Author Archives: georginaburley

About georginaburley

I'm an Aussie girl being a WAG to my professional volleyballer of a boyfriend in the land of the Dutch! Back home I am a volleyballer, a design student, and a coach, a believer, but most importantly, I am a sister, a daughter, a grandchild, a niece, and a friend.

Field Manual for Change – Energy Saving in the Home

Climate Change, weather you believe our current Prime Minister or not, is an issue that is rapidly effecting our earth, increasingly day by day. Although it may seem like a huge feat to overcome a global issue such as this, it is through small collaborative activism that we can lessen our negative contributions.

 

You’re sitting alone in your house on a Friday night having a whine about how the world has abandoned you and you’re all alone. Well in reality, you’ve made decisions in your life that have lead to having to support yourself and maintain the running of your dwelling on your own. So what are you going to do about it? Sit there hoping that the fairies will come along in the night and install insulation in your floors, walls and ceilings, replace your energy sucking appliances with 5 star energy rating products, or retro fit your home with triple glazed windows and draught stoppers? I don’t think so. Get a grip people. Just think about it, you’re going to have to get off your sorry bottom and make some changes. “Oh it’s too hard, I don’t have the money, I don’t have the time” I hear you say. I call bull dust. You want to change your ways, well that’s the first step already done, recognition. What kind of future do you want to have and how do you get there? This can be done in a variety of ways, from really big things to really small things.

 

Changing your behaviour around the home in low cost ways will keep the cash in your bank account, instead of in big energy company’s pockets. And these incremental changes add up to collective financial and environmental savings in terms of energy outputs.

How do we reduce our consumption? On an uncommon scale of theory, the first thing to try is simply not to use stuff and not to consume stuff. Defuturing envelops activities, processes and products, which reduce, rather than enhance the possibility of a future, which can be sustained (1). An idea proposed by academic provocateur in sustainability Tony Fry. Design needs to redirect its practices towards practices that not only extend defuturing but also extend futures that make things more possible. Might I add, this does not solely apply to design. This idea should be readily implemented into the subscript of your daily life. Because it is not just designer’s decisions that last for seven generations, it’s yours too. That’s right, so it’s not just your grandchildren that your actions will affect. It is their grandkid’s grandkids. Get your head around that one. This raises a flag that the things we do now have material half lives of 25,000 years. That’s a scary thought. When materials are taken out of the resource stream, unless they are returned, they are extinct. And once they’re gone, from where are we going to get stuff? If that is the reality then how do designers and we as citizens design stuff and make decisions that don’t use stuff? We’re going to need a lot of new technology, materials and ways of doing things to cope with significantly changed situations – in terms of the environment. These decisions will be value-led, politically based, one-eyed decisions. There is no such thing as value neutral research, design or decisions. What would happen if we stopped consuming? Why not try it out, to a degree, and see what happens. At the moment, resources are trying to adapt to our usage of them, but that’s just silly isn’t it, crude oil can’t adapt. We are much faster at adapting. It’s all well and good to have an eco-design product, using the right kinds of materials or the lowest amount of inputs. But unless it challenges the whole concept of the thing that you’re designing, buying and using, it starts to cause run on effects. Do you really need a new kettle, heater or electric blanket? Let’s try cutting our consumption of energy usage in the home.

 

When looking at energy saving through the lens of sustainability it is blindingly obvious that there is a need for change and there are ways this can be undertaken. If you think I’m calling bluff then believe the 97% of scientists who will agree that climate change is a big and real problem with repercussions that will negatively change the earth. When you’re interested in changing your habits to combat climate change, it is important to gather research via the medium of books, academic journals and statistics to help you get a better understanding of the issue. When this feedback is coupled with your original knowledge of the situation, you become inclined to form a stronger set of values or positions. But for those of us who don’t have access to this knowledge, how do we find a largely condensed amount of information in a neat package that has great potential to be transmitted globally – through YouTube! In order to create change, we need to be aware of the reasons for change. Most people can spare a few minutes in their day, and may even enjoying stopping to watch an informative, yet entertaining clip on YouTube. After becoming aware of the issues comes the fun part, taking steps towards change.

