An Intentional Way of Life

February 2016 Issue GHLL

By Brett Marlo DeSantis

Ravish natural resources, manufacture toxic things, produce more and more stuff with a less skilled workforce, developing a world of waste requiring rules and regulations to protect us from the stuff we have brought into being. Was this the intention of the Industrial Revolution?

Industrialists were eager for progress (we can relate.) Did some began with the best of intentions of democracy; to lower costs of goods and services, allowing accessibility to those who had less? Were they working to create a more equitable standard of living? Perhaps…There was an increase in higher standards of living, access to medical and education.

Overall, average life expectancy rapidly increased as well as the conveniences and comforts in life. All sounds great, right? So where did the revolution go awry? Many were looking for an economic revolution to gain capital and increase volume through the efficiency of mechanical systems. This grew into a linear model, literally and figuratively. Henry Ford is credited with inventing the assembly line. This innovation brought ͞the materials to the man͟ rather than ͞the man to the materials.͟ He aimed to democratize the auto marketplace and he did by decreasing costs and increasing production. The underlying symbolism of this linear model (whether they knew it or not) held the concept of mother earth at it’s core. Who else would take responsibility for polluting our waterways and atmosphere?

Nature appeared vast and unaffected; it will heal itself.

Here’s the paradox: while democratizing the world for some, the industrial revolution was (and we still are) diminishing the earth and lives of others. It is a revolution with no end game. As we sit here, living in the aftermath, spouting blame and sharing our dismay for the depletion of our natural resources and loss of species diversity and lack of skilled laborers, perhaps we can agree: it’s unlikely the industrial revolution was intentional. In fact, it may be the complete opposite–they unintentionally created the world in which we are now living.

Let’s be intentional together.

Where to begin? Shall we start with the premise that we all seek the best quality of life possible? Pew Research Center conducted a study in 2015 on ͞How’s Life?: Measuring Well-being. In the comparative study, Americans ranked high in income, are lacking in work-life balance; our life expectancy is dwindling and yet our perceived health is far, far higher than any other country.We seriously lack in civic engagement and our social connections are just so-so.

Newsflash: we didn’t make it onto the happiest places to live list in 2015.

Google defines the term quality of life as ͞the standard of health, comfort, and happiness experienced by an individual or group.͟ Quality of life is not standard, it’s complex. It is completely subjective and ever-changing. Therefore our solutions need to be responsive, flexible and adaptive. Are we doing things differently today to ensure a better quality of life for you and your loved ones? What does quality of life mean to you? It’s 2016, let’s take a look at designing with intention, together.