Cultural Bridges

jobs for the new economy“If you think about how economic development has followed the increasing effectiveness of human capital, you’ll see that, the first jobs were in manufacturing, and then we moved up the productivity chain to service jobs, the ultimate being innovation and Silicon Valley, but I think there’s a new job in town, and that’s cultural bridges. These are highly mobile jobs that are not dependent on a particular location or building. These can be grown really quickly, with small to medium enterprises, not just by a few large corporations with large infrastructure. And these, unlike manufacturing, or service jobs, they’re not consuming  natural resources. They’re building human ones.

“Cultural bridges: A new class of service jobs, that increases cultural literacy, can increase human capital, and can grow our economy. “

Peggy Liu – Chairperson, JUCCCE (Joint US China Collaboration on Clean Energy

 

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Why big data firms are missing out on a potential market: urban sustainability

ImageThe City of San Francisco has mapped all the trees as part of an effort to map and illustrate the health, water, air quality, and economic benefits of trees. One such site showing these benefits is UrbanForestMap (http://urbanforestmap.org/)

Here’s a video explaining what they do:

One thing it should work on is the communications, public relations, and social media, because as an organization which prides itself as a medium for citizen participation. 

  • The Facebook page only has about 900 followers, its Twitter page has about 730 followers, and its Google Plus has only 15 followers, while the City of San Francisco has 825,863 people. In addition, as of today, the last time the FB page was updated was in April 2012.
  • Getting me to go outside to figure out what tree is growing outside, mapping the tree on the website, while a simple easy task, is not a priority for some people, and you need to sell its importance to people in a way people can understand, relate to, and empathize with. 
  • Communicating to the right audience means that you know how to target the people with the right skill-set to improve urban sustainability. For example, big data firms and tech-savy entrepreneurs have barely scratched the surface in terms of tackling urban sustainability. This is a potential market that they are missing out on.

Currently, cities pay consultants to write reports which guide economic and community development (in other words, how cities will look like in 20 or 30 years):

TOD

Planning consultants write in large 90 page reports about how a city and particular area will be, how many people will be living near BART, how many people will be working in an area, or where to put parks or plan for open spaces where people will hang out.

First, a majority of people (urban planners even admit this) don’t read these reports.

I argue that big data can empower a generation of people, because by data, you have a medium and are able to tell a story and communicate to a larger audience. Reaching out to this scale means you can influence and create new experiences, inspire others, and change the way we see the world. Big data can be as much as an art.

With big data, as well as a improved communications and public relations strategy, we can empower consumers, and inspire them to take action that improves the quality of life not only for themselves but for the planet.  Imagine impacting 820,000 people in San Francisco.

As one commenter to this video states:

 While many countries publish some of their data to public, it is mostly in document, web page, reports format which is also not linked to other set of information coming even from their own source next time.

What is needed that this is provided as raw data having linkages to other known data sets at least in ministry/ department with a provision of adding new linkages by other departments/ ministeries/ public at large.

This has power to trigger new questions connecting different fields of studies and allowing us to see how new solutions can be built with combined knowledge of many.

Dr. APJ Kalam (Ex-President of India) has proposed to buld a World Knowledge Platform to leverage combined knowledge of all nations to solve world most challenging problems.

 

Can big data guide city planning?

datasfThe City of San Francisco has released a open data platform where techno-savy  users and firms can use the data to create stunning products and visualizations that help inform the city about how to improve urban issues in the city.

I believe the key is that th(at) cit(ies) should aggressively market to big data firms, as they have the expertise to use technology to better understand how cities work, and guiding better city planning that improves the quality of life of citizens and the planet.

At the same time, big data firms (and big data like projects such as the Urban Tree Map) can communicate with their audience about how to improve the quality of life of the planet, because a better planet means a better quality of life for individuals in the world in the long run. 

 

Building a New China Dream

April 29, 2013 — Today China has over 300 million middle class consumers – but that number is expected to grow to more than 800 million by 2025. These changes will put unprecedented pressure on our Earth’s limited natural resources. In this thought-provoking presentation, Peggy Liu, co-founder of the Shanghai-based nonprofit organization JUCCCE and a Time magazine Hero for the Environment, explores efforts she’s leading to re-imagine prosperity and reshape consumerism in China by building a new “China Dream” that preserves resources such as energy, food, land and water for future generations. She also discusses how myth-creation, mass media and collaboration will be keys to transforming lifestyles in China, and around the world.

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Peggy Liu is one of my biggest role models in the world, and is doing so much in the environment, in sustainability, in trying to create a vision for the China Dream.

