Hangout: How can Art and Design Save the Planet?

Can imagery, theatre, literature, dance, sculptures, film, architecture, comedy and other forms of art and design help solve the planet's most pressing sustainability challenges like Climate Change, Peace Conflicts, Housing, Education, Inequalities and Poverty? 

A few people met over a casual hangout at the How can Art and Design Save the Planet? event to discuss these problems and explore how Art and Design can be used as a medium for education and action. Sometimes the greatest adventure is simply a conversation.

The dialogue was enhanced by the diverse backgrounds present in the room - architect, graphic designer, stand up comic, entrepreneur, investor, student, activist, etc. and the group came up with a few short-term and long-term ideas which can be implemented in the city.

Ravtej Singh and his younger sister, both school students, drew attention to how it is their generation that has been on the receiving end of the damage done by the previous generation(s) as well as how their generation has the capacity to make an impact. Education needs a better design. Textbooks take years to update, homework is rote- or fact-based, innovation levels are low and students lose the ability to appreciate art and/or ask questions as they grow up. The group discussed how the Design of action-oriented Education can turn the tables. 

Inder Sandhu, an animal activist and environmentalist, uses stand-up comedy as one of the means to spread his message. He painted a picture of how the animal industry uses animals as products because we, as consumers, like our milk, ice creams, sweets and cheese too much. It is being fed into our minds through false capitalist advertising. He also highlighted our irresponsible behaviour towards our surroundings, and how a lot of people don’t even feel the need to put their waste into the dustbins. Cleanliness Drives can be (re)designed to push the message across - when children, senior people citizens and foreigners pick up our waste, it really hits our pride.

Amol Langer, an architect and a visiting faculty at an architecture college, suggested integrating sustainability projects with the curriculum. Space and resources on Earth is limited and the population is growing at an alarming rate. In 1812, the world population was 1 billion, in 1912, it was 1.5 billion, and in 2012, it rose to a staggering 7 billion! Architecture can produce a lot of answers. Giving students practical problems would help in bringing out hands-on learning and viable innovative solutions.

Kunal Nandwani, entrepreneur and founder of Earthr.org, presented inequality as a challenge. The rich are getting richer and it’s getting tougher everyday for the middle and lower class families. The economic, political, social and moral gap is widening every moment. Prerna Kalra is an HR leader and has a first-hand experience dealing with inclusivity, inequality and conscious and unconscious biases in corporate and academic organisations. She suggested we should help these organisations create policies and frameworks, under which teams are regularly educated about problems around us. Design activities and sessions which are effective but not intrusive, and design an environment which is receptive to sustainability-related dialogues.

Earthr.org brings Problems, Solutions, People and Investors together. This hangout was an example initiative. We want to build a forum that comes up with not just ideas but also actionable ideas. Without action, we’re just another discussion forum where people bash the system, come up with a few ideas and then go to sleep. It shouldn’t end there. But we, as an organisation, cannot do this alone. It is the community - people like you - who will have to take the fight for the planet ahead. 

Interested to be a part of these events? Have ideas? Drop us a line at hello@earthr.org.