Saturday, February 9, 2008

End of Suburbia/Extra Credit

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: 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.
Educate Yourself!

1 comment:

karenap said...

Hope this isn't too much of a tangent...
I found this website that includes bios on the cast and crew of End of Suburbia:
I assumed while watching this film that the creators were from Canada. Maybe this was because they spoke about the blackout that occurred in Canada within the film. Gregory Greene, the director/writer, has apparently done some political and social documentaries in the past and in End of Suburbia displays his opinion of the current oil crisis in hopes to raise discussion about various solutions to this issue. I was a little disappointed that he only included one real solution to the problem: the ending of suburbia.
The idea that there is only one solution to the issue of the depletion of our world’s oil supply is ridiculous. The only solution End of Suburbia presents is the idea of moving back into cities and sustaining local communities that are self-sufficient. This new urbanization is such a great idea, and obviously ties the title of End of Suburbia into the idea of a change needed in order to survive the issue surrounding oil, but is it really the only solution? What about nuclear power? I must admit I don’t know much about this energy source, but it seems people are immediately turned off to the idea of nuclear and don’t investigate it in any way. Do people know that the U.S. Navy has been running their aircraft carriers and submarines with nuclear reactors with incredible success for over forty years? Why didn’t End of Suburbia investigate this energy source? I think suburbia is obviously a horribly wasteful use of energy and spending but I think people are still going to need an efficient source of energy since oil is not going to remain. I was upset that this documentary didn’t outline more alternative sources. They mentioned the expense of nuclear power, but that was it. I want to know more.