Marilyn is co-editor of and contributor to Life, Love, V. Her full time work is at Alchemus Prime where she integrates behavioral sciences, design thinking, biomimicry and meditation through a science-based model to develop solutions that address climate change and wellness issues. Marilyn works with a diverse range of professionals in nonprofits, universities, schools, companies, and interdisciplinary conferences to help them build resilient teams, manage change, communicate more effectively, and implement research, programs and projects for sustained positive impact. Learn more about Marilyn.
Stevens lays out four reasons for her bold prediction: Americans are eating less meat, supermarkets are carrying more vegan options; so are restaurants, and mainstream philanthropists like Bill Gates are funding vegan startups.
Oh, and Hampton Creek Foods is going to take over the world—and with a mission to make food healthy for everyone, everywhere—well, why not?
The trend is not just that people are opting for vegan choices. The trend is that vegan options are becoming the new mainstream.
As badass music producer and Really Fresh Vegan entrepreneur Mickey Davis put it, “”We want to reach anybody who likes food, not just people who think of it as vegan food.” Because vegans are foodies too, and set a high bar for flavor and quality (well some of us set a high bar for addressing climate change, lifestyle diseases, land degradation, water scarcity, and animal cruelty, but all that aside), the vegan trend is starting to catch on as cool, climate pun intended.
And the best part? The benefits are truly awesome. According to Davis, who spoke to Beyoncé and Jay-Z about vegan eating, “Even if you don’t do it the whole way, you can still see benefits.” Nuff said.
Office design across the world is undergoing a reframe that focuses on human needs, resulting in happier and more productive people. A CNN article summarizes the benefits and showcases examples from different parts of the globe, highlighting Google’s Super HQ in London, which was designed with human comfort and esthetic pleasure in mind. Besides comfort, Google offices are being designed with splashes of color and fun meeting spaces that inspire and encourage creativity. Spaces also keep changing at Google to avoid boredom.
Importantly, designers are finding that bringing nature into offices creates a physically and emotionally healthier environment, reducing stress and enhancing motivation. Amazon’s new office in Seattle will include glass orbs filled with plants. One company has gone even further, inserting its office into a forest: Selgas Cano placed a tube-like office with glass walls into in a forest, allowing natural light, and a view of insects, to inspire peaceful work.
Physical benefits of working with plants around us include a more humid atmosphere, which can lead to fewer respiratory illnesses. There are many other benefits, suggesting that as we reconsider our working environments, we must account for our needs for comfort, play, and our fundamental need to be close to the rest of nature.
Image credit: philcampbell via Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution.
In his TED talk, architect Teddy Cruz speaks about how innovative urban design can reduce inequality. Cruz describes socio-economic inequality as an urban crisis that is beyond economic or environmental; it is cultural. He asserts that to resolve the cultural crisis, the most creative ideas will come from areas of conflict. One such area for Cruz is the Tijuana-San Diego border. He looks at the density of Tijuana’s slums and compares them to San Diego’s sprawl to learn about sustainability.
Cruz has identified informal cross-border flows of waste materials, and resulting ideas; for example old tires from San Diego have been used by residents of Tijuana to build efficient retaining walls. Cruz characterizes this informal flow of resources and their creative use as “bottom-up urbanization that performs.”
He also points out that the way immigrants to Southern California modify cookie-cutter homes into extended structures that house extended families or business enterprises can be translated into “new, inclusive, and more equitable land use policies.”
Cruz reframes citizenship as a creative act and talks about how to visualize citizenship through stories from people who are actively shaping their urban environments. Cruz tells the story of teenagers who wanted to build a park, and due to land use law restrictions, formed an NGO to organize themselves, raise funds, and fight “to redefine the meaning of public space in the city.” The teens won their case and built their park, illustrating the value of challenging top down laws about urban structure to create more bottom-up initiatives. Cruz calls this the “new democratic politics of the urban.” This new kind of justice, for Cruz, is a movement from “urbanizations of consumption to neighborhoods of production.”
Other projects are bubbling up that are exploring urban innovation and public space, including the Mumbai Labs, and NYU Stern’s Charter Cities Initiative. As we navigate urbanization globally, it is heartening to see more and more design projects that enhance social equity.
Image credit: peasap via Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution.
Kathryn Lejeune and Janna Watkins are West Coast natives who are currently running a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for a documentary they are making. The duo is interested in water conservation and other environmental issues, including composting, recycling, biodiversity, and permaculture. Their documentary, however, is a cultural one, revealing the dark and violent history of Cambodia and how it might be healed through the arts. Life, Love, V caught up with the two ladies recently to learn more.
What led you to want to make a documentary? And, why Cambodia?
One of our goals in life is to encourage people to break out of their routines and see how small the world really is. By opening minds and hearts to other ways of doing things, we think the world will be a better place. Documentaries can be an intimate way to bring someone’s personal story into the living rooms of anyone.
Kathryn has a background in film, while Janna got her degree in Chemistry. We had known each other for a while, but had never really hung out one on one. As soon as we spent some quality time together, a spark was lit and we knew we wanted to work as a team on something big. Our friendship is about mutual respect, cheerleading each other’s goals, similar work ethics, and knowing how to have fun through it all. Kathryn had been itching to make a documentary, Janna has a passion for clean water initiatives, and both wanted to discover something new about the world. Casting the net wide, we settled on Cambodia, which has a very interesting water situation, with the capital boasting some of the best access in the world, while rural areas experience some of the worst.
