The Emory Wheel (the student newspaper of Emory U, in Atlanta) has an excellent piece on the greening of festivals nationwide online here. If this is student journalism, color me impressed!
The story explores the greening of festivals through Wakarusa and the Echo Project (covered here on my old blog), touching on key aspects including the impact of fan travel, the difficulty of making any event truly green in a non-green society, and the importance of not being too earnest.
Notable quote from a festival-goer: “Just like any other person wants to talk about music, they just want to talk about the environment. They weren’t making me feel like I was a bad person or preaching at me. They made me feel like I could be a part of something bigger.”
On Earth Day, the City Council of Los Angeles passed an ordinance requiring builders of large commercial and residential developments to adopt green building rules that would potentially cut millions of tons of pollution over the next decade, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Wearing a green necktie in honor of 38th Earth Day, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa pledged to reduce the city’s carbon emissions 35 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, an effort that will also require a crackdown on the city’s coal-dependent municipal utility and a move toward electricity from renewable sources.
City officials said about 150 new and renovated buildings, or about 7.5 million square feet, would be covered by the ordinance each year. The rules would amount to preventing about 85,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions over the next five years, the equivalent of removing 15,000 cars from the roads.
The LEED checklist includes such items as low-flow toilets, paints with low emissions, use of recycled materials, efficient irrigation, solar panels and use of natural light.
So far, one state, Connecticut, and 14 cities are requiring private developers to meet green building standards.
Continuing our coverage of Rothbury, here's a press release about the solar schools initiative they're doing. I touched on this a bit in my interview with Sarah Haynes but didn't go into the details. Briefly, Rothbury decided not to offset fans' carbon emissions and instead spent the money putting a solar project on a nearby school. They are doing this with the help of Black Rock Solar, an offshoot of Burning Man, which brings down the price of solar considerably by using volunteer labor where it can. And to make sure that this really helps the school, they wrote it into the contract with the school district that the savings on the electric bills will remain in the school budget for other purposes, not just disappear, leaving the schools no better off than before.
STELLAR MUSIC, SOLAR POWER: ROTHBURY ANNOUNCES DETAILS FOR SOLAR SCHOOLS PROGRAM PRESENTED BY RE:VOLVE APPAREL ROTHBURY PARTNERS BLACK ROCK SOLAR AND BAUER POWER TO BUILD FREE SOLAR POWER FOR LOCAL SCHOOL THE SUSTAINABLE FESTIVALCELEBRATING MUSIC, ART AND ACTIONHAPPENS JULY 3 - 6, 2008 IN ROTHBURY, MICHIGANROTHBURY, the nation's first around-the-clock music and camping festival to implement maximum sustainability, near zero-waste initiatives and facilitate dialogue about climate change and clean energy solutions, is also giving back to the community with ROTHBURY's Solar Schools Program presented by RE:VOLVE APPAREL. Some of the nation's noted "Green Heroes" who are dedicated to shrinking society's carbon footprint on the environment will be teaming up with this innovative music festival to help outfit Shelby High School in Shelby, MI with a free solar panel system. ROTHBURY, together with RE:VOLVE Apparel, Black Rock Solar and Grand Rapids-based Bauer Power, has committed to donating a minimum of $50,000 worth of solar power to Shelby High."We were looking for creative ways to offset our carbon footprint," explains Jeremy Stein, ROTHBURY's Event Producer. "Our Solar Schools Program is exciting to me because it will provide tangible, lasting benefits for the school." Today ROTHBURY's Greening Chief, Sarah Haynes of the Spitfire Agency, has connected ROTHBURY to Black Rock Solar, who will oversee the execution of ROTHBURY's Solar Schools Program. Black Rock Solar's Executive Director Tom Price was recently chosen as one of three American "Environmental Heroes" by PEOPLE Magazine. "It is a tremendous honor to be chosen by PEOPLE Magazine, but it is our partners that are my heroes - conscious organizations like ROTHBURY and The Spitfire Agency, and Michigan's own Bauer Power, who will build and install the solar panel system, enable us to get the job done," says Price. The free solar power system will be benefiting the school for decades to come, drawing warm praise from school officials. "It's a wonderful opportunity for the school to teach the importance of renewable energy, like reducing greenhouse gasses. We're very grateful