For many years, TreeHugger wanted to grow up to be Worldchanging, the challenging and brilliant website that Alex Steffen edited. As its co-founder had described it: "The world is stumbling its way to hell, environmentally, politically, economically–but whining about it isn't going to change it. What can give us hope is a combination of good ideas, novel tools, innovative technologies, unexpected collaboration, and a healthy doses of democracy and transparency."
Worldchanging closed in 2010 but Alex never stopped trying, spending the last five years "exploring planetary futurism—working to understand both the kind of world we need to build and what kind of creativity can help us imagine that world."
He's now raising money on Kickstarter to do an unusual event: three nights of performances in a live venue in San Francisco in September, what he calls a "live documentary series about reimagining the world of tomorrow, in order to rebuild the world today." Those of us who cannot get there can watch it on video. He describes it:
Each 90-minute show is centered around a talk, incorporating stage presentation, film and photography, visual design and motion graphics, sound, music and lighting to tell a powerful story of where we are, where we need to go, and the kind of stories that might guide us through the planetary crisis we face.
Everything Alex tries to do is challenging and stimulating. He has been an inspiration to me (just count the related links below) and the inspiration for what I think is one of the best posts I ever wrote on TreeHugger, about the role of the car in our society, that I still am building on:
There is a direct relationship between the kinds of places we live, the transportation choices we have, and how much we drive. The best car-related innovation we have is not to improve the car, but eliminate the need to drive it everywhere we go.
It's why I am still not truly a fan of the Tesla or any other electric car: "the answer to the problem of the American car is not under the hood, and we're not going to find a bright green future by looking there."
That was all many years ago. Now Alex is worrying about more than bright green cities, writing on his website:
The idea that sustainability is an add-on—something we do to make already functional systems more responsible—is one of these relics of the past. Today, sustainability is survival. Sustainability now demands wholesale systems change. Sustainability demands huge disruptions to the status quo. We need massive, rapid transitions in how we power our societies, build our cities, meet our basic needs and work with natural systems to grow our food, provide our water and maintain planetary stability.
There are not many out there who think like that or write like that. I have pretty much given up on investing in or writing about Kickstarters anymore, but I have done both with this one. More on Kickstarter.