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robertogreco : alexsteffen   11

What Use Is the Future? | Boom: A Journal of California
"California is a set of circumstances that I don’t think can happen again: this weird thing, a place, sort of without history—and “without history” in air quotes here, because our history was erased; it was ripped out by the roots—a place without history, made vastly wealthy then suddenly landed right in the middle of the global cultural discussion and the global economic future, and it has been there for eighty years, arguably more. That, I don’t think, is a thing that can happen again, because there’s nowhere left without history. There’s nowhere left where there’s a fresh start, with “fresh start,” again, in air quotes.

California is, by its very nature, the end of one kind of possibility. We got to the coast and we ran out of frontier. That means that California has stayed the frontier for a very, very, very long time. In fact, the frontier is a thing of our past, everywhere on Earth. You won’t find it in the Arctic or Antarctica or the deepest Amazon or the Sahara. They’re not landscapes of human possibility. They’re simply the most remote places left."



"But failure is not our only future. We might, instead, choose to reinvent ourselves again, to become the people who can reconcile prosperity, sustainability, and dynamism. We could raise our vision to take in the whole state and imagine for it and ourselves new ways of life that fit its realities and our own. Because failing exurbs and potholed freeways, government bankruptcies and climate chaos, eroding clear-cuts, dwindling salmon runs and drought-ravaged crops, a permanent underclass and a massive housing crisis—these aren’t the only way to live. We know enough to know that remaking all of that is at least possible. We could rebuild our cities with lots of new green housing and new transit and infrastructure, run our state on clean energy, remake forestry and farming, and look at water in a more sane way. We might even find a future for the suburbs, because if the twenty-first century has a frontier, it will be, as Bruce Sterling says, in the ruins of the unsustainable. All of these things would make us richer, and done properly they would actually become an export industry, because the whole wealthy world needs to figure out all this stuff, too. So those who figure it out can sell it, and should. We need the scale and speed of change that comes with a boom, and the self-transformation you see unleashed in democratic revolutions.

The practicalities of how we build a bright green state are tough, but even tougher is the cultural question: Who are “we” when we talk about ourselves as a group? The questions of who we are together are thorny and deep-rooted here in California, and we need a new and better answer."
california  future  2015  alexsteffen  jonchristensen  green  sustainability  reinvention  brucesterling  democracy  transformation  change  systems  systemsthinking  history  2115  environmentalism  environment  westcoast  aldoleopold  futurism  culture  society  poverty  inequality 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Humanitarian Design vs. Design Imperialism: Debate Summary: Change Observer: Design Observer
"Bruce Nussbaum started a firestorm with the question "Is humanitarian design the new imperialism?" — and the conversation has spread through the blogosphere. Here, a digest of essays and related posts on this subject."
brucenussbaum  cameronsinclair  emilypilloton  susanszenasy  jonkolko  avinashrajagopal  robertfabricant  alexsteffen  patrickjames  nitibhan  infini  mariapopova  johnthackara  valeriecasey  davidstairs  timothyogden  shahanasiddiqui  humanitariandesign  design  imperialism  designimperialism  projecth  projecthdesign 
august 2010 by robertogreco
Worldchanging: Bright Green: Seeing Past the BP Spill
"Shouldn't a site whose purpose is to explore solutions to planetary problems be all over the planet's most visible current problem?
climate  worldchanging  energy  green  bp  gulfoilspill  oil  sustainability  systems  economics  alexsteffen  infrastructure 
july 2010 by robertogreco
Worldchanging: Bright Green: President Obama's Nobel Prize Speech and the Politics of Optimism
"President Obama's Nobel Prize acceptance speech is a truly remarkable piece of writing. He manages, in an incredibly conflicted moment, to neither dodge the conflicts nor let those conflicts define the possibilities of our time. It is a speech that is honest, humble and at the same time profoundly high-minded. The last few lines, in particular, reveal a sentiment that's critical for the era of instability we know we're headed into [quote here] This is a set of ideas very much the moral core of the politics of optimism that I've written about before. There are going to be very difficult days ahead for those of us who have compassion for the suffering and a love for the planet, who believe in freedom and progress, who would like to see our generation meet its challenges fully. We need not to lose sight of "the world that ought to be."
alexsteffen  barackobama  worldchanging  nobelprizes  peace  war  future  optimism  2009 
december 2009 by robertogreco
Worldchanging: Bright Green: Planetary Boundaries and The Failure of Environmentalism
"Small steps, personal responsibility. incremental reform, gradually better standards, 50-year targets for action -- most of the solutions offered in the green tool chest right now are, unfortunately, completely insufficient. Not insufficient in the sense that we'd like them to be better in a perfect world: insufficient in the sense that if we do them all, we still face a strong possibility of planetary catastrophe and the collapse of civilization.

