e42 rosen – when the climate threat becomes real

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The idea of enough is very interesting to me. The idea that the planet doesn’t have enough for us on our current trajectory is at the heart of that. The question of whether the planet has enough for everyone on the planet, if we change the way we do things is an interesting way. Can we sustain seven, eight, nine billion people on the planet if everyone’s idea of enough was balanced with that equation? I don’t know, but I think it’s possible. I think that if we’ve shown nothing else as a species, as humans, it’s adaptability and resiliency and when forced to, we can do surprisingly monumental things and changes when the threat becomes real to us.

mark rosen, conscient podcast, may 2, 2021, ottawa

I’ve known Mark Rosen, as well as his brother Brian and sister Melanie all my life. I saw them being dutifully raised by their parents, Robert and Debbie, while I lived and worked in Banff, Alberta in the 1980s. I’ve seen Mark become an outstanding architect and national a leader in green building practices. 

One of the reasons I thought of Mark for a conscient conversation was when he mentioned that his generation was a ‘lost ‘or transitional generation because of deferred ecological debt. This idea struck me as tragic, but true. I was pleased when he accepted my invitation for conversation to explore a range of issues in and around architecture and design, including his understanding of ‘hope’ and the emergence of a new set of values from his generation. 

I enjoyed our conversation, including this excerpt: 

One of the things that I find very interesting in my design process as an architect is that if you were to show me two possible building sites, one that is a green field wide open, with nothing really influencing the site flat, easy to build, and then you show me a second site that is a steep rock face with an easement that you can’t build across. Inevitably, it seems to be that the site with more constraints results in a more interesting solution and the idea that constraints can actually be of benefit to the creative process is one that I think you can apply things that, on the surface, appear to be barriers instead of constraints. Capitalism, arguably, is one of those, if we say we can’t do it because it costs too much, we’re treating it as a barrier, as opposed to us saying the solution needs to be affordable, then it becomes a constraint and we can push against constraints and in doing so we can come up with creative solutions and so, one way forward, is to try and identify these things that we feel are preventing us from doing what we know we need to do and bringing them into our process as constraints, that influence where we go rather than prevent us from going where we need to go.

This conversation was recorded on May 2, 2021, on a long walk from Mark’s home in Ottawa along bike paths and into the Ottawa Arboretum.   

As I did with all previous episodes this season, I have integrated excerpts from e19 reality in this episode. 

I would like to thank Mark for taking the time to speak with me, for sharing his deep knowledge of green architecture, for being frank about the challenges we face and for his vision on how to move forward.  

For more information on Mark’s work, see https://www.linkedin.com/in/marktrosen/ and https://www.webuildahome.ca/



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