My First TEDx!

Whilst I’m working on a new version of Living Antenna, things are happening in the meantime – that also contribute to a better idea of what it could, and should be. So in this under construction phase I did not want to withhold this from you: my first TEDx-talk! I was invited to speak at TEDxWageningen, the academic and business food valley of The Netherlands. The theme was “The Emergence of Bio-Based Economies”.

It was exciting to think of what I’d like express to an audience of critical strangers – and amongst some other really inspiring speakers. I decided it’d be best to speak from personal experience, and from what I’m passionate about. And that is – no surprise – about everything typically Living Antenna. In other words: how I believe food, design and sustainability relate, and contribute to each other.

Click here or on the picture to watch the talk!

Unfortunately my microphone was switched off the first three minutes, so I’ve included the first paragraphs for you to read along:

“I’ve got a terrible disease, and my disease is that, in certain areas of my life, I can experience a deep sense of joy, wonder or disappointment. At those moments, I am moved to feel at dis-ease. It happens to me all day long, and the way to cope with that dis-ease, is to ask questions and that is what feeds my personal and professional life. This story is about the symptoms of my disease, and the ideas that result from it.  

The first idea is about what I think is the missing link in (effectively) tackling sustainability issues, then I move on what in our daily lives is one of the major overlooked elements on the road to realize a sustainable future, and I’ll finish by why you, sitting right in front me, can make a difference without any effort whatsoever.

My first observation concerns the whole production and consumption system, where sustainability thinking mainly focuses on optimizing either the pre- or the post-consumption phase. Pre-consumption includes energy efficiency, fair trade and logistics, whereas post-consumption deals with materials, waste and emissions.

But our daily routine of using the products and services we buy, is hardly addressed in present sustainability thinking. It seems as if this consumption phase is a foggy, grey box that we don’t want to look into.

And that is an example of what made me feel at dis-ease, because a substantial part of “unsustainabilities” are hidden in these daily routines. In our standards of normality. The power of standards is that you never question them. Apparently, it’s next to normal to shower for ten minutes, to throw away your boiling water, to only eat perfectly shaped veggies, to turn your home into a tropical paradise in the middle of winter. To me, these standards of normality are an unquestioned opportunity to contribute to a sustainable future.. “

For more, it’s best to just sit back, and watch the talk. I’m really curious what you think of it, so feel free to comment or contribute to the ideas.

4 thoughts on “My First TEDx!

  1. Interesting talk. Especially after watching Food Inc. and the recent backlash against ‘plofkip’ in the Netherlands the way we consume and think about our food merits some rethinking. I am curious about your thoughts on how you see the food industry developing. It is my impression that the food consumed by the majority is dictated by large producers (e.g. Unilever) and distributors (e.g. Albert Heijn). Do you foresee a trend towards these large players adapting to a social trend demanding more sustainability or is this trend not (yet) powerful enough to fundamentally alter business as usual? The example you provide in your talk concerning altered patterns of consumption in Melbourne seems to have been mainly caused by an exogenous shock (droughts) and not so much from within the system. Do you think it will take a shock from outside the system (droughts, rising food prices etc.) to really alter the conventional thinking and consumption of food or are people really capable of changing their consumption patterns from within without such an incentive? Thank you for the inspiring talk and I look forward to reading more interesting pieces on the new living antenna.

    • Hi Tom, thanks for sharing your thoughts on the subject! To answer your questions; I did not mean to explain the Melbourne food culture as a result of droughts or other in particular exogenous factors, but rather as a result of a country where fruits and veggies, indeed, grow in most people’s backyards. Secondly, I do think large players are gradually improving their practices, but we’ll need the inspiring frontrunners who are willing to approach the food system from an unconventional angle, set up alternative food networks, consume in a collaborative manner and run food businesses that breathe sustainability in its broadest sense. Referring to my talk, large companies are more about information, rather than inspiration. And I believe inspiration is what people need to intrinsically alter their ‘unsustainable’ food habits, because that’s the only way it’ll last.

  2. So it’s about collaborative consumption and sustainability – but there’s more to it than just helping the environment. At Friends with Things you’re also welcome to share your time, skills and expertise with the community – you can even share your local knowledge or connect with local people who share common interests.

  3. During January I met several times with the city grant writers, city landscape architect, and reps from Master Gardeners, RSVP, CAA, Community of Hope, and WesstCorp, about forming a city-wide or southern NM coalition on hunger/food security. We wanted to apply for one of the USDA Community Food grants, but did not have enough time to get organized for the March 30 deadline. We want to resume our talks this summer, and see if we can put something together for next year. The goal would be to increase local production for local consumption, improved local nutrition, job opportunities, economic development and open space preservation. I think we can put together a winning proposal with a broad base of support. OASIS has the production information and experience now to assist in several projects, but we need some kind of coordinating organization. I also think we need a community greenhouse to start transplants and maybe storage for community garden equipment (rototillers), tools, and materials.

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