Along with 23,000 others, Jennifer Atlee of BuildingGreen was in Toronto for Greenbuild, discussing the future of green building. Like many thousands of others, she was part of the occupy movement this weekend. She writes that "this is no simple single-issue movement to be cordoned off as a faction." She continues:
Ultimately a smattering of living buildings in a dying economy won't take us much further than a smattering of "green" products in an economy where it's still cheaper to ignore ecological and social consequences of manufacturing and its supply chain....What I get out of this upswelling of activism is that many in this country and the world are ready for a new economic story. It's not just about jobs, although that's a big part of it. People are connecting the dots between things that don't work in our food system, our education system, our building industry, our government, and so much more --and why the fixes we attempt seem to get stymied by the incentives and assumptions embedded in our current economic system. More and more people are actively looking for alternatives.
Now as an architect, I always think everything is a design problem. Jennifer thinks that we should be look at what the design community can do, how we can really contribute:
I'd like to see the building design and construction community approach the economic system as a design problem to be solved rather than a design constraint to operate within.
Just an hour ago I was talking to another TreeHugger who is trying to sell his late father's house. He said it is impossible; the banks won't give mortgages unless you have 30% down and you tell them everything about everything you own, how you paid for your car, where you got the deposit money. Architects and trades are out of work, people can't sell their houses, the american real estate industry is paralyzed because the financial system isn't lending.
But as Henry Blodget pointed out last week, that is one of the reasons American citizens bailed them out.
Jennifer is right. It is time to occupy green building and create alternatives. It is time to occupy the roads for pedestrians and bikes. It is time to occupy our downtowns and stop subsidizing sprawl. It is time to stop accepting the conventional way of doing things. It is time.
Read her entire article at Building Green