Meet-up in France

Week long meet-up in the South of France,
in July and in August 2019

Posted in [no topic] | Comments closed

Back to the Land 2.0 Reader (2019)

This reader is prepared for the annual Back To The Land 2.0 summer school in Sweden that I run together with Konstfack (Cheryl Akner-Koler) and Annika Göran-Rodell

Street Food
A wonderful series of short (30′) films on Netflix.

Social Food Atlas
Social Food Projects include municipal gardens and urban farms; community meals; social harvest festivals; farmer-to-farmer meet-ups; food waste platforms; community kitchens; community baking and brewing sites; care farms; school gardens; street food festivals; cooperative grain growing; farm hacks; regional gatherings; farm tours; and many more.A two minute video is here. Among the key takeways:

Posted in city & bioregion, food systems & design | Leave a comment

Urban-Rural reconnection: research statement for Tongji University

In April, I began work as an adjunct (visiting) professor at Tongji University (College of Design and Innovation) in Shanghai. As part of the appointment process, I submitted the research statement below. This text accompanies the new preface for the Chinese edition of my book and my recent paper for the journal She Ji, Bioregioning: Pathways to Urban-Rural Reconnection

Research, for this candidate, means two things: the identification new opportunities; and fostering new connections between motivated and effective people to bring those opportunities to life.

Drawing on my work since 2010 organising Doors of Perception xskools in 20 countries, the following three research topics would be the focus of my contribution as Adjunct Professor:
Care. Value. Place
Urban-Rural Reconnection / Rural Social Innovation
Knowledge ecologies and scale

Posted in city & bioregion, food systems & design, learning & design | Leave a comment

Re-wilding the Bauhaus: what its foundation course should be like today

To mark its centenary this year, the Bauhaus has published Design Rehearsals: Conversations About Bauhaus Lessons. Contributors to the book were shown some of the images created at that time and asked, “What do you see?” My contribution is a response to images from Oskar Schlemmer’s class on ‘The Human’.

The Man portrayed in these images is a lonely one.

A preoccupation with the human being as an autonomous subject must have felt liberating at the time – but today these images remind us of what we have lost: a sense of connection to each other, and with the living world.

Situated and embodied experiences that once gave us meaning – a sense of interdependency with living systems – are replaced in these images by abstraction and ecological indifference.

The sadness triggered by these images can be productive: they contain the seeds of a Vorkurs, or Foundation Course, to replace what has been lost.

This course would foster ecological literacy, and a whole-systems understanding of the world.

It would reunite two worlds that have been sundered: wisdom traditions from other places and times, and the latest insights of systems thinking and complexity science.

The course would expose students to complex interactions between life-forms, rocks, atmosphere, and water. It would help them discover that the entire Earth is animated by interactions among systems at different geographical and temporal scales.

The experience of mapping biotic communities would teach them that everything is connected – from sub-microscopic viruses, to the vast subsoil networks that support trees.

Art, in the new course, would ensure that students connect with living systems emotionally, and not just rationally.

By making students curious about “what we’re inside of”, in the words of Nora Bateson, art would teach students to explore complex interdependencies with joy – even when they remain perplexed.

By making them aware of the power of small actions to transform the bigger picture, art would also foster activity – not just awareness, or introspection.

Many core elements of such a course already exist. Pockets of vitality can be found wherever students are attentive to the relationships between living organisms and their environment.

Ilya Prigogene described such experiments as ‘small islands of coherence’ in an otherwise chaotic world. http://thackara.com/notopic/industrial-production-is-not-the-purpose-of-life/

Caring for life – and its interdependence with the nonhuman world – is a new source of value on these islands.

And because ecological practice involves new ways of thinking about connection, patterns and context, the new course would bring designers quite naturally in contact with adjacent disciplines such as climatology, hydrology, geography, psychology, history, and many more.

Posted in [no topic] | Leave a comment

Urban-Rural Re-connection

Urban-Rural Connection special issue – with my (6k words) paper Bioregioning: Pathways to Urban-Rural Reconnection and a reading list. Keywords: Bioregion | Urban-rural reconnection | Civic ecology | Social infrastructure | Smart villages | System change | Knowledge ecologies

Posted in [no topic] | Leave a comment

Social Food Forum: the takeaways

Above: a contadinner, organised in Italy by VaZapp

As a legacy of #Matera2019 in Italy, a meeting of 15 social food curators met in Matera for the launch of a Social Food Forum and Social Food Atlas. Social Food Projects include municipal gardens and urban farms; community meals; social harvest festivals; farmer-to-farmer meet-ups; food waste platforms; community kitchens; community baking and brewing sites; care farms; school gardens; street food festivals; cooperative grain growing; farm hacks; regional gatherings; farm tours; and many more A two minute video is here.

We discussed two main topics in Matera: how to describe the different kinds of value created by social food projects; and, how to do more of this work, with more partners, and in more places, in the near future. Here are our main findings.

Posted in [no topic] | Leave a comment

How To Thrive In the Next Economy: Preface to the Chinese edition

A cultural disconnection between the man-made world and the biosphere lies behind the grave challenges we face today. We either don’t think about rivers, soils, and biodiversity at all – or we treat them as resources whose only purpose is to feed the economy. This ‘metabolic rift’ – between the living world, and the economic one – leaves us starved of meaning and purpose. We have to heal this damaging gap.

This book is Read More »

Posted in city & bioregion, development & design, learning & design, most read, social innovation & design | 1 Response

From Neighbourhood To Bioregion: The City as a Living System

I wrote the following text for a new book, Human Cities: Challenging The City Scale (published by Cite du Design and Clear Village).

The Greek physician Hippocrates described the effects of “airs, waters, and places” on the health of individuals and communities. For a short period, the industrial age distracted us from this whole-systems understanding of the world – but we are now learning again to think of cities as habitats, and as ecosystems, that co-exist on a single living planet.

Humanising the city in this context – making it healthy for people – therefore means making it habitable for all of life, not just human life. It means thinking of the city as a local living economy, not as a machine. And it means the embrace of biodiversity, and local economic activity, as better measures of a city’s health than the amount of money that flows through it. Read More »

Posted in city & bioregion, food systems & design | 1 Response

Two-wheeled logistics: a city manager’s 19-point to-do list

(Above, in 2018: large areas of Shanghai have fallen silent thanks to the widespread use of electric cargo bikes; there’s hardly a white van to be seen)

City Manager’s To-Do List

1. To see what your city’s two-wheeled future could be like, visit India and marvel at the richness of bike-based commerce. Then go to Indonesia and marvel at the range of services available on the Go-Jek platform.  And visit Shanghai, where large areas of of the city have fallen silent thanks to the widespread use of electric cargo bikes; there’s hardly a white van to be seen

1   Next, develop a shared vision among stakeholders – an approach pioneered Read More »

Posted in mobility & design | Leave a comment