Creating Equilibrium: What if environmentalists and the tech-crowd actually talked to each other?
An event on Lake Tahoe promises "world class minds, radical innovation and kickass rock 'n roll". And solutions to the biodiversity crisis, too.
As the climate crisis continues unfolding, some would have us dive full tilt into futuristic (and potentially dangerous) geoengineering solutions. Others believe our future lies in simpler living, homemade clothes and backyard farming.
That's an oversimplification. But it's certainly true to say that our own personal biases, backgrounds and expertise will color how we think about climate change, and this can lead to diverging (and often contradictory or even conflicting) approaches to solving it. (It also often leads to heated and polarized debates in the comments section of TreeHugger, I should note...)
Sadly, we don't have time for that. Dubbed Creating Equilibrium, an upcoming conference and festival on the shores of Lake Tahoe aims to solve this problem, bringing leading thinkers from the environmental movement, the tech sector, government and business together to listen to each other, learn from each other, and explore innovative solutions in real time before live audiences. Speakers include environmentalist Dr David Suzuki, race car driver Leilani Münter, IBM Master Inventor Neil Sahota, YouTube star Prince Ea and conservation biologist and MacArthur Genius Grant Winner Patricia Wright.
The focus of the inaugural year conference will be biodiversity, and the event will aim to identify 3 to 5 broad solutions to our biodiversity crisis. Following the conference, those solutions will then be opened up for submissions from companies who can deliver on them—with winning bids receiving between $25k-$100k of initial investment, and becoming part of EQ Ventures accelerator and incubator.
"World-class minds + a radical innovation protocol & kickass rock 'n roll" is how the conference website introduces itself. And indeed, the weekend festivities will be accompanied by a concert from Secret Stash, a supergroup featuring members of the Dave Matthews Band, Pearl Jam, Fun. and Godsmack. There will also be three days of music, art and speakers at what's known as The Village Green Festival, exploring various aspects of the environmental crises we face.
Full disclosure: Steven Kotler—New York Times bestselling author, Pulitzer nominee and Creating Equilibrium co-founder—is a friend and former collaborator of mine. Steven has spent years exploring the topics of sustainability from often novel and unexpected angles, including Small Furry Prayer, which explored the biodiversity crisis through Stephen's own experiences with dog rescue and living with dogs, to Abundance, a collaboration with X Prize founder Peter H. Diamandis, which declared that the "future is better than you think." If anyone can bring together the worlds of techno-optimism and deep green environmentalism, I think Steven might be the chap to do it.
When we talked on the phone last week about this project, Steven was open about his thinking for launching it:
"Technologists and environmentalists don’t talk to each other. And when you don't talk to each other, you don't understand each other. It drives me crazy. So I wanted to get people from all walks of life, with different sets of expertise, together to go through an extremely concentrated innovation process and really surround the problem from all sides."
I can only hope he succeeds. Tickets for Creating Equilibrium, the Village Festival and the Secret Stash concert are all available online. If you make it there, please report back on what you learn.