As we look at the connected issues of sprawl, traffic congestion, air pollution, societal disconnection, and global warming, we begin to see that a new model and vision for our communities and mobility is needed. One such vision was put forth in 1939 at the World’s Fair in New York.
Futurama was an exhibit designed by Norman Bel Geddes that showed a future of expressways and suburbs, all centered around the car, creating a vision for 20 years into the future. Funded by General Motors, the impact that vision and model had upon urban planning and the American psyche was unmistakable.
Nearly 75 years later, no such model of inspiration – or aspiration – for our communities and cities has been put forth with the same magnitude of impact. How do we inspire the public, media, and leaders to create and transform communities so they are sustainable and more livable? How do we create the model of aspiration for mobility experts, planners, and elected officials to shift how we move about our cities?
How do we create the new model, the new Futurama? By unleashing the kind of breakthrough thinking and innovation that is already out there by calling out to designers and planners via social media. Collaboration in the 21st century can occur in different, virtual forms via design crowdsourcing, connected by online platforms.
We have presented the problem, now let’s ask for solutions to begin to solve it and present a Futurama 2032 at the 20th anniversary of the Rio Earth Summit that will take place in June 2012.
But how do we create a lasting approach to sustainable communities and mobility solutions to carry forth the ideas and inspiration from Futurama 2032? What if we created a mobility solutions laboratory akin to the MIT Media lab? OEMs and leading-edge mobility and automotive companies would all benefit, as would our cities, future generations, and economy if we brought the best mobility thinkers and doers together under one roof — virtually and physically. Why not right here in Los Angeles, where thinkers and doers have come together via the L.A. Clean Tech Incubator to pursue such an idea?
I look forward to your contributions to Futurama 2032.
Matt Petersen is President and CEO of Global Green USA, the American arm of Green Cross International