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Standing up together for democracy

By: Roberto Fraquelli
MA Ecological Design Thinking Programme Coordinator
Schumacher College

“The job at hand is to root out fascism in all its guises and become a good democrat. Fascism is the oppression and subjugation of the weak by the strong. Democracy is the care of the weak by the strong.” - Steven Moore

From a cultural/political perspective we all find it easy to recognize, judge and sometimes criticize examples where the values of democracy are often obscured, compromised or even time dependent. But democratic behavior, or the lack of it, is somewhat dependent on the predisposition and conditioning of the observer and like most wicked problems, complex and contradictory.

Standing up together for democracy is more than just enabling a positive democratic and equitable outcome. Perhaps it should stretch beyond the realm of people and evolve to include a democratic affordance for all-of-life? If so, then the demands placed on the designer increases and the notion of empathy expands to a wider contextual empathy that includes all life. One possible way to achieve this is to instill and foster intrinsic values. Values of fairness and justice can be augmented with grace and equanimity, particularly when approaching something beyond our personal experience and comprehension.

I’d like us to explore together a new frontier for democracy; one that acknowledges us (humans) as an interdependent member of an all-of-life system. A democracy that favours stewardship rather than dominance; a democracy that believes in a regenerative togetherness rather than an extractive exploitative selfishness, a democracy that can hear, respond and act on the subjugation of our beautiful planet.

Roberto Fraquelli, Programme Coordinator for the MA Ecological Design Thinking Programme, has over 20 years of professional practice working with IDEO Roberto has designed products, environments and experiences for clients including PRADA, Shell, Procter & Gamble, BBC, LEGO and LGE. He holds a number of international design awards and his work has been featured in Domus, Business Week, Design Week, The Observer, NewDesign, and he has appeared on BBC Innovation Nation programme. His current research interest on Holistic design focus on 4 interrelated themes.