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Sustainability Image


This image does a good job at depicting the important aspects of sustainability. The concepts within the graphic are all connected, showing not just that they are equally important, but that they are interdependent. Moreover, through its circular shape, the image shows that sustainability is dynamic, and requires constant assessment and reassessment, especially regarding development projects. To be helpful global citizens, we have to listen to those we are helping to make sure that our actions are, indeed, actually helpful. Moreover, it is a reminder that sustainability is not a one one-size fits all concept when addressing the concerns of global communities. Each community will have different strengths, weaknesses and requirements which require tailored  projects to effectively address those needs.

 

the previous graphic excelled at portraying the intricacies of sustainability in an easy to understand way, the “simplify your life” image misses the mark. I interpret this image as a reminder for adopting more conservative consumption habits. While this is an important facet of sustainability, it is not the only important aspect. Firstly, this thought can come across as tone-deaf because for some people, problems lie in how simple their lives are. For example, they may not have access to clean water, food, health care or education which are problems that cannot be solved by adjusting personal habits. Moreover, by focusing on a singular person. it disregards global realities of inequality and injustice which can only be addressed by first acknowledging the systemic roots of global issues. Living a sustainable life should be synonymous with creating better global infrastructures for the betterment of humanity as a whole while making sure that the planet is taken care of.

Defining Sustainability

This image best represents sustainability to me. I think this image does a good job encompassing the aspects of sustainability- and is cute! “The triple bottom line” refers to three factors that shape sustainability the economy, social needs, and environmental constraints. The imagery on the left shows three semi-circles, one representing each of these aspects, the outermost is environment while the innermost semicircle is economy. To me, this is illustrating how environmental constraints limit social needs, which in turn limit the economy. The right of the image illustrates this same principle in a different way.

I think it is important to remember sustainability isn’t just about the environment, rather it must also meet social needs and be economically feasible. While each of these aspects is important I like how this image shows a sort of hierarchy among them. I believe currently the United States acts in a way that prioritizes the economy first, often at the expense of social needs and the environment. I think it is important to challenge that perspective and instead use economics as a way to meet social needs while working within environmental constraints.

While I can see how all of the images we were presented with can relate to sustainability, this image resonated with me the least. While I do believe that simplifying your life can be a productive way to live more sustainably, that is not always the case. In many ways, technology can advance sustainability rather than reduce it, despite being less simple. The Sustainable Development Goals address how advances in medicine and energy have allowed us to advance toward our goals. In summation, reducing consumption is a beneficial way to simplify one’s life, but simpler isn’t always better.

Envisioning Sustainability

The picture showing an aesthetically pleasing green scenery with windmills and solar panels creates a perception of simplicity. I do not think sustainability should be given that perception because in reality, it will be extremely difficult to transition our fossil fuel-dependent societies. Moreover, the use of wind and solar energy gives off the message that we already have the technology to be sustainable, just that we haven’t done so yet. While some countries may have the financial means and infrastructure to do so, making the transition to sustainable societies will require structural changes that may take decades to manifest. Also, the cleanliness and use one type of grass to cover North America gives off the message that sustainability will also be this lovely aesthetic because nature is healing. This perception of sustainability is problematic because it can incentivize greenwashing and other misleading perspectives; a lot of the changes needed will not be pretty or fun to make, but they are essential if we are to transition to a sustainable future.

 

The second picture depicting a farmer’s market local to the Carlisle area is what sustainability means to me because it’s about seeing the systems we already have in place within our communities and utilizing them as a jumping point towards a sustainable future. It’s not about creating an elitist/exclusive culture about who is the most sustainable, it’s about accessibility.  A balance between local and globalized processes.

sustainability

While recycling is a part of being sustainable, I think that this interpretation of sustainability is too simplistic. Although it is possible to recycle many different kinds of object, I have found that when people see the recycling symbol, they usually only think of recycling paper and plastic products. This is likely because the recycling symbol is usually seen on recycling cans that only accept paper and plastic products. Additionally, the recycling symbol is often associated with the physical environment. However, as illustrated below, there is more to being sustainable than just helping the planet. However, because of the associations between the recycling symbol, paper and plastic products and the physical environment, and because being sustainable means more than just helping the planet, the image of the recycling symbol does not represent sustainability to me.

