Friday, July 15, 2011

Porcupines You Can Live In: Degrowth and Its Pleasures

I attended the July 8 opening party at the Yerba Buena Center For the Arts. My attention was drawn by Suzanne Husky’s Sleeper Cell Hotel exhibit. There we find three porcupine-like structures, made out of wood pieces. Peeking in, you see there is soft bedding inside them, an invitation to curl up inside and exist off the grid in your very own beehive in the forest, or perhaps in the urban landscape. A handmade sign labeled “Degrowth” suggests this is an encampment of activists—you might become one! Informational materials are scattered around. I was gratified to learn about the concept of Degrowth. If I get it correctly, here is Degrowth in a nutshell:

Why keep pushing our economy to expand continuously when this very economic growth has been the root of environmental degradation? Let’s take our hours out of the market and put them into making culture here together. Let’s get rich in hours “spent”/given over to creating community among us! (Sounds fun!)

Yes, I always have always wondered why newscasters announce the number of "new housing starts" as a measure of our economy's health, when new housing starts inevitably imply new destruction of habitat. (Am I missing something?)

The exhibit quotes Wikipedia on Degrowth:
Degrowth thinkers and activists advocate for the downscaling of production and consumption—the contraction of economies—as overconsumption lies at the root of long term environmental issues and social inequalities. Reducing consumption does not require individual martyring and a decrease in well-being.
Rather, 'degrowthists' aim to maximize happiness and well-being through non-consumptive means—sharing work, consuming less, while devoting more time to art, music, family, culture and community.
See more on Suzanne Husky's art

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