to the ROTHBURY community for helping make this possible" said Dana McGrew, Superintendent of Shelby Public Schools.Anyone can help - additional funds for ROTHBURY's Solar Schools Program are being collected via ROTHBURY's Green Ticket options. ROTHBURY's Green Ticket offers attendees an easy 'one click' opportunity to offset the environmental impact of their own festival participation, as well as directly contribute to the Solar Schools Program. Doing so aids Shelby High School by significantly reducing their energy bill, thus freeing up funding to be put toward school programs. About ROTHBURYROTHBURY's goal is to harness the unique energy of the live music community into a durable social movement toward an important cause: Climate Change and Clean Energy Alternatives. Under the direction of Greening Chief Sarah Haynes (President/Founder of The Spitfire Agency), ROTHBURY is dedicated to achieving maximum sustainability and near zero-waste via multiple initiatives, including: personal pocket-sized ashtrays to minimize litter, a Green Team work exchange program for festival goers dedicated to ROTHBURY's sustainability mission, the use of only compostable products, recycling and composting programs, carbon offsetting and the use of multiple clean energy options to help power the four day festival. In addition to a diverse and stellar lineup of over 70 bands including Dave Matthews Band, Widespread Panic, John Mayer, 311, Phil Lesh and Friends, Primus, Thievery Corporation, Snoop Dogg , Modest Mouse, Michael Franti and Spearhead, Gov't Mule, Slightly Stoopid, STS9, Colbie Caillat, Rodrigo y Gabriela and many, many others, ROTHBURY will host an Energy Fair and a Think Tank. The Think Tank, featuring curator Dr. Stephen Schneider and participants including Dr. Eban Goodstein, L. Hunter Lovins, and Winona LaDuke , offers attendees access to various buzz sessions that will address the topics of Climate Change and Clean Energy Solutions and will be geared toward conversations related to corporations, government/policy makers, and the individual. The ROTHBURY Energy Fair will allow attendees to engage hands-on with cutting edge, sustainable technology and products and experience both scheduled and surprise activities and interactive workshops aimed at arousing discussion and implementing change. On July 4th weekend 2008, ROTHBURY emerges as a new American celebration. Hosted at the one-of-a-kind Double JJ Ranch in Rothbury, Michigan on July 3- 6, 2008, the four day, environmentally sustainable music and camping festival promises to be an inspiring cultural assembly; one where music fans, artists and progressive thinkers gather to celebrate much more than music. With over 70 bands on 8 stages and unprecedented efforts at achieving 100% sustainability and energy efficiency, ROTHBURY is truly a "Party with a Purpose."For more information about ROTHBURY and the Solar Schools Program powered by Black Rock Solar please visit http://www.rothburyfestival.com/.
For your Earth Day listening pleasure, a mix of green artists, some of whom might surprise you!
Fake Palindromes by Andrew Bird. //Sarah - Andrew Bird toured all over the world with this little jam, but offset the emissions associated with his tour and encouraged his fans to do the same with "Dear Dirty, Me Carbon Neutral," stickers.
Banana Pancakes by Jack Johnson //Jason - Jack's pretty much the poster boy for the environmental movement. This song is perfect for a little Earth Day rain.
Your Reverie by Kelley Stoltz // Sarah -- Kelley Stoltz's 'Circular Sounds' dropped this year with a Green-e logo on the back showing his commitment to renewable energy.
Off the Grid by the Beastie Boys // Sarah -- The Beastie Boys rule. This little instrumental jam is an homage to solar power....ok, I made that up. For the truth, see Grist's interview with Mike D.
The Roots' 2006 album "Game Theory" was an overtly political album, chock full of references to the lousy state of the urban environment and the natural environment. The lyrics to this one speak for themselves.
Giving Your Gifts by Buen Chico // Sarah -- This jaunty little tune is by a UK group that offset the emissions associated with producing their record.
Don't Dream It's Over by Crowded House // Sarah -- Hey now, hey now! These Aussies partnered with Reverb to green their tour. Hope this transports you back to the carefree eighties.
Earthbound Child by the John Butler Trio//Jason-- Subtle it's not--Johnny B is very, very upset with the state of things. Sample lyrics: Well don't look up now there's a hole in the sky/And if we don't change soon everybody gonna die.
Teardrop by Jose Gonzalez // Sarah-- Subtle it is. Jose Gonzalez's music is like a warm bath on a cold night. He teamed up with Reverb to green his last tour.
Fake Plastic Trees by Radiohead // Sarah -- How could it be Earth Day without this song? An oldie but goodie. Check 'em out on Conan tomorrow night.
