Still refining the question?

So when I was creating the website I realised something. I was doing the research in terms of what could be viable in terms of self-sustainability, and then I realised that the word self-sustainable is incredibly far fetched. I came to the conclusion after researching how much self sustainability was actually possible before sacrificing comfort in the context of a holiday and it is pretty hard to be 100% self sustainable, let alone doing so with minimal effort. I think I should probably reform my question using the word sustainable instead of self-sustainable. There is quite a difference between something that is self-sustainable instead of sustainable, and I feel like I was quite uninformed about it. I feel like I’ve been throwing that word around quite carelessly; using it in the context of self sufficiency, when in fact I believe it is far more attainable to aim for a high level of sustainability.

¨Now some people believe we should be completely free of all grid provided energy and fuels and 100% self sufficient but I can tell you in my many discussions with hard core off-gridders that I have never met anyone that is 100% self sufficient producing everything they need without some reliance on society.”

“Going off-grid and sustainable living does not mean giving up all the tools and conveniences that make life easier, safer and more comfortable. It does mean reducing your reliance on society for things like food, energy, and other conveniences that you could produce for yourself.”

Self-sufficiency is easy to get your head around – you look after your own needs without relying on anyone else for support. Sustainability is a little more complex. It requires an understanding of the economic, environmental, social and cultural impacts of decision-making. Sustainability requires a long-term, multi-generational view and it requires the recognition that we’re all part of a living system – everything we do impacts the world around us.

This is where neoliberalism steps in, and the problem of choice vs duty forms, and this is exactly where my solution to the problem steps in too, as incentivising an emotional connection with the experience is likely to reconcile the two conflicting sides of neo-liberal generational thought processes. 

Creating an environmental-economic-emotional trade off I believe can be the key to creating a new tourist industry all together.

“Energy positive homes. Renewable energy. Door-step high-yield organic food production. Mixed renewable energy and storage. Water and waste recycling. Empowerment of local communities.”

ReGen Villages by EFFEKT, the project imagines a community of buildings that produce all their own food and energy — a model that aims to tackle a wide spectrum of global issues, from the food and water crises to the rise of CO2 emissions.

Each village would comprise a series of buildings with attached greenhouses, creating spaces where families can grow fruit and vegetables, farm aquaponics or recycle waste products. They would also integrate sustainable energy technologies, producing all their own electricity.

Community also seems to be one of the key aspects of sustainable living, which is something that I might have hugely overlooked as I envisioned more of a hotel like complex, which after research is looking more and more unlikely.

The question shall therefore change to this- How could a sustainable community focused holiday aid individuals in re-evaluating their work life balance in a limited time frame? 

https://esteloide40.wixsite.com/reset- updated website too

Emotionally durable design

Cara Courage recommended I looked into Jonatha Chapman, and for some reason I hadn’t done so until now, which was frankly so silly.

He advocates for emotionally durable design of products and experiences as a means to fight our throw away culture, and his research is literally the cross point between user experience and sustainability. An expansive, hollistic approach to design is bound to create more durability, which in turn can improve the lived-in experience of sustainability. The principle that some items function perfectly in their utilitarian sense, yet are quickly discarded due to a lack of any attachment to the object in question really draws my attention. Maybe the answer to the neo-liberal clash I’ve been dealing with is that, creating an emotionally durable experience, connecting the subjects to the environment in an emotional realm so they don’t discard it as one of many holidays or get-aways, but as something more meaningful. Maybe that is the answer to the constant exhasperation and dissapointment I faced on my interventions.

The website.

So I created a website of what the actual thing would look like, based upon research in terms of how a self sustainable cabin would actually work, plus all the services that are manageable in the context of the project. Here it is- https://esteloide40.wixsite.com/reset.

It’s pretty minimal and probably lacks a lot of information, but I didn’t want to create something that wouldn’t be real at all.

The cabin example was taken from a fully self sustainable cottage 20 miles from Maine, in the US. I picked this specific example because it was in the vicinity of a large city, which interests me due to its practicality, which fits quite well with the idea of my project. It was designed by Bruce Porter and his architectural designer daughter, Alex. They took 30 years to come up with the design, which should be discouraging, but I believe that the prototype can be exported to other areas of the world and it seems to work exceptionally well. I obtained most of this information from OffgridWorld, a website that offers a huge range of information on sustainable living. I based my services section on the information I obtained from this website, in terms of what is possible to grow foodwise as well as a hotel-like service, which is ultimately what I would love to achieve.

