Of Change and Connectedness

A single interesting string of chronology that has driven us, to, fro and sometimes in circles. All pushed at velocities that are no longer linear but exponential. We all have moved. shifted, juxtaposed, pushed, pulled and coerced to make it through. To emerge standing albeit on shaky legs post our roller coaster ride with all the changes we have had to accommodate. Some good, some not so good. Yet what matters is that we are still standing.

But is that all that matters?

According to Thomas Friedman the three largest forces on the planet, technology, globalization and climate change are all accelerating at once. They together are causing a medley of change that is unprecedented. Everything is getting reduced- speed, time, data, machines. Smaller and smaller. However, the change caused by this is getting larger. Larger than life as we know it today. So large that we can barely cope with imagining it, forget seeing it! We all ride on this merry go round and our only interest is staying on.

Staying on for what?

Every day we learn, there is more to learn. Every day we move forward, only to discover we are behind.
Behind time.
Behind understandings.
Behind ethics. The intensity of life is increasing. Leaving us in turmoil with almost no recourse but to adapt. And adapt fast.
Thus the problem today is not speed itself but the speed at which we have to constantly reshape ourselves, our environment and our institutions.
Needless to say, it is exhausting.
And even more so when you find yourself cast in the repeated tempo of, quick reactions, hasty decisions and swift reasoning’s.
Moving in circles, arriving at short sighted solutions, just so that one can be a serious contender in the race.

In the race to where?

Perhaps we need to pause.
A short intake of breath. A putting down of the coffee cup on your table. A fleeting moment of looking out of your car window.

A small flicker of rethink maybe?

Dov Seidman, CEO of LRN, noted that when you press the pause button on a machine it stops but when you press the pause button on human beings they start. Thus it is not a luxury to pause. It is a necessity. To better understand the world whizzing by us at breakneck speeds. So we can answer real questions, so we can re-examine our processes, so we can reimagine our purposes, so we can build better engagements with the world around us.

And here I mean immediately around us, for while we are all better for the facebooks, twitters and instagrams of the world we are less engaged with its reality. While we see its images, we are losing our fundamental ability to read its faces. While we grow in intelligences, virtual and artificial we are unable to process the probabilities of this knowledge.
We all are in the midst of a vast tectonic shift. The industrial revolution was a ten million people story and today this is a few billion people story. A few billion people who are in danger of being dislocated or worse isolated. It is these people, the ones far away and the ones around us that need to feel connected. So they can collaborate, so they can create, so they can produce. That can and should be the end result of all that we attempt this year.

We as architects cannot change the world and nor do we need to. The politicians are busy taking care of that drawing and withdrawing geo-graphs across the planet. The economists are now trading innovations as currency. The technologists are finding new frontiers in space and even within the layered mitochondria of our DNA. The teachers are learning more so they can teach how to unlearn and the media is fast losing the race to eight year old bloggers that have an opinion on everything.

What we do best, is re-imagine.
Reimagine the world machine not for efficiency but for the very qualities that make this the best and (until this moment) the only place for human beings.
For trust, for kindness, for small and big human connections. We can mentor these imaginings to address the needs of deep human longings, of human inspirations and energies.

How do we do this?

We need to see our colleague’s, in office, on sites and workshops hear their stories. Their real life stories. We can smell a garden, the tree and the small resilient bud that hides behind the smog. We can see the shadows in the mounds of gravel and read the lines in the excavations of our sites. We can admire the sole ant that trails the dry sands and the birds that perch precariously on our architecture. All teaching us to see connections. To build connections. Between what is real and what lies in the depths of our imaginations. For if cannot imagine it …it can never be real.

“Lives are changed when people connect. Life is changed when everything is connected” Qualcomm motto.

Perhaps this is the year to re-imagine.

Our roles, our purposes and most importantly our profession.
We cannot merely be a practice of things repeated. We have to grow.
We have to be the ones that make a practice of seeing new connections. Twisting and untwisting real and surreal, into translations that everyone understands. Into a language that is humane. Thinking, working and filled with simple humanness.

3 thoughts on “Of Change and Connectedness

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