Tag Archives: Values design

Sustainable Design for Flourishing Fashion

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How do we build trust in a complex multi-stakeholder relationship where the product is based on price?

Apparel matters.  We wear clothes throughout our life, yet little thought is given to modern garment making except for the cost. Despite well-meant laws, international trade policies, and CSR audit reporting, a mistrust gap exists between makers and end users on whether garments are sweatshop-free, endorse fair trade, or are relatively more or less sustainable. The session explored the systems of production and disposal of Catholic school uniforms, which bear a unique responsibility to their buyers to ensure equity and sustainability. Uniforms are mandated and bought by individual families have little say in ensuring that the people who made their clothes have worker equity and safety.

Kelly Okamura organized this design inquiry into sustainable product design held at Nuvango Gallery for the April 2016 DwD.  With a group of 25 particpants and industry stakeholders, we took a deep dive into what she calls Flourishing Fashion. The group explored the problem of how to build product trust and ensure that mandated school uniforms  – first purchased through a tendered bid process that includes CSR policy – are made with worker equity.

Kelly-uniform

Contemporary ethical garment making is difficult and the garment industry is extremely competitive. It’s very hard to make a profit if you do it right – made with worker equity and respect for the planet throughout the entire process. Buying garments in a transparent global market is equally tough when mistrust has been built based on evidence that is hearsay. And for mandated Catholic school uniforms, this make-take relationship compounds when a wearer doesn’t have a choice to vote with their purchasing dollars or mindlessly buy fast fashion.

Don Officer followed up with Kelly with a brief interview following the event.  Kelly describes in her own words what “flourishing fashion” represents:

“Flourishing Fashion addresses the desire to make sell and buy in a modern world where our purchasing choices impact living beings and planet. It addresses a major systemic equilibrium shift that impacts all of us as consumers of goods. In this broad sense, the reference to fashion is not just about clothing but fashion is a reflection of our times. It requires a new systemic understanding for the need to support more 3P (Profit with respect for People and Planet) goods for a finite planet if we want humanity to flourish.”

Q: As far as you know, who accepts and values that notion?

They identify as the fastest growing consumer group – the Aspirationals – who still want to buy ‘fashion’ but want to know their product’s origin and are willing to pay more for products that better align with their ethical values.

Q: Why should we care? 

We all wear clothes and make purchasing choices.  If we all keep buying stuff, consumers responsibility begins with purchasing goods, and we all have to better understand our roles as consumers in the purchasing system.

Q: Did you find the DwD group curious about flourishing fashion?

Since we all consume the immediate understanding is we are all active participants, not observers so the dialogues were engaging even if the wicked problem focused on mandated school uniforms. It was challenging to contain the dialogue and even bring the session to a timely close. The discussion continued after the event with both participants and later with others who expressed interest in future dialogues on the subject but did not attend.

Q: How did they engage on the topic? 

I showed a short film clip to create a personal awareness that most consumers don’t think beyond the price tag about of their purchases. So the attendee engagement was both on a conceptual level with the wicked problem focused on mandated school uniforms as well as on more personal relationships with their clothing.  For example, pointing out other required information on all textile products prompted some attendees to look up information on the clothes they wore to the session.  Stephen, my session collaborator, gained insight on information beyond the price tag, and began looking at clothing in a more informed way even before the DwD session took place.

Q: Did you detect any consensus or streams of thought?

There wasn’t consensus on a solution for the wicked problem presented.  But that’s understandable since our small group dialogues focused on segments of the apparel loop. On reflection, comments noted when we reconvened in full circle, could be encapsulated as a need for transparency. And generally, the take-away was a greater understanding there are no easy answers to establishing trust in global supply chains.  As individuals, attendees recognized more clearly how we are all active consumers in the modern apparel system.

Q: What was your biggest takeaway? 

My biggest take-away was a confirmation that consumers are interested in being more informed about their purchasing choices beyond the price tag. Apparel is a useful metaphor for our consuming habits and validating the high ratio of consumers who are not indifferent to the impact that their purchasing makes once they are informed, matters. I also immediately gained great content for my gooderGoods podcast #14 – Mis-Trust. You can hear it on rabble.ca or on soundcloud.  Note the visual for Mis-Trust was not a piece of clothing but the case of water purchased for the event.

Q: How might FF relate to design thinking? 

Fashion is an applied art. Design thinking is outcome driven vs. purely creative thought.  Often fashion is considered frivolous or on an esthetical level but for most of us, the retail price is a constraint to sell through or textile waste.  And combined with a respect for people and planet make it a wicked problem that is solvable but requires an equilibrium system shift.  Solutions to parts can contribute to the problem but to scale it needs greater accountability throughout the system that includes with consumers. Educating consumers on both their power and how they contribute to keeping the status quo is an important part of creating the shift.  That’s why I’m chasing Flourishing vs. Sustainable Fashion.  We want to continue to make sell and buy desirable products with holistic growth NOT sustain the purchasing process we have now.