 

 

Photography as a means of branding.

I was always inspired by the naked female body as a means of portraying the message of my project. It was always something that came to me naturally, however after some research, it started to make a lot of sense. The female body is a symbol of fertility, nature is usually represented as a woman. I used myself as the model for these photographs, as I hadn’t really explored the idea and I wasn’t sure if it made a lot of sense. Later on, I counted with the help of two other people, however the product was not what I expected. Although aesthetically pleasing, they look quite posed and forced, and not what I was looking for. It was, however, very interesting to explore the boundaries of my project, and it opened up a new possible target audience- mothers.

I started thinking about this when I started investigating the female body purely as a form of representation for my project, but I quickly realised the idea of fertility need not be purely used in the context of nature. Then I started thinking about the role of women, and specifically mothers, in big cities. I wondered how they feel about being a carer and an earner, or just a carer for that matter. Were they happy? Had they had the opportunity to think about their long term lives after deciding to have children? Then I really hit the eureka moment if you will, as I wondered if any of them were concerned about the world their children would grow up in. Would they teach them how to recycle and use public transport? Is that enough nowadays to avoid the environmental predictions looming upon us?

Women were seen as being domestic, pious, moral, pure, gentle, kind, graceful, simple and beautiful; this was according to the nature of separate spheres: men and women were fundamentally different in terms of their characteristics as men were seen as hard-working, industrial, rational, assertive, independent and proud; none of which is easily connected with nature

– Therefore nature was seen as the embodiment of all the characteristics that women possess and there are frequent references to this in literature, especially poetry.Sublimity is associated with qualities of males, but “was still mostly associated with the presence of Nature, conceived as feminine and maternal, beneficent as well as destructive.

The references to reproduction and fertility may symbolize the continuity of nature; the continuity and change of seasons indicate that the earth continues in a balanced cycle, similar to the life cycle of humans. Because women are responsible for the continuity of the life cycle, they are often associated with seasons, for example the ‘rebirth of the land’ in the springtime.The concept of connecting women with nature dates back to the times of ancient classical mythology, with several goddesses being strongly connected to the earth, eg. Persephone and mother Demeter

I don’t mean to close off my target audience by any means, but it was very interesting to open up to a group of people that I hadn’t remotely thought about. It encouraged me in a way, because I believe that it helps to solidify the two concepts of my project, which sometimes I fear aren’t quite intertwined enough to make sense in the context of reset.

Alas, here are some of the pictures that were taken, that helped my inspiration and reflection-

This was an interesting point of reflection, however for the time being, I want to focus on making a website, to solidify the project into something a little more tangible and “existing” in a way, because I’m starting to feel as though everything I say is so aloof and unclear that most people become confused or bored before they even understand what I’m trying to do.

Neo-liberalism.

The neo-liberal theoretical approach offers the most compelling and solid theoretical basis for my project.

Why is that?

The neo-liberal principle, that affects pretty much every aspect of our daily lives is materialised mostly by our moral and capital freedom. This means that we have a moral choice to do what we think is right, gives us free speech, allows us to freely follow whichever religion, political group and cultural trend we choose. The capital freedom gives us the right to spend our money however we wish, and creates an incentive to work harder to earn more money, and to be able to spend it on ourselves because of how hard we’ve worked for it. Now there’s a catch; what happens when our freedom of choice is affecting our existence on the planet? Why do we need the freedom to work hard and spend hard if there’s nowhere to spend it any longer? What if we ruin the environment to the point where resources become scarce, wars break out and people die? Where is our moral freedom to choose to give to the environment?

