the problem of the human

The problem of the human is the problem of our own species level self-involvement. When we decenter the human in the much broader spectrum of life on the planet many nourishing changes begin to occur. The same is true when we decenter whiteness and turn away from the false neutrality and centrality afforded white men in white supremacy and patriarchy.

What are you centering in your life? What are you watching, reading, viewing, valuing? How often do you feel like you are not enough? What can you start centering now to change that sensation?

Image art by J. Suchland

The practice of centering/decentering is a powerful and often joyful tool in livability work and it begins with decentering the human and decentering whiteness.

In the early days of the LF Network, my collaborators and I wrote this definition of livability to express an ethics of care and face into the problem of human-centered thinking while still caring deeply about human life and justice and well being.

“In order to think (and make) livable futures we question such categories as: the human. Centering livability encompasses social justice and ecological ethics…it invites critically rethinking about who survives and who gets to thrive in our communities…including all biological and artificial life now and in the future…decentering the human reframes progress in favor of a posthumanism that is…neither anti-human nor solely about sustaining human life as we currently know it.”

Livable Futures Founding Statement

I return to this text often as I seek to foster livability in big and small ways. Even simply getting to know the plants growing around me is a livability practice, learning their names, watching how they change through the seasons and addressing them as thou rather than it. I learned a great deal about the pleasures of #plantnoticing from eco-artists Amy Yongs @amy_youngs and Candace Thompson @the_c_u_r_b in a series of creative foraging workshops for the Livable Futures Network. They have great info on instagram as does the amazing Alexis Nikole @blackforager! All three are worth a follow and it is also great to find folks foraging in your local spaces.

Candace Thompson @the_c_u_r_b leading an urban foraging walk for artists

How are you centering livability? I hope you will reflect a bit on who gets to survive and thrive in your community and take one small action, to decenter the human in that equation.

Share your ideas! Use #livablefutures on Instagram or reply below. I’d love to learn from the actions you take.

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