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“Let’s talk about optimism”

Back in November, on the eve of the US book release launch for How to Thrive in the Next Economy, I sat  down with Core77’s Allan Chochinov to talk about the project. AC: When did the book project first begin? Is it something that you’ve been working on for a while, or did it have […]

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And my killer project of all is…. (interview with @tbonini)

My  interview with @tbonini has ben  published in Italian at Che Fara.Here is the English version: Q  Among the many case histories that you brilliantly discovered and reported in your book, is there someone that you believe is extremely central in planning the “tomorrow’s world”? A  The sheer variety of projects and initiatives out there […]

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Between a rock and a doctorate

Today, Plymouth University very generously awarded me an honorary doctorate.  Here is my short statement to this year’s graduating class in Design, Architecture and Environment. I nearly failed to get here yesterday, and I want to tell you why. The road from my house to the city passes through a spectacular gorge. Several weeks ago, after some especially violent rainstorms, […]

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Cateran’s Common Wealth

Clare Cooper interview with John Thackara, 08 August 2014
 John, why do you think so much attention is being paid to the ideas around the notion of ’the commons’ right now? The commons is an idea, and a practice, that generates meaning and hope. Millions of people are busy in projects to meet practical needs […]

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Housing Without Building

The family of swallows that spent the summer in the eaves behind my office here in France have headed south for the winter. Soon, as Christmas beckons, they’ll reach their destinations: Botswana, Namibia or South Africa. After just two months gorging on insects, they’ll begin the epic journey back. The strongest among them will make […]

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Reading Small Signals

READING SMALL SIGNALS We’ve invested huge resources over the ages to keep the man-made world, and nature, separate – but there are signs everywhere that those those priorities are changing. Working through the consequences of that is a challenge for us all. Many signals of change are small on their own but, taken together, tell a new story. There’s […]

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A ‘Wild Mirror’ For Desk-Bound Workers

A new scheme in England connects office workers with living systems by means of a ‘wild mirror’: each workspace is twinned with an equivalent area of ecosystem regeneration.  The restoration of degraded ecosystems — or creating new ones — is gathering pace in different parts of the world.  According to Richard Coniff, China is planting […]

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Ten answers from Brisbane

My hosts last week at the Asia Pacific Design Library in Brisbane (which, on reflection, is probably the finest new library I have been in) asked me a few questions before our xskool: Q: What does a typical day look like for you? A: When I’m on the road, which is nearly half the time, I […]

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Speed? What Speed? The Belly-Dance Drummer, by Matthias Rieger (Part 2, of 3)

In 1996, when Ivan Illich agreed to speak at Doors of Perception in Amsterdam, our theme that year was ‘speed’. The philosopher surprised us by bringing along two fellow speakers: Sebastian Trapp, a field biologist, and Matthias Rieger, a musicologist. Their contributions are as  fresh today as twhen we heard them in Amsterdam – so we are running […]

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