I think that sustainability is better represented by the picture that shows people, trees and a water source in a dome structure under a blue sky. To me, this picture shows the positive state of society if we lived in a more sustainable world. In this picture, the people all appear happy and healthy, representing that we, as a global society, have achieved equality for all as well as a basic level of health. Furthermore, the people are all peacefully co-existing which illustrates global cooperation and amicable global relationships. Additionally, in this picture the healthy trees, as well as the fish in the water, represent the positive state of the physical environment while the water shows that there is water security and this can be extended to food security as well. Finally, the overall tone of this picture is positive and shows a prosperous world. Overall, I think my interpretation of this picture illustrates the way I define sustainability; as a way to create a prosperous society in which everyone is able to peacefully coexist with each other and their, as well as the earths, needs are met.

Sustainability

To me, sustainability is more than just ‘people, planet, profit’. Though this is a succinct definition of sustainability, I believe it is crucial to also take into consideration other factorsincluding the rights and dignity of the most marginalized, including indigenous peoples and rural communities. To me, sustainability includes interdependence, cosmopolitanism, equity, and anti-racism. I like the image we discussed in class, as this incorporates the idea of ‘people, planet, profit’, but goes further by explaining the way these factors intersect, namely bearable, equitable, and viable.

From the twentyfive images in the document the following image least represents my idea of sustainability:

I believe this image only takes into account the economic and environmental aspect of sustainability. To me, the image mainly focuses on the role of money in sustainability, and fails to address such factors as interdependence, and equity for traditionally marginalized peoples.

There are a few images that I believe explain sustainability in a comprehensive way. This image in particular I like, because it alludes to interdependence and cosmopolitanism:

Particularly, it shows the importance of taking responsibility in living a sustainable life, and the obligation everyone has in caring for the planet, and all that encompasses. Additionally, I think this images provides a good example of collaboration between different peoples, cultures, and countries. It shows that by working together towards a common goal, for example through partnerships, the international community can work towards more sustainability globally.

Another image that explains sustainability in a comprehensive manner is this image:

I believe this image best represents sustainability, as it incorporates the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). I believe the UN SDGs provide a good framework to consider sustainability, as these goals show the interdependence within the field of sustainability. Not only does this image encompass people, planet, and prosperity, it also focuses on partnerships, dignity, and justice. Specifically, factors such as dignity and justice are crucial to consider when working towards equitable sustainability.

Intersectionality Calculator

This intersectionality calculator was an interesting tool because it tried to put into perspective some of the visible and invisible attributes that affect privilege and marginalization in a quantitive manner. That said, I am convinced that this is a satirical website meant to draw out ridiculous responses. I could honestly see this tool featured on an Onion article. Identity is a complex concept and the thought of using a simple tool such as this to quantify marginalization is quite the undertaking. That said, this website does a good job at highlighting some of the weaknesses in our understanding of intersectionality.

The creator of the website explains that they use a slider because they want to capture the spectrum of people’s identities, which can’t be done in a binary format. However, the labels used do not showcase the nuances behind identity because they are still limited by binary limits at each end. Moreover, some of the labels are confusing. For example, the White vs Person of Color slider: I identify as a person of color but ethnically I am considered white, which makes it difficult to choose where to place myself. Does the far-right option signify black? And if so, comparing “person of color-ness” in relation to being black versus white can be problematic. Another confusing item is the English as Second Language because English is my second language but I think I speak it better than I speak Spanish. In that case, my identity as an “English as a Second Language” speaker may not cause me to be marginalized.

All in all, I thought this was an interesting and comedic tool. What I found most entertaining were the comments, especially because they can be grouped by “privileged” and “oppressed”responders. A lot of comments are angry responses about the fact that identifying as white gives you negative points, which I find interesting. No one wants to be oppressed, which is what a higher score count signifies. Do the people complaining want to be oppressed?  My score is a 67, and while I don’t take this tool seriously, it would be nice to have a lower score if it reflected the way I was treated in real life. A test as simple as this can’t measure the nuances in systemic oppression but I think it can be a way to start thinking and conversing about this topic.

Intersectionality

The calculator is a useful tool that can help people understand their positioning among the various indicators. This is important because when people know their positioning, it may be easier for them to understand that being privileged is not one dimensional. It encompasses a lot of the factors that can affect our personality,  like our level of education, religious affiliations, and more. Conceptualizing this web of privileges easily debunks common counterarguments to white privilege like the notion that if white people were so privileged, then there wouldn’t be a poor white person in sight.

According to the calculator, I am 63% more privileged than others. While I did not have an initial guestimate of my score before taking the quiz, I feel it’s generally correct. I often forget about the privileges I possess, like being able-bodied and being of cisgender. Moreover, for me, it highlights the need to be educated about these topics and understanding the contexts in which we think about them. I know that when I would think about what cisgender meant as I left high school, I did not think anything negative about it, but I did think cisgender was simply something ‘normal’. Yet, my time at Dickinson has taught me that this positioning is wrong because it inherently means that transgender is the opposite, abnormal. Relearning how to talk about how we conceptualize things like sexuality, gender, race and these other privileges are critical if people outside of these specific identities are to understand the role they play in either challenging or propping structural problems.

