SXSW has grown since its inception as a local Austin music festival in 1987. Now in its third year, SXSW Eco is a spinoff devoted to sustainability in design, technology and industry.
Today, event organizers announced street artist Shepard Fairey as a keynote speaker at the event. Best known as the creator of the OBEY GIANT guerilla art campaign and the famous Obama “Hope” poster, Fairey now involves himself in environmental causes. In a press release, SXSW Eco Program Manager Chris Sonnier said, “We passionately feel that Shepard embodies one of our fundamental missions as a conference: harnessing culture to drive solutions for our world.”
I asked Sonnier what he thought Fairey had to offer an ecology conference: “Mr. Fairey has had an amazing career of catalyzing thought and action through his art. His ability to link complex situations to culture is exactly in line with the goals of SXSW Eco.”
He added: “At Eco we are bringing together all of the industries and sectors that are necessary to make true and lasting progress, which makes us unique as an event in support of sustainability.”
I’m happy to announce that I will represent Firedoglake Bytegeist at this conference. SXSW Eco runs October 7-9 at the Austin Convention Center. Once again, rather than focus on the biggest industry news (which will be amply covered by mainstream media outlets) I will livetweet and write about the most interesting, intriguing, and thought-provoking panels I can find. A few interesting selections from the schedule:
- Years of Living Dangerously, a preview of the upcoming Showtime miniseries on climate change with lead scientist M. Sanjayan.
- City As Living Laboratory, about sustainability and the arts in urban life with CaLL project director and designer Mary Miss.
- 3D Printing: The Answer to Global Food Scarcity, which promises to touch on the possible reality of Star Trek-style food replicators.
- One Bin for All: Making Trash Extinct, with representatives of the City of Houston on the future of trash reclamation.
- The Future of Urban Farming, with several members of Austin’s thriving urban agriculture community.
I make no promises that I’ll make it to anything in particular, but feel free to browse the schedule and make requests!
Though I’m glad that industry makes more efforts at sustainability today, to say I’m skeptical of “corporate responsibility” would be an understatement. All too often, corporations greenwash their bad behavior by encouraging consumers and citizens to participate in token environmental efforts while they produce mountains of waste and pollution. But, short of a revolution, it will take a collaboration among all the sectors of our modern capitalist society to have any hope of avoiding a dystopian climate future.
Efforts like SXSW Eco make me cautiously optimistic, and I’m excited to attend and bring the experience to you on Bytegeist.
More: Kit’s coverage of SXSW Interactive 2013.
Photo by Andrew Lih released under a Creative Commons Share Alike license.