Profiles in Regeneration: Blake, 20, UK
With Regeneration we see new principles being adapted to fit the ever changing climate and seeing the regeneration of practices from our pasts so that they can benefit the future
Young people all around the world are working to build a regenerative future. At 20, Blake O’Sullivan is one of those people. He wants to create an open-source, educational website to make learning and teaching materials accessible in developing countries by running on low internet speeds.
Regenerative Futures: How are you feeling right now?
Blake O’Sullivan: I’m all good, thank you! I’m currently on my year abroad in Bergen, Norway, and am thankful that the COVID situation is quite controlled over here and I still have freedom to travel and explore.
RF: What’s a secret your search history can tell us about you?
BS: My search history can tell you guys that I’m quite nerdy. It’s also filled with Googling lyrics to French songs—I love them but fail in my attempts to actually pronounce them.
RF: What are you reading/learning about at the moment?
BS: Right now, my reading is swaying between scientific research papers for university and Japanese literature. It’s a nice balance between working hard in my third year of university and finding time to get lost in the escapism that Japanese literature offers. At the moment I’m on my year abroad in Bergen, and am learning about many things including the Norwegian language, how corporations meet their sustainability goals, and environmental geochemistry.
RF: Who is your favorite human and why?
BS: My favorite human is definitely my brother. Being only three-and-a-half years older, we’ve grown up very close and therefore have similar interests. But we differ when it comes to studies, as he is very artsy and cool and I took the geology route. However, I like to think his style and individualism have made me who I am today and made me more comfortable expressing myself. For that reason, I would say he’s a pretty cool human.
RF: Which key moment inspired you to start your project?
BS: The key moment that inspired my project was when I first heard about Regenerative Futures. It was during the first lockdown and I had exams at university around the same time. I started to brainstorm, and the idea came to me while talking to my tutor. From there, I started to research and found that most inequalities stem back to education. And in today’s world, the biggest restriction on education is the lack of WiFi in the developed or developing world. This inhibits people’s access to educational services drastically, no matter how small the assignment or Zoom call. All of this got me thinking about what could be done to aid these people.
RF: In two years’ time, what would your project’s success look like?
BS: In two years, I would like to see my project in full effect with multiple institutions working with me to help format educational documents, photos, and videos so they’re able to work on low-speed WiFi. I would like to think that in two years at least some people will have found my project helpful and learned something that will help them make a better future for themselves. Education is made to be shared, taught, learned from, and discussed, so that we can learn from our past selves.
RF: If you could focus a large percentage of government funding on one industry or project for the next five to ten years, which would you choose and why?
BS: I would focus a large percentage of government funding on the educational industry, since education is the root of a variety of environmental and political problems. Education isn’t just about learning; it’s about developing a person, being there for one another, and creating a safe environment for people be able to express themselves. With the funding in education, we can create these environments that will make the future generations the best they can be with the best resources available for them.
RF: What are the best and the worst things about the education system in your country?
BS: The best thing about our education system in the United Kingdom is the wide variety of subjects that are available for students to take, allowing them to try out different subjects they might never have thought of. The worst thing is the examination style and the “model” the education system tries to mold you into. All school subjects in the UK have exams, and this can be a very nervous time. I haven’t had a break from exams in eight or nine years. These exams seem to define our intelligence. I completely disagree with this system, as you can have good days and bad days and thus exams don’t reflect true intellectual ability—merely a student’s ability to recall and regurgitate knowledge. Studying abroad has opened my eyes to different education systems and highlighted how wrong the UK has it. Norway focuses more on skills that will help me in the future for work, with lots of group projects and coursework that makes for a more relaxed and engaging work environment. What I really like is that you can get selected for a spoken exam, which I think can work in the favor of some people as they are better are articulating what they mean than they are than writing down.
RF: Do you have a message for anyone your age living in the year 2060?
BS: I think my message for people my age in 2060 would be “Good luck and may the odds ever be in your favor.” All jokes aside, I think it’s important for them to know that even if the world is screwed, there were people fighting for a better and cleaner future.
RF: What inspires or frightens you most about the future?
BS: What inspires me most is the increasing number of people educating themselves on the current environmental, political, social, and cultural issues. The number of people determined to protest and speak up about these issues are so encouraging, and they’re the paving the way for future generations. However, what frightens me most is the increase of hatred being spread throughout the world—when in times like this we need to come together to save the planet rather than push each other apart.
RF: Regeneration is…
BS: The evolution of ideas and practices. It comes in the sense of how some practices need to change with new generations and how with new generations come new ideas. With Regeneration we see new principles being adapted to fit the ever changing climate and seeing the regeneration of practices from our pasts so that they can benefit the future.
To learn more about Regenerative List finalist, Blake O’Sullivan, click here.