Day 1 of Compostmodern ended with a whirlwind of thought-provoking presentations. The day started by affirming that we all have a role in sustainability and then offering us the tools necessary to tell that story. The afternoon then provided us with a glimpse into the world of those doing the big work and it whetted our appetites for Sunday's Unconference, an opportunity to put ideas into action.
As someone who is democratizing sustainable design through her work in impoverished countries, Heather Fleming, Founder and CEO of Catapult Design, profoundly stated that, "We are not the powerless people in this equation," especially as the majority of the world is simply striving for modernity. By taking the skills that each of us has, we can increase the reach of our sustainable design capacity.
Lisa Gansky, author of The Mesh, is hoping to create a fundamental shift in our relationship with stuff by pursuing "better things easily shared." Much like the economic principle of excessive capacity, Lisa points to phenomena like Zipcar and pop-up shops to exemplify how simply having access to "stuff" (without the need of owning it) can build more lasting experiences.
A self-proclaimed Dionysian thinker, Dan Phillips of The Phoenix Commotion stressed us that the constant pursuit of perfection can drive waste. He has built a community, literally, out of organic processes that allow each of his apprentices to reconnect with their primal sources of humanness.
Nitzan Weisberg, professor at Stanford's d.school, pointed to her process of doing laundry to show that identities are cultural constructs that are subjective. What is profound about this is that means they can be changed. She encourages us to bring sustainable design back to a human centered process. By reframing the sustainability problem, we open the floodgates to different solutions that move from sustainable products to "sustainable interactions."
If you want to see where this is happening, just head to the Pratt Design Incubator at the Center for Sustainable Design Studies. The Incubator's Founder, Deberah Johnson, compared cowboys to entrepreneurs where both are "setting on ready" with the "want to", but entrepreneurs need the "how to." By manufacturing both chaos and structure in the incubator, entrepreneurs are given the resources needed to find their how to.
Marc Mathieu, Founder of Bedo and the former head of Global Brand Marketing at Coca-Cola, provided us with a provocative five minute presentation on the "wonderful world of consumption." Marc argued that consumption is essentially the embodiment of the American dream so our challenge is to rethink consumer goods so that they embrace some of the very issues that to which they contribute. If you are a corporation that uses large amounts of water in your processing, it's time to start dealing with water issues.
The final speaker of the day did not need any introduction. A prolific author, designer, innovator and educator, Bruce reminded us that 99% percent of the world does not receive a college education. He then asked us to ponder the possibility and potential that would be unleashed if we simply doubled the number receiving that education to 2%. Using his massive change framework, Bruce is seeking to massive change education so that it becomes inclusive rather than exclusive. As designers, but more importantly as citizens, we have the opportunity to release into the world "the energy and expertise of a whole generation."