Instructions to break imaginaries - Chronicle of Wednesday 12 October
We don't know it, maybe someone senses it, but the crowd that filled the Canòdrom is about to demolish several schemes.
Apparently, the two sessions this afternoon in Sant Andreu didn't have so many points in common. Yes, climate change and the food system are closely interconnected, just read this week's press: "New Zealand has proposed a tax on greenhouse gases emitted by its 6.2 million cows". Or indiscreetly ask the banana and squid in the supermarket for their countries of origin. The titles of the two events (City and food and Climate change and technology: remedy or condition?) seemed to keep their distance. Wrong. If there is one thing that united them, it was the need to break with established imaginaries.
The English architect and essayist Carolyn Steel began to do so at 5pm. At the invitation of the moderator, Mariana Eidler, the author of Hungry Cities and Sitopia began her talk by recalling the mysterious green felt door that isolated the service from the shouting of the hotel her parents ran. To pass through the mystery, to take a step into the unknown. To open a door. Something akin to a "revelation", she says, she felt when around the year 2000 she realised that cities could be rethought through food. That the denser cities are, the further we are from food sources and from nature, which makes us sick; that city-states were like a fried egg, with power in the yolk. And that a bowl of soup can represent the universe. "We have to remind ourselves that food is a living dynamic. When we eat, some landscape becomes food. I just want to encourage you," Steel said, holding her hands to her eyes, "to put on the glasses of food, and you will see how everything changes. Next to her, designer Sonia Massari, co-founder of FORK and director of the Future Food Academy, nods in agreement: "Food is not what we eat, it's everything around it that we don't see, the most complex system we have.
Massari says that to move forward, we have to be activistly curious and take people to uncomfortable places: asking where our food comes from or what we are feeding our children. "In one week, people will change the way they look at it. Food can change cities, but we need to improve the perspective, unite designers, city councils, innovation centres and companies in the same direction and rethink the whole food system so that sustainability is present at the beginning of the chain, not at the end," reveals Massari. For Vicent Domingo, director of the Valencia World Centre for Sustainable Urban Food-CEMAS and the third speaker at the event, this rethinking involves breaking the mould and understanding that "there are 34 areas of knowledge that interact around food: climate change, gender policies, waste... it is wonderful to come to the conclusion that the option you choose to eat three times a day has to do with so many things around you". For this reason, to talk about food and the city, says Domingo, we need to bring together civil society and institutions in a kind of opera where everyone is welcome, no matter what discipline they come from: "food is a magical space related to the sense of belonging".
An hour and a half later (with the auditorium full to overflowing), CSIC researcher Antonio Turiel and biologist and Ecologists in Action activist Charo Morán will insist on the need to shatter certain imaginaries in order to tackle climate change. For example: The myth of (unlimited) growth = wellbeing ("the cancer of growth", says Turiel: "We have an economic structure that knows no self-limitation"). More. Faith in a technological breakthrough that will solve everything at the last minute, says Morán. "The renewable energy systems we know need solid fuels for their manufacture and transport and depend on very scarce materials. The problem is that these are the technologies that the prevailing economic system is interested in and that are designed to exclude. An electric car has little green in it," warns Turiel. Another brittle one.
According to Charo Morán, we need new imaginaries to see the common good as something to promote. "Cycle, consume less meat... proposals aimed only at individuals can be frustrating and contain a class bias. In contrast, the small laboratories of collective experience that are growing everywhere can be catalysts for transformative projects on a larger scale". Consumer groups, community composting, cooperative housing. "Community articulation is a resilient tool for uncertainty, we need a popular environmentalism," she concludes. And the technology in the title of the talk? "The technologies for change are appropriate technologies: locally produced, that don't require scarce materials, that don't leave a carbon footprint and that have a human scale", says Antonio Turiel.
In short, it is necessary to rethink everything based on a diagnosis that is as crude as it is true, says the researcher. And he goes on to say: the same lifestyle can be maintained with 10% of the energy we consume. 40% of the world's oil is used to transport energy. 30% of food goes to waste before anyone can touch it. Stupefied faces in the audience. Morán points to the exit, and this is where the event and this chronicle could end: "Fear paralyses only if you don't know where you have to run to".
Jorge de Miguel