this chapter explores how practices such as ‘distributed design’ can assist grassroots maker communities in articulating sustainable development on their own terms, in ways that are personally meaningful.
makers (from craft practitioners to designers, tinkerers to fixers) are creative thinkers and strategists, with a unique understanding of materials and production processes. they liaise with suppliers and distribution networks, and advocate for sustainable alternatives. what if they could play a more active role in reshaping the systems within which they live and work?
one of the models commonly explored in european and north american contexts to conceive of how ecological regeneration can work in practice is the circular economy (ce), a vision of economic development where things are designed, made, used and reused within planetary boundaries (ellen macarthur foundation 2018). as delegates of living research (2015-2019), a british council initiative connecting makers and academics between china and the uk, we wanted to understand how this framing of ce translated into majority world contexts. china was the third nation in the world to institute the ce into national policy in 2013, and offers an example of how sustainable development can proceed in ways that retain local specificity.