rheomode

…………………………the research base of jon goodbun

Green New Dialogues – Towards a World in which Many Worlds Fit

On September 16th and 17th 2020 I organised two days of workshops and lectures for the RCA cross-college Doctoral Training Programme, which included a first day on ‘Ecologies of Care’, which featured Susana Calo talking about her research (with Godofredo Pereira on CERFI) and Nora Bateson on Warm Data. The second day focused on the Green New Deal, and included Adrian Lahoud on Rights of Future Generations, Julian Siravo from Commonwealth on their GND report, and I gave an abridged version of a paper on the Green New Deal to be published in Making Futures, called Green New Dialogues. This is me giving that paper:

Filed under: Uncategorized,

Bartlett/UCL MA Architecture Seminar 2020-21: Green New Deal/Green New Dialogues: Towards a World in which Many Worlds Fit

Among my various teaching positions is a decade long post at the London’s Bartlett School of Architecture (UCL), where I have the pleasure to run an elective seminar each year for a selection of MA Architecture Students, broadly titled The Ecological Calculus. I attach this years reading programme below

HT6 Green New Dialogues – Towards a world in which many worlds fit.

Dr Jon Goodbun 2020-21

The call for environmental justice, and the recognition that the effects of environmental change will be played out through class, gender, race and neo-colonial structures, articulates an essential socialisation and politicisation of what is at stake in thinking through our responses to ecological crisis.

Given the emerging scale of the environmental transformations that we are still now only in the early stages of, demands for a new planetary project of ecological planning are being raised from many quarters. These demands call for rapid and fundamental changes to the global supply chains and processes of production that feed our transportation, energy, food, manufacturing and production systems. Questions of planning confront us at every scale, from the implementation of the recommendations of the UN IPCC, through the measurement geopolitical resource flows through new international solidarities, to emissions management and carbon sequestration, land use changes and so much more. As these demands hit the ground within specific historically and geographically determined conditions, they become inseparable from questions of environmental justice, questions of ownership, and questions of social management. The need for both critical reflection and multi-dimension design research in architecture, urbanism, landscape studies and design activism is clear.

This double demand, for climate justice AND for an urgent ecological reorganisation and decarbonisation of the global production, have been articulated in different ways through practically all of the various Green New Deal proposals to have emerged in recent years.

The first Green New Deal was proposed in 2008, in a joint paper written in the UK by a group from the UK Green Party and the New Economics Foundation, called the Green New Deal Group. This group has expanded and continued to produce new work to this day, including the introduction of a Green New Deal Bill (unsuccessfully) to the UK Parliament in 2019, by Green MP Caroline Lucas and Labour MP Clive Lewis, and which fed into the manifestos of both the UK’s Green and Labour Parties manifestos in the 2019 General Election. In the same year in the USA, the Green New Deal Resolution was put to the US House of Representatives by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) and to the Senate by Senator Ed Markey, a platform that was also later adopted by the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign, and which is now strongly influencing (albeit with resistance to its more radical aspects) the emerging manifesto of likely Democratic candidate Joe Biden.

Almost all of the Green New Deal papers have three main components in some form or other, perhaps most clearly laid out in the 2019 Green New Deal for Europe report put forward by Yannis Varoufakis and the DiEM group: 1. Green Public Works: a broad green transition, decarbonisation and job creation programme organised around an environmental justice agenda, 2. a new democratic, legal and institutional infrastructure for delivering this and achieving a just transition, and 3. an Environmental Justice Commission with a global remit.

There were problems with the GND proposals as they stood in 2019. The adoption of a political imaginary from 30s depression-era US history might resonate in that region, and maybe UK/Europe, but it could easily be a problem in the rest of the world. Similarly, it was not clear how the demands for the growth of a new green infrastructure in the world’s richest nations would not actually reinforce an extractivist flow of mineral resources from the global south – such as lithium, cobalt, copper etc – and intensify some of the most environmentally problematic practices on the planet, almost invariably involving the exploitation and desecration of indigenous lands and peoples. In short, the GNDs, for all of their intentions otherwise, invariably articulated themselves through national concerns, and frequently risked unleashing a new green colonialism.

The defeats sustained by the green left (Corbyn and Sanders) across Europe and North America and beyond through 2019 and into 2020 might well have been expected to have sunk the renewed interest in a Green New Deal agenda before it could really get going. But that has not been the case. There are several reasons for that.