 

Humans are intrinsically linked to a set of values and positions that influence the choices that they make in life. Designers play on these values and use tricks to change behaviour. In most scenarios, in order to create change there is a thing or device that physically makes the change. And in this instance, energy saving in the home, these things are in the form of household objects. Objects are hardly ever solely used according to their original face value – the intended purpose of the object. When flipping between observation of objects on the macro level and the micro scale, it will become evident that objects serve many purposes and act in key ways that make society the way it is. Our aim is to work on how to change an entrenched position in steps. How do we get the ordering of change actions right so that it actually makes a difference? For the suburban home, implementing low cost strategies to minimise energy consumption is achieved by imaginatively thinking about an object’s potential use on a macro level. So what can we do to minimise our contribution to climate change and save energy in the home? There are many simple and cost effective ideas that you should try.

 

a)    Seal off draughts wherever you can. That means stopping the air from flowing through air vents, under doors, around windowsills, through unused chimneys and also through cracks in the walls and floors. A cheap way to do so is by purchasing door snakes and placing them along openings. A no cost solution is to use a rolled up towel under the door or Blu-Tack or tape along a window. An astonishing 25% of heat can be lost from draughts. This has consequences such as reducing the effectiveness of heating and cooling devices.

 

b)   Use your imagination! Energy saving doesn’t always have to be dry and boring. Fun things like spraying each other with a water bottle, wearing a wet bandana around your head in summer, snuggling up with your loved one or your cat in winter. Hey if it works for you, go for it.

 

c)     Section off areas of the home that you’re not using when you’re heating or cooling to localise that section of your house. This will increase the effectiveness of your devices. Even better, share these spaces with your friends and family to reduce the number of devices.

 

d)    Make smart and logical choices. Would it be a better idea to turn on the air conditioner or simply open up a window and let the fresh breeze flow through your house?

 

e)    Choose relevant clothing to the weather conditions. It’s hot outside, but you’re sitting inside with the cooling on. Don’t be a wally, take off that jumper! The same goes for winter. Please, don’t sit with your feet on the heater when you could whip out a snugly pair of grandma’s knitted socks.

 

f)      Impress your housemates, family or partner with some cooking. In winter, use the oven. It will produce a delicious meal that will heat you up from the inside out and the house will warm up too. In summer, get around fresh cold salads and meats. Did you know that chilli and cucumber have a cooling effect?

 

g)    And lastly, talk about the changes you’ve made with your mates! These small things are simple, and if everyone made these little changes, it would make a big difference. There are so many more things that you can do around the house and I’m sure others want to share their ideas with you too, to make your home much more energy efficient!

 

So that’s enough time spent sitting around, it’s time to get up, get active and change your old habits. These small changes will save you money and more importantly save the environment. So why not give it a go? And once you do, tell us about it. We want to hear your progress. Let’s change our world for the better, small steps at a time. Peace.

 

Georgie Burley

 

 

 

 

References

 

(1) http://www.encyclo.co.uk/local/20453

 

http://omnibusfarm.wordpress.com/glossarymethods-and-practices-terms/

 

Iceland Seeks to Cash In On Its Abundant Renewable Energy

http://e360.yale.edu/feature/iceland_seeks_to_cash_in_on_its_abundant_renewable_energy/2697

 

Americans eye cheap home refuelling for natural gas cars

http://humanitariannews.org/20131007/americans-eye-cheap-home-refueling-natural-gas-cars

 

Alex Laskey: how behavioural science can lower your energy bill

http://www.ted.com/talks/alex_laskey_how_behavioral_science_can_lower_your_energy_bill.html?utm_source=email&source=email&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=ios-share

 

Energy Saving Window Treatments

http://windowtreatmentsaventurafl.com/

 

10 Smart Ways for Saving Money with Alternative Energy

http://www.ways2gogreenblog.com/2011/09/28/guest-post-10-smart-ways-for-saving-money-with-alternative-energy/

