After a long hiatus we are coming back.
In September my organization, Architecture for Humanity acquired Worldchanging and all its assets. Starting in November we will begin to merge this site with Open Architecture Network to create a robust and informed network to bring solutions to global challenges to life. Post merger we will retain the Worldchanging name.
By combining the two sites we can evolve into a robust center for applied innovation and sustainable development. The combined strength of these communities, both created out of the TED Prize, will help spur innovation, learning, and best practices.
The new site, which will be managed by an independent entity, will include project management tools, offer case studies on innovative solutions and provide tools for aid and development organizations evaluate their programs in the field.
Over the summer, Architecture for Humanity met with over sixty writers, contributors, stakeholders and supporters to envision the transition of these sites. Many of the original writers to Worldchanging, including co-founders Jamais Cascio and Alex Steffen, have signed up to contribute to the new site.
We look forward to a bright green future together and we look forward to you rejoining the conversation. See you next month.
(Posted by Cameron Sinclair in QuickChanges at 2:40 PM)
It's been seven years in the making, but the new Worldchanging book is finally here. Now we need your help this week getting this young book on its feet.
Not only do initial sales often determine how other booksellers treat the book (spurring bookstores to put the book in more visible locations, for instance), but initial buzz about a book is vital to reaching the audience of people out there who would really love this book, but have never heard of it. Here are several things you can do today to help:
1. Get and enjoy the book itself! Discover new solutions, explore new ideas, let the brilliance of the world-changing people it covers inspire you.
2. Please tweet the book this week, if you can. http://bit.ly/hW5GJj
3. If you teach, please consider sharing the book and/or articles from Worldchanging.com (which are creative commons-licensed) w/ your class.
4. If you belong to a book club, please consider making Worldchanging 2.0 a book you discuss (there’s lots to talk about inside!)
5. There’s no Kindle edition yet. You can help the publisher see the need for an ebook by telling them you want one on the book’s Amazon page.
6. Please spread the word about the new book directly, by blogging it, mentioning it on Facebook, and recommending it to friends. http://bit.ly/hW5GJj
7. Please visit your favorite online booksellers and “like” the book, review it, and so on: help others decide that it’s a book they want to own.
8. Please visit or phone your favorite bookstore and ask them to stock the book.
Thanks in advance for your support!
(Posted by WC-Office in Features at 2:44 PM)
The future of green is orange: within the 600 pages of the new Worldchanging book, you'll find the global sustainability movement redefined.
This is a time for thinking in terms of scope, scale and speed. Subsequently, we've taken out almost all the guides to small steps, better shopping and behavior change. We've added hundreds of new and updated entries on building a bright green future, from the very basic systems of life all the way up to planetary thinking. Though it is a revised edition of our first book, Worldchanging 2.0 is so substantially reworked that it might as well be thought of as an entirely different book.
Worldchanging 2.0 is an urban book, focusing on cities and the systems we need to change to make them carbon-neutral, zero-waste, walkable and equitable engines of prosperity. It's an ambitious book, full of the kinds of bold thinking we need to engage with to build a truly bright green future: climate foresight and planetary thinking; sustainable design innovations and passivhaus buildings; walksheds, ubiquitous technology and sharing systems; biomimicry and green chemistry; adaptive re-use and rugged green infrastructure; telling the backstories of the things we buy, making transparent the functioning of our governments and rebuilding the ruins of the unsustainable. On a planet hurtling towards not only a population of 9 billion people, almost all living in or around cities, facing a massive ecological crisis and an unfaltering technological revolution, ideas like the ones in Worldchanging are no longer just provocative, they're essential. Worldchanging is a guide to building (and living in) bright green cities. Now, not in some distant, perfect future.
The new Worldchanging features a foreword by green jobs pioneer Van Jones, an introduction by 350 founder Bill McKibben and entries by scores of Worldchanging's insightful thinkers, journalists and designers. It is optimistic, clear-headed, solutions-oriented; both visionary and practical.
