Sustainability in Uncertain Times

by | Oct 8, 2020

Big strides and growth spurts can be great for motivation and moving things along. But relying on these to reach your goals can often lead to burnout or leave you disappointed when they aren’t possible as often as you’d like. Plus, the events of this year have demonstrated that without underlying sustainable systems, uncertainty and upheaval are much more difficult to handle.

So this month we’re looking at sustainable systems and workflows that provide you the rest, care, and resources to let you keep moving forward toward your goals over the long term—even when those goals change.

Sustainable relationships

On the blog, I’ll be tackling how to build sustainable author–editor relationships. For authors, bringing an editor onto a project is a huge leap of faith and the best academic editors value and honor that vulnerability. Conversely, the best authors know how crucial the right editor can be and take the time to nurture that relationship through mutual respect. I’ll cover how together, authors and editors can build communication strategies and workflows that sustain amazing work over the long term.

Maintaining friendships has gotten more challenging lately as the ways we connect have shifted. But as Alexandra Sastre explains, making time for friendships—especially now—can mean the difference between surviving and thriving. Check out her piece for how you can make sure the people who matter to you don’t fall off your radar.

Sustainability as routine

We’ll also be talking about how we can weave sustainability into our daily routines, including how we approach writing, teaching, and community building. As many of us have realized, the pivot to socially distanced and online everything because of the pandemic is not going away anytime soon.

So instead of treating it as a temporary requirement, how can we build sustainability into our new teaching, writing, and activist routines so we have the resources and energy we need to do the work we care about over the long term—both within the pandemic moment but also beyond?

Sustainability lessons from the creative industries

Coming up this month on the Imagine Otherwise podcast, we have two episodes that tackle the personal and collective stakes of sustainability.

First up, I interview dancer, scholar, and choreographer Anusha Kedhar about the flexibility of labor in academia and the dance world. These are two industries whose steady reliance on unsustainable, flexible labor regimes make burnout and exploitation par for the course. Anusha and I discuss sustainable alternatives to flexibility that enable scholars and artists to support each other and our communities. Look out for this episode on October 14.

Next, I chat with disability studies scholar and permaculture designer Aimi Hamraie about using natural cycles to plan your work in sustainable ways. Aimi and I also brainstorm how design justice and permaculture principles offer creative models for collectively navigating our current moment as well as forging more expansive and long-lasting activist, artistic, and academic collaborations. Look out for this episode on October 28.

We look forward to a great month and chatting with you all about how we can foreground sustainability in our projects and lives.

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Cathy Hannabach is the founder and CEO of Ideas on Fire as well as the host of the Imagine Otherwise podcast.

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