 

Six Energy Sucking Household Appliances

http://www.property24.com/articles/6-energy-sucking-household-appliances/18480

 

Flannery relaunches scrapped Climate Commission

http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2013/09/23/flannery-relaunches-scrapped-climate-commission

 

Critical Self-Reflection

Studying Change: Design as advocacy/activism/agency with Liam Fennessy and Soumitri Varadarajan was a choice I made when reading the subject guide before balloting. As my last ever studies class that I will undertake, I wanted to make sure that I chose a subject that would interest me, push the boundaries of my design thinking and set me on the right track to head into third year Industrial Design at RMIT. I will admit, after reading the subject brief, I wasn’t 100% sure what I was signing myself up for, but I had been taught by Liam in the past, and I know that his teaching style and philosophy sits well with me.

 

After our first class with Soumitri, I doubted weather I had made the right choice, straight after class on 25th July, tweeting “feeling annoyed/irritated/insulted #changeaaa”. But upon reflection, I realized that this is how Soumitri wanted us to feel. He had pushed our buttons to spark a sense of irritation, to drive an emotional reaction that would illicit a need for change.

 

For the next four weeks, tweeting as much as possible and updating our WordPress blogs with our thoughts and insights on current issues was a daily exercise. At first I found these tasks to be a chore, it wasn’t easy learning how to use them, but when it becomes such a frequent occurrence, you pick it up pretty fast. I found that scrolling through HootSuite, Tweet Deck, looking up what was trending and following tweeters like “Humanitarian News”, “Change.org” and  “Climate Reality” vastly expanded my knowledge and awareness of what was going on in the world. This live feed form of research made me feel in touch with what was going on. It puts things in your own life in perspective when you see what others are dealing with.

 

Our first task of committing to giving up something didn’t last long for me. I chose to totally wipe out coffee from my daily routine. Although I was not previously a huge coffee drinker, I did struggle with this task. It wasn’t purely because I was struggling to keep my eyes open in the morning, but I also found that on social occasions like going to someone’s house for a catch up or meeting in a café, I didn’t want to seem rude by refusing their offer of a coffee. I guess, if I had of stayed firm in my attempts, I could have overcome this situation, but this time it was caffeine: 1, Georgie: 0.

 

Focusing on the topic of ‘Energy Saving in the Home’ for our group assignment and the Field Manual for Change was an engaging topic because it sits very close to home for me. Being a strong believer in the need for change in order to lessen our emissions and input towards climate change, I felt a strong drive to clearly get this issue out there. After having lived through years of drought and having to adapt to change in order to conserve water in particular, I had first hand experience of small and low cost things that people can implement into their own homes in order to reduce their energy usage.

            Working in groups was an interesting experience. We started off very strongly, meeting up for regular discussions of ideas, which moved into breaking up tasks among group members and communicating via the Internet using media like Facebook, Twitter and Google Drive. In general our group was excellent at giving each other feedback and correcting each other’s work. Unfortunately towards the end of the assignment, someone took it upon herself to compile all of our work into the posters, and instead of placing our work into the poster layout; she also saw her role as the Editor. With the best intentions of simply wanting to present quality work, this overshadowed a lot of input that other group members had, and when undertaking group work, it is not a one-way street. You have to learn to compromise. Overall I feel our assignment turned out very well, and most importantly we were able to visually and textually communicate the need for change in terms of energy saving in the home.  

 

Class discussions were one of my favourite facets to this course. Bringing up notions of switching between Marco and Micro vision thinking when designing, reading about the idea of Defuturing proposed by academic provocateur in sustainability, Tony Fry, and discussing the history and importance of Industrial Design, all changed the way I view my role as a designer.

 

Overall I think that this course, through the guidance of Liam and Soumitri has resulted in my better understanding of the role of a designer, the importance of switching between different ways of thinking about design and finally understanding the three concepts of being a change maker, advocacy, activism and agency. 

