Adapting the worldscape of modernity to climate change — Ruth Irwin

It is well known that modern industrial “business as usual” is “very likely” (to use the IPCC’s technical term) to create a tipping point in the earth’s climate that will take us from the Holocene, through the Anthropocene and collapse to a new climatic Age altogether. This apocalyptic scenario is what Heidegger describes as the “proximity to the zone of nihilism”. Ironically, Heidegger regards this proximity as potentially the greatest possibility for transforming modernity towards a more authentic relation with the earth.

At present, enlightened knowledge is enframed by modern technology. Through mass production, storage, trade, and communication, the technological lens has both freed people from the constraints of their localised ecology, but also alienated us from the needs of the earth. The question to ask is whether all components of modern trade and its concurrent technologies are the problem. Trade, after all, has occurred for thousands of years without producing climate change. Is it the massive global population then, and the longevity made possible by modern medicine, that is overcoming the earth’s capacity for absorbing pollution and thus, exceeding the carrying capacity of the planet? Again, not necessarily, as several billion people manage to live on less than 2 tonnes of CO2e per annum. These people have access to some of the benefits of modernity; medicine for example, but not rampant consumerism. Herein lies the crux. Consumerism is based on the premise of profit and exponential economic growth. It is actively encouraged by nation states that have enshrined economic growth into their financial legislation. All of this is based on the “fractional” banking developed in the late 18th century.

Adaptation to climate change means rethinking the relationship between climate change, consumerism, the definition of wealth, and alienation from the earth. This cannot entail a return to some kind of romantic pastoralism, because the global population is too heavy for the horse and cart to manage. But embracing certain indigenous concepts of whenua, or the inextricable connection between the earth and the people, like a placenta or umbilical cord, could begin to dissolve the antithesis between the bulk of the global poor and the modern elite whose toxic emissions are causing calamity for us all.

Dr Ruth Irwin is a Senior Lecturer in ethics with the Centre for Interdisciplinary Business Studies. She did a double major in her undergraduate degree, in the History of culture contact, and Women’s Studies. Ruth has won the Commonwealth Scholarship, Bright Futures, Ryoichi Sasakawa, and William Georgetti Scholarships. Her research interests include Nietzsche, Heidegger, Deleuze and Guattari, and ecofeminism, modernity, and climate change. She engages with globalization, philosophy of economics, philosophy of education, and philosophy of technology. She is the author of three books and she has published journal articles and book chapters on Nietzsche, Heidegger, the critique of neoliberalism, philosophy of subjectivity, philosophy of education, philosophy of science and technology, globalisation, and the philosophical and cultural implications of climate change. Ruth Irwin is a foundational member of the Sustainability Research Group at AUT.

Thriving in a World of Complexity – using Living Systems Thinking

In this workshop we will question long held assumptions and knowledge about how we make things happen in complex environments, communities and organisations where things are seldom black and white.  That will involve us better understanding the nature of complexity itself, its networks, dynamics, ambiguities, patterns and how the new emerges within in it.   In this domain we need to be prepared to replace our simple and complicated “problem solving” and “change management” processes with more effective ways involving networks,  inter-dependence,  win-win alliances and telling new stories that lead us towards the long term outcomes we all seek – far beyond just today’s sustainability practices.

Living Systems Thinking is about taking lessons from nature and applying them (sometimes called Biomimicry).   The Tipu Ake ki te Ora Organic Leadership model (, the Cynefin Framework, a range of other participative exercises and fun will be used to help us do that.    Its all about growing team behaviours and organic  leadership that can exploit our collective wisdom and co-creative power.

Andree Mathieu and Peter Goldsbury – Educator, University of Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada and Learning Facilitator, Strategic Expertise Ltd, NZ

Biophilia — Mike Dickison

Edward O. Wilson

Edward O. Wilson, a Harvard University entomologist, coined the term "biophilia", referring to humans' "love of living things" - our innate affinity with nature. Wilson describes biophilia as the "innate tendency to focus on life and lifelike processes."