Mercy Mercy Me (the Ecology) by Marvin Gaye// Sarah-- I've been listening to this song practically my whole life and it never fails to make me realize we're all part of something bigger. Could this be the first pop song about environmental activism?
Today, dear readers, is the first anniversary of GreenBase! We hope you've learned a lot this year. The events of this past year gave us plenty to report about, as it seems this year greening initiatives in the music industry hit the tipping point. The biggest gains in the music industry came from the festival greenings and the rise of partnerships between companies like Reverb and Spitfire to help artisits take the guess work out of making green tours.
Here are our highlights:
Festivals: 2007 marked the year of the green festival. Almost every festival worked hard (and not so hard) to be "green." The GreenBase crew checked in on festivals to be sure they lived up to their "green goals."
Every year around this time, pretty much every magazine, newspaper, and blog editor with a pulse churns out a list of the the Top 10 ways readers can act to save the planet. Hey, who are we to buck such a venerable trend. Here's our take on the Top 10 list, cleverly broken up into seven things fans can do and three things we want to saddle those poor, overworked rock stars with.
Fans: Hey, you guys are the lifeblood of the industry. We mean that. The stars may get all the press, but consider this: without music fans, Jack Johnson would be stuck in a cubicle somewhere. And since there are so many more of you than there are rock stars, your small individual actions can add up in a big way. So please, put aside the cynicism this summer concert season and take a couple of minutes to do something--anything!--to lighten your load on the planet. It's really not that hard. Here are some ideas. And just think of the alternative...
7: Hydrate responsibly! Look, we get it. It's July. It's hot. You've been imbibing. You need to stay hydrated, and marching all the way across the field to some bubbler (er, water fountain for you non-Bostonians) with a 20-minute line just isn't going to cut it. You need clean, portable, potable water, and you want it to taste good. Hey, lucky for you we live in America, where we have an abundant supply of fresh drinking water available from every tap in the land. So before you shell out another $3 for a pint of spring water in a plastic bottle, please, please, PLEASE consider bringing in a refillable plastic (or aluminum, or stainless steel) container if your chosen venue allows it. Not only will you save yourself some scratch, but you'll also be saving the planet from the waste caused by producing the bottle and the energy used to ship the water (it's heavy!) by truck over long distances, not to mention avoiding the dire ethical dilemma caused by giving water away for pennies a gallon, usually sourced from poor communities desperate for any source of income at all, to corporations that resell it at 10000% markups.
6: Recycle. This is an easy one. Pretty much every festival has recycling bins, and more and more venues are getting in on the act. But they don't work if you don't use them the right way. So for crying out loud, it's not that hard--the cans and bottles go in the recycling bin, not the trash can. Got it? We thought so. Great work!
5: Read. You want to save the environment. Really, you do. That's why you're here, reading this. So take it from us. The best way to make a difference is by educating yourself first. Got some free time this summer, maybe on that 20-hour drive to Bonnaroo? Try Natural Capitalism or The Omnivore's Dilemma, both great starting points for the journeyman environmentalist. Just looking to slack off during work? Head over to Worldchanging.org or Treehugger.com. And of course, don't forget about us. We're chock full o' green goodness for your eyeballs. Really.
4: Ask. Some people might say that we mean "nag" with this one, but we don't want you to do that. We just want you to ask questions, politely and respectfully. What kind of questions? Well, say your chosen outdoor venue doesn't allow you to bring in refillable water bottles or provide drinking water. Ask them to reconsider. Or perhaps your favorite nightclub doesn't recycle. Ask them to convert a couple of their trash cans to recycling bins. And if you want to know what your personal guitar heroes are doing to ease the burden of their tour, pop the question to them on their forums. You might not get an immediate response, but trust us, the people in charge are paying attention to the fans. And hey, if talking directly to the man is too much for you, ask us to ask them for you. Just leave your question and the person it's directed at right here in the comments and we'll work our journalistic magic, 60 Minutes style.
3: Spend wisely. It's the music business, get it? The people organizing the festivals, running the venues, selling the T-shirts...they're all in it for the money. And you control the purse strings. So don't just spend that hard-earned cash on any old thing. Let it talk for you! Spend it on an organic cotton T-shirt. Spend it on a souvenir Nalgene that you can refill again and again. Spend it at a festival that tries hard to do the right thing.
