Many people know of the David Brower-inspired Sierra Club ads that appeared in the New York Times during the 1960s galvanizing citizens to take action to prevent a dam from being built in the Grand Canyon. One of these ads had the now-famous opening:
SHOULD WE ALSO FLOOD THE
SISTINE CHAPEL SO TOURISTS CAN
GET NEARER THE CEILING?
The strategy worked and saved a national treasure from the same fate as that of Glen Canyon. It was Jerry Mander, a New York transplant working for the San Francisco ad agency Freeman, Mander & Gossage, who worked closely with David Brower to craft the series of maverick ads that saved a canyon and enhanced the reputation of the Sierra Club as one of the premier conservation organizations in the world.
Back in the 1990s, I had the opportunity to organize series author readings at Oakland’s Sierra Club bookstore. I remember the enthusiasm of all present when Jerry read from his recently published book, In the Absence of the Sacred. His talk was a brilliant critique of our technological society.
The social and environmental impacts of capitalism have been a key focus for Jerry over the years; he Founded and has been co-director of the International Forum on Globalization. I read with great interest his latest book, Capitalism: Fatal Flaws of an Obsolete System, where he lays out the dilemma we face with our toxic economic system: “Capitalism, utterly dependent on never-ending economic growth is an impossible absurdity on a finite planet with limited resources. Climate Change, together with global food, water, and resource shortages, are only the start.”
I’m looking forward to hearing Jerry Mander expand at the Collaboratory on the social and environmental challenges that Capitalism poses, and some of the promising new directions we see emerging in our evolving twenty-first century.