Seattle, April 2012
I’ve never been good at direct routes.
Geographically, it looks something like this, and everywhere on that map has contributed a piece of me; even the short stays and the one place I didn’t like. These days I’m very much more conscious of the drawbacks of moving so readily, so I think I’m actually going to stay in Seattle for as long as I can foresee. I got here quite by accident—my love was hired by A Large Tech Company That I Needn’t Name—but felt at home with the culture and the weather, and fell in love with the mountains, sea, islands, wine, beer, mushrooms and oysters. Over time I made some great friends; that part took a while, as it always does post-college. I’ve never believed in gods, but every time I see Mount Rainier I think I understand all the people who do.
Academically, I finished school studying nothing but languages and literature and then enrolled in a psychology degree thinking it was an extension of these, which was the best mistake I ever made. Three years later I had become such a rabid empiricist and so frustrated with the practical difficulties of experimenting on people that I was determined to only work with computer models. Through another degree and a half I learned enough about systems theory and modelling to become absolutely terrified of just how fast humanity is fouling its own nest.
I became convinced that nothing I could do would be more important than helping to turn back or at least slow that trend. I got involved with a renewable energy group, and then an environmental technical training program. I started to see that the real challenge was about values and human behaviour, more than about technology, so when I started a training program of my own it covered more about behaviour change, advocacy and working with people. More recently I helped set up The Happiness Initiative which aims to get individuals and governments talking about, measuring and valuing human wellbeing ahead of the golden calf of GDP. I’m still working out exactly where I can do the most good; right now it seems to be helping people understand the systems we depend on in their full interlinked complexity, and see how to work with them more harmoniously.
Oh, and my brain looks like this.