Portraits of the Sustainability Dialogue

Meet Ha.  

Ha came from Viet-Nam to join last week's 'Purpose and Profit' course at Schumacher College in Devon. Participants arrived from Belgium, Brazil, Malaysia, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal and the UK to join in dialogue around sustainability and business.

Facilitator's Chris Nichols, Chris Seeley and Mark Skipper kept us (just about :-) on track with some great process while I was given the freedom to dip in and out of the conversation and snap away when opportunities arose.

The week deliberately avoided the idea of 'tools' for sustainability and challenged instead, the mechanistic, exploitative assumptions that lead us towards language that makes us to believe we can be 'fixers'. The world, it seems, doesn't need us to work on it - we need to participate in it while thinking ethically and holistically.

During my time as 'photographer-in-residence' I managed to capture each of the participants (and a few other amazing characters).  So why have I chosen Ha to represent this story?

Beautiful and from what felt to me like another world, Ha was softly spoken, gentle, fragile... She could be emblematic of the kind of conversation and relationships we need to develop true sustainability. 

We also know that Vietnamese energy use is miniscule in comparison to our carbon-spewing Western lifestyles. But perhaps more disturbing is that, as reported last week in the Guardian, the carbon foot-print of most Vietnamese citizens is lower than that of an average UK family pet.

Things need to change.