2: Find a better way to get there. It may seem like one little road trip won't ruin the planet, but when you see a long line of cars sitting idle waiting to get into a festival only half-full of passengers, it's pretty lame. Do your homework beforehand and see if the festival has carpooling, shuttles, or even a public transportation stop close by. It'll probably save you some scrilla while you're at it.
1: Vote. This is the single most important thing you can do. If you are still unsure of which candidate is right for you, visit this quiz. It does a really good job of asking you about where you stand on the issues and tells you which candidate feels the most like you do. That's what it's all about, right?
3: Tour riders. You can build small things into tour riders that make a big difference like: insisting the stage lights be turned off between sets; making sure your catering comes from local sources and that your water isn't bottled if the tap water is drinkable. We'd love to see artists ban plastic cups from venues...please impress us!
2: Consultants. Many of the success stories we reported on got by with a little help from a consultant. Reverb is the most well respected in the industry. Check them out here.
1: Venue selection. If you've got a booking agent, make sure they're aware of your commitment to the environment. Try to get them to book your band at least one green venue per tour. See if other green bands have toured a certain venue before and contact their management to see what worked and what didn't. Live Nation venues are a great place to start.
Simply write the word CARPOOLCHELLA on a 8x11 piece of paper (or larger - feel free to GET CREATIVE - TELL THE WORLD YOU ARE GOING CARPOOLCHELLA) OR you can PRINT THIS CARPOOLCHELLA pdf and place on your Dash and arrive at the festival between 9am-5pm. One time each day of the festival days (Friday, Saturday and Sunday), a SECRET SPOTTER will be out in the parking lots watching you park. At some random time, a random car with 4 or more people with a CARPOOLCHELLA sign on their dash will win! Each (qualified) person in the car will win a VIP pass for Life starting 2009.
The SECRET SPOTTER will let you know you've won and have you fill out all the prize winning paperwork on the spot!
No, I am not the SECRET SPOTTER, so there is no point in buttering me up with comments! In fact, unfortunately, Jason and I won't be there, but we'd love to hear how Coachella did with their greening initiatives. For those that are going, here's what they are planning.
Send us pictures or Flickr links of the green and not so green at Coachella and we'll post them!
Send the pics and links to green (at) jambase (dot) com.
It seems like all of the major U.S. festivals this year are making noise about their greening efforts. Foremost among them is Rothbury, one of a handful of new festivals to hit the scene this year. Rothbury is billing itself as the summer's greenest festival and is touting its lineup of "music, art, and action" with green themes including keynote speakers talking about energy independence.
But what does it mean when a festival claims to be "green?" Does it mean that the festival uses offsets? If so, are the offsets credible? And who decides what "credible" really is? But wait--what about biofuel? It's good, right, or why else would Willie Nelson be so, um, high on it? But if it's so good, why did Time magazine come out swinging against it a couple of weeks ago? And recycling is good, right, but what about composting? Is it better to use a compostable corn cup shipped from China or a petroleum-based disposable plastic cup made in Ohio? Does it make a difference if that compostable cup ends up in the landfill anyway because tipsy fans aren't necessarily the most socially responsible folks around? And can a festival that people have to drive to really be considered sustainable, or do events well-served by public transit like Lollapalooza and All Points West automatically win out?
It's all enough to make your head spin. At the end of the day, most concert-goers, no matter how much we love the planet, really want to be able to relax and enjoy the music. We don't want to leave feeling guilty, and we definitely don't want to be nagged to death by overzealous treehuggers. So what's a festival organizer to do? It's a difficult line--don't do enough, and you risk alienating some fans. Try too hard, and you find yourself bogged down in details like which type of toilet paper is most environmentally friendly instead of doing the fun stuff, like negotiating with Jack Johnson.
Enter Sarah Haynes of the Spitfire Agency. It's her job to help festival organizers ensure that they put on only the greenest of events. It's not an easy task, since the definition of a "green event" is written in sand. But she's had plenty of practice since she put on her first green event, the zero-waste We the Planet in 2003. Besides We the Planet, she's also worked on last year's Virgin Mobile Festival, helped green the National Biodiesel Conference, and guided the Red Hot Chili Peppers through the intricacies of producing a tree-free CD. For her latest trick, she's helping Rothbury's organizers make sure that they live up to their hype.