Q: Where might the FF transformation come from? 

I love Frances Westley’s insight that change is hard but can also happen in the blink of an eye.  With clothing, it is something that literally touches us daily, and we are generally in control of what we choose to purchase, or not.

 

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See the recent event on Fair Labour and the Living Wage with Kelly Okamura and Auret van Heerden at The Fashion Institute of Technology, March 2016.

 

 

 

Idea Convener – Kelly Okamura 

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Kelly is a product designer and design strategist who is exploring the opportunities for flourishing business thinking in the fast-moving world of fashion and textiles. She is currently investigating the complexity of the purchasing system to provide solutions for transformative change. You can check out her gooderGoods podcasts on conscious consumption at rabble.ca or Soundcloud.

 

Strategic Learning: Personal innovation in a fluid environment

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How might we enhance our experience of learning to accord with personal or professional strategy?

Can we strategically direct our learning individually and together to adapt and lead through a changing world?

June’s DwD was hosted by Donald Officer, delving into a shared inquiry and practices toward discovery of our personal lifetime learning potentials.  Strategic learning can be viewed as choosing what we specifically need to know and practice to reach goals and commitments, during a time when traditional practices of learning are themselves in the midst of change.

Learning practices have become diffused, breaking boundaries of media and form, and can be seen as chaotically disruptive. Universities have launched MOOCs of their top professor’s courses, diploma mills have gone online, and students become debt burdened in pursuit of formal educations that may be obsolete before program completion. Training, facilitating, coaching abound.

Each of us has the opportunity to remake ourselves in a serious powerful way while connecting with others to make massive significant change. To do this we have to realize something so obvious it’s as invisible as the air we breathe.

June.CIrcle

 

The session further developed ideas in small group exercises and open reflective dialogue:

  • Recrafting personal mission statements to build transformative learning
  • Learning for them versus learning for you – no, it isn’t self indulgent
  • Ways we learn that schools won’t acknowledge and what to do about it.
  • Just in time, just in case and just because we feel like it
  • Necessity not curriculum is the mother of invention
  • Learning to think strategically (and save yourself from the planners)
  • Powerful media (new and old) tools we all can access
  • How to curate your own learning space

 

 

 

Informal like strategic learning is by nature non-linear. During the June DwD workshop we made some important connections while many more remained implicit. Don provides further context:

Microlearning Experiential learning and neuroscience: The neuroscience lies in the way we both construct new associations on the neural framework of existing linkages and also on the way the brain becomes more fully engaged via novelty, especially confronting potential threats. A little danger is a learning thing. The inner game: Timothy Gallwey’s approach to learning as evidenced in his inner game books, is to bring the routine into focus as though it were novel, since we never intentionally change what we do not take note of. Meaningful deliberate change starts with reflection and then proceeds to the rallying of motivation.

Metalearning Building a self: we touched on this only lightly and indirectly in the workshop. The simple definition of metalearning is learning how to learn which, presumably, leads to a helpful form of self knowledge. See also learning curation. At greater length we discussed surfing and diving, a fairly intuitive double metaphor to, on the one hand, approach information or data that requires little analysis before it presents its meaning versus delving deep into interpretation which on the other hand, demands murky speculation before it offers up meaningful results.

Learning curation did not really get discussed. This concept comprises everything from scrapbooks to blogs, always implying significantly more. It includes live links, all manner of graphic representation, wikis, webinars, contact lists, notes in any form or whatever else keys into learning touchstones that might in the manner of a museum diorama grow into an entire expanse or long thick thread of knowledge.

Informal learning model (diagram and discussion)- During the session we briefly examined an experiential learning diagram of David Kolb’s 4 point Concrete Experience through Active Experimentation model. Kolb’s representation resonates with neuro-scientific research shown below as is Julia Sloan’s dynamic 3 step Strategic Thinking model (Preparation, Experience and Re-evaluation). In the full version, arrows and the rectangle connect by multiple feedback loops while a series of curved arrows represents turbulence and resolution within the Experience phase. Both depict change models alluding to cognitive and affective challenges as well as conflicting mindsets or paradigms , but to be precise, both operate more from a learning perspective than from a general psychological framework.

 

Triangulation to assess informal or strategic learning – was suggested as a form of disconfirming heuristic. The idea is that without the more familiar landmarks of formal knowledge the informal learner might test a particular learning against intuitive, perceptual and reasoned benchmarks. These modes are not infallible even in concert of course, but might very well keep the learner focussed and oriented on the bigger picture until the landscape better defines itself.

