It is time to stop quivering in our boots in pointless fear of the future and just roll up our sleeves and build it.
- Ray Pierrehumbert

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Live Earth House Parties

Well, I needn't have worried about being an old fogey.

Irene and I went to two different Live Earth house parties, and we met a whole bunch of interesting Austinites, but not a soul at either party was a day under forty (except for children of the host in one case, and I believe the hostess herself in the other) . Which was odd because most of the music wasn't pitched at us. I can report that all conversation stopped for Roger Waters' excellent (if a bit unadventurous) performance of his classics, though!

We are brimming with practical ideas and new connections.

Also, we signed a pledge including carbon neutrality. It appears that the live earth pledge is suddenly much less demanding than I remembered.

I warned irene that pledging carbon neutrality would be expensive. Our hostess looked nonplussed. She said "well, every time I take a plane flight I plant a tree" as if that were all there were to it. I tried to explain to the hostess that Irene had the disadvantage of being married to someone who could and would do the numbers. As long as we can, though, it is neutrality for us!

I was a bit taken aback by our hostess's conviction that there would be no inconvenience involved in carbon neutrality. I was very discouraged by the absence of any young people. The optimistic theory is that they all were so connected by AIM and myspace and such that they could pull together their own parties, but it seems more likely that American kids just don't do politics. Apparently the idea that young people are "more liberal" than the intervening generation does not extend to actual participation in any community activities, at least in Austin.

I'd love to hear reports from other places. Did you see anyone in their teens or twenties?

Update My conclusion from the response is this. The difference is that young people saw the rockstar all-star game as the event, while older folk thought of it as the excuse for the real event. Consequently the occasion attracted less serious young people as an entertainment event and more serious older people as an organizing event. At least, that's my working hypothesis. That still leaves a problem as to how to overcome this, but it's not as disturbing as the initial suspicion that young people don't care.

Update Some lively commentary ongoing since I posted a similar article on Grist. Nothing resembling a consensus emerging though, as yet.

Update: This looks quite a lot like the scene we saw, though we didn't land a political candidate. Note the boomer demographics.

Update: Julia Hargreaves has a memorable criticism of the whole business quoted on James' Empty Blog.


Anonymous said...

Just happened upon your blog. I went to a house pary here in West Palm Beach FL. It was actually hosted by a young man in his 30"s who combined his love of music with his concern for the climate.

Most attendees who did not already know the host were over forty though. We had about 13 people show.

I spent my two hours gathering names and email addresses of everyone so as to try and keep a momentum going on any one of four political issues I picked out of the hat, war, climate, Kucinich, health care.

I am tired of walking away from events and then never having the ability to recconnect with people who have the same feelings about issues as I do. This time I am hoping to be able to do something with it. We shall see.

But I know what you mena about the older generation versus the young. Very sad.

ciel said...

We attended a Live Earth house party right here in Austin filled with an under-40 crowd, yo!

Myself (38), my SO (28), and our three pets: (8), (2), and (7 months).

Spent some time discussing the shows online with other stay-at-home partakers.. a few of which were the type to bash the event for being just a bunch of hypocritical Al Gore movie-star & co. gobbley-gook.

As for me, on the whole I thought the concerts were excellent, and Rose felt about the same.

Save Our Sausage! ;)


Michael Tobis said...

Hey, ciel. I'm not sure that answers my question, but anyway, if you'd like to get together for coffee (so far my choices are Sacha and Quack's, or Jo's if it's not too blisteringly hot out) figure out my email and drop me a line.

inel said...

Here are a few comments from across the pond:

I watched the Wembley event on BBC at home with my kids, and their friends in the US watched Live Earth coverage online alone or with their families at home. The timing for yet-another-event was bad for British families with school children, as we are right at the end of Summer Term with loads of school activities and tons of end-of-year socialising. It was nice to have an excuse to be at home enjoying the music together on a glorious summer's day, while the kids laughed at me reminiscing over Genesis and Duran Duran ;-)

The British young people's view that I could generalise for you is that they are surprised that anyone needs an excuse to raise awareness of global warming. It is so well-known. From kids' points of view, they cannot understand why some adults disagree with the facts. So, turning your points on their head, I would say that youth are ahead of the curve on climate change awareness and are waiting for adults to catch up!

So many people watched online, house parties are not the only way to measure the influence of Live Earth. YouTube was buzzing around Nunatak's appearance, for example, and that band have provided an alternative approach and inspired some who are critical of the trappings of Big Entertainment stars and their enormous carbon footprints.

The measure of Live Earth is how it plays out in the long run, beyond the house parties. Also, I would add that younger kids today need to be driven to house parties, and older kids are not that keen on being seen with their old-fogey parents (!) so many spend much of their lives networking with friends online, for a number of reasons :-|

inel said...

P.S. My kids helped keep track of the Live Earth Wembley playlist while I kept track of climate change comments by the stars and the BBC host (who began the day pretty clueless, but ended up being on message, almost sounding like a climate ambassador by midnight, presumably thanks to the Met Office briefings that filled in the blanks in his awareness!)