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09May

Cities of tomorrow

Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Berlin,Budapest… Have you ever lived in or visited one of these cities? If you have, I’m sure you could feel the motion. These European cities are ahead of the world when it comes to innovation and ideas to build more sustainable cities.

This is not only about infrastructures but people also seem happier! For example, it’s clear that riding a bike to work in a city with fresh air (like in Amsterdam or Copenhagen) is much more pleasant than spending hours in traffic jams in a polluted city!  These cities reflect the necessity of our societies to change. Environmental issues, social and economic crises are currently affecting the world. With a constantly increasing urban population (54% of the population live in urban area, +2% per years)); it’s time for cities to work about tomorrow urban life. Because it’s now clear that we won’t be able to feed, house, provide energy to everyone in the future with our current system.

Hopefully, innovative people are working every day to build better cities. For example, you can visit the Fabcity (“Together we make the city of tomorrow”) in Amsterdam; walking in there feels like a preview of how our future cities will look like… In this little “village” you can find people working on the project of today; for tomorrow, to make sustainable cities. Now that we know that we are running out of many resources, climate change is already here… Urban garden, tiny houses, clean energy, electric cars represent the new face of our cities… Clean and self-sufficient. Moreover, well-being and happiness of the population is at the core of this transition!fabcity house

Besides, to build these new cities, new forms of economy and politic are needed. Today, innovative solutions come more and more from citizens like you and me, innovation is becoming independent from big companies and governments. We can talk about bottom-up initiatives, initiatives that come from citizens or group of citizens and integrate the economy and system then. This gives independence to communities; circular economy is at the core. Economy that produces no waste and pollution, recycle and reuse everything, with a preference for local production and consumption; on their way to become the “new normal”. Soon, we can imagine that cities will become self-sufficient. Are we slowly going away from this globalised system?friendly green production in Fabcity

Visiting this Fabcity was so inspiring and motivating as I felt totally comfortable in this atmosphere: engineers was working next to people building houses or people gardening in the same purpose of making a community live sustainably while I could enjoy drinking a soda in the sun at the “local café”.

In this transition, social ties are more important than before which contribute to the happiness of a society as a reflection of solidarity and mutual aid: peer-to-peer and local consumption tighten link between people. Economic crisis and political distrust make us look at each other to find solutions.

Besides, with solar,wind energy, urban gardening, it’s clear that we are tightening our links with  nature…and maybe those changes was what missing to our modern societies to make the world better. Indeed, that’s maybe something that was forgotten during last centuries, growing individualism made us forget the name of our neighbours and industrialisation with mass consumption made us forget where our food was coming from. And that’s why I felt so comfortable visiting this Fabcity, because we can imagine that in the future it will be like that: people working for their community.

Population is growing fast, climate change is more and more visible, so we have to act now! Hopefully, when we see how fast innovation and technology are evolving, we can only be optimistic about the future of our cities and societies! However, there is still a long way to go before this transition impacts the whole world, but it has to start somewhere!

A long term challenge based on short terms action.

Visit https://citiesintransition.eu/ to stay aware about these European cities in transition.

17Mar

Comfortably ignorant

Since a few months I have passed my 40’s. I become more and more aware that a lot has changed in those years that I have enjoyed on this planet. More than I could imagine….It brings the question to mind what in the coming 40 years, more will change. What are the game changers and what will be solutions to the big problems that the last decades this so called time of prosperity have brought.

To show you how times have changed and at the same time unravelled the mist of so-called prosperity I take you to my childhood. In my street where I grew up, in Amsterdam in the nineties there was a bakery, a milkman with fresh cheese. A tobacco shop, a grocery store with great fruit and vegetables, and a store that we called ‘’Jantje van alles’’. All these shops had everything that a normal household needed. And these products were packaged for you in paper bags.

With the coming of the supermarkets, these shops disappeared and the immersive introduction of plastic became a reality. And without exaggerating plastic waste became one of the most critical environmental issues in the world. The “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” is described as a 7th continent  and is a product of our way of living. It is made out of plastic and has direct impact on our ecosystem, livelihood and food chain.

Plastic is still an easy and cheap material to produce for industries and with the coming of 3D printers’, plastic has a bright new future. Knowing that only 10% of plastic is recycled, it’s time to raise the alarm and change our way of production and consumption.

A few years ago I was not so much aware of the impact of these changes. The realisation of fact that all you buy is packaged in plastic. Makes you aware of your role as consumer. With the effect that I can’t do any shopping without having guilty feelings.

Luckily more and more people has the same guilty feelings and are trying to have a more responsible behaviour and reduce considerably their wastes. This is just about new habits to adopt and more reflection when you are doing your groceries or throwing your garbage away.Groenteman

It started with bringing your own bag to the store, and re-used the ones you had. Separate the plastic waste, from the rest of the garbage. But that is not enough. A new mentality is needed, to avoid plastic packaging. By using paper bags and bringing your own sacks again. And even then you can’t avoid paradoxical situations: “should I choose the organic cucumber in plastic packaging” or “the non-organic one without packaging”. When you want to have a responsible behaviour, this kind of decisions matters: you have to choose between supporting this “plastic mania” or eating these pesticides poisoning our lands.

Some still see a positive side to plastics as an opportunity for sustainable development. It is actually a cheap material that we can reuse and reuse again through recycling. Some entrepreneur and communities are inspired to change from a linear to a circular relationship with plastic. This is always motivating to see people thinking out of the box and looking for alternatives solutions for the good of our planet.

