02: December 8th 2009

December 8th 2009, 6-8pm at De Santos
De Santos Restaurant
139 West 10th Street
(just east of seventh ave)

Join us Tuesday evening for wine and aperitives at the second gathering of Sala.
RSVP to info@salanyc.org ($10 suggested donation)

October 22nd 2009, 5-7pm at Gusto
Gusto Ristorante
60 Greenwich Avenue
(btwn sixth & seventh ave)

Join us Thursday evening for wine and aperitivo for the first gathering of Sala.
RSVP to info@salanyc.org ($10 suggested donation)

Sala held its first gathering last week at Gusto Ristorante in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village. The event was intentionally intimate, with roughly twenty of the forty initial invitees in attendance. Representative of Sala’s interdisciplinary focus, the group consisted of a diverse range of professionals, educators, artists, writers and local restauranteurs.

Conversation, wine and Italian aperitivos paused momentarily to allow Sala facilitator John Barboni a brief opportunity to introduce the organization’s mission and the intent of the gatherings which, with the support of co-facilitators Tom Abraham and Carl Stein, Sala expects to host every 6-8 weeks. From the facilitators’ background of over 40-years of experience in energy-conscious architecture, Sala realizes that the broad issues of sustainability can only be solved through interdisciplinary collaboration. Sala, Italian for “living room” and root of the Parisian “salon”, aims to revive and reinforce a Café Society reminiscent of the cultural gatherings during the heydays of great cities – Paris in the 1920s and 30s; New York in the 1950s.

In his introduction, John addressed ‘sustainability’ – remarking first that socially, “if it’s not enjoyable, it will not last”. During these challenging times, we seek reprieve from the chaos of our typical days as we are plenty encumbered with work, problems and stress. Sala gatherings are not meant as burdensome business meetings or flighty cocktail hours. Instead, Sala aims to promote discussion and interaction among interested individuals in settings that offer both pleasurable and educational opportunities for social exchange.

Expanding on the subject of sustainability, John spoke of the reciprocal relationship between human life and the environment: “the way we live our lives impacts our environment, and our environment impacts the way we live our lives.” As such, Sala asks “how can we improve the quality of our lives, elevating human spirit through beauty and experience, without compromising environmental life and human survival?”

John reiterated the power of synergistic creativity, and explained the social importance of face to face human interaction. Sala identifies fear, anxiety, addiction, and attention deficiency as repercussions of this current era of advanced digital communication. Our lack of social interaction and disconnect from nature creates emotional voids and degenerative social conditions. Sala promotes awareness, interaction, and education as opportunities for corrective growth.

Culturally, Sala is critical of a consumer culture which thrives on creating artificial appetite and then sells product to feed that appetite – brands create desire and products quench that thirst. We are programmed to believe that “we need more things and then we’ll be happy”. As a culture, we can not live this way anymore – the world will not support it. Overabundance and excess is not sustainable. We must simplify our lives and decrease our demand.

Sala recognizes a misuse of “Environmentalism”, identifying “Greenwashing” as an excuse for commercial exploitation. As an alternative, Sala suggests that we more carefully consider our use of limited resources – that Energy Conservation be addressed first from a perspective of decreasing demand; and that passive design be paired with changes in human behavior to limit resource consumption. Much of the “green products” industry offers a superficial band-aide approach to solving a problem who’s source runs far deeper than one cured by such isolated quick-fixes. As a culture, we must learn to carefully consider behavior and use from the onset of design to avoid repetitive patterns of waste.

As plates emptied and glasses bottomed, the gathering concluded with informal conversations on the influence that art, architecture, music and even pornography have on the ways we live and interact. The event served as a successful introduction to the organization and Sala hopes that future gatherings will explore these and other relevant topics. Through such social interaction and discussion, ideas are refined and progress is achieved.

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