Sarah and I had a long discussion last week about what Rothbury means when it says it's going to be the greenest festival of the summer. "We're questioning everything," she told me. "We're making every effort to reduce waste in everything that we're doing, and we're looking to make decisions that benefit the local community." When I pressed her for examples, she offered up the festival's offsetting program. Pretty much every festival offsets, since it can be as easy as just writing a check and it's a relatively painless way to wrap yourself in green cred. But at Rothbury, Sarah says that "we're looking very hard to [structure our offsets] in a way that benefits the Michigan community. There are windmills and solar panels in the midwest, but we wanted to focus in on Michigan." She's putting so much time into finding the perfect offsetter that she still hasn't selected a firm to handle the process yet.
Encouraged to find someone else who spoke my language, I dug deeper. She'd mentioned that Rothbury would be running on biofuels. As a scientist with a mixed background in water, soil, and clean energy, I'm naturally skeptical whenever anyone in charge of greening an event starts spouting off about biodiesel or ethanol. Like everything else green, this is a nuanced area. Biofuels can be very green, but as Time points out, they can be worse--much worse--than just burning plain old Saudi Arabian sweet crude. So when I asked her whether biofuels were really such a good thing, considering the tremendous environmental damage caused by traditional corn and soy based biofuels, her response was right on. "This could be an article in itself," she started out, then she went on to explain that Rothbury had solicited only Michigan-based vendors of biodiesel and had spec'd that the biodiesel be made from waste oil. She'd found suitable sources, so the only remaining question was whether or not they could find enough of the good biodiesel to run all the generators needed to keep eight stages going for four days.
Reusing fryolater grease from McDonald's to run your giant, eight-stage stereo system is great, but what about cutting down on fan travel in personal cars, the real source of festival emissions, not to mention traffic and security headaches? To answer this question, Sarah referred me to Carrie Lombardi at Madison House Publicity. Carrie told me that Rothbury had contracted with Mr. Busdriver to get fans to the festival without their cars. And since the festival is only about 30 miles from two different public ferry terminals, organizers are, well, organizing buses from the docks to encourage fans coming from Milwaukee and Manitowac, WI, to leave their cars on the other side of the lake. Shuttle buses are good in principle, but as I found on my recent trip to Langerado, the devil is in the details.
So I did what I do best--I pushed for more details. Will patrons choosing the bus have to sit in the same traffic as people who drive in? Carrie assures me that public transit advocates will get to use a VIP entrance, so they won't get stuck in traffic. Score a point for the bus. What about food? If you don't drive in, you can't bring much food with you. Not only is festival food expensive, but by the end of a 4 day festival most people never want to see another overcooked, overpriced, over-hormoned chicken kebob again. Not to worry, Carrie assured me that the general store will not only be affordable, but it will be stocked with a variety of specials from local farmers every day. Having experienced $5 cans of Miller Lite at the "affordable" general store at Langerado, I asked for a definition. "People can go and do their daily shopping at the general store," Carrie explained. "You'll pay more than you would at Wal-Mart, but you won't pay more than Whole Foods. And we will be selling beer and water by the case." Score another point for the bus.
And what of the fans who do decide to drive? Will they have their emissions offset by the yet-to-be determined local offsetting program? According to Sarah, yes, but only through a voluntary offset program, which quickly led us to a side conversation about whether or not it would have been better to build the fan offsets into the ticket price. "We decided to offset ourselves and to put this on the side of individual responsibility," she told me. "It's the 'give a man to fish' vs. 'teach a man to fish' mentality." The festival's offering one-stop shopping for fans to offset their emissions when they purchase their checkouts, even offering a premium offset which includes donations for the local solar schools project that the festival is sponsoring. And have the offsets been popular? "The first few days [of ticket sales], [fan participation] was 20%," and although it has since dropped off somewhat, the offsets sold so far number "in the thousands."
As Sarah and I kept talking, and talking, and talking, I began to get the feeling that if Rothbury really does everything Sarah's talking about, it just might live up to its hype. There will be a low-cost, (though not necessarily free, a big disappointment) non-bottled source of water for folks inside the festival. There will be fresh local produce. There'll be 500 volunteers manning all of the festival area waste/composting/recycling stations around the clock, and to keep it simple, every single plastic cup, plate, and fork coming from a food vendor will be compostable. And most importantly, there will be a real focus on doing it right, not just as window dressing or marketing.