Worldchanging 2.0 is the definitive result of seven years of global solutions-based journalism. It's a wild, ambitious, imperfect and energetic book, and the best summation of the Worldchanging project we knew how to create. And though Stefan Sagmeister's new design is gorgeous, we hope the ideas inside are what make this a book you read and return to and use to drive your own creativity and solutions.
Worldchanging may not change your life, but it may change how you design your future.
As with our last book, we're depending on word of mouth and reader recommendations to spread the word -- if anything, the fact that Worldchanging is now closed and the promotions effort is all-volunteer makes your support even more critical. So we hope that you'll share this news with others (blog it, tweet it ( @AlexSteffen for regular updates), join the Worldchanging Facebook group, or just tell your friends you're excited to read it). Once you've had a chance to read the book, we'd appreciate your positive reviews on all these sites, as well, of course.
Let's change the world.
(Posted by WorldChanging Team in Features at 11:59 AM)
Looking for a speaker for your upcoming conference, meeting or lecture series?
Alex Steffen (Worldchanging's co-founder and editor, for those just joining us) is well known as a writer, editor and blogger, but he also is a popular public speaker, giving many talks a year at leading companies (including Nike, IDEO and Amazon), universities (including Harvard, Stanford and Yale), cultural institutions (from Barcelona's CCCB to the Danish Architecture Centre) and major conferences (including TED, Copenhagen's Bright Green, Design Indaba, Pop!Tech, Picnic and South by Southwest, as well as numerous professional associations).
Alex speaks about a variety of subjects, ranging from carbon-neutral cities to sustainable business strategy, innovative design solutions to futurism for an urban planet. Instead of leaving your audience feeling hopeless, Alex's solutions-based talks will challenge your audience to think in new ways, leave them optimistic about the possibilities of a bright green future and inspire them to act.
If you'd like to book Alex for your own event, the good people at the Lavin Agency (which represents Alex) can help arrange that for you: it's easy to learn more at Alex's speaker page.
You can follow Alex on Twitter at @AlexSteffen.
In addition, Alex is available as a consultant for appropriate projects, and can be contacted through his soon-to-launch new website AlexSteffen.com.
You can also watch a number of Alex's talks over the years on our website:
"2050" slide from Worldchanging's "Future City" event. (The slideshow text was written by Alex Steffen; the slides were designed by Oscar Murillo with assistance from Amanda Reed)
Image of Alex Steffen at the top of the post by photographer Chase Jarvis as part of his "Seattle 100" book project.
(Posted by WorldChanging Team in Features at 12:46 PM)
We are extremely pleased to be able to announce the new edition of Worldchanging: A User's Guide for the 21st Century, to be released this spring (and already available for discount pre-order at Powell's, Barnes and Noble, Borders and Amazon).
We struggled with whether to even call this book a new edition, rather than a new book: over half of the entries are new and most have been updated. While we weren't able to start completely from scratch (as in an ideal world one might when trying to cover so vast a range of topic), we do feel that we've been really successful in bringing many of the newest worldchanging ideas to the page. Bright green business, carbon neutral cities, passivhaus green building, product backstories, post-ownership, planetary futurism, green infrastructure, deep walkability, parallel collaboration, product-service systems, zero waste communities, retrofitting the ruins of the unsustainable... it's all in there. This is really, in many ways, the definitive statement of the Worldchanging solutions set (or as close as we can get).
The book comes with a foreword by Van Jones and an introduction by Bill McKibben, as well as with a detailed bibliography and index. The design, again, was created by our friend Stefan Sagmeister. We think Abrams has again made a beautiful book.
As with our last book, we're depending on word of mouth and reader recommendations to spread the word. So we hope that you'll share this news with others (blog it, tweet it, mention it on Facebook, or just tell your friends you're excited to read it). Once you've had a chance to read the book, we'd appreciate your positive reviews on all these sites, as well, of course.
Cover of Worldchanging book designed by Sagmeister Inc.
(Posted by WorldChanging Team in About Worldchanging at 5:30 PM)
In 2009 Alex spoke at Town Hall Seattle over the course of two nights about how cities are the fulcrum point for leveraging a bright green future and how Seattle specifically could lead the way by targeting city-wide carbon neutrality by 2030.
