Moving into the cosmos… more perspectives

According to Caroline we are all in the messiness and confusion of a liminal space but certainty at different “places”.

Kaite got to direct an exercise sculpturing  a human sculpture of liminality using conference delegates.

Some feedback on exp:

Lizzie: Connected in diff ways

Jen: See people hurting and wanted to help.

Donna: stretched outside my comfort zone.

Dani: People started to lean on each other.

Dean: Not used to be in this closeness space with strangers.

Juan: Strangers?

Darlko: A crowded city bus…

Heather: When on outside would I be picked, how will it be?

Lizzie: Katie got more confortanle in how she engaged.

Katie: I knew immediately that I wanted everyone. …. You can think of it in terms of your learning (e.g. PhD), connections

Caroline: a technique which gives a way of embodiment. Drawing on Boal’s Theatre of the oppressed.

Then we watched a TED talk about hoe to build a movement in 3 minutes. The first follower is the one who transforms a lone nut to a leader. The second follower makes a crowd. Three more now we have a movement. As the group grows the others will join to not be left out. Leadership is over glorified. Really the first follower that changed the lone nut in to a leader and then the movement. So dare to be a follower and change/build a movement.

Reflections form the critical friend’s talks.

Kaite and Juan: Exclusion of business….

Carolien we will come back to that.

Doug and Darko: actually we didn’t talk about goals. … Part of what we (education) is preparing the future business leaders. …

Lilly and Astrid: We have different perspectives on “working with communities” for example ownership of projects.

Jen and Dani: Been given a lot of think about and where I (Dani) will fit into the ESJP space.

Deborah and Dean: (On Dean) Collaboration on research collaboration as part of working as a community.

Kaite and Usamn …

Heather and Andrew: Learning experience…

Jen: The balance of risk and joy. For me this meeting have been about risk of “….” and joy of community.

Lizzie:  The critical friends helped me reflect. Did not anticipate this.

Caroline: Donna had a good summary of the problematic with business.

Donna: Actually Dean.. The importance of understanding oppression.

Dean: The difference between people situated in industry and representing industry

Caroline: No one has said that certain people are not welcome, people choose this themselves. … But there need to be a space to have a discussion about ESJP without being told to shut up. ….

Eric: referring to groups in the 60s who got together around certain issues. And ESJP as a group needed a space to formulate what we are about as we are quite defined by academic and business and we need a bit more time to find this. Also important to keep some homogeneousness in terms of the questions we work with.

Dean: It’s about being critical about the institutions, the structures which lead to outcomes we don’t want, business, academic are parts of this.

Andres: reflecting on the diversity of the group of people attending this conference…

Caroline: … Everyone is welcome who is interested in doing engineering which is social just, but not people who support structures which have been proven to cause injustice. … The kind of critical reflection involved is difficult and uncomfortable.

On to ongoing activities and where we (as a community) are going.

Caroline: … It’s OK to be anti-everything except anti-capitalist…


Exercise: What are the ideal final results for our community?

Q&A for Session 2 (Juan and Jen’s presentations)

Doug: The engineers have supplied to the business community a reason for reducing smoke in their own terms. But it doesn’t actually deal with the exploitive nature of those businesses. You shouldn’t reduce smoke just because it makes business


Peter: The business case solution doesn’t provide a long-term solution. But we should ask ourselves if it works towards justice right now? It’s not a great long-term or complete solution, but it works towards that goal.

Jen: There’s a tension in the case of Rico between the community and the greater community of those who will be supplied with the electricity.

Donna: Energy deregulation in the US has caused many problems. You have deregulation without competition so energy is very expensive and controlled by monopolies.

Jen: Rico is not a wealth community so they could not run a energy coop like some other communities in Colorado.

Lily: I’m from Engineers against Poverty and we work to make the “business case” in the developing world because we think it’s important.

Arias: I’d love to see more of these histories but I think engineers sometimes concentrate too much on the technical fix and not enough in defining the problem.

Darko: I think we need to make the business case because they won’t change unless you force them to by showing that they can’t afford to.

Jon: I feel that one theme running in all these comments is the “triple bottom line” (social, environmental, economic). In some case studies, one or more of these factors are considered more than others.

Caroline: I think we’ve spent too much time thinking of the economic factor. We, as a community, need to be more worried about the social and environmental. Then maybe….maybe….we can talk about economics. We need to actually critique this economic factor much more. I want to smash the triple bottom line because it’s not easy equal categories. It’s more a muddle.

Q&A for Session 1 (Thursday)

Heather started off the discussion by asking Dean about experts. Dean argued that relationships determine who gets called an expert and who doesn't. For example, a local community NGO in Sri Lanka is treated as the "community" by their

World Bank partner, but when that NGO goes into the community, they are considered experts.

Juan pointed to how Lizzie was included in the ESJP discussion and why she was included but not a rep from Proctor & Gamble. Donna replied that it's Lizzie's willingness to critique EWB-Oz as opposed to P&G. Donna added that she's conflicted about EWB, particularly the EWB-USA chapter she's had some experience with. Caroline added that she, too, was conflicted about her "Waste for Life" project but she's sick of just talking about justice and not doing something about it.
Juan asked the group if we're willing to engage corporate/industry folks if they self-critique. Caroline/Donna said absolutely. Eric countered by pointing out how industry can't sell critique and if ESJP engages with industry on this level, we will compromise our principles of critique. He further asked the audience if it is possible for corporate/industry to ever care about social justice?
Dean added that a person situated in a corporation who's interested in social justice and can self-critique can come to ESJP but as a person not as a representative of the corporation.
Caroline added that ESJP can serve as a place for critiques/discussion of development work. Lizzie mentioned that she might have misframed her presentation. However, audience members countered that there are ways to work with justice within certain constraints/boundaries and outside them as well (but both are important).
Parting question of the session: can the state engage with social justice as well?

Check-In (Thursday)

An important discussion arose during our check-in around why industry partners are not present.

Lizzie from EWB-Oz indicated that she felt that industry partners were missing from the conversation and not just practitioners. Donna

talked about a previous conference where a Proctor & Gamble rep at a Social Justice and Engineering conference gave them a marketing pitch. Dean indicated that some of us have critiques of capitalism.

Juan added that not having people from industry not interested in social justice in a meaningful manner allows us to have more advanced conversations.
Dean replied that industry/corporate types are invited to ESJP if they are meaningfully interested in social justice as long as they are not threatened with the anti-capitalist (or at least capitalism not the best) boundary of ESJP.
Caroline brought up a discussion around intellectual property and anonymity. She argued that anonymization robs people of their voices and that their intellectual property must belong not to the researcher but the subject. Juan replied back that anonymization actually protects people from repercussions by creating a safe space to talk about anything. Donna added that the ESJP group could've been seen as collaborators as opposed to subjects in the study conducted yesterday by Jen, Juan, and Jon.