For Earth Day, John Thackara Speaks Out on Sustainability.

Earth Day is this Wednesday and for the first time in nearly a decade, it will be a meaningful day in Washington DC. The Obama Administration has declared CO2 a pollutant—joining the rest of the world—and is making global warming a focus of US government policy, at long last. As part of the events of Earth Day week, I’ve invited one of the great voices on sustainability—John Thackara— to speak at my Design-At-The-Edge series at Parsons New School of Design on April 20, this Monday, at 6PM to 7:20PM. It will be in the Wollman Hall,on the 5th floor. You enter at 66 West 12th St. No reservations required.

Thackara will talk about lessons learned in Dott 07 and City Eco Lab. He’ll talk about the sharing model (following Robin Chase’s talk about ZipCar Capitalism and the model of sharing) and point out that it is one thing to know about the tools enabling people to share resources and another to actually learn how to use them. Thackara will show how Design can play roles in both tooling up and learning how to share.

As Design and Design Think move out of the narrow confines of business culture into society at large in the US, Thackara is a true guide for us. Britain is way ahead of the US in applying design principles to social/sustainability problems. Dott 07 was all about designing new ways—from the bottom of the community up, not the top of government policy down — to build new systems of transportation, health, energy and education. City Ecolab continued that conversation. These are discussions we are just beginning in the US.

For designers and innovators, the background to Thackara’s lecture is

a growing debate about whether designers, and design schools in general, are capable of moving on from the old paradigm of design-for-producing-stuff, and design for individual expression. Check out a Thackara paper on it.

If you can't make Thackara on Monday, he'll also be at the Parsons School for Design Strategy on Tuesday afternoon from 2:30 to 4:30PM with a panel of design gurus. It's at 66 Fifth Avenue, between 12th and 13th streets in the lobby at Kellen Gallery. Here is the release:

TUES APRIL 21, 2:30-5:30PM, Class Crit’ with John Thackara Faculty: Cameron Tonkinwise

Topic: With guest of honor John Thackara, curator of EcoCity Lab (St. Etienne Design Beiennale, 2008) and founder of Doors of perception, in dialog with Allan Chochinov (Core77), Debra Johnson (Pratt Design Incubator), Aaron Levy (Slought Foundation and co-curator of Into the Open); Maura Lout (Curator of “Growing and Greening New York”); Manuel Toscano (Zago) and Parsons Dean of Design Strategies, Joel Towers, will address the following question: How can exhibitions best facilitate social learning toward more sustainable futures? Is it too fixed a medium, too superficial, or too abstract? What can it lead to? How does it compare to books, conferences, demo projects, competitions, campaigns, or (digital) networks? Date: Apr 21 Time: 2:30-430PM

Location: within the Kellen gallery.

Come to both. Living a susstainable life is now an economic priority.

    Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.