Thursday, February 7

Sustainability Summit Day 2

V. Sumantran started the day off by talking about the issues concerning a low-cost car, with particular attention to its application in India. He noted that there are a number of solutions available, it is the balance of numbers that go into affordability for the population of India. There is also the consideration of an urban car [IE the Smart Car] versus a low cost car [like the Nano]. In the interim the needs will be met by people mobilizing private capital. In the long term, mass mobility will demand newer systems.

Geoff Wardle introduced a twenty minute clip from his hour long interview with Gordon Murray. The full interview is available on the Summit website.

Mark Goodstein moderated a panel of Christer Lindstrom, Dan Sturges and V. Sumantran. They talked about the need for a paradigm shift in terms of technology and its application. There also needs to be intelligent multi-modal mobility options. There is a currently a serious gap in efficiency that needs to be addressed [driving around with 1 of 5 seats filled doesn't cut it]. What to do though? Consider this, the best trip is the one you don't have to make [think Netflix, mentioned earlier in the conference by Alex Steffen]. All this things that are talked about are possible, we simply have to just do it. In World War II the US shifted from manufacturing cars to war goods in a matter of weeks. Will power and determination make anything possible. People need to feel the urgency and need more.

Katherine Bennett introduced Jan Chipchase from Nokia, who gave a wonderful presentation about observation, trends and designing in context. People find solutions for what they need, and he had many citations of this happening around the world [particularly in Asia]. There are also amazing examples of simple solutions, distilling a gas station down to the absolute simplest form, a single brick and bottle of petrol in Thailand. He also gave a wonderful list of upcoming trends, such as status casting using AIM and Twitter, and translated this into the concept of doing the same for products. Consider a service that lows people know exactly when the product they want is in the store, or the exact location a bus, so you know how much time you have the magazine stand.

Lloyd Walker talked about the mVIP Future Scenario Application again, and prepared the attendees for a Texas Hold'em Style game situation. This second go at it was easier for people to grasp than the first day. There is a learning curve to these cards, I think people were better abled to deal with them this time around. There were many interesting ideas that came out of it, that the organizers of the Summit are now sifting through. Overall though, I feel it was a success, and heard some inspiring projects with a lot of potential.

Post-Lunch was a fantastic webcast lecture by Hazel Henderson, who did so because she is done with jetting around and flying. I was visualizing again, and the only note I have jotted down is this, she believes we are up to the design challenge ahead of us. I have to say, there was something inspiring and comforting about hearing her speak. She was very impressed by a question from an attendee and offered up her personal contact information to follow up with this person about the specific trials she was facing.

Jayne Poynter moderated a panel with Peter Bishop, Axel Friedrich and Freeman Thomas. It was a passionate panel that talked about how do we change our behaviors towards energy. There was an interesting point about the fact that most of the United States infrastructure for mobility was built in a post-petrol world. In comparison to Europe, where there are many options and structures in place that are easier to adapt to alternate mobility options from pre-industrial days. The physical layout begins to influence our mental construction of the thing, and starts to shape our thoughts.

Geoff Warlde and David Muyres concluded the Summit, by thanking everyone for coming. They also spoke of the immense task ahead for them to synthesize all this information for future reference. They hinted at a timeframe and location for future Sustainability Summits, and openly stated their desire for collaboration on it at all levels, university, corporate and governmental. I believe it was Geoff who called for truth and honesty in design [adding that these two facets are not impediments to industry]. I couldn't agree more.

More to come: the RSVP Dinner from after the Pre-Summit, details from Paul Hawken's Keynote, and photos from the closing Party [which was sadly not on the rooftop as advertised]!!!

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