Intersectionality Calculator

My intersectionality score was calculated as a 37 and as me being more privileged than 39% of others. I was surprised to receive a relatively high score and a relatively low privilege score. I  perceive myself as being in a position of significant privilege due to my race, nationality, parent’s income, and being cisgender.

I think that the calculator is grossly oversimplified and therefore inaccurate. Firstly, the use of sliders seems inappropriate. It cannot be assumed that everyone will rank a given trait in the same fashion, or know how to rank a given part of their identity. For example, I was very unsure of how to rank myself for disability. I have moderate to severe scoliosis and while I can still do most anything I want to, I live with pain and will likely need surgery- how does that rank from able-bodied to disabled? Similarly, I found having to rank myself from straight to gay problematic.

I believe in trying to make a simple and easy-to-use calculator some important, but more complicated, factors were not included. I also think the simplification lead to my score being inaccurate. I’m no longer religious but was raised Christian, I ranked myself based on my current beliefs and practices but I do not believe I have experienced oppression as a result of my religious beliefs.

While it seems like this website and calculator are meant to be serious- as they explain the reasons for it and advertise its uses- some aspects make me think it must be satirical. One such aspect is the extent to which it is oversimplified- they can’t possibly believe identity and experiences of oppression can be boiled down to 13 sliders! Another reason I think it must be satirical is their advertisement for the new feature which can determine scores for individuals based on a photograph of them.

Intersectionality and privilege

I believe this website was created to show how various factors intersect and either increase or decrease someone’s privilege. Though I like the idea of sliders, I still believe it is hard to calculate a score based on only 13 indicators. Additionally, I think culture has a lot to do with the indicators of why one is more or less privileged. In my opinion, given the greater gender equality within the Netherlands, identifying as a woman as opposed to a man should impact the score less in the Netherlands, as compared to the United States. Additionally, since many services in the Netherlands are publicly funded (i.e. healthcare and education), being rich in the Netherlands seems to be less of a relative privilege in my opinion, compared to being rich in the United States of America. As Bryan Stevenson explained eloquently, the opposite of justice is poverty. In a country where that is much more the case, I believe it is more of a relative privilege to be rich in the US, since wealth buys education and healthcare among many other services, whereas that is not necessarily the case in the Netherlands.

When I calculated my score on the US version of the website, I got a higher score, indicating that I am less privileged in the US than I am in the Netherlands, because I was born outside the US and because English is my second language. Though I can imagine that either of those factors could lead to someone being less privileged, that is not my case, since I am privileged to be bilingual and to come from a wealthy Western European nation. For this reason, I believe it is hard to capture a score with so few indicators, as I do not think that this website seems to be taking into consideration post-colonialism. 

It was interesting to read the comments on the website. Many of the people responding seem to believe this website is satire. However, those same people are responding that white privilege does not exist, and that this “is pure racism towards white Europeans,” which is obviously not true. Though I definitely think that this intersectionality meter is incomplete and could include more factors, I do think it can start to explain intersectionality and privilege, helping people recognize their privilege.

Intersectionality calculator

I think that this site calculator was made with the primary intention of showing those who take it how their identities relate to each other. Although we often think about who we are as people and what we stand for/believe in we do not often think about how different aspects of our identities build our overall identity and our beliefs. This is likely because in any given situation, we are primed to act on only one, maybe two, identities. This calculator makes us consider each different aspect individually before showing us, numerically, the degree to which they intersect.

A secondary intention of this calculator is to illustrate to a person how privileged they really are. We often perceive how privileged we are based in biased ways based on our own view and feeling about our situation as well as our own perspective ourselves. This calculator is an objective tool that is able to give an unbiased perspective regarding how privileged we are.  Furthermore, because the scores you receive are based on the answers that you input yourself, it is harder to dispute the results.

Based on the statement at the bottom of the webpage, which indicates that the calculator was created with the intention of fighting discrimination against marginalized communities,  as well as the overall set up of the calculator, results section and overall webpage, I believe that this calculator was created for a serious reason and is not meant to be satirical.

I am not surprised at my intersectionality score. However, I am surprised at the privilege score I received as I anticipated that it would be higher. However, thinking about it more, I realized that I answered these questions based on how I view myself. For this reason, I may be given more privilege than indicated by the results.

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