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EnvironMANtal Movement 

Wednesday, May 18 2011
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Take the Toyota Prius: It’s obviously driven by pansies with too much money and not enough sense to know that any car worth its steel and glass should go fast. Or how about those people in Berkeley who make biodiesel — biodiesel! — out of used cooking oil? Smelly hippies, all of them, powering their school buses to take trips to Mexico to smoke dope, plant trees, and play acoustic guitar. But hold on a minute. Look over there. That’s one badass dirt bike, and it’s about to jump over a monster truck. Wow. That’s awesome. Huh? What’s that you say? The bike is all electric? And the truck is powered by biodiesel? Holy Toledo. Maybe these things aren’t strictly for sissies. This is exactly the point Saul Griffith and Chris Lindland make tonight at Eco Knievel, which is “a brainstorming session about how to inject machismo into a green movement plagued by the perception of being effeminate and hippie,” organizers say. Why does this matter? Because image is important. If the movement is itself to be sustainable, it will have to win over large parts of the population — including manly men of the heartland who worship at the altar of the F-250 and Dodge Ram. Griffith is the cofounder of design and engineering efforts including Squid Labs and Makani Power. Lindland is an author and the founder of Betabrand.com, a San Francisco clothing company that works with local manufacturers to continually invent new items. These two use their expertise in innovation and marketing to show how to shift the image of environmental stewardship from “save the baby polar bears” to something “the average guy” (whoever that is) can embrace. And that electric dirt bike jumping the biodiesel truck? It’s happening, thanks to these guys, at Maker Faire in a few days.
Thu., May 19, 6:30 p.m., 2011

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Keith Bowers

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