Optimistic Grumpiness & other qualities of Transition Design

image from the talk of Terry Irwin, 2013

… and many other beautiful thoughts about a design for transitions towards viable and desirable futures. Watch the video of their talk on the web site of AIGA*. Terry Irwin, Gideon Kossoff and Cameron Tonkinwise present “Transition Design”, a kind of framework they use to understand how design and design education can work towards real sustainability. I appreciate how they try to integrate quite heterogeneous issues and thoughts in a holistic way. And i enjoy the diversity of their style, too. Great teamwork, and in this they do what they preach.The only issue i am missing is power structures and conflicts on interests. Like many sustainability-related discourses they are all about bringing things and people together, all about “co-…” and “trans…”. I completely agree that this is important. Also the focus on “lifestyles” makes sense. But also politics, power and conflicts matter. Conflicts (of interest) and power structures are real, and won’t go away anytime soon. Therefore, better deal with them. Also in the pursue for sustainability. Regarding this Critical Theory offers a rich source of intellectual instruments, and  Political Ecology connects this emancipatory research with sustainability discourse (and practices). At least this is what i just learned form Daniela Gottschlich, our teacher in Political Ecology on the MA Eco-Social Design (find slides and readings related to her introduction on the blog of the annual topic ESSEN / ALIMENTARE / FOOD).

* The more engaged can read their paper “Transition Design” in Design Philosophy Papers, 13:1, 1-2. Unfortunately it is not freely available. It is a comprehensive compilation of articles. More recent than the talk they gave in 2013. I still have to read the paper. Maybe they tackle questions of power and conflict there (?).