Parliament, but from you and me and the people around us” (13)? Hopkins proposes that waiting for government takes too long and is not enough, and acting as individuals does not make enough of a difference, “but if we act as communities, it might just be enough, just in time” (12). Community engagement is at the heart of the book’s message. Hopkins focuses on five years of practical experience based on the transition movement (also transition theory) with projects that occurred primarily in the UK. Transition theory focuses on localized and resilient communities. It makes its point by featuring a diversity of projects that used transition as a grassroots organizing methodology but also offers a handbook approach with practical ‘how tos’ of transitioning with guidance on starting out, deepening and connecting one’s organizing, building, and dream casting for looking ahead.

Hopkins, Rob. 2011. The Transition Companion: Making Your Community More Resilient in Uncertain Times. Green Books.

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Now That We Know the Critique of Global Capitalism Was Correct

Colombian American anthropologist, Arturo Escobar, moves beyond the critique of capitalism to map out strategies for transitioning post pandemic. He proposes we need a “radical eco-social, economic, political, and cultural transition in every country and in the world at large” (157). Escobar offers five principles for thinking about strategies which can be applied to design or other forms of collective action. First, we must return the communal to social life, a move against individual solutions. Oaxacan activists talk of the ‘we-condition of being’ (condición nosótrica de ser, 157) which is an orientation of compartencia (“sharingness”, 157) of thoughts and actions to understand what makes a resilient community/person. Second, we must return the local to social, economic, and cultural activities through food sovereignty, agroecology, seed saving, commoning, and urban gardens to name a few-- innovations that break with patriarchal, racist, and capitalist ways of living. The third principle focuses on the strengthening of political autonomy and in engaging in “dream-designing” (disoñación, 158) helping us to redesign our lives in a partial, but still substantial movement toward de-globalization. The fourth principle suggests we incorporate “feminist and radical [] relational politics into many, if not all, of our designing practices” (159). Lastly, we need to consider the “re-earthing” of life (159). We are in a relationship of interdependence with the planet where new forms of life are always in the process of co-arising. 

Escobar, Arturo. 2021. “Now That We Know the Critique of Global Capitalism Was Correct.” In The New Possible: Visions of Our World beyond Crisis, edited by Philip Clayton, Kelli M. Archie, Jonah Sachs, and Evan Steiner, 157–61. Wipf and Stock Publishers.

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