The danger with any greening effort, as we discussed, is compassion fatigue. It's so much easier to do the wrong thing. Even worse, once people start trying to do the right thing, they discover that there isn't any right thing. There are only hundreds of options, each with their own repercussions, and sometimes the side-effects of doing what seems right are worse than doing things the old-fashioned way. That's why people like Sarah stay in business--to handle the details, prevent green burnout, and let the festival organizers get on with their job. But without full support from the top, even the best consultants won't get anything done.
Rothbury's organizers have done two things right that give them a shot at living up to their hype. They seem to have given Sarah both the leeway and support she needs to make sure that this event leaves the smallest possible footprint on the planet. They've also set realistic but ambitious goals for themselves, so they have something to shoot for. If they can pull it off, this might end up being the summer's greenest festival, after all. But they'll still have some tough competition from some of the other big festivals. And that should be music to everyone's ears.
I feel a little guilty writing this post on my trusty MacBook, but this news via Treehugger.com was too juicy (pardon the pun) to not share with you. While I'm not a trademark specialist, I think there are enough differences between the icons to let it go.....thoughts?
Whenever we write anything mildly complimentary about Apple Computers, we get jumped in comments by computer class-warriors who call us "fanboys", even though I can't even find the ON switch on an apple machine. While I do appreciate Apple's design sensibilities, sometimes I think the anti-apple brigade might have a point about their arrogance. For example, Apple Computer is sueing "challenging" the City of New York's travel and tourism office. It is running a campaign called "GreeNYC to convince New Yorkers to take steps to reduce greenhouse gases, and hired New York design firm Turf to designed a stylized apple, a symbol of New York since well before Steve Jobs was born.
Apple claims that the GreeNYC mark is "likely to cause confusion, mistake or deception in the minds of consumers."..."Any defect, objection or fault found with [GreeNYC's] goods and services marketed under [GreeNYC's] marks would necessarily reflect upon and seriously injure the reputation which [Apple] has established for its goods and services."
Engadget suggests we and others are over-reacting in calling Steve Jobs and gang "arrogant", "farking stoopid", or suggesting that "Gwyneth Paltrow better rename that kid quick", as commenters in Advertising Age did. They say that
"this isn't a true lawsuit, and Apple hasn't sued anyone -- the city of New York has filed a trademark application for the GreeNYC apple-shaped logo with the Patent and Trademark Office, and Apple has filed its opposition to that application. That's an important part of the trademark registration process, actually: every single trademark application has to go through a 30-day opposition period during which interested third parties can raise their objections. We'd say it's pretty obvious that Apple's got an interest in other apple-shaped trademarks, so it's not particularly surprising that it's taking the first available opportunity to speak up about this one."
Howdy, peeps! I have two pieces of great news, one for me and one for you.
The great news for me is that I've been asked to help green certain aspects of Bonnaroo. This means, of course, that I won't really be able to write too much more about Bonnaroo in this blog. It also means that I have to disclose this relationship when I do interviews with people at other festivals, but hopefully that won't change the quality of my reporting.
The great news for you is that Bonnaroo is running a contest, and since it's green-themed and I'm not being paid to plug it, I thought I'd share it with the readers here. To enter, simply answer this question in 350 words or less by April 25: How do you make your trip to Bonnaroo sustainable and low impact?
I'm convinced that the best remedy for sleepless nights is midnight baseball. Every March I breathe a sigh of relief that soon almost every night, I can switch on my radio and hear the soothing sounds of the Giants' victory or defeat and will be guaranteed to be asleep by the third inning. It's not that the games are boring, it's just that at a low volume, the announcer's voice and the crack of the bat lulls me to sleep every time. I switch on my trusty Panapet (see image to the left) and head off to the ballgame where all the thoughts from the day are hit out of the park (so to speak). If I've had a particularly rough day and make through the whole game, I get to sing along to Journey's "Lights", which is kind of a treat at 3 am, let me tell you.......
My Panapet has served me and its previous owners faithfully since 1972. It needs some new batteries from time to time, but for the most part, all I have to do is turn the dial on the side and KNBR comes in crystal clear. I find that many of the appliances I own that are older than I am work much better than the stuff I buy new at stores. I recently found out why this might be the case. A little thing called planned obsolescence.
Basically, the idea started shortly after WWII by a guy named Victor LeBeau, an economist who believed the key to the United States' economic prosperity was in the hands of product manufacturers. If goods were not manufactured to last a long time, people would buy more of them and consumption, a key component of GDP growth, would rise, bringing forth "economic prosperity." Corporations liked the idea because it meant higher revenue for them and longer relationships with their customers. An amazing piece called "The Story of Stuff" articulates this phenomenon beautifully. See that here:
So, I've presented you with a lot of gloom and doom here that is likely to be no match for midnight baseball's sleep inducement.