However, as we got deep into our research, we learned about Cambodia’s genocide under the Khmer Rouge that left 1/3 of the population- and 90% of artists and intellectuals—dead. This floored us. Then we heard rumors of a growing art scene and knew we had to rethink our angle completely. We reached out to galleries, dance companies, and textile designers, and found our artists. Hearing their stories was enough for us to spend the past 2 years working without pay to bring YEAR 33 to the world. Continue reading →
Plant-based lifestyles are thriving increasingly around the world. What’s interesting about it is the diversity of motivations behind this surge, which points to a higher collective awareness about our relationship to food and where it comes from.
In China, for instance, people are embracing plant-based foods because they want (1) to be healthy, including maintaining a healthy weight; (2) to protect wildlife, since animal agriculture requires a lot of land that could otherwise be forested; (3) to reverse the cognitive dissonance they’ve experienced due to animals they love as pets versus those they eat; and (4) to follow the teachings of Buddhism. Young people in China who care about protecting wildlife skipped the ritual of eating fish and chicken for the Lunar New Year, indicating how their values are changing.
The interest in plant-based foods points to a higher collective awareness about our relationship to food and where it comes from.
Taiwan is showing a similar trend. Dr. Will Tuttle, on his recent lecture tour of Taiwan, learned that 93% of Taiwanese schools serve meat-free lunches one to two days a week. Much of the motivation centers around Buddhism; Buddhist organizations run vegan/vegetarian hospitals, and operate organic health food stores, promoting plant-based lifestyles. While in Taiwan, Dr. Tuttle had active discussions with politicians about the benefits of plant-based diets, and they were open to a meat tax. The Taiwanese press also plays a strong role in sensitizing the public about such issues through extensive coverage of Dr. Tuttle’s lectures and other efforts to promote plant-based diets. Continue reading →
Mayor Ed Smith of Marshall, Texas, lives a remarkable story of positive change.
When he was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2008, he began a plant-based diet under his doctor’s care, and eventually scans showed that the cancerous growth had disappeared. Clinical studies have also supported the adoption of a plant-based diet in fighting cancer.
Empowered by this experience, Smith and his wife started a movement called Get Healthy Marshall, which includes potlucks, supermarket tours focused on healthy eating, and an annual “New Year, New You Health Fest.” Through Get Healthy Marshall, one resident has reversed his diabetes and lost fifty pounds and the program’s website lists other, similar success stories. Restaurants have started adding plant-based menu items to meet the demand.
Without any regulatory intervention, Marshall is making a dent in America’s health crisis, and enjoying it too.
Smith’s story is a powerful one. It showcases the power of voluntary change for good. Without any regulatory intervention, Marshall is making a dent in America’s health crisis, and enjoying it too.
As more and more people embrace a plant-based lifestyle in Marshall, they are becoming sensitized to related issues, such as animal rights. It goes to show that change can start anywhere, and spread everywhere. The important thing is to begin. Kudos to Mayor Smith and Mayor Emanuel for backing what works: healthy plant-based food!
Image credit: rusvaplauke via Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution.
A recent article in the Huffington Post has beautifully captured what leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos are calling for: change that addresses not just the economy and science, but health and spiritual well-being as well.
What’s more, the integration needed isn’t just across disciplines, they say, but across sectors such as business, industrial, educational and others, with women in central roles.
Notably, leaders are redefining success in terms of happiness, not just money. And, profit-making is being left behind as an incomplete goal of business; global change makers are calling for a new vision of business as a vehicle for change, and a force for good, beyond profits alone.
It’s promising that multinational CEO types are making these statements. Many leaders have already put these ideas into action. For example, former McDonald’s executives now run Lyfe Kitchen, which states sustainability as one of it’s core values.
Also, Method has revolutionized cleaning products by eliminating toxins, using 100% post-consumer recycled plastic, and recently merging with Ecover to form what they call the world’s largest green cleaning company. The time is certainly ripe for what leaders in Davos are calling “seismic” change.
Image credit: Robert Scoble via Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution.
Every once in a while we come across an exceptional story. Meet Maya Shea Penn.
Her story starts off in a pretty simple way: Maya decided to do something about a common problem that often goes unnoticed, namely the fact that our clothing typically contains harsh chemicals and toxins. But, when we look at what Maya actually did, the story becomes remarkable.
At the tender age of eight, Maya started her own clothing line. An innovative entrepreneur, Maya uses fruit, vegetable and herbal tea-based dyes and organic fabrics for her products.
At thirteen now, she is the CEO of her clothing company, Maya’s Ideas, author of a children’s book on sustainable practices called Lucy and Sammy Save the Environment, and executive director of Maya’s Ideas 4 the Planet, her nonprofit.
In a personal communication with Life, Love, V, Maya mentioned that she puts the environment and animals first, and while she may on occasion reuse vintage animal-based materials such as wool, she does not use new leather or wool. Her actions speak of her depth of care for the planet: she will reuse materials, which is better than discarding them, and she will avoid exploiting animals for her products whenever possible.
Through her prolific enterprising nature, Maya eloquently demonstrates the true meaning of sustainability: offering planet-friendly products so that all of life may thrive now and in the future. She is a stellar example of the paradigm shift currently underway, from destructive, greedy, and short-sighted business, toward nurturing, chic, and sustainable enterprises. Bravo!