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Doing a Worldchanging
Zaid Hassan, 19 Mar 04

It's always nice to come across unexpected allies. The Guardian, sponsored by Toyota's green Prius, has done a Worldchanging. They're producing three issues of a magazine called Spark, which "is a new magazine about the good things that are going on all over the world, and the people working to create a brighter future for us all."

The first issue is online now. While essentially an advertising section, it has a couple of interesting pieces about green spending, wearable tech, medicine and even current affairs.

"Over the next three issues you'll read about individuals who are rethinking accepted norms, from redesigning the way we build our houses to devising greener technology and more advanced ways to enjoy our free time."

The meme spreads.

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fwiw, the economist's TQ is kinda similar, like here's an article on the 'energy internet' :D


Posted by: reflexorset on 19 Mar 04

Am I the only one who read that and realized that not a word of that was written by a journalist. The whole magazine is an advertisement. Think about it, they say what you want to hear. Bang on. yadayadayada...Those damned fat cat republicans, they're ruining the world. The only example of a good business they support is the frigging fair trade coffee thing, and that's perfect because it appeals to all the jerkoffs that drive their Escalades to starbucks and buy a cup of "fair-trade" coffee and feel like they're doing a good thing. Don't you realize that this kind of counter-culture is the new hip thing, and the advertising companies are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to find out how to best infiltrate the counter-culter 'scene', trivialize the whole fucking thing by allowing the dick in the Escalade to think of himself as socially responsible because he drinks "fair-trade" coffee, and he turns out some of the lights in his house when he goes to work, and then sell us shit. They have the country's top psychologists working on this.

Seems like a waste judging by the number of comments i've read saying that the world needs more sites like these. apparently we're too dumb to realize that a counter-culture magazine really wouldn't accept a sponsorship from a fucking major automobile company. apparently we're too dumb to realize that it's kind of odd that a magazine written by respected journalists happen to mention how great one specific brand of automobiles are for the world. So now the people who don't really care about the environmental impact of their automobiles and the people who really care about the environment will both be able to buy more of that brand's automobile. What's next, the Coke sponsored anti-globalization rally?

we're fucking doomed.

Posted by: jordan on 20 Mar 04

For what it's worth, Jordan, I never thought it was anything other than "advertorial." It's prepared by the "development department," after all.

But I'm not sure that matters. It may be greenwashing. As I've said before, greenwashing one's products to high standards eventually results in your products having to meet those high standards.

Whatsmore, I guess I have to say that if our sense of progress is dependent on our being a countercultural scene, we really are fucking doomed. I for one want our highest standards and best ideas deeply and loudly coopted and adopted by the mainstream culture, and as quickly as possible. I want rich and hip people snootily displaying their bio-mimetic, zero-pollution, wholly recyclable sewage-eating-bacteria-excreted-hydrogen-burning vehicles... because that means they be in WalMart three years after that (or, if we win on injecting the open source model into all this, they'll be everywhere in three years).

I think the very idea of a revolutionary counterculture - and I grew up in communes, mind you - was more than partially the result of advertising firms to begin with. Given the choice between being cool and changing the world I'm pretty clear on what I'd choose.

All that said, yes, we absolutely need to do the follow-through to make sure that lip service doesn't end up being the only green service these companies actually provide.

Posted by: Alex on 20 Mar 04

Jordon, your right that Toyota doesnt really care they are just in this to make money. All corporations exist to make profit. It is the end user consumer who has to make the hard choices about the environment. The companies are trying to figure out what we want and provide a solution. The consumer has all the power, and all the responsibility. Thats how it should be. I find the notion that the companies are in control and are to blame somewhat lax and weak. This is a consumer society and consumers are charge of what the companies produce.

Posted by: Stephen Balbach on 20 Mar 04

I always find it interesting when we try and out-radicalise each other. You know the "Damn! Am I the only critical thinker in this capitalist pig-sucking place?" type of thing.

The counter-culture was co-opted by Madison Avenue a long time ago. Take a look at Thomas Frank's The Conquest of Cool for a history. Yes, I am aware that companies are trying to ship product through trying to appear revolutionary and cool.

However, as Alex says, if that means that they ship product and popularise product that are eco-friendly...then I'm fine with that.

I find it funny that the anti-globalisation movement is happy to take money from the Ford Foundation and not from Ford Motor Company - because one's a corporation and the other is...a non-profit? Really?

The minute you find some clean money, let me know...I'll show you a blood-trail.

Posted by: Zaid on 20 Mar 04

Great to see some debate here! Yes! Green has been subverted but believing in the benevolence of free market forces, like Alex does, is submission to the forces of survival. Let the poor, the weak, the physically and mentally handicapped die out? That's nature! And we all love nature, right? But that is not the human way! What a piece of work is Man?

Posted by: Stefan Thomas on 22 Mar 04



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