Environment Forum

from PopTech:

Making it right in New Orleans

PopTech speaker Tom Darden is the executive director of the Make It Right Foundation, the organization started by Brad Pitt to rebuild affordable, green homes in New Orleans' lower ninth ward. Make It Right has already built 50 homes and are in the midst of construction for another 30. Their initial goal is to build a total of 150.

So far, Darden has helped raise $36 million for the foundation. In 2009, Darden was named Louisiana's Young Entrepreneur of the Year by the Small Business Administration. After being in New Orleans for four years now and having worked with the foundation since 2007, Darden explains why his work is so essential and how these types of homes can transform a family's quality of life:

More from Tom Darden:

Make It Right partnered with award-winning architects who worked pro bono to design homes based around the needs of lower ninth ward residents. Design features such as covered porches and wide front stairs allow residents to maintain social connections to their neighborhood, preserving the "culture of engagement" that characterized the neighborhood prior to Hurricane Katrina.

Other design features such as large windows maximize daylight, and high ceilings facilitate passive heating, cooling, and ventilation. While the aesthetic is contemporary, many of the designs are inspired traditional New Orleans design, and reflect the unique spirit of the community.

from PopTech:

Does our economy make us happy?


By Lisa Gansky

The opinions expressed are her own.

Does our economy make us happy?

The crash-and-burn of the financial system, a prolonged recession, and high unemployment obviously cause us enormous distress. We are forced to ask ourselves, “What can we afford now?”

The collapse has also made many of us rethink what we care about. We're finally asking, “Are all these things we’ve been buying (and probably still making payments on) truly making us happy?”

I started asking myself related questions long ago. Where do we look to derive value? What’s the source? As I talked with people, did research, and listened more intrusively to my own internal voice, I realized that in the process of choosing and buying we are actually being engulfed (essentially consumed), by the stuff in our lives.

from Adam Pasick:

Nike, the albatross, and sustainable design

photo by Kris Krüg

A dead baby albatross is a tough act to follow.

Nike's Lorrie Vogel took the stage at Poptech this week to talk about the company's sustainable product design efforts.

Immediately preceding her was an devastating presentation from photographer Chris Jordan, who shared a series of photographs from Midway Atoll of baby albatrosses who had died from ingesting plastic from the massive Pacific Garbage Patch.

Conference organizer Andrew Zolli, visibly moved, asked for a moment of silence and then Vogel took the stage to talk about her efforts as general manager of Nike's Considered team.

from Adam Pasick:

Victims of the Pacific Trash Gyre

Chris Jordan, Midway, Message from the Gyre  Midway by Chris Jordan

Have you ever seen 500 people stunned into a complete and devastated silence?

Photographer Chris Jordan shared a sobering tale of his journey to Midway Atoll with the Poptech conference on Thursday, where he captured horrifying images of baby birds killed by plastic from the Pacific Trash Gyre. The crowd, which had been listening to a day of Big Ideas, was dumbstruck.

If you've never heard of the Gyre -- also known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and the Pacific Trash Vortex -- odds are you will hear a lot more soon. It is an oceanic trash pile in the north Pacific Ocean that is twice the size of Texas, trapped in a remote, circular current. (Check out this explainer from Good)