On the WordChanging blog I ran across some good ideas developed in the most drought-and-wildfire-impacted region of southern Australia.

Andrew Outhwaite was traveling the area as a member of the Hållbarhet2009 Learning Journey and Conference, witnessing the damage done by the Big Dry – the years-long extreme drought that has transformed huge tracts of land – and the devastating fires that consumed much of the remaining vegetation. In the group’s interaction with local groups of residents, Andrew identified some barriers to community impact in adapting to the new climate, and then thought through some ways in which technology could help leap those barriers. Here are  a couple examples:

Barrier: The desire to ‘get more done urgently, now’ rather than taking the time to really connect, listen and build the trust that underlies collaboration.

Community-Enabling Technology: Reestablishing rituals. For example, Aboriginal people inviting visitors to their traditional lands to participate in welcoming ceremonies, a kind of spiritual technology: circling a sacred fire and breathing in the smoke generates a visceral sense of respect and connection with each other, other species and creation.

Barrier: Being too identified with your own profession/network/clique, and its language, symbols, models, paradigms and habits can seriously inhibit inter-network collaboration, even within the sustainability movement.

Community-Enabling Technology: Encouraging information Cross-Pollination. Universities (e.g. BTH, UTS and RMIT) are encouraging transdisciplinary research to enable innovation across departmental, sectoral and epistemological boundaries.