Last Wednesday, May 15th, marked the kickoff of the 3-day Living Future 2013 unConference at the Westin in downtown Seattle. Presented by the Living Future Institute, the theme of this year’s conference was Resilience & Regeneration. The meeting halls were bustling with attendees from as close as Seattle, to as far as New York, New Zealand, and Portugal. The trade show featured unique booths with products and services from various vendors that are all suitable for use in Living Building Challenge projects.
Wednesday evening’s keynote session opened with remarks from David McConville, President of the Buckminster Fuller Institute, co-founder of The Elumenati, and Creative Director of Worldviews Network. In his presentation, McConville stated that through various mediums (television, science fiction novels, etc) we have created a false notion that settling another planet is easily attainable. However, at this current moment, as far as we know, Earth is truly the only inhabitable planet in our solar system. He warned that we are tipping our precious habitat towards the unknown. We have no back-up plan or new place to start over; this is it. Bringing his remarks to a close, McConville stated the universe we plan for is ultimately the universe we are going to get.
David Suzuki, garbed in a poppy red button down, took the stage in the Grand Ballroom to a standing ovation to deliver his keynote address. Suzuki, a world-renowned and award winning scientist, environmentalist, broadcaster, and co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation, spoke from his experience and his passion. His opening remarks addressed the constant change happening all around us. On a recent trip to Boston, he saw solar panels on buildings in the city. He noted that Portland has transformed into a city of bike commuters who have ditched their gas guzzling vehicles for a human powered alternative. Change is beginning taking place, but there is still much to do.
Tying to the theme of Resilience and Regeneration, “The Earth is resilient”, Suzuki stated. “It’s survived ice ages, natural disasters, seen the rise and fall of oceans; and yet it’s still continues to thrive”. Despite it’s resilience, we are still tasked with taking care of it. The way we treat the world reflects the way we see it. Suzuki posed the question, “Do you view soil as a living system of organisms or just a pile of dirt?”, drawing the point that the way we treat the world reflects the way we see it.
Suzuki went on to state that we’ve turned our earth into a global economy to source and exploit all raw materials and then dump our toxic waste in precious habitats. We are disrupting our planetary cycles of water, nitrogen, the atmosphere and so on. Our planet still faces wicked issues: the Keystone Pipeline, dams, arctic drilling, not to mention countless others. We must come together and fight and come to terms on a similar platform if we are to accomplish anything for the good of our planet.
Suzuki delivered a somber, but honest message we can’t ignore. By the time he concluded his keynote, the room was still, with each individual hanging on every word. He charged the audience with a strong and timely call to action stating that the only thing we can control and change is us, but instructing us to figure out how to alter that perspective. This fight will not be easily won, but we must work to change the way we view the world in order to change our trajectory that’s currently set for an irreversible course.