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get ready for the GREEN NOUVEAU [Nov. 21st, 2007|12:19 pm]
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Green Nouveau ...because every good movement deserves a name
Anyone else notice the brand spanking new ecorazzi background???

I hope you feel as much glee as I do looking at that design and detail. It’s so lush yet playful, so nature-aware, but those colors ...so now! And it makes me think of this term I’ve been playing around with a lot lately; Green Nouveau. it’s a growing trend I’ve noticed at first, like a trickle in the designs from a green PR company in Portland/NYC, but then really played out in the new ‘razzi do (Michael showed me a mockup of it a month ago which really got me thinking about this Green Nouveau). There are a many ways that what’s happening now in the green world resembles what was going on in the art world a hundred years ago, and its bold and exciting, but even better, it’s a way out of being called environmentalist. Cause nothing spoils the party faster than bringing the environmentalist along. Green Nouveau just wanna have fun. Just wanna party like its 1899

[Art Nouveau platter circa 1907. Add 100 years and
the Peter Max palette and you get the picture...]


And hey, I’m as green as the next guy, and some of my best friends are greenies, but it’s still feels weird when being introduced, or written about, and they say that I am an “environmentalist.” I feel affronted when I read OP-EDs talking about “environmentalists” in terms of what they think, or want ...as if environmentalism is an actual ism (like Stalinism, Fascism, Satanism, Capitalism), as if we all get together at weekly vegetarian potlucks to hash out strategy ideology and general correctness (and how to take over the world, of course).

But seriously. It would be hard for anyone to say that there isn’t some sort of movement going on, not a Movement, but something is moving. There’s action in the green streets: LOHAS markets are doing amazing, the housing bubble in the States has hardly put a dent in the Green Build world, Clean Tech is the new dotcom, green is the new blog, any-magazine’s annual “green edition”, TV Shows (Americas Top Model goes green??) ...I could go on. Trust me. I usually do… But basically people of all walks and sizes now, from the dorm-rooms to the boardrooms are getting into this. And –in terms of new green goodies-- we ain’t seen nothing yet! This is just the beginning of the 'Nouveau!

[this time there will be agribots
in the grenhouses harvesting our food]

...this is the begging of an era, and all the tools we need to get started are right at hand, many already sprouting like Purple Loosestrife and spreading like Zebra Mussels. And the tools to complete the job are pining and waiting to come into being on campuses, in r&d labs, and backyard sheds …and the best part of all— we are going to change the world. For the better.

And we’re not going to do it going macrobiotic back-to-the-earth, and bearded.

And while many people will find things like Voluntary Simplicity peaceful, and bask in the glow of their micro-footprint, there are 7 billion of us. And what is needed to create the massive change that we know we need, is not to fight “the Machine” but to turn the machine green, and softer, and more in harmony with the other reality that keeps us alive, our biosphere.

So there’s this burgeoning mind-state now, that both our world, and the non-human world can work together, and must, because this delicate balance sustains us.

But is this environmentalism?

It’s way too much fun, driving an electric Vectrix to be dour, and eco clothes are chic and good-looking now. This isn’t less. This is more! So how can it be an eco-ist Movement?

And yet this is what we do, name things, right? And as long as we don’t call it something, it will continued to be called environmentalism, so let's deal with this movement. But hey, it can be fun. Like a movement in Art History instead of Molotov cocktails and all that Earthy Firsty angry stuff? I’m compelled to call it something fun like that, like art, like the impressionists or expressionist (but no ists, please). And because of the great stylee aspect, and the design aspect (not to mention the bold exuberance to forge a new world), I call this new movement Green Nouveau!


Like Art Nouveau, the design movement that peaked just around the turn of the last century, Green Nouveau is full of floral and nature-inspired design, but new and fresh. And just like how Art Nouveau was excited about the latest tools and materials, and mocked their predecessor the Pre-Raphaelites for their pastoral use of only the crudest technologies, we see now Green Nouveau poking fun at the hippies --in their hemp burlap pantaloons and millet stew-- and instead, open up to all the new green materials that are available to us, all the biomimic bioplastic biofuels, and triple certified cradle to cradle composites. We are picking up where they left off a hundred years ago (only with cool sci-fi green techs and materials-- and branding savoir fair).