The key thing she uses is that language, how we communicate, tell the story about sustainability is sooo important. You can’t expect to change sustainability own your own: you need to leverage the skillsets, the personalities, and motivations of every person in order to change the way we live our lives.

I’ll edit this post to write a review of some key points she said later in this week.

Hong Kong Street Market Symphony

Like to take a break from my Taiwan blog posts to show a bit of my Cantonese side.

By the way, I really wish I could visit Hong Kong for a week on vacation. I went to HK in 2006 to take the airport to head back to California, as most of my relatives in China live in Guangzhou.

Attention, everyone: prepare yourself for a close encounter as your iconic street market lamps have landed at Olympian City, turning the shopping mall into a land of red lamps.

Brought to you by Olympian City, Sino Art and local designer brand G.O.D., “The Street Market Symphony” presents the familiar local street market in a fresh perspective, celebrating the street market culture being a valuable part of our cultural heritage.

The art exhibition plays with our normal perception and tickles with our senses, using multimedia installations housed in large red lamps to challenge us to revisit a familiar setting in the most unique experience. We will see you under the red lamps this autumn—Bring Your Own Bag optional.

As I do a bit more illustration and drawing like work in my free time, I’m beginning to raise the possibility of trying to add illustration/art as a possible career path.

What I really love about this video is that it attempts to create cultural bridges (see Peggy Liu’s TEDx Talk); to be honest, I’m not somebody who has that much ambition in life, as much as I used to; however, just the thought of creating connections between different people using art, food, and cultural events is really exciting to me!

I love food, night market, street market lifestyle! It’s a great way to understand the local lifestyle, just hang out and chill, get to know people in a low-stress environment. In some ways, I really can see myself building cultural bridges through art; the question becomes: how?

It’s time to change the way we talk about sustainability

Sustainability is dead. Or at least the entire language we use to talk about it should be buried.

Sustainability messaging must shift hard from a focus on abstract responsibility to one that helps people make subconscious choices that make them feel good about themselves. We need to speak to the heart, not to the head. From Peggy Liu, JUCCCE (Joint US-China Collaboration on Clean Energy) (link)

So, I have a question for you guys:

How can you talk about saving the planet in a way that relates to the people you are talking to?

For example: getting people out of cars, walking/biking to work, living close to transit in order to reduce greenhouse gases, is not only too abstract, but it creates a very negative vision, a sense of fear, a very unrealistic vision (at least in the US) that may not work and seem idealistic.

What about…

Creating a lifestyle that allows parents more time to spend with kids, save money for the experiences that matter such as vacations, exercising/playing in the park, hanging out and watching a movie nearby.

Sustainability needs to connect with the emotions, people’s actual needs, not abstract concepts that come from our professions simply that is based on us telling what people should do.

As a city planner, I think we could learn something from the field of marketing/advertising; unfortunately, we’re so far off from people’s lives, focusing on really abstract concepts such as “urban design”, “transit-oriented development”, “form-based codes”, “getting people onto transit”, without really painting a picture of what sort of lifestyles that people can aspire to that is healthy to the planet and ourselves in the long run. 

The question is, what does a sustainable lifestyle really look like?

From the article:

Suzanne Shelton, an American pollster and behavior change specialist, talks about how humor may be more effective than education at breaking habits. She says, “Knowing a thing doesn’t mean you will do a thing.” Perhaps the biting wit of TV comedians Bill Maher and Stephen Colbert could be used to make fun of shameful unsustainable behavior.

[….]

In pointing out what makes a successful movie, Phillip Muhl, a major movie executive formerly of Disney, says that no one wants to watch a movie where the world is going to end and we’re all going to die. But we all love a good drama that shows us how screwed we can be, and yet the human race still perseveres. We go to movies for hope. How can environmentalists move from climate-weary white papers to magnetic box office–style stories?

[…]

The team behind the new Battlestar Galactica was brilliant in the way it allowed glimmers of hope in the midst of so much despair. Similarly, the human drama of everyday life on an Earth being stripped of resources must be told in a compelling way. Instead of the drama of polar bears or rising PM2.5 statistics, we must tell the story of us.

It’s time to start questioning not just what world we will leave behind, but what dreams we will shape for our children. To do that, we need to leave sustainability jargon behind and take up the language of hope.

What does a sustainable lifestyle really look like? How can we visualize it, understand it, and connect to it to start making small decisions today?

We have to be very craft-ful with our language, how we craft a story, that people can relate to and connect with. If anything, let’s start changing the way we can communicate sustainability.

Let’s start talking about lifestyles that is healthy for us as well as the earth.