social innovation & design

Urban-Rural: The New Geographies of Innovation

This is the text of my plenary talk at the Innovation and Emerging Industry Development (IEID) conference in Shanghai on 18 September 2019. I describe three enabling conditions for system change: a capacity for ecological thinking; a focus on social infrastructure (rather than the concrete kind); and a shift of focus from place making, to […]

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Articles in Resilience

Here is a collection of texts by John Thackara selected by Resilience magazine. How To Thrive In the Next Economy: Preface to the Chinese edition This book is not about pre-cooked solutions. It’s about building on what has already been done, in our various social and cultural histories, and on what’s being done, right now, […]

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Civic Ecology as a Design Space

What is innovative in design today? What urgent issues is the discipline tackling? For this special feature in Domus Magazine, Valentina Croci talks with Paola Antonelli, Aric Chen and John Thackara. Paola muses on the disturbed relation between us and nature, the subject of her (then) forthcoming show at the Triennale di Milano. From his […]

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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 […]

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What keeps you awake at night?

I was asked, in an interview for Resilience, what it is that inspires my work, and what keeps me going. 1. Who/what has been your greatest inspiration? And why?
 A:  Rocks. And stones. I’ve always loved stones and rocky places – but it was only when I moved to south west France (where I live […]

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Socially Smart Sanitation

Ugly Indians don’t blame their fellow citizens, or politicians, or ‘the system’: They act first, and then they talk. They make it “our” problem, not “your” problem.

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When Tech In Care Is Evil

I spent the last two weeks in-and-around a care home in England that looks after people with dementia and terminal illness, and their families – including, this time, mine. In four wings, each with 12 residents, 24/7 care is provided by teams of trained professionals who work 12 hour shifts. During the day, for each wing, […]

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The Dementia Care Economy

Yesterday’s G8 Dementia Summit made much of the fact that millions will now be spent in a race to identify a cure or a ‘disease-modifying therapy’ for dementia.  The likely outcome will be the creation of a Dementia Industrial Complex – and the mass production of un-met expectations.A better way for nation states to spend money […]

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Transition Dogville

In Lars von Trier’s 2003 film Dogville (below) there is almost no set. Buildings in the town are represented by a series of white outlines on the floor. Dogville was a to-the-limit exercise in what von Trier calls ‘pure cinema’ – a commitment to use only real locations, and no special effects or background music, when making […]

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