Welcome back and happy Earth Day. We may be inside, but our ears, eyes, and hearts still burn a green glow this week. ‘It ain’t easy,’ as our amphibious friend once said, but it’s damn well necessary. Hopefully some inspiration in here will reveal our collective shimmering resilience.
This Earth Day, we’re going greene – Jacques Greene that is. For the latest edition of RADIO MATTE, a space where we highlight talent and music through interviews & mixes, we jumped into the Montreal producer’s sonic upheaval and his second LP “Dawn Chorus”. Listen here.
From the disco-house opener’s euphoric take on The Chemical Brothers to the slow-burning closer’s meditation on nature and childhood, this sophomore album shows Philippe Aubin-Dionne operating on an entirely new level. Besides, what says environmental movement more than field recordings of electromagnetic pulses and an album named after a bird song at sunrise? We’ll wait.
— Andy Garden
“There’s a party on the terrace, ayy; There isn’t going to be anybody at my house” thus begins the reggaeton artist from Medellín’s rumination on the color green. Deeply thoughtful? No. Biting commentary on our Earth and times? Perhaps. More so than anything, the track shakes. And midway through a week of Green celebrations, that’s the hero we deserve. Listen here.
— Max Pollack
“Chosen family.” One very New York cultural tradition, where we surround ourselves with the people we find (and who find us) in our city. They take us in, challenge us, inspire us, and show us love, and we give them all that back in return. They are our friends, partners, teammates, neighbors. At MATTE, they’re our colleagues too. For many of us, the family experience is a combination of our biological and chosen tribes, and now, that crew may be more important than ever.
These films celebrate chosen families– how they nourish us, entertain us, and wrest us from our comfort zones so we can create new ones. These are stories of joy, friendship, and the search for your tribe in a city built for finding more people like your type of people.
— Derek Fearon
Today is the 50th celebration of Earth Day – a movement ignited by a massive oil spill near Santa Barbara, California. April 22 now marks the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970. One of the most vivid memories from my childhood was sitting glued to the television watching the Exxon Valdez spill 11 million gallons of crude oil into the Prince William Sound. At ten years old after days of watching this catastrophe unfold, I made the decision to become an environmentalist.
Earth Day 2020 comes at another time of great challenge, but also opportunity. In the midst of global climate catastrophe, a pandemic has given us reason to pause. Carbon emissions have dropped more than eighteen percent. The impossible has been made possible.
Historically, pandemics have transformed our urban culture. The bubonic plague helped spark the Italian Renaissance. The Spanish flu championed the City Beautiful Movement, introducing parks, wide streets, and clean water to congested cities. So what will be the societal legacy of COVID? In the context of climate change there is something to be learnt and a global, urban transformation of the 21st century that could rise. As a formally trained architect, landscape architect and professor of climate resilient design, who’s also studied indigenous communities across the globe, I’m inspired by an ancient mythology—that humankind can and must live symbiotically with nature. I call this Lo–TEK, a design movement building on indigenous philosophy and vernacular infrastructure to generate sustainable and resilient nature-based technology. We commonly think of sustainability as bringing plants and trees onto buildings, but what if our most sustainable innovations were rooted in cultures who figured it out a millennia ago. There are hundreds of nature-based technologies that have been constructed by indigenous cultures across the globe, that need to be considered as potential climate resilient infrastructures, that will assist us to develop and live in harmony with nature.
As we drown in this Age of Information while starving for wisdom, we find ourselves at a cross-road where we can either continue along the current path, or transform our relationship with nature and the Earth to shepherd the next epoch of human history. This new mythology of technology that allows humans to co-exist with nature has been evolving, and will continue to evolve with the Climate Change movement, as governments and organizations begin to shift their thinking towards a more sustainable model of development. Imagine what we might discover by looking to the pioneers of nature-based design and technology who are often seen as primitive but live in symbiosis with the natural world. In our current state of crisis, when now more than ever we value the air we breathe, an opportunity exists to reshape how humans connect with nature.
— Julia Watson
Julia Watson is a designer, activist, academic and author of Lo-TEK, Design by Radical Indigenism, a sold out bestseller (which featured some photography by MATTE Partner Brett Kincaid) published in 2019 by Taschen. Julia is a leading expert on indigenous technologies and teaches at Harvard and Columbia, while also leading a landscape, and urban design studio with French horticulturalist, Marie Salembier, as Watson Salembier. To hear more about her work and ideas listen to Episode 35 of The Slowdown Podcast here.