In the first video below, Alex shares a compelling story about Albania and Czechoslovakia and how each country approached change. The moral of the story: "Don't be Albania" (the story begins at 47:25 through 54:07):
"Albania had to confront the failure of the idea of communism, and they didn't do it. We have to confront a different idea, which is the failure of the idea of limitless nature. We have built a way of life that is all about cranking nature through machines, delivering them to stores, taking them home, and throwing them away. Pieces of nature all over the place. If we want to be more like the Czechs and less like the Albanians, then we need to realize that that way of life is over. It is as outdated and passe as saluting comrade Lenin."
Night One: Building a Planet with a Future
Introduction by Seattle City Council President Richard Conlin
If you'd like to book Alex for a talk where you are, please contact his agent, David Lavin.
(Posted by WorldChanging Team in About Worldchanging at 12:00 PM)
In 2006 Alex spoke at Pop!Tech about how the biggest barriers to building a sustainable planet are political, not technological. Here, he offers an actionable task list of challenges, ideas, products and services to help dematerialize the world.
"What's our job? Our job is we need to imagine and design new models of one planet prosperity which can work for every person on the earth and we need to do it really quickly."
If you'd like to book Alex for a talk where you are, please contact his agent, David Lavin.
(Posted by WorldChanging Team in About Worldchanging at 10:15 AM)
This year's Human Development Index (HDI) came out last week and it was full of good news. The HDI started out 20 years ago to provide a way of indexing development and progress that gives a fuller picture of human well being than GDP's shallow economic calculations. This year's report celebrates the fact that over the past 40 years “average life expectancy rose from 59 to 70 years, primary school enrollment grew from 55 to 70 percent, and per capita income doubled to more than $10,000.”
This is great stuff. But the question that the HDI asks is can it be sustained? Can we hope so see similar gains in the next 40 years?
Climate Change and Development
The main threat, which haunts the report, is climate change. By some projections, much of the already wealthy North will not directly feel the negative impacts of climate change until late in the century. But many of the areas where gains have been made in access to education, nutrition and life expectancy are also going to be the most vulnerable to climate change. As the HDI puts it:
“The main threat to maintaining progress in human development comes from the increasingly evident unsustainability of production and consumption patterns. .... The consequences of environmentally unsustainable production are already visible. Increased exposure to drought, floods and environmental stress is a major impediment to realizing people’s aspirations. .... The continuing reliance on fossil fuels is threatening irreparable damage to our environment and to the human development of future generations.”
Unrealized Urban Possibilities
Cities have an important place in all this. Beyond coastal communities that will face increased flooding, all of the world's ever growing cities are directly dependent on external supplies of food, potable water, and energy that make it possible for such a high density of people to live together in relative comfort.
With 40% reductions in staple grain crops currently expected by mid century (as well as a bundle of other climate related disasters) the spectre of resource conflicts and urban unrest is very real. At the same time, decoupling urbanization from increased energy use could play a huge part in mitigating the intensity of climate change. Unfortunately recent reports on the US and China show that this is – on the whole – simply not happening. There are some innovators. I've written about many of them. But they are the exception not the rule.
This contrast between how good things are and how challenging they will get is a bit of a brain twister. Even if you understand the issues, at an intuitive level it all seems slightly unreal. How can things be going so well if they are really going so badly? (something Andrew Revkin also riffs on over at Dot Earth)
The Environmentalist's Paradox
Dr. Ciara Raudsepp-Hearne, a close friend and recent graduate of McGill's Dept. of Geography, made waves in September with a paper (pdf) on exactly that dilemma. In the paper, which got picked up by the Guardian and a variety of other international media, she dubs this sticky situation the “Environmentalist's Paradox.” Beyond just supplying a catchy name, she and her co-author's go some way to explaining how – exactly when the HDI show that enormous gains have been made since the 1970s – reports like the Millenium Ecosystem Assessment show that the capacity of the world's ecosystems to provide key services are in decline.
Given the unprecedented burdens we are placing on the planet's resources, projecting forward from past data is tricky. But with that proviso, Ciara and her co-author's argue that on the one hand, agricultural innovations have helped increase human well being despite declines in other areas, and on the other that there is a time lag between the damage we do to our ecosystems and when we feel its impacts. In other words, it takes a bit of time before the chicken's come home to roost.
