News from the Front Desk: Issue No 397 Tomorrowland is now our signature event.

Last year Tomorrowland took a deep dive into buildings of the future, to see if we could create a $1 billion mixed-use project that was carbon neutral. The most brilliant scientists, architects, investors and associated professionals jumped into the spirit of the day, egged on by a highly engaged audience that took full participation in its stride. No little thanks to our star MC Howard Parry-Husbands of Pollinate.

This year on 6 September at the Baker McKenzie offices at Barangaroo in Sydney, we’ll moving from the minutiae and, taking our own personal drone, rise up and take in the bigger view of the landscape rising up from Sydney’s CBD out past Parramatta to Western Sydney. We’ll dip in to have a look at what’s going on in Canberra, calling in some Brisbane experts and some from Melbourne to share their views and maybe even entice some folk from a bit further away to come and take part.

The theme of Tomorrowland 2018 is the Urban Story and three big questions. Which are:

  • We’re part of nature; how do we building buildings and cities that are good for us?
  • How do we pay for what we want; what are the creative financial techniques that make radical change possible?
  • How do we create the shared value that keeps our community cohesive and engaged in the social contract

They’re big questions, but we wouldn’t feel comfortable without biting off more than we can chew… It’s the unexpected that comes from these exercises, the big (unrealistic) expectations that can yield the most creative possibilities.

For us as journalists and for our sponsors – this year co-leads are Arup and Landcom and supporting sponsors are Bates Smart and Flow Systems – these events are great opportunities to take deep dives into the best in innovative thinking. The idea is then to prod and pry (a bit), then mix it all up so that out the other end comes a series of sessions that are not just informative and educational but inspiring and entertaining.

Leading the day will be a look at first principles about how we deal with the nature of this land, from an Indigenous perspective.

Next is to look into what’s possible. The manifestations of how we can build and engineer the world we’re creating.

We’ll delve into biomimicry through the lens of three leaders in the field: James Murray-Parkes of Brookfield Scientific Solutions; Cheryl Desha – Associate Professor and Head of Civil Engineering at Griffith University; and Samantha Hayes – Managing Consultant, Bioneering Australia.

We’ll also look at how to create ideal integrated precincts that can provide their own energy, water and socially sound communities. And then see what’s the big hold up to getting there.

Flow Systems’ founder Terry Leckie and Bates Smart director Matt Allen will show what some of the leaders are thinking.

Some of Arup’s stars (and there are many) will showcase what the most ambitious developers have asked them to work on, from new ways of storing energy though phase change materials to the mobility conundrum that’s driving us a bit mad (no pun intended, right?)

Let’s see what we can encourage these nerdy types to share on the day.

And Landcom which has a track record on demonstration projects that take risks where industry fears to tread (until it sees someone else doing the thing), will be encouraged to reveal some exciting projects it’s been developing in the waste and circular economy areas, but that’s so far been under wraps.

There’s more, of course. There’s always more. So keep an eye out as details come to hand.

But even better, take advantage of the early bird registrations and make sure you’re part of the action. We don’t want to turn latecomers away (as we’ve been forced to a few times in the recent past).

Given the quality of speakers and participants in our forums, this year’s Tomorrowland is going to be not just hugely informative but highly interactive and engaging.

That’s something TFE has staked its brand on. Right from the start, this online newspaper, as we like to call it, including our OpEd column Spinifex (named because it’s for our readers – the pointy end of sustainability) and all the events we hold, has been about providing a platform for this industry to fast-track itself out of necessity.

This is the revolution we had to have. And it’s now in full swing.

The other thing our events always manage to be is fun.

It’s so important to remember that sustainability has to not only be rational and logical, resource efficient, planet loving and human centric, it also has to be uplifting, exciting and give back better than it takes. That’s the whole point. It’s not about being miserable, or energy deprived or lacking in the good things of life. It’s about entirely the opposite.

Sometimes it might mean redefining what the good things are. For instance, giving up plastic bags. Is it such a bad thing? Or giving up large quantifies of cheap nasty clothes and investing instead in quality items you can enjoy each and every time you use them. The beauty of faded charm instead of shiny new. (Often those on lower incomes end up over their lifetimes paying to replace the same item over and over because they’ve been sold a thin version of a product rather than the original, so it doesn’t last. While those who can afford quality buy something once and pass it onto their children.)

The War on Waste movement is a perfect symbol of sustainability as an exciting, enjoyable and uplifting. The ABC show in its second season has managed to engage thousands of people to throw out silly useless props such as plastic straws and plastic bags and feel emboldened by their logic and care for the planet. Some of them appear on Q&A and chirp about creating a responsible café movement and how easy and rewarding it is, bringing countless benefits in the meantime such as better community connections.

Host of the show Craig Reucassel gently fools people that his “Rubinet” brand of water in a fancy bottle is better that their average mineral water, only to reveal the label is French for tap water – and in this case is Australian tap water.

But his “victims” enjoy the laugh when he reveals the truth. It’s getting easier to bring the people with us. The people are on side.

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