And as we harness more and more of that exuberance (the very same enthusiasm they had for creating their new world), and see not our survival or extinction, but rather see us able to create a thriving vibrant harmonious world for 7, 10 even 20 billion of us, sustainably, then the more this possibility becomes an actuality. It is by having a vision of where we want to go that we can get there. And Green Nouveau, I think, is the place where that vision is hatching.

We’re either going to make it or we’re not, sure enough. But if we do, it will be with all these compostable plastics and funky eco fabrics, biobased products, and climate-adaptable technologies. And life as we know it right now, will be a thing of the past, like a buggy, or an ice box.

[the future will be blobjectably delicious]

And how is it going to happen? In our hearts. Because when we embraced this vision, we don’t have to do it standing outside of a building protesting, we do it when we decide not to use virgin trees to wipe our ass, and buy recycled toilet paper instead. I don’t have to argue with my neighbor about the benefits of wind power* I can sign up with my local green power provider, and with that simple action (and a tiny premium), know that each month the money goes to the utility company buying that amount of clean energy from the green power company’s wind farms. We are the most advanced hominids out there, surely we can walk our talk.

And the Green Nouveau “movement” enables this shift. Right now sure it may just look like a suburban dad proud about his ford Escape Hybrid. And while it’s still an SUV and not really how you say, a massive change, he is now open to everything from composting to organic sheets, it’s like a virus. It gets into the system and now he’s on the team, so he’s not going to shut off that feeling when he encounters any other (perhaps foreign) aspect of Green Nouveau. Now he's the kind of guy who will read treehugger dot com. And it’s only the beginning, because his next car might be a Phoenix (100% electric and charges in 10 minutes), or maybe he’ll decide to just pop that engine out, and put in some killer electric motors and an ultracapacitor—it’s coming down the pipe that fast, folks.

And that’s just cars, by definition Green Nouveau encompasses every aspect of design and the built world; architecture, engineering, systems and services. So a pair of hemp Etnies shoes that can be completely composted at the end of its use, or a CSA that brings a box of local organic fruits and vegetables to your door every week, it’s all part of the new system.


And did you notice the use of greenhouses and domes? Sure its hard to not see the similarities between some Gaudi apartment building and a BeckyBee cob house, but that’s just derivative. I think the domes and the green roofs are where its going to really come into people mind’s that we are picking up where the art nouveau people left off, only this time we’re not just painting it, we’re living it.

And unlike a fad like some movement in art or a pop genre, this movement is for everyone, not only for those in-the-know. And while it’s got style, it’s not about style it’s about Life style, and about life. And that doesn’t go out of style. So what we can envision here at the begging in stages of Green Nouveau, is nothing. A generation or two into this, we will look back as old folks on all the changes and still be amazed at how much has changed, and how much better it all is. Our food will be organic and local, our wrappings and containers will turn into soil and then into local food again, we will be energy literate, we will have transportation that is as of yet unimaginable, but perfect. We can’t see it yet, how it will play out, but we are at that point in time which will be referred to for centuries. And the Green Nouveau, er, Movement is the blaze on that trail. La nouvelle vague est Vert, Nouveau, et bien fun en h'sti.


[User Picture]From: peristaltor
2007-11-22 02:22 am (UTC)
I'm curious: Have you read Breakthrough or the essay that preceded it, "The Death of Environmentalism"?

What you describe sounds very much in that vein.
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[User Picture]From: scalarparty
2007-11-22 10:24 am (UTC)

from the death of disco to the politics of dancing??

Ha funny. and thanks. Actually at the very end of this piece i edited out a reference to Shelenberger and Nordhaus. But yeah, certainly along the Breakthrough lines.. especially where they say don't yell "WAKE UP!!!!" tell people to dream! That kicks butt! Although to be honest i kinda wish they didn't do pretty much what they rally against (meaning they spend so much time telling us why the old enviros don't work-- and not nearly enough time on positive solutions). Another book that I referenced in the pre-edited phase was The Geography of Hope which also just came out. TGOH while it hippie-bashes like the best of 'em, is also full of solutions (many purloined from this very blog-- many coming from hippies the writer then meets and gushes over.... it's a little schizophrenic that way, but i think that maybe comes with the territory.
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[User Picture]From: peristaltor
2007-11-23 05:36 am (UTC)

Re: from the death of disco to the politics of dancing??

Oh, appropos of nothing, have you ridden the Vectrix yet? It is made of awesome.
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