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The (Design) Journey Back To Local

I did a 30 minute talk last October for Allan Chochinov’s Products of Design class at the School of Visual Arts, in New York City. Here is the video – and below are the main points, followed by a transcript.

MAIN POINTS
You and I use more energy & resources in single month than our great-grandparents used during their whole lifetime. And we’re doing so on a finite planet.

The science says we can thrive in future – but only if we meet our every day needs using five percent of the energy and material throughputs we’re using now.

That’s a Factor 20 reduction. That number sounds impossible, so scientists don’t talk about it much.

Their reticence is easy to understand. What is anyone supposed to do with that information?

Good news: examples of a five per cent future already exist: it’s how the world’s poor people already live.

More good news: 95 per cent of the world’s economic activity is already local.

Some advice, in that context, for designers in search of something practical to do: go and learn about poor-to-poor infrastructures that already exist – and use your design skills to enhance them.

Three takeaways:

1: Local provision is not a design or lifestyle choice – it’s where we’re headed anyway. That’s because local uses time, space and energy in radically less wasteful ways.

2: The vast majority of economic activity to meet daily needs is already local. Changing the word faster, to closer,is not as hard as it sounds.

3: Restoring our own health, and caring for place, is a single story.

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