The SARS-CoV-2 virus, was identified in December 2019 in Wuhan, China. The first victims of the disease that it causes – COVID-19 –, have now been traced back a month earlier. By April 2020 the World Health Organisation had declared it a pandemic and it had spread around the world, placing large sections of the global economy in an uneven shutdown. In fact, the uneven pattern of infections, deaths, and changed spatial and labour relations, revealed that a pandemic is never simply the product of a mass of viruses, spreading through a neutral space and affecting everyone equally. It is rather, the result of what happens when our normally obscured environmental architectures of social relations act as a discriminating exposure infrastructure for pathogens and pathologies of all kinds.

The evidence is clear that the death rates for working class ethnic minorities from COVID-19 are quite disproportionate. Being poor and black is, it turns out, in terms of medical statistics, a pre-existing condition. But the death and serious infection rates for ethnic minorities under COVID-19 are simply amplifying what we have already long known – that environmental change, breakdown and crisis, ALWAYS play out through the class, gender, race and neo-colonial structures.

Arguably today the single most important development as the GND has moved beyond a green infrastructure and solutions-based discussion, towards the broader dialogue now maturing into a multi-scalar counter-hegemonic political project, has been the productive and critical engagement of indigenous communities across the Americas and beyond with the GND question. This is certainly in no small part due to the fact that Ocasio-Cortez was already recognised by these communities as a ‘Water Protector’, through her activist work at Standing Rock in opposition to the oil pipeline across Sioux lands, which preceded her standing for election to Congress.

The Indigenous Environmental Network called for any GND to work within their Just Transition framework, cautioned against using the language of ‘stakeholders’ rather than ‘rights holders’, and strongly criticised the adoption of REDD+ (simplistic reforestation to offset emission) and the use of a language of zero-emissions, which they argue is always ultimately the language of a carbon trading ‘green’ capitalism.

Meanwhile revolutionary indigenous activists The Red Nation –  published their response, the Red Deal, stating that:

‘it’s not the Red New Deal as it is the same ‘Old Deal’ – the fulfilment of treaty rights, land restoration, … ours is the oldest class struggle in the Americas: centuries long resistance for a world in which many worlds fit… The Red Deal is not a counter program to the GND. It is a call for action beyond the scope of the US colonial state.’

The environmental racism revealed by the COVID-19 pandemic has helped to feed a massive new wave of struggle around #blacklivesmatter and #antifa, in parallel with an unfolding political and economic struggle over the repercussions – both positive and negative – of the lockdown of economic activity. For those now fighting for a just recovery, and those who want to use this moment to restructure and rebalance the global economy, have found in the GND a set of ready made positions to align with.

However, there are fundamental problems regarding the very possibility of planning and justice. We need to somehow plan these changes, but we need also need to totally reimagine the very possibilities of planning, as a part of the problem is our ideas about planning themselves, or rather, the very fact of our attempting to plan anything, especially regarding ecological systems. When goals are set by an instrumental conscious purpose based upon a necessarily partial viewpoint, and unmediated by a wider eco-systemic awareness, all kinds of pathologies play out. The great lesson of radical cybernetics was not ‘how to control ecological systems’ but rather that we can’t control ecological systems. We can steer a boat, but we can’t steer an ocean…

This seminar will review the key documents that have emerged regarding the Green New Deal in recent years, and the wider global discussion, in particular looking at responses from indigenous communities and the Global South. In particular, we will take up the Zapatista demand – rearticulated by The Red Nation – for a ‘world in which many worlds fit’ as the key framework for articulating a Green New Dialogue…

Week 1: Designing in the End Times

UN IPCC Summary Report:

Summary for Policymakers of IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C approved by governments

https://www.ipcc.ch/2018/10/08/summary-for-policymakers-of-ipcc-special-report-on-global-warming-of-1-5c-approved-by-governments/embed/#?secret=eJtf6gbbVS

Jon Goodbun interview with Caliper Journal:

https://caliperjournal.online/TOM-LEMON-DR-JON-GOODBUN

Kathryn Yusoff, A Billion Black Anthropocenes or None. University of Minnesota Press. Minneapolis, 2018

(Available free online at https://manifold.umn.edu/read/untitled-5f0c83c1-5748-4091-8d8e-72bebca5b94b/section/5cd42c2a-f2fe-4d41-89ae-cb891dc634b5)

Secondary

Zadie Smith, What Do We Want History to Do to Us? 

