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December Newsletter

Re-wilding the Bauhaus: what its foundation course should be like today
To mark its centenary, the Bauhaus published Design Rehearsals: Conversations About Bauhaus Lessons. My contribution proposes for a new Vorkurs, or Foundation Course. It would foster ecological literacy, and a whole-systems understanding of the world.

Design As A Tool for Transition: The Atelier Luma Approach
At Atelier Luma, designers and artists discover new kinds of value among the social and ecological assets of the Camargue bioregion. Their focus is on making connections, and supporting relationships, at a system-wide scale. For their new book, I contributed a chapter on Making as Connecting.

Back To The Land Reader
This reader was 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.

People Doing Stuff: 32 Case Study Collections
Abstract words like climate, sustainability, or extinction, generate plenty of anxiety – but not much action. I’ve learned the hard way that imagined futures, and green utopias, are not much more effective; they’re too far removed from most peoples’ lived experience. What does work are examples of real people, taking practical steps, right now. Such examples answer the question: “what am I supposed to do?”. With that lesson in mind, I’ve posted links to 32 case study collections. Take a look.

FIVE RECOMMENDED BOOKS

The Overstory
Richard Powers writes about “tree-consciousness, cultural epiphanies,  a world going up in flames, and what lies beyond despair”. The idea, he explains here, is that there is no separate thing called humanity, any more than there is a separate thing called nature. “Now, when we look at a forest, we see a highly cooperative and interdependent system that you can almost think of as a superorganism”.

Playing For Time
“We’ve gone as far as we can with facts and information. We must tap into emotion and values”. From learning journeys, to water museums, Lucy Neal’s inspiring book features artists who focus on participation, connection, and relationship. One of my favourites is the social fermentation practice of Eva Bakkeslett – the ways in which making, eating, and sharing fermented foods remind us that we are part of nature, linked to a network of bacteria.

Cultivating Knowledge: Biotechnology, Sustainability and Cotton Capitalism in India
The search for ‘sustainable’ fashion and textiles was long constrained by a search global and technical solutions within a Business As Usual framework. A consensus is now emerging that sustainable fashion will be regional, ecological, and social. What might that mean in practise? This respectful account of cotton farmers’ lives across rural southern India is a timely example of this new approach. The anthropologist Andrew Flachs recounts how “a single seed is more than just the promise of a plant; it represents diverging paths toward a sustainable livelihood”

Pluriverse: A Post-Development Dictionary
If, like me, you’re perplexed by the word “development”, and the destructive notions of “progress” it entails, then download this book. Its 100 entries honour cultural world views and practices from all over the world: old and new ones, local and global, indigenous, peasant, pastoral, urban, environmental, feminist, spiritual.

Low Tech Magazine: The Printed Website
The soil age will involve the rediscovery of machines that have already been invented – from water motors and rope drives, to cargo bikes and fruit walls. Most of them can of course be improved. Kris de Decker’s Low Tech Magazine explores the interesting possibilities that arise when you combine old technology with new knowledge and new materials; or when you apply old concepts, and traditional knowledge, to modern technology. The best bits are now available as a ‘printed website’.

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