Response and Responsibility

I have just participated in a panel on ‘everything is going to hell and we just go on like normal‘ at Sweden’s Architects Association, with two other very interesting thinkers. Obviously there was a very interesting discussion about working towards sustainability, and how designers can create sustainable systems and stories. One comment, however, really provoked me. One attendee let out some frustration, arguing that architects and designers are seen as the good guys, caring about the environment and society, but that they don’t actually have that responsibility. Doctors, for example unlike designers, take the Hippocratic Oath to make people healthy. Designers only have to build a house that won’t fall down, or a car that won’t crash. I think that facing the environmental challenges that are looming, requires us all as human beings to respond. Whatever line of work we find ourselves in, and whatever skills and knowledge we gather along the way, make us uniquely response-able. Being able to respond by choosing sustainable materials, suggesting eco-alternatives, requesting our unions to act and pressuring politicians to implement sustainability policies are all valuable in shifting the discourse around what is expected of our line of work. The ability to respond is also the responsibility to do so. I think we should all stop going on like normal ‘towards hell’ and start to respond and be responsible for sustainability.

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