What Do We Want History to Do to Us?

https://www.nybooks.com/articles/2020/02/27/kara-walker-what-do-we-want-history-to-do-to-us/embed/#?secret=Afm2aMWtRZ

Week 2: The Green New Deal: Problems and Possibilities

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Naomi Klein and The Intercept:

https://theintercept.com/2019/04/17/green-new-deal-short-film-alexandria-ocasio-cortez/

DiEM, A GND for Europe/A Blueprint for Europe’s Just Transition:

https://www.gndforeurope.com/

Why Race Matters When We Talk About the Environment, An interview with Dr. Robert Bullard

Why Race Matters When We Talk About the Environment

https://www.greenpeace.org/usa/why-race-matters-when-we-talk-about-the-environment/embed/#?secret=i4SVi3EsMf

Secondary

Labour for a GND:

https://www.labourgnd.uk/our-vision

Green Party: What is the GND

https://20for2020.greenparty.org.uk/articles/gnd

Jon Goodbun, ‘Green New Dialogue’, in Making Futures. Berlin, 2021 (prepub)

Kate Aronoff, Alyssa Battistoni, Daniel Aldana Cohen and Thea Riofrancos, A Planet to Win – Why We Need a Green New Deal

Noam Chomsky and Robert Pollin, Climate Crisis and the Global Green New Deal

Ann Pettifor, The Case for the Green New Deal

Week 3: Climate Justice and Indigenous New Deals

Ghassan Hage, Is Racism an Environmental Threat? Cambridge: Polity Press, 2017

The Red Nation, The Red Deal

https://therednation.org/2019/09/22/the-red-deal/

Indigenous Environmental Network, Principles of a Just Transition

Just Transition

https://www.ienearth.org/justtransition/embed/#?secret=soAvjFwgmC

Secondary:

Jon Goodbun, On the Possibility of an Ecological Dialogue

Jon Goodbun: On the Possibility of an Ecological Dialogue

https://www.making-futures.com/jon-goodbun-on-the-possibility-of-an-ecological-dialogue/embed/#?secret=RdscQlg8vg

Week 4: A world in which many worlds fit

Arturo Escobar, Designs for the Pluriverse. Durham NC: Duke University Press, 2018

Matt Broomfield, How a Revolution Really Feels: Rojava 8 Years On

How a Revolution Really Feels: Rojava 8 Years On

https://novaramedia.com/2020/07/17/how-a-revolution-really-feels-rojava-8-years-on/embed/#?secret=cQqHG0Y78M

Donna Harraway, Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene.  Durham NC: Duke University Press, 2016

Week 5: The Production of Nature

Martin Arboleda, Planetary Mine – Territories of Extraction under Late Capitalism. London: Versos, 2019

Jason W Moore, Capitalism in the Web of Life. London: Versos, 2015

Elizabeth A. Povinelli, Geontologies: A Requiem to Late Liberalism.  Durham NC: Duke University Press, 2016

Secondary:

Jon Goodbun et al, The Design of Scarcity. Moscow: Strelka, 2014

Week 6: Responses from architecture and design schools: contributing to a Green New Dialogue

Leopold Lambert, Futurisms Introduction for Funambulist Issue 24 

https://thefunambulist.net/articles/futurisms-introduction-leopold-lambert

Billy Fleming, Design and the Green New Deal

Design and the Green New Deal

https://placesjournal.org/article/design-and-the-green-new-deal/embed/#?secret=mpbyDEFkem

AALU discussion: How do we confront a world on fire? – Design and The Green New Deal on a Warming Planet

https://www.aaschool.ac.uk/publicprogramme/whatson/session-6-how-do-we-confront-a-world-on-fire–design-and-the-green-new-deal-on-a-warming-planet

Secondary:

The Green New Deal Superstudio: An Open Call

https://www.wconline.com/articles/93214-the-green-new-deal-superstudio-an-open-call

The Architecture Lobby, Statement on the Green New Deal

http://architecture-lobby.org/project/t-a-l-statement-on-the-green-new-deal/

Filed under: ecology, Green New Deal, research, teaching,

ARCHITECTURE AND ENVIRONMENTALISM BEYOND THE PANDEMIC

Back in April I was interviewed by Tom Lemon regarding some of the effects of the Covid virus from a perspective of environmental architecture for the online journal Caliper. It has gone live today here: https://caliperjournal.online/TOM-LEMON-DR-JON-GOODBUN

Filed under: ecology, Green New Deal, research, , , ,

About

rheomode is the research base of Dr Jon Goodbun
.

I have a background in architectural theory, design research and practice, which over the last two decades has focused ever more on environmental and ecological research and practice, and what this means for how we think about space. or spacetime, as a semiotic mediating field of material, biological and mental worlds. This has led me to work with ideas and thinkers who present challenges to some of the very premises of modern science, and the divisions between both the natural, social and political sciences, and between the sciences and humanities… divisions which are the legacy of western enlightenment thinking. I have pursued this work both in mainstream academic institutions such as the RCA, but also non-orthodox institutions such as Schumacher College, the Pari Institute and Burning Man, as well as in activist political arenas, and a series of independent educational and research initiatives.

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jcgoodbun (a) mac.com

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