Patrick Keogh Head of Curation30/08/2022
In December 1968, William Anders took a photograph which changed everything. A photograph in which the Earth seems to be rising above the moon's horizon. A selfie of our home planet. The photograph is called Earthrise. The irony, of course, is that it took a trip to into space for us to realise that the most remarkable, colourful, abundant, oasis-like planet in our universe is the one on which we live. The one we have spent centuries destroying: Earth.
Fast forward to November 2021, more than 50 years post this iconic photograph being published. COP26 was happening in Glasgow, the last chance saloon for our leaders to pull together and make an unbreakable plan for saving the planet. And yet, despite the rhetoric, agreements and pledges, nothing changed. The mountain to climb is bigger than ever. Around this time, the Booker Prize-winning writer, Ben Okri, wrote an extraordinary piece in the Guardian about the climate crisis. In the article, Okri calls on artists to set us on a brave and visionary new course, and "redream... for us a future that is possible." He writes: "We have to be strong dreamers. We have to ask unthinkable questions...We can’t just ask the shallow questions anymore. Our whys ought to go to the core of what we are. Then we ought to set about changing us. We ought to remake ourselves." Okri's article is incredibly powerful, honest - and true. Civilisation in all its complexity and brilliance has taken us down the wrong road, and we are on the verge of losing the very thing that sustains us, the thing that gives us life - planet earth.
Reading this article alongside looking at the William Anders photograph left me with mixed emotions - frustration, anger, despair, as well as chinks of hope and optimism that a new future, despite everything, is still possible and definitely worth fighting for. It also left me with questions. The biggest one being: how, with all our knowledge and data, could we have allowed ourselves to arrive at such a perilous moment?
Earthrise Summit is our attempt (albeit small) to wake up our members and broader community to the enormity of what's coming: to inspire co-creation and encourage meaningful action. This year our focus is on cities and the built environment - human-created spaces of immense complexity, much like the climate crisis. We believe if we can figure out how to fix our cities, we can figure out how to fix the mess we've created over the past 200 years by choosing petrochemicals to fuel much of our energy and material needs. Despite everything, I believe, like Ben Okri, that we can still imagine a different future, a better future. But solutions and a different approach to how we live are mission-critical. We can't afford to wait a single day more. Join us on 28th September.
Patrick Keogh has worked in media, publishing and tech for over 15+ years and has significant experience of advising large media organisations on future strategy both on a company-wide scale as well as on an individual brand level. Patrick set up the Faber Academy, Guardian Masterclasses and has consulted with a number of global brands including Google, Conde Nast and Time Inc. He is Head of Curation for Huckletree - one of the UK's leading workplace accelerators, the Festival Director of Earthrise Summit, and the Chief Content Officer of Marble - an award winning experience agency. He was the Managing Director for CogX 2019 - Europe's largest Festival of AI and Emerging Technology - and he is part of the founding team at PlasticFree - the world's first and only materials intelligence platform. He was selected by the Evening Standard as one of London 1000 Most Influential People.