28 November 2007


Tuesday evening there was a talk by someone called Marc, who had previously quit his job as a banker, because he wanted to work for something he believed in more, but he couldn't find anything. He wanted to make the world a better place, but didn't quite know how to do it. Until one day, he met a famous architect who had designed an environmentally friendly building and made money with it and suddenly Marc realised that environmentally friendly and economically viable need not be in contradiction. Thus Marc decided to found a web portal under the name of "rebearth" which he wanted to be a portal ("a hub") to "grow a world where 6.6 billion people would want to live in".

I think his main point is: most environmental and social reform organisations try to tell people how they should live and thereby they only upset the non-believers. The better way to improve the world is provide people with an alternative that I actually prefer and would choose voluntarily. Unfortunately he didn't have any good examples for this (except for that architect's building), so that he was basically preaching vaporware. (Although the basic idea is good, of course.)

I didn't like his talk too much, because it was very pushy. He tried to engage the audience and be interactive, but imho he couldn't quite hide the fact that he is a marketing guy. Marc is influenced by talks of people that had engaged and inspired him, but he himself did not give on that engagement and inspiration. I think that virtually all people who come to such a talk are already pretty convinced to want to improve the world and are just waiting for something concrete and tangible to start working on. (Incidentally this is an experience, which he himself once had: searching the internet for good voluntary work and simply being overwhelmed by information.)

Finally he presented an example of a project launched through rebearth which. It's the design and construction of a house "where you would want to live in" environmentally friendly, cheap and comfortable. This kind of reminded me of the "open-source car": initial idea of that project was to engineer a complete plan for a car which then could be built cheaply and royalty-free (i.e. not patent fees and license fees) in a poor country, possibly using parts of old factories imported from developed countries. But it's also about having fun and using open-source and the internet for something real. Check the site to find out for yourself...

Good luck to everyone who wants to make the world a better place.
And patience to all those who think that people "should" change...


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