Which One Are You?

B. Lorraine Smith
7 min readMar 3, 2020
Original pencil drawing by yours truly. For a live action version, scroll down to the video link.

“Where do you think I can make the most positive difference in my work?” It’s a common question these days, growing in urgency.

I have more questions than answers in response when I get asked this. I recently found a memo to myself that I sketched out last year trying to answer this question in a shareable way, ever on the lookout for shortcuts. Then I got busy with other stuff. But I realized I was avoiding the very advice I sketched in the memo, so I’m taking another pass at it here.

The sketched idea went something like this:

To transition to a regenerative economy, one where we (humans and billions of non-humans with which we are interdependent) can thrive, three things need to happen. We need to …

1. remove that which currently undermines our ability to thrive;

2. create that which encourages the conditions for thriving;

3. cope with the transition.

These things are easy to write down, and in a few testing discussions I got ready nods and a sort of, “Well, of course!” But (also/of course) the transition being suggested here is no small thing. Accepting the scope of what needs doing yields a lot of Why not’s interspersed with a good dose of, Because they’s… But that can’t stop us from moving forward.

To help make sense of it, I thought I’d create a simple visual to inform this new mental model. I like visuals and find they can help frame ideas where words sometimes aren’t ready yet. And then, to paraphrase one of my favorite New Yorker cartoons, some time on the eve of 2020, things got way gnarly.

My “simple” attempt to model what the other side of this transition looks like got complicated.

This is a (short) video of my rudimentary attempt at mentally modeling the transition, in particular the remove/create pair of the three-part concept. You’ll be reliant on your own voice over — there is no soundtrack. I am curious what it says to you. I offer notes at the end about what I was thinking as I drew in case you want to compare your soundtrack with mine.

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B. Lorraine Smith

Recovering ESG "expert"; yarn spinner; distance runner; magical realist. Sensing a path to an economy serving life. also at https://blorrainesmith.substack.com/