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Ecological Activism

We all sense the effects of climate change, and yet few Viennese are changing their diet, mobility, investments or housing arrangements. Green Party voters are some of the worst offenders when it comes to flying, owning a second home, and driving cars. If you own two homes, one of those is always empty - and you cannot be green and own two homes, with concrete contributing 8% to global CO2 emissions, and rents rising fast. It is hypocrisy.

Whoosh is all about the future, and the future is ecological. The climate crisis is coming at us fast, and so we need to recognise and celebrate those green heroes who are making a difference.

Walking is the most environmental form of mobility. We love it and promote it. Moving around your neighbourhood on foot promotes trust, community and gossip! Please join us on one of our 93 public tours, if you are organising a conference, party or Klausur.

Walkers vote differently to car-drivers, looking for change, progressive politics and play.

Eugene started his career as an activist at Greenpeace in London, aged 21, and has three times been arrested on environmental protests. We recently read a lot about COP26 in Glasgow (26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties), but Eugene was part of a provocative campaign at COP1 in Berlin in 1995, dressed as a monk, along with three other activists, as we followed around the 'Pope of Petrol', a Saudi-funded lobbyist trying to sabotage any agreement to limit fossil-fuel outputs. He was so uncomfortable at becoming the centre of attention and photography, that he left the Forum.

We need flexibility, creativity, and adaptation. We need much more female engagement with power and technology, at the senior level, and for the Austrian education system to change fast.

Since gaming is so hip, we propose:

1. kids love games

2. climate crisis

3. gamify ecology

4. winning big prizes for saving carbon, against other schools, families, classes. Let’s go!

Climate change is the great challenge of our age. How well is it being taught in schools? We want to engage with all kinds of educational groups to get creative with the messages of sustainability and our role in avoiding catastrophic collapse. The system is not so flexible in Austria, for outsiders to get involved and push for new ideas. It can be conservative and bureaucratic, but we offer a modern, instructive, interactive and attractive way forward. Teachers are usually sympathetic, if you offer them time for free, and new, important, progressive ideas, well-delivered.

Which part of the curriculum should host environmentalism? All of it! If a more just, green future is not being taught in schools, why not? Schools have a huge responsibility, also to teach students about future jobs which sustainability offers. We can find creative, hip ways to insert it into technology lessons, on smart city, a Green Wien tour as a fun English lesson, or a party where all the songs take Eco as a theme. There are many challenges to embedding the Sustainable Development Goals into teaching practice - such as communication gaps within ministries and districts/school boards, competing interests and priorities within public education, and a lack of professional development opportunities for interested teachers on SDG topics.

We offer all kinds of colourful eco events all across the city:

Vienna Walking Week, where we show that it is not necessary to fly away on holiday to experience the exotic, fresh and beautiful, with a #TourismForLocals event, featuring 15 new tours across 8 days, every year. 29jul-5aug2022. This holiday costs just €50, and it is free for children. Here is how ORF reported it in 2020: https://orf.at/stories/3173636...

Urban Walking is more sustainable than rural, for city-dwellers - Eugene explained why at his 2016 TED Talk

Eugene was thrilled to be invited to speak in front of the United Nations Academy of Sustainable Urban Mobility, about how walking should be more highly valued. The audience featured participants out of the developing world, including Rwanda, Guatemala, Peru, Bhutan and Ghana.

Bringing things back to a local, educational level, 150+ Vienna schools have experienced the Invisible Smart City tour, where we come to understand the visionary, utopian nature of future urban thinking. We hope to bring this into the funding of EU Green Deal, so that every school child can discover a more optimistic, engaged, ecological future.

With the Food Safari tour, we discover food out of three continents, with one course in each restaurant, exploring African, Asian and European cuisine, while staying within 2 Bezirke. And in each restaurant, the chef tells us how s/he had to change her food, to sell it to the Austrians. It is an opportunity to go beyond the cliches. And a postmodern exploration of diversity. In between the food, we explore how Vienna has diversified since 1989. Eugene is just one of the 36% of adults in Wien who were born outside of Austria (& the 31% who cannot vote).

Green Wien tour, including urban gardening, green balconies & food sustainability, visiting Augarten, Donaukanal and comparing Hannovermarkt & Karmelitermarkt prices, customers, food and sellers.

Eugene has developed a colourful slide presentation on Better uses for Streets than Cars, which was delivered to Gleis 21, UniWien Urban geography Sociologists, FSV (city-planning association of Austria) and Lokale Agenda 21 at Reaktor.

For Urban Future Conference 2022 (the largest smart city conference in Europe) in Sweden, I live-blogged the trip from Wien-Helsingborg by train and bus.

I present a funny and ironic countdown of the Top 10 Greenwashing advertising campaigns. The big firms hate that I name them.

I co-curated #kommraus – Forum Öffentlicher Raum for Stadt Wien, 83 events exploring, debating and bringing alive public space, including how to use it better, with climate change.

I was DJ at Cargobike Fest in Alte Post, playing cycling music, including this playful tune:

And since walking is a metaphor for courage and independence, dj Eugene played only Walking songs at Walk21 conference (Walk on the Wild Side, These Boots are made for Walking, Don`t Walk Away, Walking on the Moon, Radetzky Marsch and You'll Never Walk alone).

I presented the CityBike Uphill Challenge Award, celebrating innovation in cycle-riding in Wien. Since more people ride free bikes down- than up-hill, the city must then return them to the top, using cars. They responded by motivating riders to go uphill, with prizes.

I wrote the intro to Grätzloasen’s cool photobook collection of the best Vienna Parklets.

