Name: Alison Masters
What first triggered your interest in environmental issues?
Biophilia, love of nature. I was lucky enough to spend lots of time in the countryside when I was a child on caravan holidays with my parents staying on farms and in wild places. Just wondering at the world around me was a big part of growing up. That never stopped, and felt I wanted to understand and protect the natural world better as I became an adult.
What are you working on, concerned by, or motivated by at the moment?
I recently completed a Masters in Design for Development and my major research project looked at how to help local communities creatively engage more with their local parks. The parks provide a space of contemplation, nature and play for people in cities and have the potential to exemplify and strengthen our urban communities' relationships with the natural world and one another. With the funding cuts its going to be up community groups to lead on this in the future and now is the time for new ideas.
What do you anticipate working on, or thinking about, in relation to environmental issues over the next 1 year, 5 years, and 10 years?
I hope to find a job where I can use my creative skills (I'm a designer) and my understanding of sustainability. I've been looking at how a whole systems thinking approach can practically help designers like myself adapt to a more sustainable way of working. I'd like to see this kind of thinking leave the margins and become mainstream in commercial design. Also, how creativity can help communities develop in new ways to cope with challenges ahead. I would be happy if my career developed in either of these directions, but its early days.
How optimistic or pessimistic are you as you look at where we might be in 2020, and why?
The glass is sometimes half full, sometimes half empty. I'm optimistic about the potential of the crises to radically alter our relationship with the natural world and one another for the better (it has to), but not yet. Personal efforts (my own included) are laudable yet I still feel without a definitive response from our leaders and governments that fully reflects the gravity of the situation, we are blindly hurtling towards chaos. For now, life carries on as 'normal', until gradually normal is eroded environmentally, economically and socially and our early 21st century lifestyles will be a memory. Transition is possible and welcome. I hope it won't be too painful.
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