Transition Design argues that everyday life and lifestyles are the realms within which the consequences of wicked problems are experienced, therefore it is the primary context within which they need to be addressed. In the modern era, everyday life has been shaped by globalized economic forces and centralized institutions of various kinds. Transition Design proposes to counter this societal paradigm with the re-conception of whole lifestyles that are rooted in local ecosystems, cultures and histories. It emphasizes the need to address quality of life issues within the context of the everyday. This means redesigning most of the systems (food, energy, healthcare, education, infrastructure) and related everyday practices through which we satisfy our needs, and empowering decentralized, networked and place-based communities to take control of this process at all levels of scale — households, neighborhoods, cities and regions.
The SPREAD Sustainable Lifestyles 2050 initiative argues that “Enabling sustainable lifestyles will require more than promoting green consumerism (Bengtsson & Akenji 2010, Lorek 2010). Sustainable living goes beyond the consumption of the most sustainable material goods and/or services, into the re-design of ways of living, feeling, communicating and thinking. For example: personal and collective attitudes; how values are established over a life-time; how we interact and transact in the economic system; how our cities and education systems provide the infrastructure and skills for lifestyles that support more sustainable societies. Even if there is willingness among people for change, they often fail to succeed in lifestyle changes because they are confronted with factors that “lock-in” their unsustainable behaviour and choices (Mont and Power 2010; Van Vliet et al. 2005). For example: a combination of sub-urban sprawl with insufficient public transport locks in private car ownership and use.”
Traditional design approaches seldom frame solutions and initiatives within the context of everyday life and lifestyles. However Transition Design argues that it is the logical way in which to conceive solutions that are more appropriate, place-based and sustainable. Assignment #3 (below) asks you to develop a place-based, day in the life vision of Pittsburgh in 2050 in which your wicked problem has been solved.
See Additional Resources for this class before you begin the readings.
Assignment 3: Developing Future Visions will be introduced in the last 20 minutes of class. Teams will be provided with a template within which to develop a long-term future, lifestyle-based narrative/scenario in which their wicked problem has been resolved. Factors and solutions that historically contributed to its resolution will be described through the lens of everyday life in a sustainable future. Visions should touch on the ways in which cultural norms and beliefs may have shifted, what new technological innovations may exist and how everyday behaviors and practices have all contributed to the resolution of the wicked problem the team has been focused on during the semester. Refer to the Assignment #3 page on this website for more details.