We need to challenge the assumption that we can live much as we do today, with improved gadgets and standards (suburban, consumerist life with an electric car here, a green building there, a CFL in the next room). We can't. It won't work. We need to change how we live. If we're smart, we'll end up better off -- with more wealth, higher qualities of life, healthier families, and safer communities -- but we must start to talk not about doing things differently, but about doing different things."
alexsteffen  psychology  worldchanging  change  environment  sustainability  green  socialism  global  environmentalism  climate  resilience  systems  ecology  earth 
october 2009 by robertogreco
Worldchanging: Bright Green: Bright Green, Light Green, Dark Green, Gray: The New Environmental Spectrum
"What is bright green? In its simplest form, bright green environmentalism is a belief that sustainable innovation is the best path to lasting prosperity, and that any vision of sustainability which does not offer prosperity and well-being will not succeed. In short, it's the belief that for the future to be green, it must also be bright. Bright green environmentalism is a call to use innovation, design, urban revitalization and entrepreneurial zeal to transform the systems that support our lives." Goes on to define light green environmentalists, dark greens, and grays"
environment  worldchanging  sustainability  environmentalism  activism  green  alexsteffen  consumerism  ecology  branding  glossary 
september 2009 by robertogreco
Worldchanging: Bright Green: Letter from Copenhagen - Cities and Citizenship
"it's not just the visual evidence of US decline that's troubling; it's that we don't even seem to recognize how far from reason our public debate has drifted. Returning from Copenhagen, it's hard to explain to my fellow Americans how insane, unrealistic & out-of-touch US climate debate now looks to rest of world...what US needs is an upheaval that's much more innovative, fundamental, sudden. I don't think anyone quite has a clear sight of what that is yet. Industrial shifts to clean economy, new models of news publishing, government 2.0, street as platform, post-ownership & post-consumer identities, community resilience a growing cultural preference for participation & collaboration combining w/ search for transparency & backstories & authenticity: all...clearly in the code of whatever new system is emerging, but none defines it...new natural unit of civic change, especially in US in 2010s is going to be the city...a place for us as people to live new values...a hotbed of innovation."
worldchanging  healthcare  us  cities  change  innovation  policy  sustainability  urbanism  reform  activism  citizenship  copenhagen  denmark  climatechange  community  urban  politics  patriotism  alexsteffen  gamechanging  citystates  progress 
september 2009 by robertogreco
Sustaining the American Family: ETech 2009
"The American family consumes resources vastly beyond its “share”—more so than other nation’s family. However due to technology, increasing environmental awareness and a changing economy, it is also the best poised to make a course correction. Worldchanging’s Alex Steffen returns to show the results of his latest project about how to make us more sustainable."
alexsteffen  sustainability  worldchanging  families  parenting  etech  2009 
january 2009 by robertogreco
Worldchanging: The Real Green Heretics
"If you want truly dangerous bright green ideas, go way out beyond what the conventional wisdom thinks is possible...Think, instead, of the implications of ideas like zero energy, zero emissions, zero waste, closed loops, true-cost accounting for the value of ecological services, product-service systems, visible flows, totally transparent backstories, open innovation, green infrastructure, etc. These concepts are really weird, full of new insights and critical uncertainties -- and they, or ideas like them, are very quickly going to become the operating principles of our entire society. If we want to avoid a catastrophic collision with ecological reality, we need to change our thinking. Our ideas of what's normal, or even what's possible, will not outlast the next decade. Unfortunately, Wired's list of heresies is a list of normal, contemporary approaches and current environmental commonplaces packaged in a way designed to shock and titillate."
sustainability  activism  green  worldchanging  alexsteffen  future  culture  society  technology  climatechange  ecology  solutions  environment  urban  energy  media  wired  greenwashing 
december 2008 by robertogreco
Worldchanging: Peak Population and Generation X
"Add all of this information together, and a generational imperative emerges. Generation X can be seen as the beginning of peak population; many of us (born between roughly 1960 and 1980) may live to see population peak in the middle of this century; and much of the most important work to be done to see us through to the other side of that watershed will need to be done in the next twenty years, when Generation X'ers are in their professional prime. We did not cause the crisis we face -- unless you count us guilty at birth -- but if the crisis is solved, it'll have to be in large part through the leadership of people born in my generation. Our historic call is to save the planet during peak population."
generationx  genx  generations  babyboomers  society  sustainability  worldchanging  alexsteffen  economics  culture  future  global  futurism  ethics  ecology  population  peakpopulation  climate  responsibility  environment  social  optimism  age  boomers 
december 2008 by robertogreco
WorldChanging: The Outquisition
"What would it be like, we wondered, if folks who knew tools and innovation left the comfy bright green cities and traveled to the dead mall suburban slums, rustbelt browntowns and climate-smacked farm communities and started helping the locals get the to
alexsteffen  survival  survivalism  corydoctorow  distopia  future  leadership  innovation  collapse  society  classideas  cities  suburbs  crisis  peakoil  community  sustainability  environment  economics  worldchanging  planning  politics  freedom  food  local  futurism  green 
july 2008 by robertogreco

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