|Although the recent economic crisis has been long and deep, many believe things will eventually return to normal. It is just as likely, however, that we are entering a period of profound systemic change because we have hit the limits of today’s social and economic structures. Mass production and consumption, based on the intensive exploitation the world’s natural capital, has been very successful, but it is an increasingly costly success. In 2011, there were fourteen weather related disasters in the USA with over $1 billion of damage. Normally, there are only three or four.
While daily life continues more or less normally, we can expect more frequent crises on many fronts. This will force people to recognise that we cannot solve the problems we face with existing rules and institutions. Instead, we need to learn how to experiment with radically different ways of organizing human affairs and with learning to agree on what needs to be done.
Barbara Heinzen's own practice has taken her into business boardrooms and rural villages. Her public interest projects have given her experience in working with mixed groups of people, helping them to recognise, understand and respond to large scale changes we might face. She describes this work as the politics of learning, as it increases the capacity to agree and the capacity to learn.
With the Barbets Duet, Barbara Heinzen is now exploring ways to integrate the development of new ideas with the creation of experimental spaces where these ideas can be tested.
For more thinking on the nature of systemic change, see the other tabs on this page.