Today’s the Day to Join Together to Overcome Catastrophe

“Today we pay a price for our past and present excesses,” began Ted Landsmark, Assoc. AIA, at the second keynote presentation, “Community Design for the New Decade: Consumerism and Responsibility.” He noted we must change our self-centered ways and start thinking of our impact on the larger, local and global, community.

Until relatively recently, artist Chris Jordan lived a “detached, disengaged life,” perhaps typical of contemporary lifestyles. He saw recycling as a nuisance and found it difficult to truly understand his personal impact on climate change. But his life changed once he began photographing piles of waste. His work now centers on trying to quantify mass consumption. In what Jordan called “transcalar imaginary,” he emphasized the importance of both zooming in and out to see details but also get a perspective from afar.

“It all adds up to a catastrophe,” stated Jordan. Yet, “it’s not about blaming. The generation before us didn’t know better.” We are the first generation as a collective to understand the enormity of what we face in a world of environmental depletion, he posited, and that is a good thing. It is our responsibility to allow ourselves to try to comprehend communally how to make change. Our world view must shift; it is not too late.