Debbie Chachra – How Infrastructure Works

Debbie Chachra

Olin College

From The Conference September 01, 2023

“Energy is general purpose freedom.” 

“The earth is in a void, every atom has to come from some place, and go somewhere.“

Infrastructure might not be the first thing we think of when we hear the word “care”, but these  systems are manifestations of how we ensure quality of life as a society. Debbie Chachra refers to a quote of Amartya Sen - “We want wealth not because it's desirable on its own, but because it gives freedom to actually do what gives life value.” In her talk Debbie pointed out that the wealth of a country can be measured by the amount of money put into infrastructure. In fact a satellite image of the earth in some ways reflects wealth simply by showing the amount of artificial light present. Debbie Chachra sees artificial light as pure agency as it allows us to do things we would otherwise not be able to do. 

If we take it a step further, energy is a general purpose freedom as having access to it allows you to exist with ease in your day to day. The issue is that the main source for energy we have harnessed are fossil fuels bringing us in the state of climate crisis we find ourselves in today. The speaker invited us to take a look at our lovely planet as a place that gets an immense amount of energy from the sun every day and also a place that exists in a void. Meaning every atom has to come from some place, and go somewhere. Debbie Chachra asks us to rethink the idea of energy that is limited, and the ideas of material resources that are not. To create caring infrastructure futures we need to commit to decentralized infrastructure for regenerative energy and build careful relationships to material flows.


Length 15:57
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Theme 2023
Tagged with 2023 enacting care