Public and Design Activism

When it comes to public activism, I’ve got to stop being a child, and stop being scared of voicing my opinion. It’s my responsibility as a citizen to showcase myself as a change-maker, to try and improve our society in whatever way I can. Change making is about 3 things; advocacy, activism and agency. To be a change-maker you have to understand these 3 concepts. 

Advocacy: to fight for somebody. Where someone can’t achieve a better quality of life, and you step in to lobby on their behalf. For example, when did women get to vote? When did they become equal? The answer, they still aren’t equal! Look at Julia Gillard. When does a man in politics get harshly judged based on their body shape, hair colour, dress sense or tone of voice? 

Activism: anything that you do has been fought and won for you. What are you doing to give back? If nothing – are you guilty? People need to have a bleeding heart, to connect to the things inside you that drive your passion and ignite your sense of irritation. You’re no different than the people before you. You can make a difference too. The fact that people don’t care is an accidental mistake. Ask an Architect what he thinks of women being allowed on the front line. He’ll probably tell you that he doesn’t care or doesn’t have an opinion – and that is a problem. To make a real change in this world, people need to give a damn. They need to show care and compassion towards people or things that are happening in the world. These issues aren’t going to resolve themselves by people living in their own little bubble, only being concerned by the trivial problems in their lives. We have to be active public citizens. 

Agency: I’m not a nobody. I can say things – and if they’re wrong – at least they’re out there. When you feel like you can achieve something, you are an agent. We are agents for change. Statistics show that approx. 80% of refugees live in 3rd world countries. And what do we do? We put up walls, barriers between ‘them’ and ‘us’. What do poor people do? They welcome them with open arms, tell them to come and join the party. Take Tibet for example, some people left and went to India, no worries. Some people stayed. Why don’t we accept them? Because that’s the kind of people we are. 

Public Activism is not just about going and yelling stuff out in protesting mobs when you’re feeling overcome by anger or disgust. It’s about the small stuff too. As Soumitri professed “Be empathetic not pathetic”. If you’re walking along the street and a homeless person is asking for money, should you just chuck them 70 cents from your back pocket and keep walking? No. Have you got time to give to them? If so, tell them the story of your life. Share something with them. Be a person and treat them like you would your mate next door. Let’s be honest people, it’s likely to be 5 minutes out of your day, but imagine what it could do for that person with whom you spoke. There are other ways that you can show public activism, from personal experience, taking part in charity based events such as the ’40 Hour Famine’ and ‘Relay 4 Life’ are unforgettable experiences that not only promote awareness within your local community, but also have great benefits in terms of aid and monetary assistance to the companies that you are supporting. For me, another form of public activism is through social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I have a large number of friends on these platforms, which I can use as an outlet for posting whatever I like. When I ‘share’ or ‘post’ or ‘tweet’ information, it is potentially seen by a vast number of young people. Instead of scrolling through a lot of rubbish on Facebook in particular, people could be learning about current world issues, as well as opportunities to be involved in their community. 

Design Activism is a tool that could potentially be very powerful, and make a difference in the way that people do or interact with everyday things. A designer is someone who is fundamentally radical. Everyone knows that we are a consumerist society battling monumental issues of climate change and global warming. Design strategies can be put into place to elicit behaviour change in consumers. Critical thinking in terms of sustainability and service design are two areas that I have recently spent a lot of time learning about. It is paramount that not only designers, but also citizens, are thinking about ways of living more sustainably, for it is our loved ones living in the future that will pay the price of our polluted earth. It is the responsibility of everyone to change the we way live and consume and dispose of things. It is not acceptable to be spoon fed, only knowing what you’ve been taught. We need to be porous individuals, constantly soaking in news and technology and squeezing out thought, feelings, and scope for change. 

my uninformed slant on refugees

The topic of refugees is hot news at the moment. When asked to write about the issue, I found it difficult to draw all of my thoughts together. So i’ll try and keep it simple.