Debate for and against the idea of biophilia and their implications can be seen in publications such as The Biophilia Hypothesis - A collection of invited papers supporting & refuting the biophilia hypothesis - edited by Kellert & Wilson

I’m interested in exploring the universality and common basis of our relationship with the environment. In particular, how do we reconcile our universal biophilia with the destructive effect we have on the natural world? I’m also interested in challenging idealised Western representations of indigenous peoples worldwide as ecological caretakers, and exploring how we can move beyond these simplistic binary oppositions to develop an environmental ethic for the 21st century.

Mike Dickison – My PhD training is in evolutionary biology, specialising in evolution of flightless birds, and the global history of extinction in general. I’ve also worked as a graphic designer and teach visual thinking techniques to scientists. PhD 2007 Duke University: The Allometry of Giant Flightless Birds. Currently employed as a learning advisor at the University of Canterbury. Commentary on science, matuaranga Maori, and the natural environment (in press) Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand

Toothbrushes of Perception

Mr. Blue Bristlebot

Mike Paulin Associate Professor of Zoology at Otago University will talk about the beginings of perception and the evolution of the first animals and nervous systems over 500 million years ago, relating this to emergent behaviour in simple robots. He is joined by robotics educator Andrew Hornblow to lead a bristlebot workshop where you can learn how to create a small fast moving robot. Suitable for children, youth and adults. Material fees to be announced. With thanks to
Previous Toothbrushes of Perception workshop at Greenbench

Part of the Open Workshop Day at Owae Marae in Waitara on Sunday 16th January. Start time 9am.

Schedule & Format

Symposium Schedule & Format


Dates: Friday 14th — Saturday 15th January
Venue: Owae Marae – Manukorihi Pa, Waitara, Taranaki

Address: 16 North St, 4320, Waitara, New Zealand

Powhiri / Welcoming Ceremony
Date & Time: 14th January, early morning (exact time to be confirmed).
The SCANZ 2011: Eco sapiens symposium will be held as a hui at Owae Marae in Waitara, and so will be initiated with a powhiri, or welcoming ceremony. Important: please see the venue page for more details on this ceremony and other customs or tikanga.

Keynotes, Short Presentations, Discussions
After Dr Te Huirangi Waikerepuru speaks as our keynote, the main sessions of the symposium will be made up of short presentations (7-10mins, pecha kucha style) of current or relevant explorations in individual participant’s work, with breakout discussions. Some shared session topics will be selected by the participants.

As a number of different disciplines will be present, we expect all participants to come with a respect for and willingness to engage with the differing viewpoints of other areas of specialisation.

All-pitch-in & Food as a Social Space
We see food as an important connection point both philosophically, socially and politically. Hence the event is organised as an all-pitch-in arrangement, where we will be making our own meals together, and sleeping in the shared space of the wharenui (central meeting house) together, as is customary. As a hui, the event is also family-friendly and a chance for children to experience these spaces, customs and ideas.

Propose a Presentation
Topical discussion areas are outlined in the Open Call. You can propose a presentation here and register for the symposium here. All are welcome, and Day Visitor passes are available for local people.

Open Workshop Day

Sunday 16th January
As a way for the event to feed inspiring ideas into the already existing local eco-energies, on the third day of the symposium/hui we plan to hold an open, community day of workshops, demos, and discussions.

Entrance is free and all are encouraged to come and join. Local families, foodies, travellers & holidayers, all are welcome! Early workshop registration is advised as some sessions may have some material costs.

If you would like to promote the work you are doing, or have some thoughts to share, please feel free to contact us and to propose workshop/demo/discussion or join in.

