After the High life?

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I was taken on a sneak preview visit to The High Line in New York. It’s an elevated public park on a 1.5 mile elevated railway that runs along the West Side of Manhattan. Everyone is rightly proud that this historic rail structure has been saved from being razed by developers. 150 million dollars have been found to to create a “one-of-a-kind recreational amenity…a linear public place where you will see and be seen”. It’s a spectacular site, and the work is being beautifully done – but the project feels strangely out-of-date before it even opens. The High Line website features “before” images (above) of the site before restoration, with masses of weeds and greenery. The project now, that I visited (see below), features concrete walkways, high-design benches, and artful planting. What I missed, amidst the designerly order, was the sense of abundance it had when still abandoned. The good news is that Phases 2 and 3 of the project venture into vast unused railway yards – perfect sites for city farms.
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Clean Growth: From Mindless Development to Design Mindfulness

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I’ve written this White Paper, called Clean Growth: From Mindless Development to Design Mindfulness for Design Innovation Scotland. It’s the first in a series whose aim is “to stimulate thought and debate about…radical solutions to real-world challenges”. The intended readers are regional economic development professionals and policy makers.

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With the iBorg in New York

The May edition of Doors of Perception Report (our monthly email newsletter) is now available
here

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Call from system: Chill !

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Mobile phones tend to be personal devices and Intel plans to take that further – a lot further.
Researchers Margaret Morris and Farzin Guilak are developing “mobile therapy” – a system of just-in-time personal coaching, by the system, that is triggered by physiological indicators of stress.
Mobile Heart Health, as it’s called, uses body sensors to help people “tune in to early signs of stress, and modulate reactivity that could potentially damage their relationships”. Breathing visualizations and “cognitive reappraisal cues” appear on your cell phone when a wireless ECG detects deviations from your baseline heart rate variability.
The only flaws I can see in this otherwise elegant project are first, that’ll I’ll be tempted to use my handset as a club on someone when it starts flashing cognitive reappraisal cues at me like that.
And second, my heart will literally explode the first time a cellphone tells me to calm down.

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New York: bat hunting

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Conditions for my talk on Monday were sub-optimal: there was a typhoon *and* a high-energy dispute between students and The New School, parts of which were occupied recently. [Fond memories: I, too, was a revolting student once; during one sit-in I became a dab hand at coooking chicken and rice in a dustbin for 200 people. Luckily, Monday’s typhoon meant there was no picket line – and in the event we had a great turnout].
On Thursday I hope to go bat-hunting in Central Park

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How to be global, and great, without traveling

While I’m away, would you help me promote these new editions of my book? In The Bubble has now been translated into French, Italian and Portuguese – and I’d appreciate your support in three ways:
a) buy-and-send copies for all your French, Italian and Portuguese-speaking friends around the world;
b) tell everyone you know, who speaks those languages, that these editions are now available;
c) send me the name and postal address of journalists, bloggers and thought-leaders in those languages to whom you think I should send a free review copy. (john at thackara dot com)
Here, first, is the French edition translated by Anne Despond-Barre and published by Marc Partouche for Cite du Design Editions.
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Next is the Italian edition translated by Niels Betori and published by Pier Paolo Peruccio for Allemandi.
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And here, below, published by Virgilia and available from Saraiva is the Portuguese edition published by Marcelo Melo.
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Velowala: ternary thinking in practice

Naomi Klein writes in today’s Guardian that “hope alone won’t save the world. It’s time to hope less, and demand more”.
I’m not sure. I find Klein’s piece enervating. Will demanding things from mainstream politicians like Obama be more productive than waiting hopefully for them to save us? I don’t think so.

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My plan to save the city of Nice $250 million

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This blog first proposed the replacement of trophy buildings with street art back in 2002. In a piece called “Trophy buildings are over” we argued that because they are conceived as spectacles, so-called signature architecture would be subject to the law of diminishing returns: the novelty would wear off, and buildings conceived as tourist destinations would be hard to sustain.
The modest size of the adoring horde outside LA’s $270 million Gehry (photographed above in February) would seem to confirm this prognosis.

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How they’re playing the game

Roughly once a week, I admonish myself for spending too much time reading financial blogs. “Focus on the positive,” I tell myself. “Raging at politicians and banksters is a waste of your life energy. Build an alternative reality to theirs. Go and plant a carrot”.
So yesterday I went into the real world (well, Nice) and hung out with real people doing real projects. And I was much inspired. But on the train back, thanks once again to Illargi, I accidentally stumbled across this excellent piece by Justice Litle (sic) that explains how the people who caused the mess are now making billions gaming governments’ solution to the mess.
“Tragedy is turning into farce as the real intent of the bank rescue plan becomes apparent”, Litle begins.
“Imagine, for a moment, that I have a beat-up old mini-fridge in the back of my garage. It has a coolant leak, it’s a little moldy, and it smells like stale beer, but I’m pretty sure it still works.

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