A couple quick updates before I delve into the exciting topic of cities: First off, thank you very much to all the supporters who came out to our Eco Style Pop-Up launch last Saturday or who spread the word on social media. We had a blast and felt the beginning of something really different in entrepreneurship: women collaborating to build businesses around novel solutions to our environmental challenges. A super talented local photographer took photos–Maria Brubeck–so I am going to wait to write about the event until we are ready to share the photos with you for the full experience. Also, we have decided to extend the Pop-Up to Tuesday, April 11th so mark your calendars and check it out, if you haven’t already. Lastly, we launched a new version of the website with new branding by Daria Drake and photos by the talented Maria Brubeck, so please check it out if you have not done so already! We welcome your feedback!
And now some thoughts on cities. This past weekend, the Ted Radio Hour had an extremely inspiring program: Building Better Cities. A couple of factiods that make cities incredibly important sites for serious social and environmental change: 14 of the worlds 17 largest cities are along the coast (Population Reference Bureau) which make them much more vulnerable to sea level rises caused by climate change. Cities contribute 70% of carbon emissions, a figure expected to rise as populations of city dwellers grow (UN Habitat). More than 60% of the population in the U.S. lives in cities (US Census Bureau). In other words, when I think back to last week’s revelations in the Weekly Letter about big change coming from billions of little changes in our daily habits – the vast majority of these small changes will need to take place in cities.
So the Ted Radio Hour’s focus was all about cities as hubs for problem solving on major global challenges. The host, Guy Raz featured the work of Daniel Quercia with a crowd sourcing application to identify the most beautiful, quiet, and cleanest routes to bike or walk to work in cities, Benjamin Barber who talked about sharing and collaboration between cities on effective solutions to shared challenges, and there was Amanda Burden talking about her work on the High Line in New York and her courageous fight to protect and build novel green spaces in cities.
And for a while now I’ve imagined that the urban environment is at the heart of the green revolution: diverse people come together and meet urgent challenges and fight back with creativity. The best of the human personality of light, love, collaboration and creativity being brought to bear on our manmade challenges. The impossible becomes not only possible but beautiful and good for us, for our society and for the environment. Innovative, safe and separate pedestrian boulevards, beautiful green spaces, green architecture and design, urban art, urban greenery.
But the major thing missing in this short overview of the excitement of cities is how to bring along our rural partners. The November election reminded us that we cannot exclude or ignore each other when building prosperity. And our rural, small town and blue-collar partners are in many ways the problem solvers when we need to know how to build something. While we in the cities dream up ideas over coffee or in our start-up laboratories, they have the know how for innovations in manufacturing, building materials, farming. [Incidentally, Manufacturing Solutions Center from my post on this innovation hub for manufacturing works very hard to preserve the precious manufacturing knowledge that is so vital. They often bring people out of retirement to share know-how with younger generations and worry about losing this knowledge as the people pass away.] And we city dwellers, for the most part their major customers, are responsible for much of the demand for what they build. They will supply more environmentally responsible products, made closer to our communities when the market demands it. Whereas the innovative, transformative ideas about how to get around, what to eat, what to build, how to structure our urban environment, will come mostly from urban environments where most of the people are, our rural partners will help us problem solve on how to build it. And we can find common ground around the almighty dollar, our hope for a better future, and the beauty of transformation and innovation through hard work.
And that’s what we are doing at Reid Miller. Green apparel innovation inspired by urban environments but manufactured by our rural/small town partners. We hope to be one of many such companies embracing a shared prosperity as we build for a greener future.