News and Coverage

Sustaining the American Family

Location: Imperial Ballroom Level: Novice
Average rating: ***..
(3.91, 23 ratings)

The American family consumes resources vastly beyond its “share”—more so than other nation’s family. However, due to technology, increasing environmental awareness, and a changing economy, it is also the best poised to make a course correction. Worldchanging’s Alex Steffen returns to show the results of his latest project about how to make us more sustainable.

Photo of Alex Steffen

Alex Steffen


Alex Steffen has been the Executive Editor of Worldchanging since he co-founded the organization in 2003, as the next phase in a lifetime of work exploring ways of building a better future. Worldchanging is rated the 2nd largest sustainability-related publication on the Internet by Nielsen Online, and boasts an impressive archive of almost 9,000 articles by leading thinkers around the world.

Steffen was also the editor of Worldchanging’s wildly successful first book, Worldchanging: A User’s Guide for the 21st Century (Abrams, 2006), a 600-page compendium of writings from over sixty noted leaders around the world, with a foreword by Al Gore and introduction by Bruce Sterling.

Steffen’s work has been subject of stories in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, and other leading publications. His essays have been translated into German, French, Japanese, Portuguese and Spanish, and widely reprinted and anthologized. Recently he was the subject of a CNN documentary, which envisions possibilities for the future, and was featured as one of six leading innovators in the New York Times Sunday Magazine’s “Ecotecture” issue.

He has also spoken and keynoted at many of the most renowned design and innovation conferences, including TED, Pop!Tech, and Design Indaba.

“We find ourselves facing two futures, one unthinkable and the other currently unimaginable,” says Steffen, “My beat is looking for ways to create a future which is sustainable, dynamic, prosperous and fair — a future which is both bright and green. WorldChanging is based on the premise that such a future is not a distant possibility, but a growing reality. We seek to connect worldchanging people with the tools, models and ideas for building it.”

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Nolan H
04/16/2009 8:25pm PDT

Family as a single unit of society plays an important role in saving the society in ultimate downturn of its economy. People are aware that U.S. economy is shaky for pretty much everybody. Not only is it bad for Americans, but also lousy U.S. economy hits the whole world hard. The U.S. bailout measures are good for everyone worldwide, if the cash advances being made work like they’re intended to. However, some are insisting that the bailout is going to wreck the budget and make the deficit explode. Obama and others insist there will be cuts made that will make up for it. Regardless, let us hope that the short term loans we’re making will help to bring back the U.S. economy.

Picture of Kevin Krejci
Kevin Krejci
04/06/2009 6:44am PDT

I think the core of his message was that we need to set examples by designing our goods, services, and infrastructure with these principles in mind: Open, smart, compact, green, reconnected. A lot of it is just an attitude shift, and shouldn’t require a benevolent dictator to take over. If we collectively redefine wealth as quality of life rather than quantity of stuff, we might all be better off. Maybe health, happiness, good food, rest, walks on the beach, clean water, etc. should be valued more than how many widgets our factories crank out per quarter.

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Stephen Howard
03/17/2009 12:06am PDT

I am looking forward to sharing the video of this keynote with friends and family. Any idea when O’Reilly will be adding this to their channel?

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Alasdair Allan
03/10/2009 5:17am PDT

I live blogged the Tuesday morning keynote, including this talk.

Larry Kooper
03/10/2009 4:47am PDT

I agree with Chris. I found Alex’s talk disturbing and scary. He did not discuss any incentives, economic or otherwise, to make these massive changes, leaving the strong impression he favors a dictatorial regime, a notion I strongly oppose.

Picture of Chris Dunphy
Chris Dunphy
03/10/2009 3:52am PDT

Alex has a lot of ideas on what we need to do to save the world. But I want to see ideas on how to incentivize the needed changes. How can we encourage change without heavy-handed mandates? That is the really interesting problem to solve.

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