Environment: Event’s Report

Moderator: Fabrice Leclerc
Date: April 15th 2011
Location: High Tech Cargo
Illustrator: Hanna Melin (UK)
Storyteller: Angela Boskovitch (Germany)
Photographer: Paolo Bassanini(Italy)
Filmmaker: Ana Paula Avetti (Italy)

 

Starting sentence by the moderator Fabrice Leclerc

For Fabrice Leclerc “transparency” is a core concept of the environmental issue: “If we want to create a new life we need to be transparent about what we want. We need to be authentic.” The care for the planet does not refer merely to the earth or soil. “The real challenge is about planet, people and profit”. In fact, “it’s not only about protecting the planet and the green but it is about looking for a new performance and a new evolution for our society.” And this is everyone’s duty. It does not depend on “governments or leaders’ decisions: our daily little changes in lifestyle, multiplied by billions of people, make up the solution.” Even at workplace we should “think out of the box,” stop being “control freaks,” cancel our square geometry and go back to natural design, that is spherical – our brain, our earth are round, aren’t they?

Development of the City Talk

“Power is in our hands”. We must create a more balanced environment and create an economic system which is supposed to pay attention to ecology. There is nonetheless a sort of optimism and the will to overcome the idea of “sustenaibility”, that is a “fake concept” that should be replaced by actions: “we did bad and we must correct to do much better”.

“The Man and the Planet the Intimate and Corporate Dimensions of DoingBusiness”. Fabrice’s approach is focused on a well-defined set of keywords (the moderator is personally working on it), which set up the language of the talk. Through this language, participants (and people in general) were able to get in touch with a new dimension to live a peaceful life, to be in touch with nature.

The singularity of the location, a sort of “emporium”, “stock room”, is in accordance with the forma mentis of Fabrice, who wants to highlight the continuous changes and becoming of the relationship between the Man and the Environment.

Environment is not only what we usually relate to the planet, but is also intended as the whole emotional area and the ethycal field, based on the opposite dynamics of Good/Evil, Acid/Basic, Slow/Rock.

Report, by Angela Boskovitch

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The environment can no longer be left out of the equation. Long gone are the days when corporate polluters didn’t have a price to pay – as consumers’ awareness of the real costs of their consumption grows. But what are the relationships connecting the economic and social realms? How are they governed in terms of the environment and how does the growing creative class interface with these realms? The Work Style talk dedicated to the topic of the  environment took a special look at these issues gathering together managers, consultants, architects and designers at the Cargo High Tech showroom, an exposition space dedicated to design in the heart of Milan. Moderated by Fabrice Leclerc, who brought his expertise on the topics of innovation, green business and sustainability, the talk encouraged its participants to think outside the box in the way they approached the environment’s connection to their work, and by extension their lives. “The evolution of our society and our business model is the incorporation of the environment,” says Fabrice to begin the talk, encouraging the participants to consider how humanity can continue its evolution by incorporating the environment. From reports by UN bodies to international NGOs, the consequences of our economic activity on the environment have been well documented. “Most of our seas and lands are polluted,” Fabrice says. “For the first time, life is in decline. This is a sign that something is not right.”

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Relating to our home. To encourage contemplation beyond the usual norms, thinking outside the box that Fabrice argues our self-designed systems have put us in, he asks the participants to visually portray their image of the environment, and what they feel is missing in terms of humanity’s relationship with it.  Those invited to take part in the workshop are leaders in their fields, experts at what they do, so the sense of unease becomes almost palpable when they’re asked to design an image – their image – for the word environment, their home in the largest imaginable sense.  For Laurence, a woman who works in management consulting and specifically on workplace stress prevention, the exercise produces a personal response, “We all need to make more and more small changes. We have to consume responsibly and be responsible for our children.” This is clearly part of the transformative shift that’s needed, according to Fabrice, one in which the power of each person would see their individual actions multiplied as part of the larger group consciousness.