Weirdly, having a neo-liberal approach to back my project is its own main problem. My projects main obstacle is, essentially, my project. Why is that? Precisely because of the conundrum described above. I advocate for the freedom to choose and the freedom to re-evaluate and reset, and I also intend to promote self-sustainability and reformation of the tourist industry, but at the same time the project is wrapped around the neo-liberal principle of capital choice; meaning people could chose not to spend their money on it, or their time and energy. It creates almost a vicious circle, where, (as reflected by my interventions), participation could quickly disappear, based on the principle of “I don’t HAVE to do anything”. This is precisely the reason why both my interventions “failed” aka, did not go to plan at all. Every person that participated belongs to the generation that advocated so much freedom that we do not owe anything to anyone, not even if it means caring for the planet we live in, even if it means depriving ourselves of every privilege we’ve known for the future. No-one really owes anything to anyone that isn’t themselves, and everyone deserves what they’ve worked hard for. It sounds only fair yet catastrophic at the same time.

So what is the answer? How do I shift the perception of a whole generation, years in the making? What needs to happen for people to re-think their lifestyles, and by consequence the way we exploit the planet?

 

What is “stress” on a holiday.

Image

Upon doing some research, it has come to my attention that the main issues that generate stress on holiday is feeling overwhelmed or underwhelmed, whether it be by the bombardment of activities and places to see or by the high expectations marketed by tour operators not being met by the destination, accommodation or a combination of the two.

There seems to be a general pattern of what a “perfect holiday” should look like- enjoying time with the family, going out and trying an array of new experiences, having a wonderful hotel to stay in and getting a tan. (I know right, that’s literally one of the reasons, a tan). This is problematic as there is a construct of what a good time on holiday looks like, and it might be a difficult one to tackle.

Associating holidays with good memories and a fear of not having those needs met can generate feelings of stress and anxiety, even in children. The package holiday in principle is designed to reduce the amount of stress that requires planning a holiday by offering all the attractive attractions and cheap prices in one, using well known tour operators and companies; avoiding the possibility of being scammed. The principle of the package holiday is what I want to take and apply onto Reset.

In terms of environmentalism, I decided to find the most sustainable hotel that exists in London right now. The self proclaimed “Greenest Hotel In London” Qbic London City has various schemes in place to reduce its environmental impact and be as self sustainable as possible, so I got in touch with them to organise a possible intervention in their venue. I would be interested to conduct the forefit idea perhaps on some volunteer guests that felt inclined to participate for the day, we’ll have to see if anyone is keen.

“Therefore cultural attitudes towards holidaymaking could affect political support for social tourism as a policy tool”- (McCabe, 2009: 668).

 

 

 

Sources-

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/in-the-age-anxiety/201111/10-common-holiday-stresses-and-how-cope-them-0

https://www.healthline.com/health/holiday-stress

https://www.roughguides.com/article/package-hoildays-versus-independent-travel/

file:///Users/EstelaRodriguezHernandez/Downloads/Effects_of_vacation_from_work_on_health_and_well-b.pdf

https://ac.els-cdn.com/S0160738309000851/1-s2.0-S0160738309000851-main.pdf?_tid=548bf6fc-2a64-429a-93e9-0e1f948c634a&acdnat=1539783548_ac9a3291528e1f19f570b71fe77da48f

Workhop

Cultural capital functions as a social-relation within an economy of practices (system of exchange), and comprises all of the material and symbolic goods, without distinction, that society considers rare and worth seeking.[2] As a social relation within a system of exchange, cultural capital includes the accumulated cultural knowledge that confers social status and power.

  1. Social capital: actual and potential resources linked to the possession of a durable network of institutionalized relationships of mutual acquaintance and recognition.[5]
  2. Cultural capital: A person’s education (knowledge and intellectual skills) that provides advantage in achieving a higher social-status in society.[6]

The closest thing I could find to an eco friendly “retreat” were eco cabins located in relatively isolated countryside areas. They’re not particularly self-sustainable but they do have certain elements that make them more environmentally… considerate (I’m not sure they qualify for friendly). Now, the price of these is just insane. Like 500 to 800 per night. Cultural capital at its finest, for most are only able to afford the set prices of abroad, common destination, all inclusive holidays.
I found the cheapest one I could possibly find, (also the most basic), I am going to go to the woods, and test it out for myself with a few other people, let’s see what the experience is like.

The concept of glamping is not new at all yet for some reason its popularity remains at a pretty steady level. Why? I’m going to test out the pro’s and con’s, interview as many people as possible on the site, and hopefully have a jolly good time. This place has bio-mass boilers which sound very interesting.