Cities of Change
Going into a century of rapid climate change with already depleted ecosystems is a frightening prospect. But, as the HDI points out, in many ways things are better than ever. To keep that going on a rapidly urbanizing globe means designing urban systems that are more resilient to climatic shocks, resource shortages (and the social tensions they create), and that also impose a lighter load on the ecosystems we depend on.
Concretely, that means more attention to technical projects like decentralized renewable energy that increase the resilience and efficiency of our hard infrastructure. It also means continued progress on social issues like education, health, and equality that build the resilience of our societies. Change happens, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. Our cities need to be ready to respond to both.
This post originally appeared on Alex's excellent personal blog openalex.
(Posted by Alex Aylett in Urban Design and Planning at 1:30 PM)
Congratulations to our team mates at Worldchanging Canada, who have just celebrated four years of great Canada-focused content. All month they'll be looking back at some of the best stuff they've published over the last years. It's a wealth of good thinking, even if you've never set foot in the True North.
(Posted by Alex Steffen in About Worldchanging at 7:30 PM)
We did not film this talk this year, but KUOW recorded it and will broadcast it and make it available online next month.
If you'd like to read some soundbites from the talk, check out SvR Design Company's tweets. You can click here to follow them, or see the hash tag #sotf for all their tweets from the evening. As always, you can follow Alex's tweets at @AlexSteffen.
Thanks again to our sponsors!
(Posted by WorldChanging Team in About Worldchanging at 4:50 PM)
Alison Killing reports on an exciting new closed loop paper-to-wood product.
Kranthout ("newspaper wood" in Dutch) is a new product that has been developed by Mieke Meijer for design company vij5 (here is a [PDF] of their design). As the name suggests, this is 'wood' made from newspaper. The individual pages are rolled together using a specially developed machine to produce tabloid sized 'logs', which can then be milled into planks, drilled and sanded just as real wood might. Neatly, the kranthout also replicates the grain of wood, with streaks of text or color photographs revealed in the new planks when it is cut.
The designers are currently refining the kranthout design and working to develop further products from it. The relatively small size of the logs will probably limit its applications to a certain extent, but it is easy to imagine attractive pieces of furniture or other heirloom quality objects being made from it.
Large amounts of newspaper are recycled every day so the raw product for kranthout is both cheap and widely available. Additionally the product has also been developed with an eye on how it could be recycled at the end of its life. The glue that binds the sheets of newspaper together has been selected for its ability to be separated from the paper in an eventual recycling process.
Alison Killing is an architect and urbanist based in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.
(Posted by Alison Killing in Sustainable Design at 2:00 PM)
Patrick M. Condon, the James Taylor Chair in Landscape and Liveable Environments at the University of British Columbia, has just written a new book Seven Rules for Sustainable Communities: Design Strategies for the Post-Carbon World. The book aims to be an easy-to-use guide to basic urban design rules that, if followed, can help begin to halt the buildup of greenhouse gasses and create a more livable world for future generations.
It starts from a premise that Worldchanging covers regularly: the transformation of cities and metropolitan regions "into places that strike a balance between their human inhabitants and the planet's air and water systems" with compact, energy-efficient, and pedestrian- and transit-friendly design is the key to a bright green future.
In his foreword, Condon argues that while cap and trade programs, reductions in power plant emissions, increasing use of alternative energy technologies, and more energy-efficient cars are good steps, they will "merely slow the rate of growth in greenhouse gas production"; whereas transforming our cities offers a greater potential for actually reducing overall greenhouse gas emissions:
"Eighty percent of American and Canadians live in metropolitan areas, and these place produce an equal amount of the continent's greenhouse gases. Current decentralized, auto-mobile-based patterns of development helped make North Americans the biggest generators of greenhouse gases in the world per capita. For this reason, transitioning to less land and energy-consuming patterns of development will be cruicial to reducing overall carbon production. Cities and regions, not national governments, will play the leading role in achieving these goals. This book shows how changes in the design of our cities and metropolitan areas can achieve dramatic reductions in carbon emissions while improving livability and competitiveness and at the same time reducing the cost of building and maintaining infrastructure systems."