Current Workshops:

Jo Tito — Stories of Land and People

Jo is developing a series of workshops which creatively weave together the Taranaki landscape; combining the materials of harakeke (flax), kohatu (rock) and wai (water) with the power of digital storytelling. As a meditation on these materials the workshops bring forward a Maori conception of our connections to the environment, and how building our understanding of these kinds of connections might help to bring healing to our planet and peoples.
Taranaki Story on Jo’s work

Carl Chenery — Taking Back Our Projections

In this workshop, Carl works to name the assumptions we have in our head around the concept of ‘waste’ or concept of ‘away’ and how they show up in our world. What would it look like to take those projections back from the landscape? This workshop will include the use of an online tool to connect participants through Google Earth and Google Maps with the physical locations of where our water comes from, where our storm water goes to, where our ‘waste’ water goes to. And where our ‘waste’ ends up.
Carl’s profile on the Intersect network site

Jonah Marinovich — Mad Mod Bike Workshops

Meke my Paika — Open workshop: Jonah will be on hand with cable ties, five kinds of adhesive tape, seven different kinds of glue, and all manner of nuts/bolts/brackets to assist people with modifying and decorating their bikes into light bearing, noise making, smoothie whizzzing, and possibly plant-based-organism sprouting sustainable-conceptual symphonies! So bring your ideas and inspirations, and we’ll get you on your way… !

Pimp my KohaWe need donations of bikes! Bring your bikes along to eco pimp or be pimped, and to be auctioned off at the end of the Eco sapiens event. Proceeds from the auction will go to cover costs, and a local eco group of your choice. Got a bike for us? Email us at: kiaora at intercreate dot org.

Dhyana Beaumont — Live Food Café

Using bike pedal-powered smoothie blenders and various food-foraging expeditions, Dhyana creates a connecting device between the power of fresh nutrient-rich food, and the pragmatic politics of finding or growing sources of fresh food today. As part of the food celebrations of the day, Dhyana will be testing out green smoothie recipes and their blending, with symposium participants and local people with possible explorations of Waitara foraging opportunities.

Andrew Hornblow — Solar Powered Art Workshops

Andrew is a local electronics wizard who inspired kids all around the country with what they can do with electronics. Also a radio, and general technical wizard, Andrew will be running a series of workshops on solar powered art works for children, youth and adults.
A photolog of Andrew’s school workshops

Justin Morgan — Waste Not

This project is a collaborative interaction between Justin, the attendees and visitors to the event that involves collecting and documenting the material waste that manifests during the SCANZ symposium; and creatively converting this waste. UPDATE: Please note that due to a recent appointment, Justin will be confirming with us whether he will be able to perform this work as planned.
J.J. Morgan & Co.


If you are interested in joining for the symposium, or to hold or help with a workshop, or otherwise participate in this gathering, please feel free to let us know. We can be contacted anytime at: i n f o @ i n t e r c r e a t e . o r g

Hui/Symposium Venue – Owae Marae

Owae Marae – Manukorihi Pa

Venue/Accommodation: Owae Marae, Waitara
Address: 16 North St, 4320, Waitara, New Zealand
View SCANZ – Owae Marae in a larger map

The SCANZ 2011: Eco sapiens symposium is being held as a hui at Owae Marae. Therefore the below arrangements apply, and the event will be initiated with a powhiri, or welcoming ceremony.

Powhiri / Welcoming Ceremony – 14 January, Meet at Gates, 9am

9am – Meet at Gates and practise songs.
10am – Official Powhiri begins.

The Powhiri ceremony is a formal welcoming ceremony for visitors, which will officially start at 10am.

We will however need to arrive early – 9am – in order to prepare. There are two sides in a Powhiri – tangata whenua (people of the land) who are hosts and manuhiri (visitors). First the manuhiri are called on to the marae. This is conducted in te reo, Maori language. Then speeches commence, with a song after each speaker. After speakers on each side have spoken, there is an exchange of breath – the pressing of noses which signifies that tangata whenua and manuhiri have become one.

Some further information is available online about the steps involved in powhiri and the ideas behind it. Please note there are many kinds of powhiri ranging from very formal to quite informal and also each marae has it’s own protocols.

Presently we are thinking of two people speaking for us, the manuhiri,  so we need to practice two songs.  Following are two simple, direct and meaningful songs that are often sung. It is a compliment to tangata whenua if we are able to sing these songs well, not hesitating or being shy.

