Monday, 30 June 2008

Cool eco-streetart or smart soap commercials?

What's all those 15 year old kids running around with buckets and spouses by night? It's the new graffiti hype, stupid.

Having a respectful amount of creative streetwaste on my account, I've always been a bit worried about the environmental effects of graffiti. The anti-graffiti propaganda claims tons of cleaning costs for graffiti, and maybe the're even a bit right. Time to get some more environmentalist ideas into the urban art movement and rethink our creative re-shaping of cities.

An excellent environmental form of streetart is drawing clean in dirt. You take a dirty urban canvas, and get your stencil down on the dirt. Reversed streetart is a project by UK streetartist "Moose" alias Paul Curtis.

Cool idea, just a shame that the best new streetart ideas nowadays too often merge with advertising agencies. In this matter, ecosoap brand Green Works. And Moose is not only a streetartist, but in the same function running his "innovative advertising agency" Symbollix, with clients like Microsoft and Channel4.

A great concept for greenwashing your company, literally.

Via: Karmakonsum. In his blogpost, Christoph admits he's been one of those graffiti kids too.
Any more in the sustainable bloggosphere with a graffiti or streetart background? Might there be a strong correlation? Leads awareness for urban environments to environmental thinking and living? Or are our blogs just another form of leaving our traces...?

Friday, 27 June 2008

Berlin Citizens Discover Direct Democracy

Mediaspree Versenken from Pappsatt

A group of activists against privatisation and gentrification gathered the highest amount of signatures so far for a public voting in Berlin for their call to have the Berlin river Spree for everyone. While the local government is selling out the whole river area in the district Kreuzberg-Friedrichshain in favor of a "Media Spree" filled with glass house offices and hypermarkets, the public has the change to vote against the sell out of their living area.

All political parties, including the greens and the socialists, oppose the initiatives wishes for a publicly accessible riverbank and ignore the call for protection of the very lively scene culture around the riverside.

Relatively new forms of public voting allow Berlin citizens to bring up topics for a public voting, and different initiatives to bring up a public issue saw the light. We have had a public voting over brilliant issues, such as the rename of a street to give it the name of the '68 student leader Rudi Dutchske (result: pro Dutschke), a voting over the closing of the famous Berlin airport Tempelhof (result: pro closing).

In the case of the Mediaspree voting, it can become a case example of new forms of public involvement and grassroots organization against a too commercial sell out of public space. A relatively small group of activists get's the chance to oppose such a hundreds of millions megaproject. And rule over their politicians. Let's see what the people will vote.

Day of vote: 13 July 2008
More info: and Mediaspree eV

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Carrotmobs: Flashmobs of Consumer Power

Carrotmob Makes It Rain from carrotmob on Vimeo.

If shops and corporations do not react fast enough on our demand for ethical products and environmental responsibility, we will organize our consumer power to demand it. Well, that's what is really happening, and when we realize what difference that can make, the effect gets much stronger and we can really change things for the better.

Carrotmobs are actions we are going to hear more of. They organize consumers on a certain time and place to buy in a certain way for a special cause, may it be demanding more fair trade products or an energy or waste reduction. In The Netherlands the group Stoerevrouwen, a hip collective of women, is organizing 'shopmobs' to demand fair trade and organic products in the shops. Their shopping army suggests our cause of ethical consume is not less than a warzone.

Actually a few people are enough to get a large mob going. Since my personal experiences with political flashmobs in 'last dictatorship of Europe' Belarus I am convinced of the strong tactical power of flashmobs and other forms of smartmobs where new technologies, grassroots organizing and hipster coolness go side by side. Let's use these tactics to change the products in our stores. Or for whatever good cause. Smartmobs are going to be back, back, back.

Carrotmobs via: Goodtruebeautiful
Image: Stoerevrouwen in action

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Clothingbrand Tchibo Print their own Anticommercials

"This T-shirt is sewn by a child for Tchibo" stands on the shirt. Clothing company Tchibo offers a new print-on-demand service, where you can send in your own texts to be printed.

Dr. Kirstin Brodde, German textile expert and editor for the Greenpeace Magazine, sent in some critical texts about the company and they were delivered to her as she ordered them.

On her blog she describes her communication with the companies involved. It's a fun story (also read part 2 and part 3) for those reading German...

Monday, 9 June 2008

ÖkoRausch & Sommerkiosk: Events for Eco-Design

While we at Grass Routes are still clearing the details for the next Fair Fashion in Berlin, the Bureau Gruen in Cologne comes with a concurring event in September: the ÖkoRausch, a "Fair for design with consicousness". The event wants to present the pioneering design labels in green design in Germany. Sounds like a promising event for those in Germany interested in design and sustainability, and it is open for consumers.

For those sustainability freaks who can't wait till September, next weekend you can visit the Sommerkiosk in Nuremberg, an eco-design event with fashion show and a "Textil Fair Fürung" with Bernd Hausmann from the eco fashion concept store Glore. Next to a groovy program an exhibition with some interesting young and local designers. Not all 100% eco, but a lot of local, handmade, one-of-a-kinds, recycling, etc.

I am truly happy that so much events are taking up the issue, and hope it will boost the media coverage and consumer popularity of the sustainability issue even more...

Image: bags made from recycled materials by Vollstoff at the Sommerkiosk exhibition.

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Reviewing Karmakonsum Greencamp

This weekend I visited the Karmakonsum LOHAS Conference and Greencamp. Most of this kinds of events mix in some green washing elements within the program, and I was excited to hear rather critical or in-depth approaches on these items from the stage (see my report on the Karmakonsum blog).

With this balanced program Organizers Christoph Harrach and Noel Klein-Reesink showed that they have a good sensibility for the case. The atmosphere was neat and informal, the audience was a good clash of green business professionals, marketeers and activists.

Compared with the conference, the green camp started totally different. Christoph and Noel pointed on the freedom and open space idea of the camp, and created some creative chaos on stage. 'Anyone still wants to give a workshop?'. Christoph did not only ask the audience what Karma means, he started the day with a meditation with the whole audience. Reactions in the public showed that some people got here for Karma, while others were far more interested in the topic of Konsum.

The Greencamp program was very diverse, from a workshop on LOHAS lifestyle by Ivy main editor Michalis Pantelouris, a workshop on online communities by Daniel Pichert from Fairdo, a workshop on the social fashion label Armedangels by Anton Jurina
till a workshop on meida and sustainability by Christian Neugebauer. A large, respectful program, created by the visitors.

For a Conference 2.0, the workshops I visited were still unnecessary topdown, while the public existed of professionals in the field. This reflects the double position of 2.0 methods, on the one hand it gives power to the people through blogs and communities, on the other hand web 2.0 functions are used strategically to create influence on a community.

The real value of the conference and camp lies in it's power to get people together and create a strong network of people working with the topic of strategic and ethical consume. In other words: good karma. Meeting still people on the station, I felt that the conference had a strong, positive flow. Energy I am still running on, a lot of new ideas for projects and cooperations.

Picture: workshop with Armed Angels