Vesna Manojlovic

RIPE Community Resilience: Nature is Healing

Vesna Manojlovic
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To address the topics of RIPE community health, the OSI Networking Model is mapped to the Maslow pyramid of needs. In this instalment of the series, Vesna Manojlovic connects Layer 6 and the aesthetic needs.


All (urban) needs are met with Art (library) and Nature (garden); ancient wisdom in the modern day plastic art and tech by Lego; from Twitter account @ethicsinbricks

When the basic health and connection needs have been met, people have time and energy to fulfil needs for "self-actualisation". I have covered the five bottom layers in the previous articles. Layer 6 in the "Expanded Maslow's Hierarchy" is “Aesthetic Needs” (watch this video about Expanded Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, Human Needs, Self Actualization, Humanistic Psychology) - and that's mapped to the Presentation Layer of the OSI Model.

If we consider one literal meaning of “presentation”: appearance, the Aesthetic Needs translate to Beauty. Beauty can be achieved though Art and through Nature.

"Art," in the sense of "living well, living with skill, grace, energy" - like carrying a basket of bread and smelling it and eating as you go. I don't mean only certain special products made by specially gifted people living in specially privileged garrets, studios, and ivory towers - "High" Art; I mean also all the low arts, the ones men don't want. For instance, the art of making order where people live. - "We Are Volcanoes": Ursula K. Le Guin, Bryn Mawr Commencement Address (1986)
“A walk in nature, walks the soul back home.” -1870, -- Mary Lua Adelia Davis Treat

Since there is so much material that I have collected about Art, Technology, Health, Nature (and Climate) - in connection to COVID-19 - I had to break it down further to multiple categories, AND I have limited myself to only three examples per category - and all from women! (Or collectives).

Beauty as Art, Beauty as Nature

Art and Technology

Part of the Hackers' Ethics is a belief that computers can be used to create art and beauty in the world. At the Chaos Communication Congress (#CCC) every year there is a track of presentations dedicated to "Art and Culture", you can find them at: 34c3 , 35c3, 36c3, rc3. Here are some examples:

  • Kat Austen: "Artistic interventions in climate change":Don't stop 'til you feel it (2017)
    • "Augment cognitive and data derived knowledge with more emotionally connecting knowledges, to achieve a more integrated understanding of the world, and to once again embark on a quest for a type of truth.
    • When we live close to the land we experience empathy with the land. It has recently been said that indeed our present mode of life has led to the “death of empathy”. The Coral Empathy Device...
  • Maja Kuzmanovic of fo.am : "Art, Technology and The Cosmos" (March 2021)
    • "The opening panel of the event on Art, AI and Everything Else, started with not knowing, ventured into augmented sociality, ancestral knowledge, corporate cyborgs, ecological intimacy and more."
  • Annette LeMay Burke: "Fauxliage: Disguised Cell Towers of the American West" (2015-2020)
    • "First created to decrease visual pollution and blend in with the environment, disguised cell phone towers have become an accepted yet contrived aesthetic in our neighborhoods and landscapes. I embarked on a series of road trips across the American West to document the variety of tower designs and to explore the question – how much of an ersatz landscape and manufactured nature are we willing to accept in exchange for quality cell service?"
    • (An image of the mobile antennas in the palm trees in Palm Springs can be found further down in this article)

Technology and Climate

"I do not want to lay down mountains to be able to use the Internet"

Technical communities are aware of the impact of technology on the planet's nature and climate change; we have covered the topic of sustainability previously on RIPE Labs; here are a few recent and relevant references (in the context of Layer 6)

  • The Association for Progressive Communications (APC) at the IGF in 2020 addressed the theme “Internet for human resilience and solidarity” with the beautiful infographics above, including care, feminist Internet, decolonising technology, and slowing down - many my favourite topics!
  • At RIPE 69, during the BoF on the Future of Technology, I gave my personal view about the impact of climate change on the future of the Internet, titled "Nature will have the Final Word"
  • Dr. Kira Vinke "Climate Change and the Corona Pandemic" (CCC, December 2020)

Climate and (Mental) Health

Emotional responses to climate change

Physical and mental health are a basic layer of personal need fulfilment, and I wrote about this in the article about Layer 1. In the context of Nature, the climate change crisis has a negative impact on our health, and here are some recent examples:

  • In the webinar series by the "Center for Alternative Technologies", in February 2021 psychotherapist and climate author Ro Randall talked about "Coping with the Climate Crisis". She explores the psychological effects of the climate crisis (anxiety, anger and grief), and ways we can support ourselves and others as we work towards a brighter future.
  • Also in February 2021, author Britt Wray wrote about the "Therapy for the End of the World"in Walrus: Anxiety over the climate crisis is spreading like wildfire. Psychologists are just starting to figure out how to help.
  • In January this year, ProPublica journalist Elizabeth Weil wrote about a climate scientist who spent years trying to get people to pay attention to the disaster ahead, and how has this impacted his mental health and his family: "The Climate Crisis Is Worse Than You Can Imagine. Here’s What Happens If You Try."

(Mental) Health and Art

Joke from @MADCOVID on Twitter

To continue on the previous topic -- if our health is impacted by the deterioration of nature and climate - or by COVID-19 - art can help:

Nature and Technology

My own collage art work: Tree-ptych

I'm using illustrations above to tell a story worth 1000 words: how the search towards technological progress in the Western societies has disconnected us from Nature; here are the scientific papers calling us to reconnect again:

COVID and Health

From: https://mackaycartoons.net/tag/recession/

Right now, the COVID-19 crisis is the largest acute threat to health and wellbeing in the recent history; chronically - long-term, both in the past and in the future - climate change crisis is having even larger impact on our health.

Together, Climate Change and Corona Crisis form a "perfect storm". In the follow-up articles I will come back to this, and add economic crisis, inequalities, discriminations and other systemic causes - and how to stay resilient among all of them!

Health and Nature

The Tree of Biodiversity and Health: Everything is Connected

Personally, during this pandemic, my health has benefited from being in contact with nature: both outside, during the walks, in the house, by tending my plants (photo below) and playing with my cat Mračak.

Tame Nature: Cat, Garden and House-Plants

Calls to Action

Attend Art and Tech Events

Cultivate Your Own Garden

Join Youth Activists

From "Reconnecting with Nature": Diagram 'Ego-Eco'-Humankind is part of the ecosystem, not apart from or above it. This diagram depicts this simple fact clearly (diagram: S. Lehmann, 2010).

Bonus Links

Ask yourself:

Could this meeting be a zoom?

Could this zoom be a phone call?

Could this phone call be an email?

Could this email be a text?

Could this text be unsent?

Could we in silence retreat to the forest?

Could we, by game trails & forgotten paths, vanish into the trees?

Twitter Poetry

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About the author

Vesna Manojlovic is Community Builder at RIPE NCC. Vesna joined the RIPE NCC as a Trainer in 1999. In 2003, she took responsibility for developing and delivering advanced courses, such as RPSL, Routing Registry, DNSSEC and IPv6. In 2008, she lead efforts to establish IPv6 RIPEness as a measure of IPv6 deployment among LIRs. In 2011, she joined the Science Division as Manager of the Measurements Community Building team; in 2015 she moved to Communications Department as Senior Community Builder, with a focus on organising hackathons. Vesna gives presentations at many technical conferences and workshops, and enjoys visiting hackerspaces. Vesna received a Batchelor of Sciences Degree in Computer Science and Informatics from the School of Electrical Engineering, University of Belgrade. She has three children.

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