Like every proper sandbox we need some rules or guidelines to ensure we make the best use of this space. The following rules are not created with the aim of limiting the activity or the perspective within the sandbox, but wish to bring clarity and focus to this space, providing a clear signal about the questions we need to ask and the type of work we need to do to move away from sustainability-as-usual. These rules are the first version of sandbox Zero’s rules and will evolve together with this space.
Act with urgency in mind, but don’t panic
The work in this space is grounded first and foremost in a clear sense of urgency, reflecting Bill McKibben’s point that “winning slowly is the same as losing”. At the same time, don’t get into a panic mode as urgency ≠desperation. We operate with optimism and confidence that we can move the needle!
Be radical + practical
Speed and scale are essential for any meaningful change to occur -> Exponential approach (scale) to sustainability requires radical thinking. The need to act quickly requires us to be practical.
Explore what’s beneath the tip of the iceberg
No matter what you’re working on you’re dealing with systems, which means you need to apply systems thinking.The iceberg model is a good example of what is required of you, suggesting that you shouldn’t look only at what’s happening above the surface, which is only a small part of the iceberg, but also explore what’s beneath it in order to gain a better understating of the whole system and how to transform it.
Think of humans, not users
Don’t confuse user-centered with human-centered and look for paths reflecting the latter, not the former.
Learn from nature and design for it
Embrace a more humble posture when it comes to nature, remembering that while it may be interesting to consider life on Mars, we still live on this planet and thus our real challenge is to redesign our relationships with nature, or as Bill McDonough articulated it: “How do we make humans supportive of the natural world, the way the natural world is supportive of us.”
Use technology responsibly
Technology can be a powerful tool, enabling the exact changes we desperately look for. At the same time, you don’t want to end up creating a new episode of Black Mirror! If you’re not sure what responsible use means in this context, just check if the technology you’re considering and its usage are aligned with other rules, especially no. 4 & 5.
Embrace a cosmopolitan localism mindset
Promote local-based response to global issues, in which you consider the local environmental and social conditions, as well as the connectedness and openness of the local communities, which operate as nodes in a global system. Aspire for what Ezio Manzinidescribes as the “creative balance between being rooted in a given place and community and being open to global flows of ideas, information, people, things and money.”
Become a culture warrior
This is not just a joint effort to develop new solutions. This is a culture war over values with opponents that will fight back. To win this culture war you need to accept first that this is the context in which you operate and apply it accordingly to the content you create.
Your work needs to enhance resilience (defined by Andrew Zollias “the capacity of a system, enterprise, or a person to maintain its core purpose and integrity in the face of dramatically changed circumstances”) on at least one of these levels, if not more: Ecological, personal, organizational, social and urban.
Tell a persuasive story
“Human beings share their values and their views of the world by telling great stories” (Jonah Sachs). No matter how great your proposition is, you won’t be able to realize it unless you are able to communicate it effectively. You don’t operate in a vacuum, which means that you need to win over some very persuasive stories told for decades by business-as-usual and later on sustainability-as-usual advocates. You can do it, but not without creating a story that is clear, engaging and inspiring.