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The Echo, Cool Urban Projects, and NYFW!

I have decided to rename my infant blog “The Echo”, because it reflects my opinion that all good ideas and movements start with a seed, then spread through the ripple effect. Although The Echo will encompass more than just my opinions on politics, sustainability, and culture, I try to live as conscious and ethical a life as possible – and hope that all will be reflected here.

Going off of that, here are a few awesome urban projects that have been happening this summer, or are relatively new to me:

  • The Water Tank Project – In order to raise awareness over water sustainability in New York City (and coinciding with the California drought), a group of acclaimed artists and public school students have been producing artwork to go up on New York’s water tanks. Notable artists like Jeff Koons, Ed Ruscha, and Laurie Simmons have been involved, to name a few.
  • Skinny Jean Gardeners – Lee and Dale Connelly are two brothers based in the UK who – you guessed it – wear skinny jeans and like to garden. They’ve been talked about by everyone from BBC Radio 1 to The Telegraph, and are finding unusual and cool ways to implement gardening projects. Check ’em out!
  • Catalytic Poetry – In May of this year, the University of Sheffield debuted the world’s first “Catalytic Poem”, which is essentially a giant poem printed on banner material that has the ability to react with nitrous oxides, which makes up 7% of our greenhouse gases, and produce non-harmful nitrates. In other words, it’s the world’s first air-cleaning poem. It’s some sick stuff, and the technology has also been applied to clothing; see the Catalytic Clothing website here.
  • MoMA PS1: Hy-Fi – The Hy-Fi exhibition opened at MoMA in late June, and is a 100% organic structure created by The Living as a backdrop to their summer Warm Up concerts. The bricks were grown from hay and fungus, and natural dye artists Shabd Simon-Alexander and Audrey Louise Reynolds created a clear protective coating to prevent the structure from damage.

Today is also the first day of New York Fashion Week!! I’ll be keeping up with the shows and writing my thoughts. A day by day review is a bit excessive for me, since I’m not actually in New York, but I’ll do a round-up at the end of the week.

The Upcoming Months…

Tomorrow night I will be flying back home to spend time with family for a few weeks, then off to London for study abroad this upcoming semester! Words cannot describe how excited I am; it’s finally hitting me that this is actually happening! Ahh!! I have no idea what the upcoming few months will hold, but I will absolutely try to make the best out of my time there. School starts late September, and I will be returning to the States mid- to late December. I will be volunteering, going to class, trying to get involved in extracurriculars, and traveling around the UK, mostly. The destinations that I have on my list so far are Brighton, Stonehenge, Dublin, Edinburgh, and possibly Glasgow. That and London will keep me more than occupied 🙂

Why I Hate the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

It’s stupid. It makes me lose hope in society, and people who are participating in this who think that they are making a change by donating a few dollars, or “spreading the message” by dumping a bucket of ice on their heads need to wise up.

My problem with this is the lack of thought behind the ice bucket trend. An article about “funding cannibalism” by Quartz describes this best – by taking five seconds out of their day to donate, dump ice, or both, people then think that they can pat themselves on the back, and go back to tweeting/facebooking/instagramming about their lives. Group mentality. “Everybody else is doing this, so that must mean it’s legit. Now I can follow the trend, feel like a good person, and go back to my much more important life”. What they don’t take into account is how effective this “popular-at-the-moment” charity is at converting the dollars into concrete action, and if their dollars could’ve been better used if it were donated to a different organization for the same cause, or a different cause entirely. This is where the “funding cannibalism” comes in. Some social scientists conducted an experiment where people were first asked to choose between green lightbulbs and traditional incandescents. Afterwards, they were asked to do a seemingly unrelated task, to pay themselves out of an envelope. The scientists found that the people who had taken the “green” route in the first task tended to lie about how much they paid themselves in the second task, and the incandescent-choosers were more honest in the second round. Somehow, humans are wired to think that an ethical task that seems a little bit out of the norm to do then justifies an unethical one.

I give mad props to the occasional person who goes beyond just this surface-level trend to learn more about the foundation, the disease, and goes on to dedicate his or her time because it’s something that they feel is worth it. As for the people who quote Desmond Tutu and say that taking no action places you in the role of oppressor, I disagree. Who’s to say that ALS, the Kony situation, or cancer is more important than the Israel-Palestine conflict, people living with dirty fracking water, or human trafficking? It’s time to assess what you, as an individual, are passionate about, and in what way you can be most effective to the causes that you care about. It’s great that the ALS foundation has raised about 4 million dollars, more that they ever have in the past, but I will change my mind about the ice bucket trend followers only when I can tangibly see that they have benefited more from this money than any other disease foundation could have.

Practice What You Preach

The age-old saying is a cliche for a reason. I’m currently studying Mechanical Engineering in school, but took the summer off to live in New York for three months because I was burnt out, and wanted to “rediscover myself” (I’m just bursting with cliche-ness today). When I came into the city, I was having doubts about what I wanted to do with my life. As of right now, as I type, I am happy to say that I am more confused than I have ever been. I’ve been jumping from gig to gig (if you can even call them that), and trying to find out what different people in fashion and sustainability are doing in this wonderful city that I hope I can call home one day. An issue that I am constantly coming across is that everybody can talk the talk, but when it comes to pursuing action, planning next steps, they shy away or think on such a small level that I’m embarrassed to have had that conversation with them. We need more people who are raising awareness when it comes to sustainability, and it’s great that people will go and march in a rally, but then what? Government and corporations aren’t going to listen to grassroots groups. And if you call yourself an activist, buy yourself a renewable water bottle, and call it a day, nobody important is going to take you seriously.

Unfortunately, I’ve come across more than a couple of people who operate that way. I think it’s important to constantly be aware, and think of ways that you can incorporate sustainability into what you hope to pursue. For myself, for example, I love fashion, and I also love renewable energy. I follow a bunch of environmental/non-environmental/fashion websites to keep up to speed on what’s happening in all of these spheres, and to figure out a way to be able to make a career out of all of these things. I would love to be rich, but what’s more important to me is that I can tangibly leave the world a better place than when I entered it. I consider this way more important than some arrogant classmate who will look down at me because they programmed a tiny fucking button in Facebook or something.

So I’m not really sure what this blog is going to grow into, but so far I’ve put up a couple of pages with change-makers who I admire, and ways that the general public can learn to engage in something that matters. I also realize that this is not my best-written work, so excuse the mind dump.

Trying to start another blog…

I’ve tried to start many a blog in the past, without much purpose or dedication, and after a couple of weeks I get bored of it and fall off the bandwagon. However, after spending a summer in New York trying to reconnect with what fuels me and helps me get up in the morning, and inspired by other people who are deciding to do the same thing, I’m going to get back into blogging. I make no promises that this attempt will be any different from the previous ones, but I’m going to put more of an effort into it.

Saying that I’m a treehugger is a massive understatement, but that’s what we’ll go with. I absolutely love talking renewable energy, activism, and anything along those lines, but I’ve realized that mainstream blogging doesn’t have a platform where everything sustainable is talked about. Many girls exclusively thrift, which is great, but I also like clothing/lifestyle brands with an ethics/sustainability focus, celebrities who are trying to do new things, urban projects, and so on. This will be me trying to combine all those into one website that hopefully people care to read about!