I write these words outside the portakabin control room of Shambala, a summer festival in England. On the wall is the street plan of what looks like a mid-sized town. Fifteen thousand people have indeed filled a vast field with tents, yurts, sound stages, composting toilets, drinking water tanks, hot tubs, food vans, cellphone charging stations, yoga enclosures, a barber shop, a meadow filled with aromatherapists, cash vending machines in a caravan, and pagan circles around wood-burning stoves.
Surrounding Shambala’s downtown core is a densely-packed suburbia Read More »
“The world is in dire need of a narrative adjustment; that’s why we write”(Hamid Dabashi)
Since How To Thrive In the Next Economy was published in the autumn, my 29 conversations about the book have prompted all kinds of feedback. One question has cropped up repeatedly: In a world filled with melting ice caps, war, species extinctions, and economic peril, how can I possibly argue that the small-scale actions I write about can transform the bigger picture for the better?
My answer: It depends how you frame the picture. Read More »
In myriad projects around the world, a new economy is emerging whose core value is stewardship, not extraction. Growth, in this new story, means soils, biodiversity and watersheds getting healthier, and communities more resilient.
These seedlings are cheering – but something more is needed for the whole to be more than the sum of its parts. A compelling story, and a shared purpose, are needed that people can relate to, and support, whatever their other differences.
A strong candidate for that connective idea is the bioregion. A bioregion re-connects us with living systems, and each other, through the unique places where we live. It acknowledges that we live among Read More »
Should transport systems be designed to save time – or calories? Who should own mobility sharing platforms: private companies? cities? us? What kind of ecosystem is needed to support the sharing platforms we want? These three questions are the focus of a workshop in London on 25 November.I’ve asked a three friends to join me on a panel: Tessy Britton, Co-founder of Civic Systems Lab and Participatory City; they just published their research report Designed to Scale; Blaine Cook, formerly lead developer of Twitter, now a founder of collaborative text editing startup Poetica; and (by Skype) Trebor Sholz, co-curator of last week’s already-celebrated conference on platform cooperativism. This post frames three questions we will discuss – hopefully, with you, too.
Today, Plymouth University very generously awarded me an honorary doctorate. Here is my short statement to this year’s graduating class in Design, Architecture and Environment.
I nearly failed to get here yesterday, and I want to tell you why.
The road from my house to the city passes through a spectacular gorge. Several weeks ago, after some especially violent rainstorms, stones and debris started falling onto the road.
Soon, an impressive crew arrived to stabilise the rock face.
One team of engineers made holes in the rock face with a huge robotic drill. Four yards long, it was mounted on the arm of a digger. They put large pegs in the holes, and made them secure with exotic polymer composites.
Higher up the rock face was a team of climbing engineers. Clad in bright red rubber suits for protection, they draped Read More »
John, why do you think so much attention is being paid to the ideas around the notion of ’the commons’ right now?
The commons is an idea, and a practice, that generates meaning and hope. Millions of people are busy in projects to meet practical needs in these precarious times – but a lot of this work feels fragmented. We’ve been lacking an umbrella concept, a coordinating idea, to make sense o the work we do as individuals in the swarm. The Commons is that umbrella idea. Commoning gives shared meaning to the emerging ‘leave things better’ politics that otherwise lacks a name. It’s the opposite of the drive to turn everything into money,
Do you have your own favourite definition of ‘common wealth’?
I’m nervous of definitions; they cause endless disputes and also tend to freeze an idea in time. But I like the way Silke Helfrich talks about the commons as “all the things that we inherit from past generations that enable our livelihoods’. Seen through that lens, the commons can include Read More »
In myriad projects around the world, a new economy is emerging whose core value is stewardship, not extraction. Growth, in this new story, means soils, biodiversity and watersheds getting healthier, and communities more resilient. These seedlings are cheering, but when it comes to binding diverse groups together around a common agenda, something more is needed. We need a compelling story, and a shared purpose, that people can relate to, and support, whatever their other differences.
For me, a strong candidate for that connective idea is the bioregion. Beginning with a short reflection on the power of such a story, and what’s already out there, this text describes what the elements of a design agenda for bioregions might be. As a work-in-progress, it will evolve in forthcoming conferences and Doors of Perception Xskools. If staging an xskool could be of interest in your bioregion, do get in touch.
1. A story that connects
2. Scope of a bioregion
3. Learning and design agenda
4. New skills and partnerships 5. Getting started
1. A story that connects
In myriad projects around the world, a new economy is emerging whose core value is Read More »
Under what circumstances would we become mindful stewards of living systems, not just their expoiters? The Dutch artist Annechien Meier re-connects us – viscerally, and emotionally – with our social and ecological surroundings.
[Above: De-paving begins in Arnhem. Photo: Laboratory for Microclimates]
Human beings are clever in many ways, but our attention is easily distracted from the support systems that our lives depend on – food, water, soil, and climate. Paved surfaces, and pervasive media, amplify our tendency to leave living systems out of sight, and out of mind. This prompts a question: Under what circumstances would we connect with, and look after, the living systems we depend on? Read More »