Saltwater Living

This is an excerpt from one of the presentations featured in the Pari Center’s event Science, Art and the Sacred, in Pari from August 29 to September 4, 2019.

with Godelieve Spaas

It matters what matters we use to think other matters with; it matters what stories we tell to tell other stories with; it matters what knots knot knots, what thoughts think thoughts, what descriptions describe descriptions, what ties tie ties. It matters what stories make worlds, what worlds make stories.

Donna J. Haraway, Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene

In the Netherlands two worldviews alternated with each other over the last couple of centuries: saltwater and freshwater living. Saltwater living—as we are a seafaring people—is an awareness that you are not in control: that you are part of and belong to something bigger, something besides the self that you have to work with and become. Freshwater thinking comes from the Dutch tradition of controlling water. The building of dykes and damming lakes and parts of the sea is all about constraining nature. Saltwater thinking is about wholeness, relatedness, adventure and vulnerability, in contrast to freshwater thinking which is about control, fragmentation and taking away fear.

The relationship will be explored between these and other worldviews and how people act economically. How they define licences to operate? And how belief systems define the bandwidth of realising social and ecological justice in the economic playing field?

This dialogue explores the relationship between different worldviews and the way we act as Homo Economicus. Which worldviews support transformation towards Homo Durabilis? And what holistic pathways guide entrepreneurs towards a sustainable future?

Godelieve Spaas is associate director of the Pari Center and a regular guest in Pari; to write, to participate in dialogues and to follow and give courses. She is a researcher, advisor and creator of new ways of entrepreneurial organizing where ecology, society, and the economy all benefit from and interact seamlessly with each other. Her aim is to increase diversity in organizational and entrepreneurial models and realities with a view to the development of a fairer, more sustainable and robust entrepreneurial space. By sharing yet unheard stories and walking untrodden paths, we allow interdependent systems to reveal themselves, to be identified and interpreted and to become a platform for action in everyday organizational reality.

Working in Europe and Africa, with companies, NGOs as well as governments, deepened her insight into how to combine worlds that are often separated such as art, science, indigenous knowledge, nature and entrepreneurship. Godelieve is professor Sustainable Strategy and Innovation at Avans University of Applied Science.