This week we are featuring a review and summary of a movie that
will be screened at Mountain Film this month. The movie is called
"Ecological Design," and it is about brilliant and courageous
humans that have pioneered ideas on the development and integration
of mankind's cities, energy systems, transport, and industry, with
our planet's natural ecosystems. The film is primarily about design
and architecture but also about much more. The main underlying theme
is that our current industrialized world is depleting the earth's
resources and introducing tremendous amounts of toxic wastes to
the ecosystem, thereby endangering the planet's ability to sustain
into the future. We must change our obsolete views from the post-industrial
revolution era, and shift to a new vision in order to ensure our
I saw this movie when I attended The First International Sustainable
Building Conference in Tampa, Florida in November of 1994. The producers,
who were at the conference provided me with a video copy. I gave
it to Rick Silverman of Mountain Film. As it turned out, it sat
on Rick's shelf unwatched until, coincidentally, Rick happened to
see this film at the Sundance Film Festival and was impressed by
it just as I had been. He returned home and noticed it on his shelf
and finally put one and one together and recalled that I had given
it to him last November. So now it is being shown at Mountain Film
and you have the opportunity to see it right here in Telluride.
I strongly urge all of you who are concerned about the current and
future ecological state of our planet to see it. This movie will
challenge you and give you hope, perhaps even inspire you. I hope
you catch one of its two screenings at Mountain Film.
The movie asks how can we invent a more comprehensive way of designing
the systems in which we live so that they will integrate the "built
world" with our larger ecosystem, the biosphere, and can we
find a way of life that will create a harmony between nature, technology
and humanity? Who amongst designers today will bring about the psychological
revolution to have us see nature in a new way; how should we really
be doing things? Images of natural environments, city skylines,
trash dumps the size of a town, futuristic vehicles, solar-powered
airplanes, and enclosed self-sustaining biospheres are presented
with high-quality 16-mm film. Notable quotes from various experts
are given here to help you understand the movie's message.
James Wines, Architect: "The Earth is a bank account except
we only take out. You have to replenish, you have to put back in.
Western civilization in the twentieth century has done virtually
nothing but take out,; when are we going to start pulling back in?"
Buckminster Fuller, geodesic dome designer: "You don't
try to persuade, you don't try to sell anything. You see what needs
to be done and you go out and do it. The only way we can possibly
take care of everybody is through a design revolution doing more
Jay Baldwin, Design Teacher & Editor of the Whole Earth Catalog,
does experiments on the ecological frontier: "Tools are
the extensions of your body; a whole group of tools are an extension
of your mind in that it enables you to bring your ideas into physical
form. You're adding so much energy to the idea that other people
can see it."
Amory Lovins, Energy Expert: "We have great deal to learn
from traditional peoples who did know how things work and who had
extremely sophisticated sustainable agriculture and efficient buildings.
We are not yet as sophisticated in solar design s the Anasazi were.
I think that resource efficiency and renewables are therefore not
only profitable and good for the earth, they are really a moral
imperative." Mary Catherine Bateson, Anthropologist: "The
problem that we face with the huge size of population and the tremendous
potency of available technology... means that every problem is interconnected
with every other. We have to find a way to adapt in the context
of those problems and that's never been done before."
Paolo Saleri, Architect: sacred architecture and ecology. Archosanti
fits into its surroundings. Thick walls moderate temperature, arches
trap sunlight in winter, remain cool in the summer."
Hazel Henderson, Systems Theorist/Futurist: "The place we
are in now is that the planet is teaching us directly. It's as if
we are coming up to graduation time, and that the planet has
all the negative and positive feedback signals... If we can hear
them the signals are for us to change our belief systems and our
value systems. We need to have a more correct view of our place
in nature and realize that we are part of an orchestration of species,
and unless we think of the entire planet as a living system we will
not be able to survive and keep our place in it."
William McDonough, Architect: "What we are actually talking
about is prosperity, bringing value to things, so we're leaving
behind something better than the way we found it. We can actually
design things that give more than they take... As people who are
responsible for designing, which means we are imagining the future,
we may actually be doing things which in the end are more destructive
than they are productive, and that's a design problem like no other
In this movie your will learn more about:
- Biosphere 2, "the controversial experiment, an attempt
to build a miniature world out of steel and glass machines and
3,800 species including four men and four women.
- A living machine in Rhode Island cleans the wastewater of 150
families without the use of chemicals or machinery.
- The Dymaxium House, designed by Buckminster Fuller, that could
regulate its own temperature, clean its own air, conserve water,
recycle human waste, and could itself be recycled when obsolete.
A remarkable man, he believed we could design our own world to
model nature's own way of doing things.
- John Todd and Jay Baldwin's self-sufficient structure that provides
its own sustenance and treats its own waste.
- An ecologically-designed community in California that works
culturally and financially where the developer states: "The
amazing thing is that once we started building it people wanted
to buy it."
The movie also enlightens us about the success story of Curitiba,
Brazil, known as this country's ecological capital. A more comprehensive
vision has begun to emerge in this city of 1.5 million people. With
very limited sources (they have rejected federal funds), the people
of Curitiba have transformed their city, turning barren land into
lush parks and nature preserves, an abandoned quarry and recycled
telephone poles into an open university (you have to see the visual
image to understand this one), and congested city centers into pedestrian
promenades. An inexpensive and practical transit system was created.
City planners from around the world are traveling to Curitiba to
study its successes. Jaime Lerner, the city's three-time Mayor and
architect says: "There is no challenge more noble than to
achieve a collective dream, and when a city could improve its quality
of life when it respects the people who live in that city, when
it respects the environment, when it prepares for the n4ext generation,
this is a kind of - and the people assume that kind of co-responsibility.
And that is the only way to achieve that collective dream.."