Times they are a changing, and at such a breath taking pace that cultural detectives, sociologists and pundits are having trouble documenting let alone decoding the current zeitgeist. The great irony of now is that, with a few notable exceptions, most fashion magazines are also unable to keep up due to their long print lead-ins (they work at least 3 months ahead of real time), predictable editorial format, and an impoverished relationship with advertsisers. As a result these days the cognoscenti are MAKING the news not reading about it and they are looking to new arenas in which to play.
The collective cultural trends of the moment are myriad but they share a flavour and the flavour is collaborative. Most of us have been trained by society to compete and dominate. But the old model of domination is losing relevance and if you really want to ride the new wave you need to know how to share, how to collaborate and work as a team. The idea of sharing our ideas and our skills seems really dangerous to many of the old skool. The Greed is Good mantra, though championed in the 1980s, started way before Gordon Gecko and his lawless compadres were born. The truth about man’s need to dominate is one of the great unanswered questions of our time. Nation has fought nation for millenia. But is man inherently Dominant? The jury is still out on this gigantic subject. The current culture of Domination (which is more manipulative and menchanical than physical) was born in the 1800s and perfected in the 19th Century as the Industrial Revolution embraced steam power and eventually electricity. But the old Emperial model is finally running out of steam…….
The introduction of steam power, fuelled primarily by coal and wider utilisation of railways, water wheels, powered machinery (mainly textile manufacturing) underpinned dramatic increases in production manufacturing. The impact of this change on society was enormous and paved the way for today’s globalisation model.
Today as global brands slowly come to terms with the reality that unfettered growth is actually impossible on a finite planet we are seeing a new creative response from early adopters who are already hip to this fact. Genuine creatives are turning in their droves to a new model of enterprise; that of collaboration, and smart businesses are learning to work together (rather than compete) in order to be more productive. These businesses intuitively understand that rules are changing. That if you want to stay in business its worth supporting one another, they understand that it is their interests to see you thrive and vice a versa . While this may still seem counter-intuitive and counter-cultural to the old guard – the movers and shakers in fashion, music, Art and film are choosing to work together in thrilling new ways that are so front-end they are making up the rules as they go.
If steam was the ingredient that powered the industrial revolution then it is the Internet and a new willingness to relinquish egoic demands and traditional hierarchy and share ideas and skills that is fuelling and inspiring the new counter cultural edge. Seemingly unconnected areas and experts are coming together in a way that would make no sense in a turgid old-paradigm business plan but is making plenty of sense (and plenty of money) to a hip new generation of collaboration-savvy mavericks.
There are marvelous examples of this new mood everywhere; I will be investigating this as an on-going series. In this first episode I would like to look at the Surf scene, the collaborative model is evidenced continually in the Skate/Surf scene, which keeps ahead of the curve in everyway, cultivating fantastic collaborative situations wherever it likes. Surf and Ecology have always had a symbiotic relationship as surfers have an inbuilt respect for GAIA due to their continued closeness to nature. While trends come and go the surf scene has remained pretty consistent in its simple message; love the beach, love nature, be healthy and love each other. And the endless images of unself-conscious sun kissed beauties wearing whatever they damn well like continues to gladden my heart.
As the fashion industry has run out of ideas it is turning to counter culture to make it look cool. This has always been true to a certain degree but what is new this time around is that the scene is calling the shots – not the fashion industry. There are many examples of this, the best of the latest collaborations include the incredible movie Skateistan made by ex-pro snowboarder turned filmmaker Orlando Von Einsiedel who collaborated with fashion brand Diesel to make this groundbreaking film. http://www.diesel.com/newvoices. Due to the quality and content of this film everyone wins; Skateistan continues to win awards and grow in popularity and proves the enormously positive effects of cultural collaboration via its fantastic blog; http://skateistan.org/ which continues to connect and inspire young people all over the globe. And Diesel gets to look cool for backing the whole endeavor.
Maverick Free Surfer and Freedom-freak Dion Agius is carving out his own sweet way mixing pure nomadic life-style, surf and super 8 film across three Continents. He can stay free and true to himself thanks to his collaboration with Skate brand Globe who are clever enough to leave him to do what he likes, the results are compelling and you can catch him in all his glory at Globe TV;
Former pro skateboarder Dave Phillip is another shining example of the collaboration counter-culture. Phillip has now devoted his life to Resilience and Sustainability – combining his knowledge of skate with his environmental work in a really refreshing new way.
Dave Phillip sites the following recipe to help us stay strong and surf the waves of change during these tricky times;
1. Be Observant
2. Stay Healthy
3. Get Off Fossil Fuels
4. Grow your Own
5. Innovate, simplify and build a community
You can celebrate this new mood and get into the groove at the brilliant new magazine Huck = a surprising mix of philosophy, film, surf, skate and environmental consciousness; http://www.huckmagazine.com/)