Saturday, June 13, 2009

"Food Inc." is good for you

I just saw "Food Inc." the powerful and polished new doc from Participant Films. I think it's Participant's best film to date. What impressed me most was the tone that they set and kept throughout the film in what could have been overly preachy or too emotional or frankly, too gross for people to receive this urgent information.
The film showcases the experience of writers --including Michael Pollan ('The Omnivore's Dilemma') and Eric Schlosser ('Fast Food Nation), activists-- a mom who lost her son to E Coli from tainted beef, and farmers --the most insightful being the philosophizing organic farmer Joel Salatin, all sharing their experiences and musings on the power and corruption of Big Agriculture. Their stories create an provocative, disturbing portrait of the industrialization of what we eat. The segment on Monsanto is especially frightening even when I knew much of the story from Deborah Koons Garcia's "The Future of Food".

Food Inc. is essential viewing as it clearly outs the multinationals who have taken over the production of food. It's ultimately uplifting highlighting visionaries like Stonyfield Farm's Gary Hirshberg who reminds us of our power to vote everyday at the grocery store and restaurant by buying local, organic food. What happened to Big Tobacco must now happen to Food Inc.
Check out the film's action oriented web site here.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

LA Fashion Week Marches into new terrain

LA Fashion Week took a big step forward this month now that the beast known as IMG/Smashbox is no longer. Several factions (myself included) have been working for years to bring LA Fashion Week downtown to the heart of LA and where the fashion industry resides. Our own major media outlets have been mildly supportive at best and even still, this was the most interesting Fashion Week in years.

LAFW included Downtown LA Fashion Week, CoLA (closing Fashion Week with the always interesting Brian Lichtenberg) and BOX8 (hosting Gen Art to Kick the Week off), all hosting large scale events with non-conflicting dates. That's a milestone, especially when you consider that these were all independent productions without a mega-corporate sponsor footing the bill for any of the aforementioned. It's unfortunately typical for that fact to blow right by the often cynical major press outlets.

The "Downtown LA Fashion Week" event was the comeback location for Louis Verdad's wonderful collection and the place for Cameron Silver to showcase his storied and stunning collection of vintage couture. Silver's 'Decades' collection is the elite of what LA Glamour is all about and what eco-fashion has to offer when you consider that the gowns showcased were at least 20 years old (and included looks from the 30's and 50's!), immaculately constructed and obviously built to last. DLAFW targeted LA's high art and fashion culture and aimed to continue to broaden the appeal and insights that eco-fashion has to offer via EcoNouveau.

Verdad's artful "Fashion Presentation" was gorgeous and showed brilliantly in the MOCA upstairs space. August Bradley's large scale photography complemented the all black collection perfectly. This was the first-ever presentation of large-format prints from Bradley, including some never before seen prints. A video installation by the acclaimed “Fashion Cinema” film director Robertino Fonseca revealed the broader story and inspiration behind Louis Verdad’s work.

DLAFW's choice of The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA as a centerpiece venue of LA Fashion Week symbolizes LA as the art mecca that it has become (let's own it, people!) and how connected it is to the fashion community. The DLAFW event was also a fundraiser for MOCA, which strengthened our community ties downtown, helping a major institution that almost went under last year.

LA Fashion Week is most definitely interesting again for the majority of Angeleno's. Expect October 09 to be even more expansive and compelling.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Blue is the new Green

At the leading edge of the sustainability movement in business is the concept of 'transformational innovation' that reformulates the heavy burden of environmental accountability into a "blue ocean of opportunity". The idea is to make sustainability "irresistible" to people. There's a great article on this method of thinking by Tamara Giltsoff here.

I'm a big fan because it's about whole systems thinking rather than just offsetting your carbon footprint or trying to generate your companies power with solar energy. These ideas are great, but we have a golden opportunity to look at and reshape the way we operate business across the board --and it doesn't have to suck!

Case in point is the brilliant work that IBM is doing with their “Smarter Planet” campaign. IBM has identified its need to focus on global systems and infrastructure innovation to support sustainable transformation because they have connected it with their core brand identity of being "the leading infrastructure and systems innovator." They realize that they can take on some of the biggest problems in the world because they have a core competency of knowledge, deep research and experience spanning multiple industries.

This is a great example of utilizing and understanding a companies "brand essence" and thus more readily adapting to global market shifts (and why it's so important to be crystal clear on your brand competency and stay with it) to be poised to innovate in turbulent times.

Now is the time to strategically shape and define your role in a sustainable world and align it with the core of your brand. There is enormous potential for smart innovators in this brave new "blue" world.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Reef Madness

Do yourself a favor and go see the "Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef" exhibit curated by Margaret and Christine Wertheim at Track 16 Gallery in Santa Monica. It's one of those rare exhibits that is powerful, accessible, fun and at the same time relevant social commentary. The exhibit curated by the sisters was conceived to heighten awareness of the environmental crisis threatening the Great Barrier Reef, located off the coast of northeastern Australia. The world’s biggest structure made by living organisms, the Great Barrier Reef covers an area of 133,000 square miles and can be seen from outer space. Climate change is taking a severe toll on the reef, and is affecting available habitat of much of the sea life there.

The surprising inspiration for the concept is the Hyperbolic forms that appear throughout the natural world — in kelp, anemones and coral reefs, for example. Though mathematicians had long believed this space impossible, nature has been working with hyperbolic space for hundreds of millions of years. In 1997, Dr. Daina Taimina (a Cornell professor) realized how to make models of this geometry using crochet, a discovery that blew the minds of the mathematical world.

The Wertheims consider the Crochet Reef produced by the efforts of hundreds of contributors to be mostly complete and have shifted their attention to the "Toxic Reef". Initiated in response to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a mass of plastic debris located in the north Pacific that’s twice the size of Texas and 30 meters deep, the Toxic Reef is made of yarn and plastic trash.

According to the sisters "The Woolen Reef is done because we simply can’t handle anymore, but the Plastic Reef is still growing. We’ve been working on it for two years and it probably needs another year of development. Far fewer people have been interested in working with plastics, but there’s certainly an abundance of raw material. We’re using plastic shopping bags, cassette tape and a monumental amount of videotape. I’ve been making out of videotapes giant kelps that are amazing. Many people hate the plastic reef. It’s much less popular than the Woolen Reef."

Crochet Reef is on view at Track 16 Gallery from January 10 through February 21. On Saturday, January 17, 2-4 p.m., the Wertheims host a workshop on crocheting plastic bags, followed by a lecture, 4-6 p.m., on the Great Pacific Garbage Patch by Captain Charles Moore. Reception at 6-9 p.m. Track 16, Bergamot Station C-1, 2525 Michigan Ave., Santa Monica, (310) 264-4678.