Monday, November 17, 2008

Massive Change

U of A's very successful inaugural Festival of Ideas wrapped up on Sunday with a matinee performance of the opera, Orfeo. I took in the Saturday evening performance and thought it was outstanding: lovely singing by some great singers, with accompaniment from a small orchestra playing a wild assortment of period instruments (three "chitarrones" - a long-necked bass lute).
The Festival is over but there's a bit of a hangover today. Two speakers from Festival events are speaking today at other events:
  • Edward O. Wilson presents the 2008 Henry Marshall Tory lecture at 10 am at Myer Horowitz Theatre on the U of A campus: "How the hand of evolution shapes every aspect of life." Wilson is a world-famous writer, intellectual and "father of the modern environmental movement".
  • Jaime Lerner speaks twice today at a one-day colloquium, "Edmonton on the Edge: Innovative Urban Planning and Design". Lerner is the former mayor of Curitiba, Brazil, where he put in place many forward-thinking green innovations that have become the model for other cities around the world. This event is presented by the City-Region Studies Centre, which is affiliated with the U of A. The event takes place at the Delta Edmonton Centre Suite Hotel (10222-102 Street) and there is no charge for the afternoon and evening sessions. At 2:30 Lerner is part of a panel talking about "Making a great city" and at 7 pm Lerner makes a presentation entitled "Learning from the Curitiba experience: achieving urban changeā€.
I first heard about Jaime Lerner via Canadian designer Bruce Mau's book, Massive Change. Mau is famous for his iconic design work, but this book is "not about the world of design; it's about the design of the world." Basically it is a compendium of optimisitic approaches, solutions, ideas about the world and its problems, with a focus on climate change. Mau has a section devoted to Lerner and the ideas from the city of Curitiba.
Lerner and his ideas are also profiled in another cheerfully optimistic book, chock-full of writings about making positive change in the world: The Impossible Will Take a Little While: A Citizen's Guide to Hope in a Time of Fear, edited by Paul Rogat Loeb. Environmental activist Bill McKibben has a piece talking about meeting Lerner in Curitiba. McKibben wrote about Lerner in his book Toward the Liveable City, which is included in a recent 'greatest hits' collection, The Bill McKibben Reader.


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