I was fortunate to receive a badge to the South by Southwest Eco Conference this weekend. Since moving to Austin I have been a big fan of SXSW Conferences, namely the music “conference” when free parties, complete with mediocre food, drink, and music, take over most of Central Austin. It is baldfaced indulgent consumerist hedonism and, since I am human, I enjoy it. It is kind of like New Orleans at Mardi Gras when the whole town shows up to eat and drink the worst products that the culinary capitol of the South has to offer (seriously, king cake?) and fight over stands of molded plastic crafted by undoubtedly exploited people in a developing country. Mardi Gras has a built in reckoning though – Lent, a period of time for the whole city to face their shame in the vomit soaked bead strewn streets and try to be better people until Jazz Fest starts. At least I think that is the idea.
After SXSW Austin needs a moment of collective shame to reflect on what just happened. Instead, almost eight months later we get SXSW Eco where, as I found out, attendees learn that the climate is changing, oceans are dying, and the best thing any person can do is reconsider their landscape design and buy wedding rings from a company that promises to invest in clean water.