2007 According to Leonora Oppenheim: Time to Consolidate


The other posts in this series can be found here. The first one with an explanation of what this is about is here.
Leonora Oppenheim, New York City, USA

My word for 2007 is consolidation - ‘to bring together (separate parts) into a single or unified whole.’

For me 2006 was all about making connections, not only connections between people, but also between ideas and theories and systems. People began to see that everything is interrelated. The message of personal, social and corporate environmental responsibility was high on the agenda. Our own personal actions not only affect the people and environment around us, but also people and the environment on the other side of the world from you.We now understand that as consumers we have the power of choice, as do corporations and industries and that these choices are connected, they influence each other and they have the power to provoke positive change. 2006 was the year of the individual, as Time Magazine said the person of the year was YOU.

I hope that 2007 will be the year where these many individuals, ideas, theories and systems will be brought together into a unified whole that works together to help improve the sustainability of our planet. So many people in so many places and in so many ways are working hard to improve their quality of life and the lives of others by working on environmental projects. One of the most important aspects of TreeHugger is that it provides a way of drawing all these threads together. By providing one place where people can access so much green information from all over the world has created an amazingly powerful resource. The more people can see other people working along the same lines the more it encourages them to continue with their work. Connecting and communicating through TreeHugger is a great way of consolidating ideas about green thinking, which enables everyone to progress.

In 2006, through TreeHugger, I connected with a huge range of people. I have been privileged enough to travel extensively during the last half of the year and wherever I went people were eager to tell me about their work in whatever field they were working in. In New Zealand I learnt about Permaculture at Rainbow valley Farm, Earth Building from Graeme North and Slow Food from Dean Betts.

In LA I learnt about ethical design at Artecnica, in San Francisco I learnt about the power of mushrooms from Paul Stamets at The Green Festival, and in New York I saw 800 people gather together on one evening for Christmas Green Drinks proving that making connections is what it is all about. Meeting so many people in person that I have been communicating with over the last two years was an amazing experience that was gratifying, encouraging and inspiring all at once!

Drawing these connecting threads together is my goal for 2007. In the other half of my time I am a 3D Designer and gradually over the last year I have been making connections between my writing and my design work, which benefits me as they interact and feed off one another. In 2006 I completed my first eco-design project for a fashion store in Barcelona – a sculptural installation for displaying clothes made from old junk furniture collected from markets, warehouses and off the street. This was a big personal and professional achievement that encouraged me to go further. And I mean further quite literally. I am starting off 2007 by going to Ecuador.

Having written for TreeHugger for nearly two years now I feel ready to get involved with projects at a grass roots level. I really enjoy writing about other people’s work, and I will continue to do so, but I would also like to contribute something through my own creative work. I am going to Ecuador to work for Kallari, an environmental organisation which makes fair trade chocolate and promotes the traditional craftwork of the Kichwa tribe. Their aim is to help local people earn a sustainable income so they don’t have to resort to logging the rainforests or selling their land. I am going to work as a volunteer in a design capacity and I hope to put to good use all that I have learnt about the environment, eco-design, sustainable materials, ethical production and communication – no doubt my Spanish will come in useful!

Whilst I see this project as an opportunity to consolidate my skills it is also a chance to keep learning and making connections between people, ideas, language, cultures and traditions. After writing a post about Kallari in January 2006 I tried, without success, to get in touch with them. It was not until right at the end of the year that I made the connection with Kallari that enables me to go Ecuador this year. I’ve realised while writing this post that all I have learnt in the year that’s passed will be invaluable to my time in Ecuador. It seems that in this never ending cycle of connections and consolidations things often work at their own pace for a reason. Everything happens in it’s own time and there is a reason why we saw green moving towards the mainstream in 2006. The simple reason is that in 2007 the green movement’s time has come.