Earth Repair In Your Bioregion: Short Course at @SchumacherColl

Ecological Restoration by Design  26-30 June @SchumacherColl

In the leave things better economy now emerging, ecological restoration can add new kinds of value to planning and design. But how?

This short course, which I am leading together with Lisa Maria Enzenhofer, will introduce you to a constellation of real-world ecological restoration projects, framed by their bioregion, in urban, peri-urban and rural contexts: regenerative agriculture; civic ecology; green infrastructure; river recovery; wetlands restoration; blue-green corridors; pollinator pathways; urban forests; and the use of plants to restore polluted soil and to create micro climates.

We will explore ecological restoration at multiple scales of geography and time – from micro-environments in former factories, to Ecological Restoration Camps at the scale of the bioregion.

The week includes encounters with project pioneers in South Devon involved in sustainable horticulture, the creation of a Bioregional Learning Centre, and the Deep Time Walk. 

Participants will also complete a design exercise in which lessons learned during the week are applied to a context of their own.

We want this course to be multi-disciplinary. We invite not only designers, architects and planners, but also geographers, ecologists, economists, and others. 

The course is for you if you want  to understand the principles of ecological restoration; read a territory through an ecosystem lens; and engage, on however small a scale, in your own context.

 

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Interview: Signals of Transformation and How to Read Them

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I was interviewed about How To Thrive by Sarah Dorkenwald for a new book, Visionen Gestalten, which will be published next week. The original English transcript is below. The German text is HERE.

SD: What is your vision of the next economy about?

JT: My book is for people who fear that there no escape from an economy that devours nature in the name of endless growth. I argue that another world is not just possible – it is already happening: a world in we value all of life, not just human life; a word in which progress is measured by Read More »

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Making as Reconnecting: Crafts In The Next Economy

The following is an edited version of my keynote talk, delivered by video to the Craft Reveals conference at the Chiang Mai Vocational School in December 2016. The conference was hosted (and my talk commissioned) by the British Council Thailand.

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Around the world, a new economy is being shaped by a “leave things better” story about the meaning of progress and development. In a million projects, people are growing food, restoring soils and rivers, designing homes, generating energy,  journeying, caring for each other, and learning, in new ways.

These activities are incredibly diverse, but a green thread connects them: Read More »

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Book launch in India

Amid the spectacular setting created by my hosts at (above) my talk was miraculously summarised on a single page by the talented @ragasy

There followed a #ThackaraThrive book launch in Mumbai at the Indian School of Design & Innovation / Parsons Mumbai  With many thanks to @isdimumbai @RoliBooks and @thamesandhudson

 

 

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Interview with Experimenta (Spain)

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On the occasion of the publication of  #ThackaraThrive in Spanish, I did an interview for Experimenta with Dr. Eugenio Vega Pindado. Here below is the English version.


Q1: This is one of the first interviews with John Thackara in a Spanish magazine. What do you tell to our readers about the main motivation for your approach of the problems discussed in this book? 



A: To people who fear that there no escape from an economy that devours nature in the name of endless growth, I argue that another world is not just possible – it is already happening. I know this to be true because Read More »

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Entrevista a Experimenta (in Spanish)

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Con motivo de la publicación en lengua castellana de su último libro, John Thackara ha concedido una entrevista a Experimenta. En ella repasa las principales ideas de su pensamiento y los motivos que le han llevado a profundizar en las relaciones entre diseño e innovación social con la mirada puesta en un mundo más sostenible.

Experimenta ha publicado Cómo prosperar en la economía sostenible, diseñar hoy el mundo del mañana la versión española de Read More »

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From Oil Age to Soil Age

The Design Museum in London opens at its new home this week with, as its centrepiece, an exhibition called Fear and Love curated by Justin McGuirk. I contributed the following text to the book.

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(Above: Debra Solomon examines nature’s internet at Schumacher College in England)

Why we need a new story

In 1971 a geologist called Earl Cook evaluated the amount of energy ‘captured from the environment’ in different economic systems. Cook discovered then that a modern city dweller needed about 230,000 kilocalories per day to keep body and soul together. This compared starkly to a hunter-gatherer, 10,000 years earlier, who needed about 5,000 kcal per day to get by.

That gap, between simple and complex lives, has widened at an accelerating rate since Cook’s pioneering work. Once all the systems, networks and equipment of modern life are factored in – the cars, planes, factories, buildings, infrastructure, heating, cooling, lighting, food, water, hospitals, the internet of things, cloud computing – well, a New Yorker or Londoner today ‘needs’ about sixty times more energy and resources per person than a hunter-gatherer – Read More »

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On seeing with new eyes

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The last thing we need to see the world with new eyes is a virtual reality headset“. On a recent visit to Milan, I was interviewed for Domus by Stefania Garassini. The Italian version is online here; the English one is here.

(Domus intro) When you hear someone quote Marcel Proust – “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes” – there is a temptation to dismiss them as just another utopian, a dreamer who might have inspired ideas but cannot translate these into anything practical. Nothing could be further from the truth if the person in question is John Thackara, a philosopher, writer, event-organiser, thinker ranging across the boundaries between design and economics, and the author of numerous books – his most recent is How to Thrive in the Next Economy (Thames & Hudson). Read More »

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A roof, a skill, a market: The multiple dimensions of scale

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“Beware the scale trap”.  In a Letter To Philanthropists Parker Mitchell,  a former CEO of Engineers Without Borders in Canada, advised potential donors that “scale is important, but don’t rush it. Most good ideas take time – to iron out the details, to bring down the costs, to be tested in different environments”. Organic demand-driven scale will happen in time, but it takes patience to find the right elements of a solution.

These lessons are exemplified by The Nubian Vault Association (AVN). With a mission is to serve the one hundred million people living in the Sahel region of West Africa who are either homeless, or live precariously in short-life structures, AVN has spent 16-years, on the ground, developing a multi-dimensional approach that works.

AVN’s pioneering work will be presented this week at the finals of the Place By Design competition at SXSWeco.  Rather than a celebration of the past, it will share a  challenge with the whole social impact community: What’s the best way to grow faster – a lot faster – without wrecking a system that has worked well so far?
Read More »

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