Relating back to the notion of winning at all cost in last week’s post, I thought of an essay I submitted to a contest a year or so ago. Titled Playing to Tie: Adopting a Sustainable Mindset, the piece was shortlisted by the Web of Life Foundation, an organization focused bringing fresh thinking and new perspectives to socio-environmental issues. It has subsequently been published as part of an essay collection titled An Orange County Almanac and other essays. We are our own harshest critic. I read the piece now and wonder why it was ever selected. I see it as overly long and disjointed, suffering from my strange phase of rampant semicolonization. Rereading it evokes a strong urge to cleave it apart for major editing and revision. Yet, there are bits and pieces that I am still proud of, and I would like to share the ideas in several of the passages:
Released on the 40th anniversary of Apollo 17’s iconic Blue Marble photograph, Overview is a short film that examines the peculiar cognitive shift experienced by many who have been to space. The 15-minute piece draws upon insights from astronauts, philosophers, and authors to explore how perspective can drastically change the way people think about their relationship with the world. Tightly paced and expertly scored by the Human Suits, I found Overview to be an accessible and thought-provoking documentary that conveys the necessity of considering the big picture if we are to forge a sustainable future.
I really like TED talks. I not only enjoy being exposed to ideas worth spreading, but I am also rejuvenated by seeing the passion people have in their work. But it takes a lot of skill to do TED talks well. It doesn’t matter how exciting the ideas themselves are: One has to convey them in a way that captures the imagination of the audience. The story is not enough; one needs to also be a good storyteller. Keeping with last week’s theme of urban renewal and gardening, I wanted to share a recent favourite TED talk of mine. It’s by Ron Finley, a guerilla gardener who is working to bring about a more hopeful, healthy and sustainable future for South Central LA: Receiving a standing ovation, Finley’s passion for and belief in food gardening as a force for societal transformation is evident and infectious. Like other great TED Talks, his presentation worked for me because he is simply a fantastic storyteller with an inspirational tale to tell. His eleven minute talk has great energy, never drags, and is full …
There’s an art to writing for kids. Good children’s books aren’t simply dumbed down stories, written with smaller words and fitted with happy sappy endings. In reality, kids are quite discerning: Their faculties haven’t yet been dulled by the insecurities and neuroses accumulated during the process of growing up. They like what they like and are completely honest about it. It’s true that they happily consume works filled with tired clichés and moralistic messages, but lacking cynicism and regard for convention, they generally emerge none the worse for wear. The stories that stay with kids are ones that feel authentic and true, even if they can’t articulate why. These are stories that speak through the language of wonder, a native tongue we are all born knowing but can easily be forgotten through neglect and disuse. I think The Curious Garden by Peter Brown is a great children’s book. Inspired by the revitalization of the Highline railway on the west side of Manhattan, Brown fuses charming visuals with a narrative that is full of discovery and hope. …
Perhaps more of these kinds of messages, delivered through mediums that resonate deep within the Chinese psyche like Shan Shui paintings, can help broaden the debate, spark lasting awareness, and affect change on the complex issues behind most environmental problems. This is what I wrote in the Shan Shui: Environmental Art Ekostory a few weeks back. Last night, I stumbled upon the intriguing work of artist Yao Lu, titled Yao Lu’s Landscape, at barbourdesign.wordpress.com:
I recently came across this short film created by a group called the Planetary Collective and was immediately captivated by what astronauts, philosophers, and authors described as the “Overview Effect”: A full piece exploring the ideas and themes of the film will be up on Ekostories in a few weeks. I wanted to share this now because the group is doing a Kickstarter for a full-length feature titled Continuum that is due in a week or so, and I figured they could use some exposure. If Overview is any indication of quality, Continuum is going to be one fascinating and thought-provoking documentary. You can learn more about the project at The Planetary Collective Presents: Continuum.
Following from the world of advertising and persuasion of last week’s post, I want to present this provocative image courtesy of The Third Ray, a blog by Joe Zammit-Lucia. Mr. Zammit-Lucia is constantly interested in exploring connections between nature and culture beyond traditional labels of environmentalism and notions of “saving the planet”, and his blog focuses on the role of art in shaping “the cultural framework surrounding the sustainable development debate.” His most recent post takes a look at an image created by a Brazilian ad agency called Segmento. The campaign is titled “Humanity and Nature are One.” I like what Mr. Zammit-Lucia had to say about the concept behind the image: Rather than the usual – and largely ineffective – environmental narrative of “Human vs Nature,” this campaign focuses on our inseparable inter-relatedness and inter-dependence. It tries to bring us closer to nature rather than to create artificial separation. What do you think? Are there any other messages from the image that speak to you?