Reduce, reuse, recycle, renew, restore. That would be one way to introduce sustainability. But buzzwords only go so far in making an abstract concept more concrete. If anything, that list only serves to make the abstract more abstract. What if we tried a list like this instead: Wet-Land, Angela Merkel, Elon Musk, Bahrain World Trade Center, Tom Szaky?
This list includes a project experimenting with waste and energy reduction, the German chancellor championing an entirely renewable energy portfolio, an environmental entrepreneur pioneering electric automobiles, one of the most impressive sustainable buildings designed to increase wind-derived energy potential, and the founder of TerraCycle, which helps to reuse and recycle various products. This list touches on the same five buzzwords, but does so in a much more specific and tangible way. As a result, it brings environmentalism to life, turns abstraction into action, and specifies sustainability. So when we discuss sustainability, what if we choose to focus on this list of specifics rather than another full of abstraction? Instead of looking at sustainability in general terms, what if we focus on the faces and the spaces that are actually making sustainability happen?
This project will work to uncover sustainability by featuring the faces and spaces that define it. Instead of writing generic posts about different important issues such as“energy efficiency”, we are going to look at these issues through a different medium: a combination of photography, interviews, personal anecdotes, and biographical accounts. Starting with this post, we launch our Faces and Spaces blog. Each week we will feature a Face and a Space that will hopefully give tangibility to the multi-faceted sustainability movement around the world. Our blog will also provide a forum for discussion of other ideas related to our project, such as the more general role a space can play in fostering sustainable attitudes among people who interact with it. In addition, this blog will serve as an introduction to the cornerstone of our project: two photo galleries showcasing faces and spaces we will gather as our project progresses. Easily filtered by the various types of environmental topics explored, these galleries will make visualizing sustainability simple and powerful, while also enabling users to discover connections amongst seemingly unrelated people and places. Although we have decided to launch our galleries later in the year when we have more content to present, our blog - and our experiment - begins now.
We invite you to enter our lab. Write a post, share a face or space, submit a photo, give us feedback, try your own version of our project, and help us make sustainability less abstract in any other way that you can.
Sustainability will not be achieved by buzzwords in vacuums; it will be achieved by faces acting in spaces. And now you know a place for exploring those faces and spaces.