One of Condon's central propositions is that cities return to a 'slow transit' model of development --a return to the streetcar city with jobs concentrated along corridors,which were once prevalent throughout North American cities.
This seems to echo what Worldchanging's Executive Editor Alex Steffen spoke about last night in terms of the "death of speed" and the need to accept the fact that cars are not the future; urban design must adapt to create places and destinations that are accessible through walking, biking and transit and the leveraging of walkshed technologies.
If you're looking for a succinct exploration of the complex issues facing urban design in a rapidly urbanizing world, and a good introduction to strategies for livable, more sustainable cities, then check out Seven Steps.
(Posted by Amanda Reed in Resource - Cities at 1:30 PM)
New Computer Game Simulates Challenges of Global Warming
A British company has developed a new computer game that allows players to save the planet from the effects of global warming — at least in a simulated setting. “Fate of the World,” produced by the gaming company Red Redemption, places players at the head of a global environmental organization — a “UN with teeth” — charged with saving the world over the next 200 years in the face of rising temperatures, diminishing resources, disappearing ecosystems, and growing population. Using actual climate models and data from scientists at the University of Oxford, players can confront these challenges globally through a variety of policies — including cap-and-trade, promotion of renewable energy, and geoengineering schemes. “In many ways, it’s just a very complex puzzle,” Matt Giles Griffiths, one of the designers, told the New York Times. “The first few times you try it, you’ll get absolutely creamed.” While the makers of the game say they are pushing no particular agenda, some green groups say a surge in popularity of games focused on sustainability is helpful in raising awareness.
This post originally appeared on e360 digest.
Related: Games for Change: An Interview with MiniMonos + A Look Back | Amanda Reed, 11 Aug 10
(Posted by Yale Environment 360 in Media at 12:00 PM)
Hermann Scheer, pioneering German Parliamentarian and renewable energy advocate, died earlier this month. Scheer was the driving force behind Germany's Renewable Energy Act, thanks to which Germany last year accounted for half of all worldwide solar electricity installations. I recently came across one of his last ever interviews, done by Amy Goodman over at DemocracyNow.org. The interview covers everything from the Energy Act, to the impact of political corruption on the transition to renewable energy, and the importance of energy independence.
After 30 years in the German parliament working on energy issues, Scheer has enormous insight into the political dynamics that surround renewable energy. I've posted a few of my favorite quotes below. Scheer's life work is a great example of how change happens, not just by fighting against how things are, but by building something new that makes the current situation obsolete.
--- From the Interview (see here for a full transcript):
"The tragedy of our present civilization is that it became dependent on marginal energy sources. The marginal energy sources are fossil sources, fossil resources and nuclear, based on the raw material uranium. The gigantic energy potential is the renewable energy potential always all coming from the sun, including its derivates, like wind and the photosynthetic-produced—photosynthetically produced materials, organic materials, plants, hydro-base. And the sun offers to our globe, in eight minutes, as much energy as the annual consumption of fossil and atomic energy is. That means to doubt—the doubtings if there would be enough renewable energy for the replacement of nuclear and fossil energies, this argument is ridiculous. There is by far enough."
"It is a fight. This is a structural fight. It is a fight between centralization and decentralization, between energy dictatorship and energy participation in the energy democracy. And because nothing works without energy, it’s a fight between democratic value and technocratical values. And therefore, the mobilization of the society is the most important thing. And as soon as the society, most people, have recognized that the alternative are renewable energies and we must not wait for others, we can do it by our own, in our own sphere, together in cooperatives or in the cities or individually. As soon as they recognize this, they will become supporters. Other—this is the reason why we have now a 90 percent support against all the disinformation campaigns. They have much more money and possibilities to influence the public opinion, but they lost this. They lost this conflict. In the eyes of the people, they lost the conflict. They are the losers already."
This post originally appeared on Alex's excellent personal blog openalex.
(Posted by Alex Aylett in Energy at 11:35 AM)