Te Aroha
Te aroha
Te whakapono
Me te rangimarie
Tatou, tatou, e

E Hara
E hara I te mea
No inaiane te aroha
No nga tupuna
Tuku iho
Tuku iho

Coming from out of town?

If you are coming from out of town we recommend that you arrive on the 13th, or are able to arrange your travel in order to arrive in time at the Marae gates an hour prior to the powhiri ceremony. For those staying at Accommodation on Bell, we will arrange for vans to leave this accommodation. Waitara is approximately 25mins from WITT campus.

Shard Cooking / Eating / Sleeping Arrangements

Please note that the event is organised as an all-pitch-in arrangement, where we everyone will be helping out with making our own meals together, and sleeping in the shared space of the large wharenui (central meeting house) together, as is customary.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Biomodd Presentation – Angelo Vermeulen

Results of Biomodd Philipines - a months long collaboration

In this artist talk Angelo Vermeulen will present his biology-inspired works. He will focus on Biomodd, a worldwide cross-cultural installation project in which ecology, community building, and case modding creatively converge. The first version was created at The Aesthetic Technologies Lab in Athens, Ohio between 2007 and 2008. In October 2009, the project’s second iteration in the Philippines was finalized after an 8-month long collaboration with a team of over 50 Filipino artists, scientists, engineers, gamers, craftsmen, volunteers and students. Future versions are planned in Singapore and Brazil. During the talk, Biomodd will be elaborated upon using video excerpts, photos, work sketches and participant testimonies. Vermeulen will also introduce Corrupted C#n#m#, his most recent art project set up in collaboration with FLUXspace in Philadelphia, FoAM and Sound Image Culture in Brussels. The work deals with biological infected electronics, glitch art, and the physicality of digital media.

Pecha Kucha Maastricht

Angelo Vermeulen is a visual artist, filmmaker, biologist, author, activist, and DJ. His research in ecology, environmental pollution and teratology informs his art, which includes bio installations, experimental setups incorporating living organisms and sci-fi references. His projects include ‘Blue Shift’, a Darwinian art project in collaboration with biologist Prof. Luc De Meester, and ‘Biomodd’, a worldwide series of cross-cultural, symbiotic installations fusing game culture, ecology and social interaction. Next to developing a new experimental cinema project based on biologically infected electronics, he currently also collaborates with the MELiSSA life support division of the European Space Agency. Vermeulen co-authored the book ‘Baudelaire in Cyberspace: Dialogues on Art, Science and Digital Culture’, with art philosopher Antoon Van den Braembussche, and lectures throughout Europe, Southeast Asia and North America.

Stories of Land and People – Jo Tito

self portrait

Jo is developing a series of workshops which creatively weave together the Taranaki landscape; combining the materials of harakeke (flax), kohatu (rock) and wai (water) with the power of digital storytelling. As a meditation on these materials the workshops bring forward a Maori conception of our connections to the environment, and how building our understanding of these kinds of connections might help to bring healing to our planet and peoples.

You are invited to participate:

Jo wishes to invite people from the local community and beyond who would be interested to join this workshop to practise their creative skills, or try new things and share their stories. Please keep an eye on this project page if you would be interested to join in. Jo’s workshops will also be a part of the Festival of Lights events, on the below the dates.

Participate as part of the Festival of Lights

January 18—21, 1-4pm – Youth  (age 13-19yrs) – Band Rotunda
January 24—26, 1-4pm – Adults – Band Rotunda
Join the artist Jo Tito to share your stories and weave together harakeke (flax), kohatu (rock) and wai (water) with digital storytelling. If you would like to register, visit the registration page here

For more information, see:
Taranaki Story on Jo’s work

Jo TitoJo Tito – I am a 37 year old Maori woman who is passionate about life and committed to bringing about change in the world. I have an innate love for and connection to the land and environment – this inspires me to be who I am and to live the life I live. I am a creative entrepreneur and artist who embraces all that I am. Connections and relationships are important to me and are at the heart of everything I do.