Enter in the design community. Designers have a lot of power. They pretty much conceive of almost everything we experience in the built environment. If you think about it, your home started as a sketch on someone's desk and your iPod might have been a fleeting thought while a designer was showering. I attended a very inspiring panel discussion this week called "Design Green Now" that highlighted the growing movement within the design community to consider the entire life-cycle of a product--cutting a big gash into the tired, old "planned obsolescence" idea that's unfortunately still hanging around.
Additionally, there are some pretty cool innovations happening within smart nano-materials. Angela Belcher, a materials scientist at MIT, and one of my heroines, has uncovered some very interesting research about abalone shells and how their regrowth systems could possibly be applied to electronics allowing components to "regrow" themselves. Read more about that here.
In short, there are very bright people working on these problems--but they need help from us. If you're not a designer or a MacArthur genius, what can you do? Well, you can show your support through what you buy or what you don't buy. Before you rush out to buy a new product think about why you're doing it....is the purchase necessary? What is motivating you to buy it? Does the byproduct or container have an additional use after you're done with it (use ReadyMade for help on that one)? And watch the full "Story of Stuff" here.
Oh my! After a tumultuous go in England, the Olympic torch will make it's way through Europe and onto it's only US stop in (((San Francisco))) next week. Are you kidding me?!
After a tremendous amount of backlash from human rights experts across the globe, why would you bring the symbol of the "Genocide Olympics"(see post below for more on that) to a town in which, my relatives joke, "people only make left turns"?! Massive protests are being planned in San Francisco (and worldwide) to show solidarity for the people harmed by China's policies.
Here's a post we did back in October that talks more about the controversy and the cool things the London planners are doing in preparation for the 2012 games. ____________
It looks like carbon neutrality has truly reached international heights. The London Olympic Games announced their plan to green the event, AND its predominant symbol: the Olympic torch! Says a spokesperson for the the London 2012 Olympics (posted on Environmental Graffiti):
“We want London 2012 to be a truly sustainable Games. Using a low-carbon fuel to light the Olympic flame and keep it burning throughout the Games is one of the many things we are looking at right now to deliver a ‘green games’.”
“The Olympic games and Paralympic games have the power to set agendas, and change behaviour, and applying sustainability principles to one of the most potent symbols of the Games will, we hope, help us do just that.”
The 2012 London Games will also employ many other green measures that stand to drastically reduce the environmental impact of the event. See here for more information.
Most currently, the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games have not been without controversy. Deemed the "Genocide Olympics" by advocates for peace in Darfur, the clip below explains China's link to the terrible violence plaguing Darfur:
While the time line between now and the next Olympics is short, we can only hope that advocates for peace in Darfur can use the Olympic Games publicity as leverage to convince China to change their policies. This issue, and more the more positive, proactive approach taken by London Olympics organizers, shows the an amazing transformation within our culture. No longer do events report only their intrinsic functions, but they serve as a platform to mobilize millions of people on an international level to change behaviors and bring about a more humane, sustainable world.
Sarah van Schagen makes us swoon, as we've reported in the past. Her latest trick is scooping us on the appearance of not one just one but two feature articles on green music in national mags that are getting all bandwagony just in time for Earth Day.
Read Outside's piece on Jack Johnson here, and read Billboard's list of Top 10 greenest acts here in an advance PDF hosted on some random Seattle bloghere. Wait, the Roots are number 10? They totally blew me off when I tried to interview them in advance of Langerado. Perhaps ?uestlove is hiding something un-green in his hair? C'mon, ?uest--I promise I'll be fair and balanced!
Last time around, I wrote briefly about the green initiatives at Rothbury. Today, I got the following press release in my inbox. I already have an interview scheduled for later this week with Sarah Haynes at Rothbury's green consultancy, the Spitfire Agency, so keep an eye out for more green dirt on the US festival scene's biggest green-talker over the weekend. Sorry for the all-caps shouting, it's how they sent it to me.
