Designing Infrastructures of Care: An exploration of listening and slowness for socio-ecological wellbeing

Format: Papers, RSD11, RSD11: Methods and the worlds they make, Topic: Methods & Methodology, Topic: Socioecological Design

Rachel J. Wilson

University of Brighton

The pace of existing Western systems continues to contribute to underlying socioecological crises, the ramifications of which are felt globally. Whilst there is arguably a need to reduce this pace and consider multigenerational implications, there is tension in how the notion of slowness is balanced with the urgency of planetary crises. Therefore, this presentation asks: How might sustainable design practice a slow ontology that seeks to balance calls for both slowness and urgency within socioecological crises? What might this approach reveal about the in-betweens and the unheard? How might listening facilitate this? In this presentation, I reflect on the value of listening and slowness in designing infrastructures of care. Primarily drawing on Pauline Oliveros’ practice of deep listening, Ranulph Glanville’s cybernetic rumination on listening and Jasmine B. Ulmer’s notion of slow ontology, I present a case for how these might be collectively integrated into methodological approaches when designing for socio-ecological care. I also present reflections on how this thinking has influenced an evolving methodology underpinning my own work. Considering listening and the notion of slowness, I argue, makes space for design beyond solutionism and for designers to remain open to more diverse modes of enquiry when dealing with wicked problems. Through listening, I pose an invitation for designers and researchers to question what lies between, to whom, and what remains unheard, thus remaining open to the limitations of chosen methodologies. Through provocations offered in this presentation, I hope to contribute to a discussion on methods and the worlds they make by exploring the value of listening and slowness in the context of design for socioecological care. Exploring methodological engagement with listening and slowness in sustainable design, an invitation for more reflexive, transdisciplinary and radical methodologies is proposed.

KEYWORDS: listening, care, sustainable design, transdisciplinary, slowness

Citation Data

Author(s): Rachel J. Wilson
Year: 2022
Title: Designing Infrastructures of Care: An exploration of listening and slowness for socio-ecological wellbeing
Published in: Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design
Volume: RSD11
Article No.: 111
Host: University of Brighton
Location: Brighton, UK
Symposium Dates: October 3–16, 2022
First published: 23 September 2022
Last update: 30 April 2023
Publisher Identification: ISSN 2371-8404

Copyright Information

Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design (ISSN 2371-8404) are published annually by the Systemic Design Association, a non-profit scholarly association leading the research and practice of design for complex systems: 3803 Tønsberg, Norway (922 275 696).


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