Doors of Perception projects portfolio

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Bulb-planting has started early at Doors HQ:
– We’ve posted summary descriptions of the last ten years’ Doors of Perception projects – the idea being that we plan to do more projects like these ones, only better.
– All City Eco Lab posts are now in one stack; [City Eco Lab never had its own website];
– So too are all posts on new economic metrics;
– We’ve started a new category on transition and resilience; here we reflect on our encounters with the Transition movement and the ways it is building resilience in communities around the world;
– News on new and recent books by John Thackara are now collected in one place – buy them all now, while books still exist;
– Back issues of our newsletterdating back to 2002, are still there at the Doors of Perception Newsletter archive.
– and (thanks Nique! thanks Kristi!) ) we’ve tidied up the navigation buttons on this page.

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19 reasons to be cheerful after Copenhagen (+1)

The outcome of Copenhagen is depressing if you only look at what happened at the official summit, and persist in the belief that those guys are “world leaders”. They are not: they are followers, guardians of a dying regime. So don’t look at them. Hundreds of thousand of groups are already busy, in countless ways, preparing their communities for the changes and shocks to come. Elements of an alternative global framework have started to emerge. Several hundred of these groups helped draft a ‘People’s Declaration’ from Klimaforum09 entitled System change – not climate change. It’s a much better read.
Meanwhile, I thought it would be both festive and restorative to share with you the following 19 highlights of our 2009 re-localisation efforts at Doors HQ here in France.
1) KvR developed a killer grape syrup recipe (= off-grid sugar)
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2) Off-grid shoe polish (= keeping up appearances as the consequences of peak oil unfold)
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Designing an associative life

Government departments or ministries responsible for sustainability, or “the environment”, are too often constrained by small budgets and modest influence. Their very existence allows traditional departments – “industry”, “economic affairs”, “finance” or “transport” – to carry on their ecocidal ways as normal.

A similar problem persists in business where Corporate Social Responsibility has long been treated as a sideline to the real action.

A growing number of individuals in government or industry silos want to work collaboratively with their peers in other silos – but they are often stymied by a system that imprisons them.
So what to do?
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Rather than rage against the iniquities of politicians, a new French organization called La 27e Region (The 27th Region) has set out to help regional governments change by running collaborative projects that enable them to experience a new approach to social innovation in practice.

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Territorial development books

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It has always been a point of pride at Doors of Perception events to curate the bookstore as carefully as we curate the speakers. We do this because when a conference theme cuts across disciplines – as ours do – no single bookseller is likely to know which are the best supporting titles on sustainability *and* design *and* culture *and* business; we select them collaboratively.

So it was a special insider’s pleasure to encounter a display of books at La 27e Region’s event in Marseille (see story above) on all aspects of territorial development.
The word territorial has no direct English equivalent: in French (and also in Italian) it describes a synthesis of the soil, the land, the earth, biodiversity, culture, law, philosophy and sustainable development. Among my scores were a book on Citizen participation and public action: cases from Dakar, Rabat, Cotonou, jerusalem and Sanaa. and another called “The Intelligence of the Other”. by Michel Sauquet which proposes an “ecology of different kinds of knowledge”; this, in English, would probably be called something less enchanting like ‘intercultural awareness’. I’m putting the online bookseller links here because I could not find any other references that show the books.
If you’re minded to buy these, please go to (I’m roughly translating again) the Territorial Development Bookshop.

If you’re thinking – “what use is this to me, it’s all in French!” – then I agree with you and apologise. But I also have a question: does anyone know who we might approach for funding to pay for an editorial service that would make French books, events, people and projects available to an English readership? We can make a start with one editorial post.

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Hand-made clothes for all

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This Louis Vuitton ad features shoes which cost about 600 euros (US$700) in the shops. I don’t know how much Louis Vuitton pays for them, and I don’t know how much they will be paying Tony Blair to help sell them but I’d be surprised if the unit cost to the company is what: 60 euros? half that?
The numbers may be confidential, but it’s no longer a secret that Louis Vuitton products are not hand-made by horny-handed French craftsmen. On the contrary: the labour-intensive aspects of Louis Vuitton shoe production take place in India.
But final assembly and finishing happen in Italy – so the louche young man in the ad could well be genuine.

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From King Parakramabahu to ethical fashion

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Some people blame the Enlightenment for our present troubles.

The scientific revolution, they say, gave man ideas above his station. We frequently harm natural systems, goes the charge, because of our delusional belief that we are separate from, and have dominion over, nature.

This myth of apartness, the charges conclude, dulls the responsibility we’d feel if we felt ourselves to be co-dependent members of natural community.

History suggests that modernity is not uniquely to blame for messing with Gaia.

During his reign as King of Sri Lanka from 1153–1186, for example, Parakramabahu asserted that “not even a little water that comes from the rain must flow into the ocean without being made useful to man”. He went on to construct or restore of 165 dams, 3910 canals, 163 major reservoirs and 2376 minor tanks – all in a reign of 33 years.

Parakramabahu started a tradition whereby every Sri Lankan king would build dams; the island now contains more than a thousand. No country in the world contains so much man-made irrigation per square km.

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In the Palace of the Popes

Is culture something that’s produced to be sold, or a description of the ways people live? It’s an old question, but last week’s Forum d’Avignon (see also my story below) put a new spin on it: could the culture industries lead the way out of the economic crisis?
The debate did not take place on neutral territory. The Forum’s 300 grandees of media, economy and culture met in the Palace of the Popes. The event felt more like a papal conclave than a business meeting.
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Post-GDP: metrics, aesthetics, or ethics?

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So on Friday I’m immoderating a panel discussion about “After GDP” at the Forum d’Avignon, a uniquely French event which brings the worlds of culture, economy and media together in the Palais des Papes. By way of throwing an advance stone into the pond, I wrote this short background article for Les Echos. The French version comes first (thanks, Emilie!); scroll down for the English version.

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epa!

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The highlight of my visit to Musashino Art University’s 80th Anniversary was this stunning fashion show called epa! (Thanks, Tatsu, for the pictures). An incredible amount of fine handwork was involved in the clothes and acccessories, but what struck me most was the energy of the staging and choreography, and the pagan storyline: these reminded me of a design-school graduation collection I saw back in 1984 called “Les Incroyables”. It was by a young designer called John Galliano.
Even earlier than that, back in 1954, Musashino art students moved in different ways….
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