It would seem I have a sleeping problem in Shanghai. My new motto is, “I’ll sleep when I leave Shanghai since every night I fall asleep at some evening event, then go home and email and deal with things in the US time zone, and then wake a few hours later to the tune of very loud birds when the sun rises. This morning I realized that is the only time I hear the birds~ at that once the day gets going and the streets are taken over my cars and traffic, I don’t here them again until our next 5am meet-up.
Susan Evan’s is actually trying to bring a bit more quiet to the streets of Shanghai with her bike program. Part of Susan Evans’ story is familiar; she became “hyper sensitive” to the environment when she had children. What is unique to Susan is that she took that awareness and shifted her career in marketing sustainability issues and developing environmental products. Upon moving to Shanghai in 2008, she founded Kplunk, an organization committed to a sustainable future by creating demand and markets for sustainable living – focused on creating desirability for sustainable behavior and a new social currency.
The Challenge: Marketing green to 1.3 billion people in China. The added bonus: Many of the urban residents have a disposable income for the first time, and can afford to waste energy and not worry about it for the first time in their lives. Susan explains, “Many people are turned off from things that are marketed as “green” and are still learning what it means.
Her motto: People, infrastructure, and products are the three pillars of sustainability.
You can read the entire post on Susan Evans and Kplunk on WhatGives and learn more about how Susan is developing a system to repopularize bike riding (actually rather fascinating given the population woes combines with the new rising middle class)
Next up: ECO CITIES. So of all the things I researched and spoke to people about, this issue was the closest to my heart. The idea of being able to create a new city from scratch: to have the land, the resources, the money, and the knowledge about to build entirely new systems is like…a dream come true! Yeah: to good to be true as it turns out. The piece I wrote for Nat Geo News Watch was all about questioning if the process of building eco cities build the bridge between fantasy and the future.
There are lots of stats and facts about over population and the effect of urban migration. If you care about the planet~ this is a pretty good primer post on some of the basic issues that are motivating China right now.
Meanwhile, if you want to catch architect James Brearly, founder and lead architect at Brearly Architects and Urbanists explaining a mock up of an eco city he designed, well with out further adieu:
That night we went out to dinner on The Bund~ the vision of huge blinking advertisements across the buildings and the brightly lit boats heading down river made me think, holy sheite, it’s like Burning Man meets Blade runner.
Those buildings you are looking at were all built in the last 10-20 years. Friends told me a funny story about how when she was growing up she was afraid to walk on The Bund at night because there were so many couples making out (everyone lived with their families at the time) and she was afraid to bump into them. In other words…it used to be dark.
Urban development is happening so quickly in Shanghai that they update the map of the city every 3 months, and a common story was shared by another friend who told me how she had left town for a few weeks, and upon returning got into an argument with her taxi driver who she was convinced had taken her to the wrong location. Apparently they had put in a high-rise across the street and she didn’t recognize her own neighborhood. Doh.