The word epiphany has come to mean a reckoning, an awakening or an event that can change one’s life or way of thinking. So as we pass this day on Christian calendars, I’d like to share my Eco-Epiphany.
First some background. My dream from as far back as I can remember was to become a car designer. And of course, within a future car designer’s dream there lies that even bigger desire to design big displacement, multi-cylinder, long hooded, super exotic sportscars. When I lived in Turin, working as an automotive stylist in a large design house, I designed for companies that made these. So it is quite ironic that my epiphany happened in the very place where these machines are conceived.
It was just before Christmas 1991. On a typical dull, colourless, Torinese winter day, I boarded a plane headed for Amsterdam. But on takeoff, I noted a strange sight. As the aircraft ascended, I could make out a precise distinction between the purple coloured smog and the cleaner air above it. With each second that passed, this line descended on the window until it was gone. It was as if the plane was emerging from a polluted lake. Looking down a few moments later, I could see this haze, purple like the Hendrix song hanging over the city, a smoggy shroud of Turin.
From that day on, I dreamed a revised dream. My objects of desire suddenly had less cylinders if none at all. The world seemed in need of new solutions very quickly. It was in that moment that my dream machines became leafy green instead of Italian racing red.
I have always retained since that day that people would need new solutions to transportation. Whether it’s mass transit, human powered vehicles or just cars without the petroleum, the world would have to evolve. Sadly, it has not evolved quickly enough. So in this new decade I hope that political leaders and industrialists will have their epiphanies also.