I just read a few of your extra credit papers on The End of Suburbia and am reminded of how important these issues are and I am glad that I gave you the extra credit opportunity. Discussion is important- thinking about the issues.
A few questions I have for those of you who have seen this movie is: Who made the movie? I.E. whose opinion is being espoused? What are the movie makers credentials? Always check the authority of the voice. Do you feel like The End of Suburbia is fear-mongering? When you read a book, a magazine article, see a movie, know who is espousing the ideas...what are their qualifications?
Design is everywhere. A mantra from last semester: 'everything except the planets and the trees has been designed". This includes our cities, our suburbs, our cars, our mass transit systems, all of our social systems, marketing campaigns (DeBeers diamond campaign). It is all design. You are creative. You can imagine better solutions.
Most of you recognize the situation as having some truth to it. One criticism I have heard about the film is that no alternatives were proposed, it didn't seem hopeful or that we could find solutions. I would encourage you all to look to other countries who are more progressive and forward thinking than the US is. Which countries? What are they doing? How do they organize living? How does one find out about such things? READING WORLD NEWS. I listed on your syllabi The World Press' website. Other reputable news media are The Guardian out of the UK, Le Monde out of Paris. The New York Times is delivered to YOUR campus daily throughout the semester. And I personally like The Economist magazine. Magazines and newspapers have the most current information. Everyone has too much competing for their time. Create a habit. First thing in the morning you grab coffee and the NY Times. If you can only read one issue of the NY Times, read the Sunday edition. Split the cost with friends.
I would suggest you look at The Netherlands, Belgium, the Scandinavian countries (Norway, Sweden, Finland). Coincidently (?) the socially progressive countries are progressive in many ways, including the creative industries. Check it out. Check out the blogs of students in class with me last semester. Those in Metals + Jewelry 2 last semester, studied Droog Design Collective based in the Netherlands (and started by a famous art jeweler) and Materialise based in Belgium. My point: There is hope. There are lots of smart people doing ground breaking work all around the world- find out and be heartened.
3D Design + Social Issues, the special topics course that I ran last semester addressed all kinds of issues. I want to educate and motivate creative people to understand a variety of current issues and come up with new approaches to some of the challenges we face today. What can you do? Check out my blog associated with the 3D Design + Social Issues course: designlikeyougiveadamn.blogspot.com. Let me know if you are interested in the course.
I was recently at a conference that centered around new technologies and how we develop educational curriculum in conjunction with technological developments. One of the participants worked for GM developing the electric car. The only reason the electric car is not a reality today is b/c the oil companies bought the information to keep it under wraps and continue to fund their businesses. I say shame on GM for selling the information. Have some backbone. How much money do people really need? Happiness, contentment, a satisfied, fulfilling life does not come from gross amounts of money.
Be an educated citizen of a world super power! If any group of individuals around the world can affect change, Americans can. We are in the midst of an election- what do the candidates really stand for? Who are your local politicians.....they are the ones who shape policy. They represent YOU. "No taxation without representation" is America's battle cry. Be an educated consumer. America is business. As consumers, we can yield tremendous power....if we can move out of our cushy, affluent lifestyles and make an effort. Live your life so that you are proud of who you are. Be hopeful. Take Action.
I recently watched the documentary Energy War on the Sundance Channel. I highly recommend it. A central voice is Thomas Freidman author of The World is Flat and The Lexus and The Olive Tree, two important and recent books. It is scheduled to air again this Sunday, 3:35- 5:00pm on the Sundance Channel, channel #165.