I think everyone deserves the chance to seek asylum. I feel like refugees should be allowed to come to Australia in hopes of salvation from times of war, political oppression or religious persecution. However, in my opinion, it is too dangerous to attempt to do so by boat. And once a refugee arrives in Australia, who’s to say that they won’t be stuck in an asylum centre for multiple years. Is being trapped, alone, in a foreign country and culture a better alternative? And then there is the argument that once refugees settle in to Australia, will they be taking jobs from Australian citizens? One could argue that it is better for refugees to be working, and contributing to society, rather than doing nothing. And that they are more likely to do jobs that many Australian citizens wouldn’t want to do themselves. It’s a lot to consider. And the question that seems to be unanswered, is how do you stop them getting on a boat?

Reflection on our first class (26/07/2013)

 

Image

GEORGINA (GEORGIE) BURLEY

~20, Melbourne, Australia
*RMIT Industrial Design, Change Design as advocacy, activism, agency
—Volleyball
//friends&family\\

 

The day started off by testing my patients as struggled to find a park in the bustling streets of inner city Melbourne at 9am on a Friday morning. That was my first mistake of the day, choosing to drive to uni. As I overcame my first obstacle I walked along Swanston Street to class. I reached building 12, so consequently building 13 should be the next one along, right? Wrong. My heart sank as I discovered that the building I was looking for, b13, was not sitting nicely between building 12 and 14, which I assumed it would be. That was my second mistake of the day, making an assumption. So panic stations kicked in as I frantically bashed at the screen of my iPhone, searching for the location of my classroom. Up to Victoria Street I marched with a look of distress on my face and a sprinkle of sweat on my brow. I’d reached the building, what I relief. “She’ll be right from here on in” I thought to myself, but how wrong I was again! Up and down lifts, in and out of empty rooms, up and down stairs. Who would have thought that to get to level 4 room 1 you don’t just hop in the lift and press the blue ‘4’ button. Instead you press the blue ‘3’ button, hop out of the lift, go around the corner, up a flight of fancy stairs, and arrive at your first class 15 minutes late. How stressful. That will teach me to know where I’m going before I leave home. “Sorry I’m late” I said to Soumitri, whose reply was “Are you really?” wow that was not the first impression I was hoping for. Change Design as advocacy/activism/agency was the elective that I balloted for second. I’ve previously had Liam as a tutor and I feel that he brings a lot out of me. I also chose this subject because I didn’t have a lot of knowledge on the topic of change and I felt like I didn’t really know very much about the world. Well I was right about that one… Class progressed and Soumitri challenged us by asking questions about topics that none of us knew very much about, like the Arab Spring, the London Riots and the Island of Nauru. He said that we were shit middle-class people that don’t care about the rest of the world, and that we design things to take money off the rich people of our society. I guess my worries of this morning were pretty worthless in the grand scheme of things. He asked us how we felt about class thus far. We used words such as “worried, curious and shy”, and he was unimpressed by our ability to articulate our emotions. Class discussion began and not many people were contributing all that greatly to the debate, including myself. I think this is partly because we were shocked at Soumitri’s sense of irritation but also because quite honestly I didn’t know very much about the topics of discussion. I felt quite ignorant. On the back of my jumper was the word “coach”. Soumitri asked, “Are you a coach?” to which I replied “Yes”. He asked “What do you coach?” and I answered “Volleyball”, which followed by Soumitri replying “Bloody Hell”. What was that supposed to mean? I felt quite offended. I think that Soumitri was trying to push our buttons, make us feel irritated, maybe even angry. He wanted to spark something from within us that would create a reaction, to ignite a sense of drive for change. And he succeeded. The objective of this class is to make us free thinkers who can connect with our feelings and sense of irritation. Once we’d achieved this, once we had a sense of purpose and need for change, we learnt that people our age could make a difference. To become a change maker you have to become a bit stronger and a bit more confident. We have to put aside Australia’s tall poppy syndrome and not let people knock us down if we succeed. Let’s pretend I am a woolen knitted scarf. At the moment I’m looking a bit scruffy. I’ve got a few holes here and there and I’m not very good at being warm. My goal is to unpick and unravel myself. Pull on threads that need to be pulled and then reconstitute myself into a better scarf, to put myself back together.