The following video comes with a disclaimer: it may make you uneasy, but I insist you watch it.
It’s an uncomfortable fact that somehow, on some level, we are all complicit with what takes place in this animation. We just don’t see it happening; we only buy the products that are produced by the machine and are a result of the torture of animals, the dependence on oil and it’s by-products, the exploitation of other humans, the exploitation of every last single one of Earth’s natural resources. These atrocities are happening at the other end of a long chain of distributors, in distant lands, so when we pick up our factory-farmed meat at the big chain grocery store with our double-discount coupon, conveniently wrapped in cellophane, we just don’t make that mental connection.
I’m not trying to be holier than thou. I’m guilty, too. We all are.
Case in point: When the BP oil spill took place in the gulf of Mexico in 2010, it was so easy to villainize the powers that be at BP without performing due diligence on ourselves. BP was drilling so dangerously deep in the gulf because–outside of their own fiscal interests and those of their shareholders–they were responding to our demand. Our demand. We were complicit. Most of us did not stop driving cars or partaking in the wonders of petroleum-based products or stop ordering things online or stop shopping in the grocery stores and malls or buying things made in China. If you did any one of those things, I am in awe and I would like to personally thank you.
One way to stop the madness is to think closer to home, and think community-based. With goods produced on a smaller scale, in a web of interconnectedness and awareness, we cut out the middleman and the profits go directly to people you know personally. Think farmer’s markets, neighborhood grocery stores, handmade items by Etsy sellers in your area. Yes, these things cost more. However I believe we can all take a good look at where our dollars are going these days and make adjustments. I mean, I just bought 5 shirts at the thrift store for $10, several of them with designer labels. With a good ironing and a little mending, you could shop at Thrift Stores exclusively and save your money for something nice from an independent designer. I’d rather have a used J.Crew top than a brand new Wal-Mart piece of sweatshop crap for the same price, wouldn’t you?
A couple of blogs that address how to build community–and the very real crises that we are facing– are Nature Bats Last and Resilient Communities. I respect these two authors highly for what they are doing, and the information they are providing. Be forewarned, though–reading Guy McPherson is like getting a sledgehammer of truth to the face. If you’re not ready for it, I really can’t blame you.
This animation was helpful to me in another unexpected way–reminding me that art and design can be impetus for social change, or at least awareness. I have been struggling with how to connect my love for design with my deepest desire to be of use to the world in a real way. Design, art, and animation folks… shouldn’t we heed the call?