“We can recognize random logos of corporations but cannot identify a tree in our front yard.” I was inspired by this from the documentary “11th Hour” by Leonardo DiCaprio. It reinforces the idea that nature is not relevant to our daily lives. If it is not a part of our culture and daily interactions, then how do we expect to understand the magnitude of what we have done to the planet. In “Blessed Unrest” Paul Hawken describes how much we miss if we are not looking for it. Right now we are looking for corporate logos because we feel they have more relevance in our lives than the tree you stare at everyday outside your window. It makes sense because we have been trained to think and look at things this way. The abstract symbolism of a corporation we buy products from becomes ingrained in how we look at ourselves. Thanks to designers and brand strategists like myself, the force of brands connecting to individuals is powerful. Gutterleaf
The tree outside, while it lives in our physical environment it does not actively try to interact with us. It does not send you emails or connect to you on Facebook. It does not know about the latest trends or best buys. What that tree does is far greater. It takes the carbon dioxide we produce and turns it into oxygen that we breath. It prevents the foundation of your residence from being flooded. It traps moisture in our environment to help support a water rich ecosystem. We do not see these things happening. These processes are not as eye catching as the latest Hollywood blockbuster or beer commercial. This tree does not effect our conversation we have with our friends, family or co-workers. The tree is not relevant. We need to change that. I’m not saying world peace will happen if everyone can identity 30 trees. What I am saying, is we need to take a deeper look at what we consider important in our lives. We need to change our perspective. If we as individuals knew as much about what was happening in our environment, that truly effects us, we could accomplish amazing things.
We need to create new images that represent more than one organization’s success. If Coca Cola’s brand is worth billions of dollars, what could we make the ocean’s brand be worth? What is it worth today? I think we could all survive in a world without Coca Cola (at least the majority of us), but could we survive without a healthy ocean? These issues are not only about the environment or nature. Everything is dependent upon each other.Humans are part of nature whether we like it or not. In many ways we have thought and acted as if we are separate from nature. Now is our wake up call to reassess that idea. How does poverty affect toxic levels of mercury? Overcrowded prisons affect air pollution? I’m not a scientist so I could not tell you, but I do know that all things are interconnected. The cause and affect might have dozens of steps in these examples or seem unrelated altogether, but at some point they connect. By changing how we perceive and approach these issues we can change our understanding and how we see ourselves in relation to the world. We can turn selfish consumption and our instinctual need for production towards bigger tasks that ultimately save the human race. Humans possess a great gifts in innovation and creation. We just have been using them to gain independent wealth. Fathom what it might be like to live in a world where we work in harmony with the planet. Our skills at creation and innovation could spur a better world for us and the trees.