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Optimists embrace the creative. Of course many positive changes are taking place, and this was noted too. Aldo works in electrical manufacturing. Witnessing these changes in technology first hand, he’s optimistic about our potential to make this shift, “I feel we have to go on in a completely different way, but I am not pessimistic. There is more and more technology to help develop our society. How do we better use our resources – that’s the question. We need more innovation, which means better use.” This provokes an equally interesting response from William, a designer in London, “We should embrace the creative revolution rather than the industrial.”  Of course when one considers that our industrial civilization is only 100 or so years old – a very short time span in human history – it becomes clear that there is another way to live in the environment without destroying it, using our natural surroundings as a source of inspiration, one that would encourage collaboration between those with natural wisdom and those in business, politics and society to design new, more holistic systems.

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Disposing of our old refrigerators. Developed economies demand production for growth as we’ve conceived it, however, and this has engendered itself in a way as to legally separate corporate responsibility in the form of limited liability companies. But to Aldo this is not acceptable, “The design of our product is important. We have to close the circle. When the product is finished, that’s the problem. When we choose a material, we need to know the life of the product. We need to check if the system is closed.” This prompts a quick response from Laurence, “What do you do if you want to throw your refrigerator away? Or a computer?” “It is necessary to prepare the system,” explains Carlo, an architect, “to integrate the environment.” To consider these elements, people must make shifts in consciousness at the global level though too. In the world of geopolitics, this is not easy, as Aldo remarks, “There’s a difference between emerging and developed countries. It is difficult if there is no coherence, no balance in investment. You cannot ask Brazil not to cut down the trees. I am more pessimistic about our politicians who cannot take action around one table.”Empowerment for change. If one’s environment is to be a safe, protective and energizing space, the workspace and private space should have some similar characteristics, argues Luigi, a consultant. “I think of my private environment like a bank account. Sometimes you take out money; sometimes you put money in. This way your account is always in the green. We should consider that the environment too has a balance – so it’s always in the green.” Fabrice believes that the power has actually returned to our hands, “We have to help the corporations do a better job. With low-cost social networks, we can change things very fast. The time between crises is shorter. The system is telling us we have to change.” In the end the talk seems to come down to what will save us from ourselves, and the key word Laurence randomly chooses, that of Love. She says, “Love will save us – love for our children, for the environment.” In contrast, the other key word she chooses blindly happens to be quite the opposite – Acidity, that which can bring about our downfall as our external and internal environments become more acidic – our oceans, streams and even our own bodies, poisoned by stress. “Love brings alkalinity into our acidic world” says Fabrice, tying the two key words together. “Collaboration is an alkaline word. Sharing is much more powerful than taking. It’s not about products, but about creating sense in our lives. We have the power to thrive by adding more alkalinity to our world.”

Creativity perspective

Collection of the impressions of Hanna Melin (illustrator) and Paolo Bassanini (photographer).

The environment is both a challenge and a “wake up call” as illustrator Hanna Melin calls it. For her the Talk was very inspiring and she was struck to learn how many things we could do and we must do now: “The thought that we are ruining the planet that gives us food and oxygen and beauty is hard to understand. We have to start respecting nature and stop being so greedy.” The location itself was able to enrich the discussion, as photographger Paolo Bassinini points out: “High Tech was a perfect location to achieve my personal goal: the space was filled with many different objects and there was a perceivable sensation of a natural setting that I tried to catch and put in my story.” The task was not easy but it was clear from the very beginning that it would be unusual as well as interesting: “It was a really fun and challenging commission. Different from what I am used to as an illustrator. I was very impressed with the people taking part in the seminar. They drew their ideas and participated in the discussion very easily. The participants actually formed and made the talk. They decided the direction it was heading.” The people who attended the workshop are the same who are supposed to care for our earth, because each of us should do our part: “As a still-life photographer I work mainly with objects and still settings; that is why I portrayed the participants as motionless as possible, like things among other things. I’d like to think that if we find a sort of common ground with what our surroundings, it’d be more likely for us to keep rhythm with nature and the planet.” Paolo too was amazed by the strange setting he had to work in but that stimulated his creativity and ideas: “I was really concentrated upon my task during the Talk; I focused on the people, their posture and expression. The guideline provided by the coordinator helped me a lot to get into the assignment and work as best as I could.”