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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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Of Change Labs and Living Systems: Doors of Perception Newsletter, July 2013

CONTENTS On Getting Out Of The Tent Xskool in Sweden: Design Within Living Systems How To Use A Fringe-Dwelling Change Agent Most-Read Stories Recent Publications Doors at 20: On getting out of the tent Nearly twenty years ago, in November 1993, the year the web was invented, the first Doors of Perception conference took place […]

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Diseñando Para un mundo complejo. Acciones para lograr la sustentabilidad

  I’m totally thrilled that my book has just been published in Spanish by my fabulous friends at Editorial Disegnio in Mexico City. Please tell everyone you know, once met, or vaguely heard of, who is Spanish-speaking, and who might be interested. Health warning: the “$” price shown means Mexican pesos, not US$. Oh, and did […]

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