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The Green Life: SXSW Goes (Even More) Eco

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August 05, 2011

SXSW Goes (Even More) Eco

Green conference When you go to a SXSW conference, you know you’ll meet fascinating people and hear unexpected ideas. So it’s exciting that, after focusing on music, film, technology, and, most recently, education, the conference is now bringing its attention to environmental issues with the launch of SXSW Eco.

The three-day event, scheduled for Oct. 4-6 in Austin, Texas, aims to bring together influential people from the public, private, and academic sectors to discuss and drive solutions to environmental challenges. Keeping in SXSW style, programming will include some 50 sessions of panels, keynote presentations, and conversations.

“Our goal is to host an event that will evolve the sustainability discussion beyond rhetoric and toward realistic actions,” said Scott Wilcox, the event's director of technology. “We are hoping to provide a fresh, open platform for decision-makers to connect with a unique, multi-sector audience.”

Mark Tercek of the Nature Conservancy will be a keynote speaker. Others in the lineup include A.G. Kawamura, California's former secretary of food and agriculture, and Andrew Revkin, the Dot Earth blogger at the New York Times.

The deadline for topic proposals has passed, but if the sessions already chosen (example: "Let’s Stop Talking About Sustainability: How Our Current Vocabulary is Failing Us”) are any indication, we're in for some interesting chats. Other discussions will be announced as they're confirmed, with the program finalized by Sept. 2.

Sustainability has grown at SXSW over the years — the festival adopted environmental strategies about a decade ago and more recently became carbon neutral. Behind the scenes, the organization installed a solar array on its roof, cutting its energy use by about 25%.

Ticket prices for SXSW Eco are higher than those for the original SXSW conference. However, in addition to covering the three days of events, they include admission to an opening-night reception, a registrants’ dinner, and a closing party. Buy before Sept. 2 to get early-bird tickets at $800. Otherwise, tickets cost $1,000 through Sept. 30, or $1,200 at the door. Students and academics get a 50% discount.

--Alison Brick

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