Ed Gillespie

New metaphors for sustainability: include the craft of great design

This post comes to you from Ashden Directory
Following Solitaire Townsend’s suggestions for metaphors – teen-aged sex, Shakespeare, and advice to the dude – Ed Gillespie, co-founder of Futerra, emailed us to add a crucial component to the art of sustainability. Ed writes: 

To add to Soli’s suggestions I would include: craft.

Sustainability is really all about craft – artful, considered, creative solutions that work for people and planet.

Sustainability is also the crucial third component of great design, building on William Morris’s‘fit for purpose’ (functionality) and ‘beautiful to look at’ (aesthetics). I add to these ‘sustainably produced, reusable, durable, recyclable’. Sustainability turns good design into truly great design.photo above of William Morris

 

“ashdenizen blog and twitter are consistently among the best sources for information and reflection on developments in the field of arts and climate change in the UK” (2020 Network)

ashdenizen is edited by Robert Butler, and is the blog associated with the Ashden Directory, a website focusing on environment and performance.
The Ashden Directory is edited by Robert Butler and Wallace Heim, with associate editor Kellie Gutman. The Directory includes features, interviews, news, a timeline and a database of ecologically – themed productions since 1893 in the United Kingdom. Our own projects include ‘New Metaphors for Sustainability’, ‘Flowers Onstage’ and ‘Six ways to look at climate change and theatre’.

The Directory has been live since 2000.

Go to The Ashden Directory

New metaphors for sustainability: teenaged sex, Tatiana’s ‘Weather Speech’ and advice to the dude

This post comes to you from Ashden Directory

Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. Photo: Copyright 1989 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc.

Solitaire Townsend, co-founder and director of Futerra, the sustainability communications agency, draws on sex, Shakespeare and the party spirit for three new metaphors for sustainability

I’ve heard hundreds of definitions and metaphors for sustainability. For a decade my company Futerra has been communicating this precious, complicated, simple idea in communities, through brands and across continents. So I’ve picked three favourite metaphors which sandwich the sublime between two moments of the ridiculous.

The first is courtesy of my co-founder at Futerra the guru, professional comic and activist Ed Gillespie. This one comes with humour warning…

“Sustainability is like teenage sex. Everybody says they are doing it, but very few actually are. And those which are doing it – are doing it wrong.”

Ed loves opening conference speeches with that one.

The second isn’t really a metaphor but rather a poetic description of climate change. It’s the famous ‘Weather Speech’ by Titania from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Act 2, Scene1):

The winds, piping to us in vain,
As in revenge, have suck’d up from the sea
Contagious fogs; which falling in the land
Have every pelting river made so proud
That they have overborne their continents:
The ox hath therefore stretch’d his yoke in vain,
The ploughman lost his sweat, and the green corn
Hath rotted ere his youth attain’d a beard;
The fold stands empty in the drowned field,
And crows are fatted with the murrion flock;
The nine men’s morris is fill’d up with mud,
And the quaint mazes in the wanton green
For lack of tread are undistinguishable:
The human mortals want their winter cheer;
No night is now with hymn or carol blest:
Therefore the moon, the governess of floods,
Pale in her anger, washes all the air,
That rheumatic diseases do abound:
And thorough this distemperature we see
The seasons alter: hoary-headed frosts
Far in the fresh lap of the crimson rose,
And on old Hiems’ thin and icy crown
An odorous chaplet of sweet summer buds
Is, as in mockery, set: the spring, the summer,
The childing autumn, angry winter, change
Their wonted liveries, and the mazed world,
By their increase, now knows not which is which:
And this same progeny of evils comes
From our debate, from our dissension;
We are their parents and original.

That in the 1590’s Shakespeare wrote the most chilling description of climatic upheaval inspired Ed and I to shoot a short film of the speech. Called ‘The Season’s Alter’,  it stars a young Keira Knightly.

The final example is my most often used. When asked to define or explain sustainable development I don’t call upon the great Bard, but rather upon Bill S. Preston, Esquire and Ted Theodore Logan:

“Be excellent to each other, and party on dudes.”

“ashdenizen blog and twitter are consistently among the best sources for information and reflection on developments in the field of arts and climate change in the UK” (2020 Network)

ashdenizen is edited by Robert Butler, and is the blog associated with the Ashden Directory, a website focusing on environment and performance.
The Ashden Directory is edited by Robert Butler and Wallace Heim, with associate editor Kellie Gutman. The Directory includes features, interviews, news, a timeline and a database of ecologically – themed productions since 1893 in the United Kingdom. Our own projects include ‘New Metaphors for Sustainability’, ‘Flowers Onstage’ and ‘Six ways to look at climate change and theatre’.

The Directory has been live since 2000.

Go to The Ashden Directory

Green web awards: upwards, onwards

I’ve been invited to be one of the judges on the Green Web Awards, alongside Caroline Lucas, Green Party MEP, Adam Vaughan of The Guardian, Ed Gillespie of Futerra. Bonnie Alter of Treehugger and others. The Green Web awards were launched last year by Nigel Berman of nigelsecostore.com, so it’s a chance to figure out how much has changed in those 12 months.

Please get nominating.

Last year the standout winner for me was Freecycle, which won the Favourite Online Community award. It’s easy to forget what a quiet revolution that has been working on so many levels – building community, recycling tonnes of goods and  saving landfill.

By adding a Best Greenwash category the Awards also ensure that they get great national publicity. Last year Mattel’s range of Eco-Friendly Barbies sashayed straight into the top spot.

But 2008 seems a long way away.  Blogs themselves have lost some of their shininess in the intervening months. This is partly because the ADD-style attention span of the web has already moved on to social media, but I’m not sure if blogs themselves have grown as successfully as they should. While independent sites like DeSmogBlog are still lynchpins, and sites like Treehugger remain central, those of the major campaigning NGOs like Greenpeaceand WWF are looking sadly corporate and staid, as if their copy is part of a greater PR machine, rather than exuding the passionate intelligence that so many people who work for them have.

To acknowledge the shifting emphasis there’s a new category Social Media Hero. It’ll be interesting to see how that plays out. I do follow people like @revkin@sustainblog and@adamvaughan_uk, but I’m not sure the environment movement yet has its own Stephen Fry. Take a look at Mashable’s list of 75 green tweets and see how many you would really want in your Twitter window every day.

On the plus side, sites like Naresh Ramchandani and Andy Hobsbawm’s Do The Green Thinghave a real elegant simplicity to them and have proved continued to prove that the web is a brilliant tool for behaviour change.

But as these projects integrate with the social web, I suspect we’re on the verge of harnessing something quite spectacular. RSA Projects like Design Behaviour and The Social Brain tell us again and again we behave better when we act together.

We perceive it’s hard for us to lower our energy use on our own, but when we start comparing our use with our friends and neighbour’s, we suddenly start finding new ways forward.PriceWaterhouseCooper’s Carbon Bigfoot app on Facebook is one great new tool which does exactly that. Pachube is another fantastic mash up of technologies to create a live online community energy use comparison site.

I’m sure you have your own favourites.

I’d be particularly interested in seeing nominations for sites that aim at reaching the “other half” who are the least engaged in environmental issues.

And of course should anybody want to nominate and vote for us…

Go to RSA Arts & Ecology