Accessing a Radical Vision

i think i know why not everyone is called a "visionary"

At a recent event, I was billed as a “visionary”. That felt very uncomfortable for me. So I had to stop and think about it for a little while.

Okay, they can call me a visionary, because we all have that capacity for visioning. 

Patriarchy and colonialism have laid in patterns and beliefs and assumptions that make it really hard for us to think about being radical, when we are trying to envision something.

Many people think about the future as, “Oh, a bit like now only greener. It’ll be like now, but with solar panels, and electric cars.” 

We don’t really thinking about where the materials come from or questioning “consumption”, or how decisions are made. 

I want to take us back. I believe that, when we were born, we were born completely powerful. We knew exactly what we needed to do, to mobilise to get our needs met: we cried. We just did it. And we expected the world to meet our needs. We expected there to be this flow, togetherness, and to have choice. 

Then things happen that started taking that away. And we realised that, in order to get these resources to get our needs met, we have to play by rules that don't make sense. 

We start to lose the capacity for a really radical vision of what the world could be like. 

When we're designing for sustainability, for example, we are going to do so based on our assumptions, and beliefs, and patterns, which are going to keep our vision narrow. Our brain will pull us into the familiar. Unless we deliberately and intentionally interrogate these assumptions, we will keep falling back into the familiar. 

One of the ways to deliberately put ourselves into that space of interrogation is through the Possible Futures, Intro to Decolonial Sustainability

It's women from and in the Global South —the Philippines, Brazil, India, China — who have beautifully cultivated a space and designed a story, to take people through quite a painful journey of noticing those patterns, assumptions, and beliefs in ourselves, and in the sustainability industry. 

The patriarchical and colonial ways have set things up so that we can't take that information in very well, because we are very isolated in our individualistic societies. 

Very deliberately, the course facilitators, called Navigators, put you into groups, which are called “crews”. 

You do this work together, which is a huge contradiction to all we have to do to prove ourselves, the expectations that are put upon us, that we put on ourselves. 

You're in this together, exploring together, and supporting each other as you are challenged. 

This isn't easy sailing. 

Because, in addition to all of these patterns, and assumptions, and beliefs that you'll be questioning, there are certain dynamics occurring within the course, which mimic what happens outside the course, in the rest of the world. 

How comfortable would you be in accepting leadership from women in the Global South? Most likely, your managers, your bosses, your colleagues or teachers, they probably don't live in the Global South. They probably are from the Global North. 

Even if you, yourself, are from the Global South, and maybe even live in the Global South, you might have trouble accepting leadership from women in the Global South, due to internalised oppression. 

This adds another dimension, which can be very difficult, and you may feel resistance to accepting leadership from them.

As well, the group of students in your crew, (and they're called “expeditioners”, because you are on this journey together), this will be a mixed group, a mixed space. There will be racialised white people from the Global North, and there will be racialised nonwhite people in the Global North. And there will be people from the Global South in the Global South, in that mixed space. And not everyone will have trained awareness about positionality. about oppression, internalised oppression, and harm that can happen in these spaces. 

Harm will happen in these spaces. 

As part of the course, everyone is encouraged to recognise and name these harms as they happen, which can make for a deeply uncomfortable space. 

Fortunately, there are coaches, four of us, who are available to accompany and support expeditioners in navigating these choppy waters. 

Despite all of your good intentions, you are likely perpetuating the same patterns that got us into these global crises. This painful realisation can create identity crises of like, “Should I stay? Or should I go? How do I make money? How will I justify myself to myself? To people around me? How can I justify my status?” 

Circling back to the idea that we are all born visionaries, I believe we can all reclaim that ability. 

But it needs to be deliberate because it requires us to unpack a whole load of assumptions, beliefs, and patterns to make the invisible visible. 

If you are interested in doing this kind of work in community, but you aren't so into the sustainability part of it, and ARE into the visioning, feel free to contact me to join a support group or to request 1-1 coaching. I work on a gift economy basis.

Subscribe to KeduziLetter

Don’t miss out on the latest issues. Sign up now to get access to the library of members-only issues.