AS EARTH DAY APPROACHES, ALL THE BUZZ IS ABOUT THIS SUMMER'S GREENEST FESTIVAL: ROTHBURY A SUSTAINABLE FESTIVAL CELEBRATING MUSIC, ART AND ACTIONTHE NEXT EVOLUTION IN U.S. MUSIC FESTIVALS HAPPENS JULY 3 - 6, 2008 IN ROTHBURY, MICHIGAN
IN ADDITION TO A DIVERSE MUSICAL LINE-UP,ROTHBURY WILL HOST AN ON-SITE THINK TANK ON THE ISSUE OF CLIMATE CHANGE AND CLEAN ENERGY ALTERNATIVES FEATURING THINK TANK CURATOR DR. STEPHEN SCHNEIDER, AND PARTICIPANTS DR. EBAN GOODSTEIN, L. HUNTER LOVINS, WINONA LaDUKE, AND MANY OTHERS TO BE ANNOUNCED
With Earth Day, April 22, just around the corner, it's time to celebrate Going Green. Music has long offered a platform for revolution and on July 4th weekend 2008, ROTHBURY emerges as a new American celebration. For this next generation of the rock and roll music festival, ROTHBURY sets forth as a huge party with a purpose. Hosted at the one-of-a-kind Double JJ Ranch in Rothbury, Michigan, the unique festival site offers trails, forests, fields, lakes and beach fronts, and even on-site lodging, bars and eateries. The four day, environmentally sustainable music and camping festival promises to be an inspiring cultural assembly; one where music fans, artists and progressive thinkers gather to celebrate much more than music.
It is ROTHBURY's goal to harness the unique energy of the live music community into a durable social movement toward an important cause: Climate Change and Clean Energy Alternatives. In addition to a diverse and stellar lineup of over 70 bands on 8 stages, ROTHBURY will host an Energy Fair and a Think Tank featuring curator Dr. Stephen Schneider and participants Dr. Eban Goodstein, L. Hunter Lovins, Winona LaDuke, and many, many other to be announced.
A SUSTAINABLE ROTHBURYROTHBURY is guided by a bold environmental sustainability mission,and iscommitted to producing a near zero-waste concert. The first to tackle a green program of this magnitude at an around-the-clock (camping) concert in the USA, ROTHBURY has an on-staff Greening Chief, and has implemented multiple initiatives toward this effort, including replacing disposables with 100% compostables, recycling and composting, choosing clean energy, carbon-offsetting, a 24-hour Green Team, and even personal ashtray distribution to help eliminate cigarette butt litter.
In addition to offsetting event production, ROTHBURY's Solar Schools Program powered by Black Rock Solar will outfit a local school with a free solar panel system. ROTHBURY is committed to donating an absolute minimum of $50,000 worth of solar panels, with additional funds being collected via ROTHBURY's Green Ticket options. This year's Solar Schools Program recipient: Shelby High School in Shelby, MI.
ROTHBURY's Green Ticket offers attendees an easy 'one click' opportunity to soften the environmental impact of their own festival participation. By estimating all fan travel, ROTHBURY offers attendees a low-cost opportunity to carbon offset their piece of the travel pie (a $3 Green Ticket tribute added to the price of each ticket). Additionally, ROTHBURY's Green Ticket options offer attendees the opportunity to contribute to the Solar Schools Program, helping to bring this year's recipient school toward 100% energy independence.
A PARTY WITH A PURPOSE The ROTHBURY Think Tank is an event within the event, offering various buzz sessions and roundtables between leading scientists, scholars, writers, progressive political and corporate leaders, youth leaders, and entertainers. Confirmed as ROTHBURY Think Tank Curator is Dr. Stephen H. Schneider, with participants Dr. Eban Goodstein, L. Hunter Lovins, Winona LaDuke , and many, many others to be announced. The Think Tank will address the topic of Climate Change and Clean Energy Solutions, geared toward conversations related to corporations, government/policy makers, and the individual. Think Tank events will share ideas about how to lessen our ecological and carbon footprint. Interactive participation, both face-to-face and through the use of multi-media technology, enable the ROTHBURY community to engage with the Think Tank at multiple levels.
ROTHBURY's Energy Fair, where attendees engage hands-on with cutting edge, sustainable technology and products, offers a flurry of scheduled and surprise activities, plus food/drink, vending, performances/presentations on the Workshop Stage, contests and interactive opportunities, and so much more.
Of course, at the soul of ROTHBURY is music. Confirmed musical acts include Dave Matthews Band, Widespread Panic, John Mayer, 311, Phil Lesh and Friends, Modest Mouse, Primus, Snoop Dogg, Michael Franti and Spearhead, Thievery Corporation, STS9 and many others.