For the next three days a group of maybe 400 futurists and forward thinkers descend upon the Walker for the three-day PUSH conference, put on by the Minneapolis-based PUSH Institute. The midwest’s answer to TED or PopTech, the conference features speakers who are looking far into the future through a discussion of “reality, its virtual variations, genetics, politics, biological miracles, ethics, emerging forms of social organization, and the questions such change raises for us all.” From SmartMobs author Howard Rheingold to Chinese new media artist Feng Menbo, violinist Todd Reynolds (Ethel, Bang on a Can, Steve Reich Ensemble) to digital culture guru Julian Dibbell, the conference highlights an exciting array of thought and artistry in a wide range of disciplines. Keynote speaker Cameron Sinclair, who founded Architecture for Humanity and edited Metropolis Books’ excellent new compendium of innovation and art around problem solving in architecture, Design Like You Give a Damn: Architectural Responses to Humanitarian Crises, had this to say about the conference when I spoke with him recently:
Something like the PUSH conference is interesting because you have people who are thinking about what life will be like in 20 years. That’s what I’m thinking about as well. The big picture is: where will we be in 20 years as a species? And have architects actually helped? You can do two things as an architect: you can either improve the environment you live in or you can destroy it. Not saying that you’re doing it purposefully. But you just say, well, we should just clear out all the slums and put in high-rise towers for gentrification. I like speaking at things like PUSH and PopTech and TED, because you get an interesting group, not just of who’s speaking but who attends.
Through Tuesday afternoon, I’ll be blogging the conference right here, so check back often for updates. To help in that endeavor, Leif Utne, contributing writer at Utne magazine, as well as an activist, musician, and podcaster, has agreed to offer a guest post or two (use the Conference Notes tag to follow our progress). Thanks for the help, Leif.
Design Like You Give a Damn is available in the Walker Shop.