A Century of Progress, Chicago, 1933. The motto of the Fair: “Science Finds, Industry Builds, Man Conforms.”
My brother Doug commented to me today that the fact that sustainability is becoming a marketing strategy and a ‘brand name’ has him worried. Here’s what I say: more than worry. What is required is a shift in how we think – a different intellectual strategy for creating our places. But since we have all been taught, for many years, that technology will save us, this shift will be very difficult to accomplish.
The six World Fairs of the 1930s had as their central and unifying theme the notion that technology would save us from the depression. The roots of this line of thinking are much older and deeper, but the Fairs, which were experienced by a huge percentage of Americans, were a central mechanism in popularizing this idea.
One would think, after reflecting for a moment on the history of the 20th century, that we would be able to see the huge flaws in this line of thought. But the ease of our lives, and our huge national wealth, make it very difficult to look beyond this unfortunate belief.
Which is one reason that I believe we are in for some very dark times, as it dawns on us that we in fact really do have to change the way we live. Amy is reading a great book at the moment, Michael Pollan’s “Omnivore’s Dilemma.” Every few minutes she runs in with a new statistic. My favorite this afternoon: 20% of all petroleum use in the U.S. goes to transporting and producing our food. This is just madness. 80% of all the food in Iowa is imported. Iowa! We are really, really in for it.