Are we at the beginning of a second Renaissance?

In a past life, not so long ago I was a visual arts teacher for 9 years. I loved it, especially the history components and how it tied into culture at the time. For me the canvases with human nature unfolded for us all to see – a moment in time captured- was fascinating. In those years, students often commented on a reoccurring theme that never failed to emerge, the cycle of movements and history repeating itself.

The Brink

I am growing more and more convinced that our society is on the brink of a second Renaissance. A rebirth of our culture. Today’s entry is slightly different than my others. I’d like to be a little philosophical about us, the power of brand, and what we strive to achieve as a human culture.

The basis

First, there is a misconception that the Renaissance began as an art movement, when in fact it was a science and design movement first. A development that came out of the need to survive. The dark ages were exactly that, destroying neighbors, homes, communities, and even cultures. To hear it described it was a time of plundering.

The Renaissance was started with meetings of the minds. Florence was a city under siege, surrounded by enemies and constant threat. It chose to elevate itself in the eyes of its enemy through innovation, in essence they elevated their brand. I know it seems a stretch but please stay with me here.

The Power of Projection

If brand in an impression an audience makes of you, it doesn’t matter what the application – the core goal is the same. Project what you want and hope it attracts what you need.

In response to the threat, Florence’s resident scientists, philosophers, inventors, politicians, investors, artists, mathemeticians and so many more banded together to exchange ideas. The buildings, inventions, culture and art that emerged out of this still stand to remind us of the power of collaboration and the strength of the human condition. Out of dark times came a radical change, much like the one we are currently experiencing in both environment and culture.

The balance Needed

The industrial age brought us many wonders. Printing and literacy, industry and revolution, but with it came a price no one really understood. I read today a wonderful essay by a Paul Hawken named You are Brilliant and the earth is hiring (Design Does Matter, Teknion) , in it he says: “We can either create assets for the future or take the assets from the future. One is called restoration and the other exploitation.”

My hope

The last one hundred years have been our cultures plunder. The generations before didn’t see the impact, had no real way of knowing what would happen. We however, now have knowledge. We see our environment changing and a fundamental shift has begun. We have the opportunity to move from plunder to healing and restoration, and we will be a better culture for it.

It doesn’t matter what trade show floor I walk these days, like minds of innovation are  reaching out in every industry banding together using media to discuss completely new ways to do the old. Sustainable ways to move us forward with awareness, it’s truly inspiring.

I sit here struggling, unsure how I should end this post. So I’ll leave you with questions instead.

  • How can one innovative voice be heard in a sea of voices?
  • How can we as individuals contribute to change?
  • Do you believe there is a change or is it just a marketing angle?
  • Where do you see this going?

Feel free to post your thoughts.

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2 responses to “Are we at the beginning of a second Renaissance?

  1. I read your article with much interest. Three things came toghether for me. First, I had recently listened to a song from Emerson, Lake and Palmer, “From the Beginning”. Second, I looked at our pictures from our vacation in Florence a couple of years aga (a powerful experience). And third, I read your blog post about the Renaissance. I certainly feel at the dawn of a re-birth. For me, social media is at the heart of it, personally or for businesses (brands). It uses technology but is really a cultural shift. And we are just beginning. Your post identified that nicely. Thanks

    • I visited Florence years ago as well, I think this is why the subject struck home. Standing in the Duomo, looking up, all I could think was “How did a society in the midst of chaos build this?!”
      I look at us now and think we are not much different, dealing with the consequences of past decisions looking to find new ways to move forward knowing the past methods cannot be an option.
      Yes, the social movement is definitely part of it, but I wonder if that itself is a by-product of this search to change and to be involved.

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