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Posts Tagged ‘Adam Werbach’

Post-Compostmodern: Now What?

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We’d be lying to you, dear readers, if we didn’t admit that before this weekend’s Compostmodern conference, we were in a very bad place.

Maybe it’s just the typical occupational hazard that comes with being a blogger. But when you’re bombarded, every day, with designers touting the eco-sensibility of their newest utterly useless product you should buy for only $499.99, architects who want to be praised for using some non-toxic paint on their latest 500,000 square foot monstrosity, and creative people using up valuable resources to launch misdirected movements about using up valuable resources, it’s enough to make us want to reach our hands through internet until we can wrangle the mouse from their smug little hands and whack them over the head with it until they get it.

So when spoken word artist Dawn Maxey stood up and read her little poem on eco-hype yesterday (read the full text), we wanted to run up on stage and kiss her. Oh, how we feel you, sister.

Valerie Casey addressed that eco-fatigue we’ve all been feeling. But she coupled it with a very interesting point about movements in general–they spike, then dip, then slowly gain more solid acceptance over time. So don’t despair, we’re all just feeling that spike. The dip has yet to come.

Except now, this movement belongs clearly to designers. Activism didn’t work, said Adam Werbach. We are in need of better stories, said Alex Steffen. We need to stop making stuff, said everybody. And Casey made a great argument for why designers by nature are perfect to spearhead change. But when Casey showed the slide above, which was sent to her by, in her words, a “very prominent and well-known designer,” it really got us fired up. Because every single company we heard represented at this conference–Mark Galbraith and Nau, Jane Savage and Nike, General Electric and VSA Partners, yes, even Werbach and Wal-Mart–has realized the importance of not just being designer-centric, but being designer-dependent in order to make big changes. People: There. Is. No. One. Else.

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Adam Werbach: Make Sustainability “Irresistible”

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Adam Werbach opens the closing keynote of Compostmodern by saying something very simple. We need leaders. We need leaders and you are in the sweet spot. Designers need to exercise the power you have because you own the process that needs to be changed.

Then he says he has to speak honestly and he’s probably going to offend someone in this talk. Goody!

The Industrial Revolution is not only over, it’s falling apart. Now we’re in something else–call it the Sustainable Revolution, if you want. Some people are waiting for a crisis to take action, but it’s already here. The oil is gone and there’s a dengue fever outbreak in Texas and the ocean already rose up and swallowed the city of New Orleans. The stone age didn’t end because they ran out of rocks, he quips. The slide rule didn’t just “go out of style.” Things don’t change unless we have something better to replace it. The Industrial Revolution won’t end because it’s not working anymore, it will end when we make sustainability irresistible.

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