Written by Kelvin Wicks
Attending the Unsymposium as a student was an incredible opportunity to experience and engage with professionals working in the fascinating space of the Living Building Challenge. The day was full of inspiring speakers, stimulating conversations and provocative ideas. An extremely fulfilling experience.
To put this day in perspective I want to share my thoughts and feelings that I held at the beginning of the year. 10 months ago, before entering postgraduate studies, I was fairly frustrated with global efforts to rectify the dominant sustainability challenges of our time; climate change, biodiversity loss and poverty. For me, sustainability had come to mean that anything humans do is bad for the planet and each other, and that working towards sustainability outcomes was about minimising everything that is bad by doing less bad. Hardly an inspiring message for change and hardly a narrative for galvanising real change that is so desperately needed. But nonetheless, this is how I felt. However, at this point in time I was also clueless to ideas of regenerative sustainability, placemaking, biophilic design and living environments! These ideas, concepts and strategies have rapidly shifted my worldview and re-calibrated my approach to sustainability thinking in the built environment.
Working towards sustainability has come to mean going beyond sustainability, about value adding, about doing better and about thriving. This to me is the essence of the Living Building Challenge and what was demonstrated at the Symposium. The Living Building Challenge is no doubt ambitious but global problems demand ambitious solutions. It involves a mindset to think about our relationship with the planet and each other in a positive manner, and to think about our human relationship with the wider ecosystem on which we depend and are embedded in.
Despite my evolved thinking and worldview, little did I expect so many others at the Symposium to be thinking in the same way. In fact, already working and practicing in this way in industry. This was my personal takeaway and experience of the Symposium held by the Living Future Institute of Australia. I now find myself surrounded by likeminded thinkers who working incredibly hard in this space and who are as passionate about real change as I am. Afterall, realising a better world is a shared pursuit, a collective struggle and you can’t help but feel inspired knowing others are working towards this thriving future too.