Alex Steffen describes his job as “attention philanthropy,â€? a term he coined and described during a visit to Nau’s offices in Portland, Oregon. Put simply, Steffen’s worldchanging.com “spendsâ€? the attention of its readers on worthy ideas and tools that he hopes readers will use to accelerate social change.
Steffen’s new book Worldchanging: A Users Guide for the 21st Century“an extension of the bright green and humanitarian blog of the same name”is 600 pages of innovative and inspired solutions to many of the world’s most pressing problems, ranging from climate change to launching a sustainable business. Author and advocate Bill McKibben, in an upcoming review in the New York Review of Books, likens it to The Whole Earth Catalog “retooledâ€? for the iPod generation.
Steffen, worldchanging.com’s executive editor, was in Portland, Oregon October 29, on the second stop of a 12-city North American book tour. Proclaiming that “bright green is the new black,â€? Steffen observes that green technology is now culturally iconic. He cites the DVD rental program Netflix which has, in Steffen’s words, “dematerialized drives to and from the store as well as the store itself.â€?
The book delves further into topics and behaviors indicative of conscious consumption. Vehicle sharing programs such as FlexCar are now economically viable and reap powerful dividends: For every car shared, six less are purchased. Soon, a visit to your local library may include power tools alongside books. Drills exists in most US households and yet typically have 6-20 minutes of usage in a lifetime. Steffen says what we want is the hole, not the drill. For him the critical question is: What do we need to own?
In a world that still conveys status through objects, Steffen sees changing responsibilities for consumers. More and more, consumers will be held increasingly accountable for knowing the “back storyâ€? of their material possessions”in others words, where their stuff comes from.
Steffen’s book is more than anything else a glimpse into what’s possible for us, and for this planet, if we make the choice. For more information visit: http://www.worldchanging.com/book/