An inspiring story is that of Wilco and Edwin from Clean 2 Antarctica, they are convinced we can have a zero waste community. And to prove that they will go on expedition to the South Pole in a vehicle entirely built from recycled plastics and powered by solar energy. This is a way to demonstrate that “Zero Waste” and “Zero emissions” are possible… Imagine the relief of clean air and clean oceans! It is not only their opinion but also that of the younger generation. That is why children in this project to collect plastic waste and shape them through 3D printing in a message to the world. This project is a message of hope showing the promises of plastic recycling and clean technology to live in a cleaner planet. It is just one of many great projects only here in the Netherlands. Possibilities are infinite with recycling and reusing. Each time that you are closing your garbage you can make sure that nothing belong to the recycle bin and ask yourself in which way you could reuse these wastes. You will awake your creative spirit and reduce your environmental impact. Give to your wastes a happy ending, a second life, much more brighter than ending in one bird’s stomach.everything1-1200x686

 

And although older generations and mine will have to a make a major change in their behaviour, the hopeful finding is that when I can’t separate my garbage I feel awkward. As doing something really wrong. That is in my point of view the confirmation that humans a custom animals. And with a little effort we can change the beautiful world around us.

More info on great plastic projects in the Netherlands:

WASTED Laboratory: a neighborhood Laboratory for Plastic Waste Upcycling in Amsterdam Noord

PLASTIC: Promises of a Home-made Future; explores the relation between plastic and the 3D printing market

Precious Plastic: built machines able to build new objects thanks to recycled plastic

 

 

10Dec

Art and Activism

we are nature

Brandalism Project
Just before the start of the COP21, 600 anti-advertisement posters have been placed in public outdoor spaces through the streets of Paris. Over 80 artists, from 19 different countries were involved. Joe Elan from Brandalism: “By sponsoring the climate talks, major polluters such as Air France an GD-Suez-Engine can promote themselves as part of the solution – when actually they are part of the problem.” It all started in 2008 when two friends started to reclaim billboards in London. They were tired of the visual pollution that stems from large public advertisements.
The Brandalism artwork illustrates the connection among advertising, marketing, consumerism, fossil-fuel dependency and climate change.

4samen


Where the Tides Ebb and Flow

Land art project “Where the Tides Ebb and Flow” is all about raising awareness for global sea level rise. The artwork is located at Montsouris Park in Paris. The artist Edro Mazorati placed 30 sculptures of blue men in water that appear slowly rise up and then sink down again. The artwork was first introduced in 2008 at an Art Festival in the Netherlands. Since 2008 it has been moved to raise awareness all over the world.

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Empty shoes
A sea of footwear, from high heels and flip flops to sportive sneakers and outdoor boots standing at the Place de la Republic in Paris. With the state of emergency making it impossible to demonstrate, the protesters used the empty shoes as a personification. More than 20.000 shoes were placed. This made a strong impact on the worldwide audience (picked up by many broadcasters), maybe even more than if there had been protesters.

parisshoes.jpg__800x600_q85_crop_subsampling-2_upscale Our feet are what roots us to the planet earth, so the shoe is an beautiful metonym for sustainable consciousness

Artist brings icebergs to Paris
Olafur Eliasson brought 12 large blocks, from the Nuuk fjord in Greenland to the middle of Paris. By displacing the ice, the obvious result is that it melts. The huge blocks are a visual reminder of the change climate happening now, at this instant… and that we are creating irregularities on earth. The artist said: “The ice we are going to put in Paris is a tenth of what melts in a second in the Greenland summer.

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1 Heart 1 Tree
This artwork is transforming the Eiffel tower into virtual forests with light. People all over the world, will have the opportunity to give life to a virtual tree. After downloading the smart phone app, you can participate in this collective project. You place a finger on the sensor to record the rhythm of your heartbeat; which grows a unique tree on the Eiffel tower. For each virtual tree, a real tree will be planted in one of the 7 reforestation programs over the world.

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These are just a few of the inspiring and creative art projects, presented in Paris.
Want to see more art projects, join them or make one here

Art activism is just one of the many ways to let people look at the cause with new eyes. But it’s also important to taking up real space and real time, attaching the cause to real faces and real voices who care enough about the cause to go out there in a public protest.

Art may often used as a medium to express extreme impulse into simplistic flares, but I believe it intended to have a small part in a beneficial purpose. Considering, those ghostly shoes and billboards are not an individual wave. They have a collective spirit and that unity; the small suggestion, hidden within each, that is what can work towards collective goals. Protests are not persuasive themselves but they invite persuasion, they invite change.

09Oct

Sustainability Day

We strongly believe that this gorgeous planet we live on, should be cherished and fiercely protected by each and every one of us. Of course one single day isn’t enough, to have an impact. But we believe, that even that one day is worth something. At least we are moving in the right direction.

During our productions we use our ‘green policy’ to implement our sustainable vision. This policy sets a few simple, sustainable rules: from separating waste, organic catering, recycling and the use of public transport to using an eco-font in all documents. These rules become habits and the habits become routine, now we have habits that routinely helping the planet we live on.

Our short film ‘Balance’ is our proof that quality and green productions can go hand in hand. ‘Balance’ won the second prize in the Green filmmaking Competition in 2012 and was officially selected as the Dutch submission for the Oscars.

Read more about our ‘green policy’.

What do you have planned for the Day of Sustainability?

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