man with "the future" thought bubbleOver the last eight (!) years at Grist, I have written a great deal about what humanity is doing wrong — in particular, those bits of humanity that live in the United States, and even more particularly, those humanoids who run, fund, or otherwise influence the federal government, known these days as the World Headquarters of Fail. I’ve covered climate change, resource shortages, air pollutants and other unpriced externalities, political dysfunction, bad policy, media irresponsibility, social alienation, and bad television. It’s been a veritable Festival of Fail.

Meanwhile, over the last eight (seriously, eight?) years, I have also frequently mentioned the intense need these days for positive visions of the future — what is being done right, and could be done right, rather than just what’s going wrong. Indeed, a recent post concluded thusly: “In the meantime, the job is to define a new American way of life for young people, so when they take over they won’t view Walmart as akin to church.”

A couple of years ago, I started agitating for Grist to start painting that picture of a positive future. I wanted us to move beyond the tales of defilement and degradation that readers have come to expect from “environmental media” and into something more forward-looking, wide-ranging, optimistic, and, well, helpful. I even wrote a rather turgid internal memo on the matter, the theme of which was that Grist should turn its gaze toward “a future that makes sense.” OK, we as a society are doing it wrong. What would it mean to do it right, to stay within carbon and other resource limits while enjoying a high quality of life?

Since then, in my humble opinion, Grist has done fantastic work in this vein. We’re covering bike culture, livable neighborhoods, urban agriculture, sharing economies, distributed energy, and many other ways people in America today are trying to live better, more sustainable lives. There’s much more that we could do, but we’re moving in the right direction.