I added jokes to a series of speeches Deputy-Mayor Maria Vassilakou made in Asia and Australasia in 2017.

Teaching in TU Raumplanung dept on Street Capital, Eugene's fresh theory about how to measure the Fellini factor on Wien sidewalks.

I consult with 150 BOKU cell researchers on making their work on combating climate change in plants more present in Austrian public life.

I will moderate the 2023 Energy Cities Forum in NL, looking for innovative ways to make the energy transition.

Bundesministerium fuer Klimaschutz - Forschungsforum Mobilitaet Nov 2021 - Vortrag von Eugene: Lebendiger Asphalt - Warum wir unsere Straßen nicht den Autos überlassen sollte.

To learn among a supportive network is a beautiful resource, built on trust and openness. We provide that in all kinds of situations, and for varied groups. There is always debate and disagreement, as there should be, but also a new network is born, full of utopian inspiration. Our age is characterised by both frightening challenges and a beautiful new sense of openness, of sharing instead of owning, of recycling and reusing best practice. We can help to shape communities, development and ultimately our shared future.

Eugene does not fly, or drive, is vegetarian and has a great life in a modern metropolis like Vienna. His ecological engagement stretches to three times being arrested for green protesting. He is pioneering #TourismForLocals, with the event Vienna Walking Week.

What the global eco movement needs is more characters, more personality, more celebration and inclusion, more warmth & storytelling, less policy wonks and nerdy statistics. Of course we need governments to act, but since they are not doing so, we need to make the moves ourselves in our lifestyles. As a symbolic act. Because if we don’t, who will? My facebook feed was full of outrage when President Trump withdrew from the Paris climate accord. Rightly so. But those same people don’t see any contradiction in posting photos of their holidays in Cambodia or Peru.

People in the ecology sector seem not to be so eager to become heroes. They tend towards the nerdy Al Gore school of presentation and dressing. We need more prominent figures to speak up in the media, music and arts sectors.

Part of the problem is the time scales involved.

Lots of people complain about the heat, but only a few actually do something about stopping it. It is interesting to reflect on the role of business in driving change. There is a website where you can see how many of your neighbours have solar panels (using satellite image data). And so you can find out if it is the norm or not. But the site also provides data on how much you could save if you invest in some, with the weather in your district. This is useful nudging, I think. And of course there are links then to firms who sell them in your area.

The Technical University of Vienna's Getreidemarkt tower was Austria's first plus-energy building. And the Spatial-planning Department is very actively involved in the life of this city, unlike many other universities around the world, which are isolated ghettos of abstract learning. At TU, architects are expected also to study sociology as part of their course - which should be compulsory around the world. The language used by architects is often meaningless to non-architects, which is silly and elitist, avoiding participation and engagement. Of all the creative disciplines, surely architecture is the most universal. We all have opinions about it, & engage with it every day, and so architects should be able and willing to communicate with us.

And when Europeans speak of the problem of climate change being too remote to their own lives now, we forget that in the heatwave of August 2003, 11,000 elderly Parisians died in four days. That should be used as an example much more often, since it has led to that city being a pioneer in opening streets to people, and closing them to cars - with Mayor Anne Hidalgo re-elected last year, promising fewer cars, and more joy and play and social-dining on the streets. Vienna's mayor should take notice!

NEW DESIRE PATH IMAGE


See this photograph of a desire path, as both metaphor & optimism and a beautiful phrase - and most of all that we can change the world, through collective belief, and find a new way to move forward, or sideways. Who designed the original path, that didn’t go where the people want to go? Landscape designers, city-planners, bureaucrats, transport consultants. Sometimes we get it right, and sometimes we don’t, but the people show us how we got it wrong, and in an interactive, democratic way, they show us where they want to go, and ultimately take another path. Let’s be open to their suggestions.

The world seems to have turned on its orbit in the last five years. Clearly we have some new political directions, with a rise in both populism and activism. Hashtags and hacking. There is a group of city mayors now, moving forward the evolution of ecology as a movement. Corona showed us how fast we can act, when faced with a crisis. One of Eugene's favourite books, Worldchanging, can point the way forward. Its editor, Alex Steffen, emphasises the importance of imagining persuasive, positive possible futures: “It’s literally true that we can’t build what we can’t imagine... The fact that we haven’t compellingly imagined a thriving, dynamic, sustainable world is a major reason we don’t already live in one.”

Let’s get started with changing the world.

And our work has been recognised by the European Commission, who have made us Ecological Ambassadors. We are thrilled and made a pledge to them: We pledge to double the number of walkers in our city, by 2030; we want to show walking is the best form of urban mobility

We will encourage the Viennese to walk around the city, to build community, for city-storytelling, and to support the local economy. We want people to walk to college, to work, to school, for shopping, to meet friends, to walk home from parties and have time to reflect and get excited about their lives, as well as developing their creative thinking and problem-solving. We create walks to bring the Viennese together in debate, engagement and urban adventures.

Tourism is catastrophic for our climate. We need to find more sustainable alternatives, without losing the thrills of the new, the strange and the opportunity for escape. Vienna Walking Week is an attempt to persuade the Viennese that they do not need to leave in summer, to experience the exotic, beautiful, refreshing, to meet new people, relax and return to work with interesting stories for their colleagues - plus cool photographs for Instagram. We offer 90 walks, mostly in German, and all of which appeal to locals. We want to show that you can rediscover your hometown, if you stroll around it in a colourful group of engaged locals, who want to debate the future of the city, and how it can be better. Vienna walking week will have 16 new events each summer.