The title of this post is workshop because I want to create a workshop before I test out the closest thing to my concept possible. I want to make a technological isolation workshop, in a similar manner to the way I would do it in Reset. I’m not exactly sure how. I thought maybe I could sit in a room for a whole day, let’s say 9 or 10 hours, with a box in front of me- I could ask volunteers to describe their mood with one word, and then leave the phones inside the box. Then I could go away, but knowing that their phones aren’t confiscated of taken away from them, they can always come back to pick them up whenever they please. I would time how long people could go without their phone and then ask them to describe their mood once again after they come back. I’m interested to see how far people go without feeling the need for them, and how they felt afterward- was it relief, was it anxiety, did they feel liberated or could they not stop thinking about it? I’m sure I could tweak this but the basic idea is that.

Iteration.

Following the drama that developed over the issue of whether we should keep the same tutors or not, I got the chance to reflect upon my question, for the very last time. The time is of essence at this point, and it seems rather unproductive to constantly be revising the same question based on purely semantic concerns instead of working on the project that I envisioned months ago, and that hasn’t really changed, regardless of how much I tweak the question.

The question in its final form is as follows- How can a self-sustainable package holiday be a tool for individuals to re-evaluate their work life balance in a limited time frame?

Straight to the point, a twelve year old could understand it right?

The concept is exactly the same, and the aim is exactly the same too. Reset is staying the same. It was going to stay the same regardless of how many times I rephrased, rewrote and revised that damn question.

For the festival- I’m recreating the space just how I envision it, plants and leaves everywhere, no phones allowed, no distractions, just the basics (will have to really develop this though as it’s really not a lot right now).

Feeling stuck and deflated has been a concern since the presentation occured. I was told to send people to the countryside and test out my method as thought that is first of all a perfectly reasonable thing to ask anyone I know and don’t know. Also, as much as  they intend on making us believe that CSM gives us enough name to be able to just get things like a cabin in the forest, it ain’t happening. This whole action research principle is so flawed it honestly infuriates me- “yeah bro cool idea so now yeah just like… do it you know bro”. That’s how the feedback feels. I don’t know what to do from this point onward besides ask companies to take on the idea to help me test it. When I ask about stakeholders quite literally not giving a shit about the idea they almost always address the issue to a communication problem. Newsflash, it’s not a communication problem. Stakeholders, gatekeepers and whatever have you don’t have time or energy to be reading up upon a lousy student project, because at the end of the day it is what it is, a student project.

The climate of the MA is as hostile and uncomfortable as it is right now because no-one really knows what is going on. The advice I got from another tutor was not to send people to a field, (IN FACT THEY ADVISED ME AGAINST IT) it was to do research in behavioural therapy. OK cool, I’ll do that, but then my newest tutor is like no no look into cultural currency. The core of the project is developed and when you want to take it forward, walls build in all different directions. Alas, rant over, I am going to take the newest advice because it seems like the most attainable right now, which is to research cultural currency, see if I get some sort of inspiration from it.

 

The WWOOF experience article- Bare minimum mag

The WWOOF experience.

 

WWOF stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. Their aim as an organisation is to connect organic farms to volunteers in a purely non-monetary, trust basis, to achieve a more sustainable and connected global community.

As a volunteer, you work with your host farm in a variety of tasks, which are not just limited to maintenance. There are plenty of testimonies on the WWOOF experience and how it was life changing, ground breaking or simply just enjoyable, however they’re never detailed enough, so I went ahead and I talked to Simon David, a 20 year old final year politics student who volunteered for two weeks in a farm near the coast, close to Bologna this summer.

 

I wondered why he wanted to do it in the first place, or anyone for that matter. Usually, it’s easier and probably more comfortable to book a package holiday if what you’re looking for is just to get out of the country. If the aim was to get volunteering experience, why do something that could entail heavy-duty manual labour, or the risk of ending up with a host you don’t like, or many other possible ways the experience could go wrong.

 

Simon, in a relaxed, low voice narrated the whole experience to me, and it was almost mesmerizing, so I’m going to narrate it to you-

 

This is not for everyone, that’s for sure. I like working outside with my hands, I get a deep satisfaction of seeing the fruits of my own work, feeling my sweaty forehead in the middle of the day and my tired muscles just before going to sleep, farm work is the best way to do that. On top of that, everything’s organic, the hosts eat what they grow and that’s what you get as well. You see things full circle, it’s hard to describe.

