I don’t want to sound like a hippy but the best kind of new energy we can embrace is that which comes from a creative mind. It’s a pretty confusing world that we live in. There are die hard environmentalists who believe in reducing their carbon footprint and waste to as near zero as possible by doing away with life’s simple luxuries like toilet tissue and by semi starving themselves into a state of listless stupor. But I believe that a sustainable, low environmental impact future will come from “creative energy” individuals who value life’s luxuries and use their creative minds to find sustainable low energy solutions. The world is not going to go back to a subsistence economy, my guess is that the majority would choose to live for today rather and join the climate naysayers rather than take a radical step backwards. Society has to remain a capitalist and thus a consumerist one and become sustainable. Its not an impossible ask, this generation can be exalted, remembered and leave an impact as epoch making as the Victorians with their Industrial Revolution. The once derelict Victorian canals and old textile mills and workers terraces that the new urbanites are colonising are a sign of an age of progress and investment and also a sign of current societies ability to re use and re invent.
This generation can be remembered for a Green Revolution and leave a positive footprint on the world every bit as lasting and beneficial as the Victorians who lifted millions out of economic, educational and social poverty. We can do this and start to heal previous environmental oversights.
But to achieve this new “revolution” we have to harness “high energy” creative minds and embrace those that push and question. In the UK we have started to replace our loss of manufacturing with a creative economy that is now second to the service sector with a worth of over £14 billion to the economy and employing 1.8 million creative minds. Some of Britains major corporations are enjoying significant growth and success by engaging with designers at board level who “stick pins into” the economists and are proving that the public respond to retailers who do more than “greenwash”. My mum and her peers have enjoyed flocking back to M & S now that they know that Stuart Rose and his Plan A really does mean a more ethical, environmentally friendly and good animal husbandry aware retailer.
What is more, Design Council research is proving that creative education is good for us, with significantly lower truancy levels in Arts and Design subjects (yet government continues to push for less time doing what our kids enjoy and more time on maths and English).
Sustainability has been at the forefront of designers thinking long before it hit the pages of The Daily Mail. The creative mind is usually one that grasps societal issues at an early stage. It really is a no brainer. If we like being creative, if it can contribute so significantly to the economy, then we need to ensure that this creative energy, from creative minds permeates through all levels of life. We need creative minds and the creative energy they bring to sit alongside analytical ones in parliament, on our Council Town Planning departments, in our educational establishments, in hospitals and for industry that has been hitherto slow on the uptake to put creative minds on the board.
This really is the age when we talk about energy. Creative energy.