Granny used to say in exasperation, “words fail me” when she believed a decision made by someone else was foolish or inadequate, but what happens when it is not words that have failed, but the imagination.
When we see ‘systems’ failing and inappropriate decisions being made is it because our words have failed to convince or because our argument was not persuasive enough? Look at what is happening in any field you care to name, but especially in the area of environmental governance. Is it really just greed that drives a developer to site his (or increasingly her) new building so that a wetland must be drained or a dune demolished? Is it really just corruption that causes an official to give the OK to these dubious plans?
I am more and more convinced that it is actually a failure of the imagination that is undermining our decision making – or lack of it; and our environmental governance – or lack of it; and our implementation of the rather splendid legislation we have in place.
It’s when the developer cannot imagine what the detrimental effects could be of draining the wetland or removing the frontal dune that s/he is more determined than ever to go ahead. It is when the official cannot imagine how the specialist reports fit together in a coherent story that s/he resorts to a tickbox approach. It is when the politicians cannot imagine why the environmental infrastructure’s resilience is more important in the long run than an immediate satisfaction of voter demands that the political agenda triumphs over other considerations. It’s when a government (any government) cannot imagine a world with less – or even no – oil that our natural resources are raped and pillaged.
At Phelamanga we try to imagine the future. We are passionate about asking others to join us in imagining what could be rather than just bemoaning what is. We are very reluctant to accept that TINA (There Is No Alternative) rules. What we do believe is that we could all do things with more imagination.
So join us as we dream a little – and live a lot!