 

I chose Italy because I wanted to work somewhere with vineyards and olive trees. I love the Mediterranean diet and I felt like olives and wine are two of the core pillars. The family I stayed with had been there for 15 years and made their own wine as well, it’s just an art. They had WWOOF volunteers come from all over the world, some staying for a full year at a time.

 

I like to be separated from my day to day routine, back at home. Other WWOOFers would stay on their phones; carry them in their pockets all day whatever they were doing. Personally, I wanted to detach from everything for a while. It’s an adjustment in the first few days, but once you get used to it the structure of your day changes completely. It’s bizarre how much of our lives are dictated by the devices that are supposed to make it easier. Over there, I stuck to a simple routine that included the tasks for the day, the meal times and that was pretty much it, it was surprisingly liberating.

 

You’re never finishing something quickly to get onto the next task, you have to take your time, do everything meticulously. From breakfast from mid morning I’d be shovelling donkey shit, and I could have done it in 45 minutes but if it weren’t done well, you’d just have to come back and do it all over again. It’s just a completely different mind-set, the speed that dictates our normal lives is obsolete over there, you just have to do a good job every time, even if that meant I would be shovelling shit for 8 hours. It sounds unpleasant but you would be surprised how rewarding it can be to know it was a job well done, no matter how menial.

 

If I had a choice I definitely would have done it for longer. It’s a great way to see a country, explore different types of farming and people. It would be hard to do it for more than one month in the same place unless you really know the hosts. Hoping around is essential, there are so many different hosts, different routines and different methods of farming to explore.

 

If I had to complain about anything is that there were scorpions and I didn’t know there’d be any. I was moving rubble to clean out a barn and a scorpion crawled over my hand, it was horrifying. I later found out they were not poisonous and at most a bite from them feels like a bee sting, but as an aracnophobe I was really not feeling it.

 

Manual work takes a lot of concentration, but you also have a lot of room to think. A part of your brain is heavily focused whilst the other is reasoning, envisioning, dreaming and everything in between. You’re also giving a lot of thought to your choices, your life as it is in that moment. You actually have the time to think about things while you mind is occupied with the task, it’s not something you can do very often.

 

This experience is just something else. It really depends on the person, but I would definitely recommend it. Some people don’t like manual labour or being outside but if you’re into it, then don’t even hesitate. You learn so many things as you go as well, what you eat when you eat it and how it grew, why things grow, natural pesticides, food waste, its all so interesting.

 

Self-sustainable food growing definitely appealed to me before this experience, and more so after the fact, but I’ve seen how hard it can be. I think it’s an admirable lifestyle, I would love to get to that point, but for the time being, every small part helps. Whether you do it because it will taste better or because it feels good, it’s all worth it for your personal gain-

 

With that, the conversation ended and so did the topic, but it floated on my mind for the next few ours. It sounds so simple yet it was hard to wrap my mind around the whole experience, and with that I felt an incredible urge to go ahead and to it myself.

I’m not particularly keen on farm work or scorpions, yet for some reason the desire to be there and see it all for myself started to creep in; maybe reading Simon’s experience in his soft relaxed voice will spark that desire on you too.

Federation of city farms & community gardens.

Intervention-

So I got in touch with the coordinator of the London of the federation of city farms & community gardens. My proposed intervention is to gain feedback from them by measuring the perceived happiness/fulfillment levels that the participants of a specific farm (preferably in Tower Hamlets) have, and how far they relate that to their participation on projects like those. I’m aware that most community gardens are used specifically for gardening and city farms are used for larger scale farming, so I also asked (this is a far shot), if I could be allocated a plot of land to be used specifically for self sustainable purposes. If I get that far, I will encourage members of my target audience who are willing to participate, and also myself, to begin planting on that plot food crops for later consumption. I have no assumptions on how that would go. Maybe it’s a complete fail, but I want to measure the levels of commitment and interest that could arise from this.

She replied really promptly actually, scheduled a phone call for this Friday, so I reckon this might actually work eeek!