 

June.Pres

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Part 2 in DwD Series on New Learning: Paths to Discovery

An evolving bibliography and references

  • Postmodern Education: Politics, Culture, & Social Criticism by Stanley Aronowitz and Henry A. Giroux; University of Minnesota Press; Minneapolis, 1991.
  • Informal Learning: Rediscovering the Natural Pathways that Inspire Innovation and Performance by Jay Cross; Pfeiffer (John Wiley &Sons); San Francisco, 2007.
  • The Inner Game of Work: Focus, Learning, Pleasure and Mobility in the Workplace by W. Timothy Gallwey; Random House; New York, 2000.
  • Learning to Think Strategically: Second Edition by Julia Sloan; Routledge; London and New York, 2014.
  • Infed – The website on Informal Education (highly recommended)

 

About the Host

Donald R. Officer has been a writer, planner, communicator, management consultant and educator for over three decades. Persistently seeking better ways to approach the fuvaluesture and how to live there, he has become a strong advocate for a major rethinking about our ideas on innovation. Don’s recent career as life coach has launched a serious innovative rethinking of his own life and the meaning of learning and professional practice, insights which he shares with DwD in this session.

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Don has written articles for newspapers, journals and magazines and edited policy papers, newsletters and on-line forums. He continues to review books and write articles on many social change topics, especially strategic thinking,for magazines and his blog, The Intention Coach.  Meanwhile he continues to toil away writing longer works on psychology and education. These are destined for wider publication.

Cultural Values & Social Change: The Common Cause Framework

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How do cultural values shape environmental and social movements?
How might deepening our understanding of cultural values and frames help us to co-create the solutions for a more equitable, sustainable and democratic society?
May’s DwD was hosted by Aryne Sheppard, who led an inquiry into the Common Cause framework as an instrument for understanding how we are shaped by our culture and the way in which we respond, both as individuals and collectively, to the most pressing problems that we face.

Environmental campaigns tend to fall into two categories:

1. Public engagement and behaviour change; and,
2. Institutional (corporate or government) engagement.

But there is a deeper level we must consider as we move towards a sustainable future: the realm of values. Cultural values influence our behaviours, attitudes and voting decisions. Culture is a key influence in shaping our view of the world and our sense of responsibilities within it. As social change leaders, it is critical to understand the role values play in individual lives and cultural norms. Working to understand and rebalance cultural values is a powerful tool if our goal is to build a more equitable, sustainable and democratic society.

Aryne

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aryne discussed how power dynamics in society are seldom the subject of public scrutiny and debate. The dialogue explored how fostering intrinsic values—among them self-acceptance, care for others, and concern for the natural world—has real and lasting benefits.

Valuesmap

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Common Cause model, with a values mapping resulting from participants selection of supporting values (green) and negating values (red) with respect to societal betterment, based on our individual perspectives.

For more information explore The Common Cause Framework 

About the Host

As an adult educator and facilitator, Aryne Sheppard has worked in the areas of personal growth & wellness, leadership development and community capacity-building for over 12 years. She has have a track record of creating innovative, experientially-based programs in both the non-profit and public sectors.  She believes that valuing the inner life, as individuals and as a society, is one of the most important things we can do to create deep and lasting change. Aryne earned her professional designation as an educator from OISE / UofT, specializing in Transformative Learning, with a Master’s degree in Adult Education & Counseling Psychology (2004). Aryne currently works with the David Suzuki Foundation in Toronto and her consulting practice is called Living Simply.

Designing a ‘Whealthy’ Life

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How can I gain confidence that the choices I make will allow me to thrive? What implications do my choices have for myself and my community?

In October’s DwD, Eric Rosenberg shared how concepts from financial asset management might craft a broader ‘human portfolio’. We investigated the principles and practices of ‘value investing’ and its connections to wealth and well-being. Participants examined their inventory of existing prosperity tools recognize ‘expenditures’ for which they’re taking responsibility, and began creating a ‘choice architecture’ designed to realize a Life Well Spent.

About the host

Eric Rosenberg is a nature-inspired city guy with strong curiosities and big talent for turning what he learns and how he sees it into forms and content that engage us. He has a post-industrial sensibility, meaning his inclinations are toward a small-scale, grassroots way of life, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach. Eric has degrees in finance, fine art, and education, which feed his passion to voice and gather people around the idea of developing their own human portfolio that serves as a foundation from which they design a life of their own choosing – a life well spent. Learn more about Eric’s own developing portfolio at healthymoney.ca.