From Bike Chain to Blockchain: Three Questions About Cooperation Platforms and Mobility

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 BrittonCo-founder of Civic Systems Lab and Participatory City; they just published their research report Designed to ScaleBlaine 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 cooperativismThis post frames three questions we will discuss – hopefully, with you, too. 

Thomas Lommée multivan-in-action

(Above: Multivan concept by Thomas Lommée)

Taxi. Pick-up. Delivery. Assistance. Vendor. Security. Rental.

Seven functions, one vehicle. The signs on that one small van describe a new way to think about mobility: the use of multiple mobility ‘assets’ to support a wide variety of services.

In the concept of Mobility as a Service (MaaS) the van, when coupled with a Read More »

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Between a rock and a doctorate

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.

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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 »

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Cateran’s Common Wealth

Alyth-Hill

Clare Cooper interview with John Thackara, 08 August 2014


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 »

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My new book: How To Thrive In The Next Economy

Today I’m proud to announce that my new book, How To Thrive In The Next Economy: Designing Tomorrow’s World Today will be published by Thames & Hudson on 7 September; (the US edition comes out in December). Sample extracts from each of the ten chapters are here.
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TWITTER
It would be terrific if you would help spread the word about the book using the hashtag #ThackaraThrive and this url: http://doorsofperception.com/thackarathrive/ Read More »

Posted in transition & design | 1 Response

Bioregions: Notes On A Design Agenda

Michelle Cockiing

Photo: Michelle Cocking

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 »

Posted in city & bioregion, most read | 2 Responses

Laboratory for Microclimates

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.

LAB 01

[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 »

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Socially Smart Sanitation

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Above: Build it and they will come? In the world of toilets, it’s not so simple.  (Photo: Quicksand)

What if sanitation is not just about the kit? If sanitation solutions cannot be mass-produced at will, like a box of software, what, then, is the alternative? 

Nearly half the world’s population lacks access to a toilet, so the desire for scale is understandable. By some accounts, eighty percent of the world’s illnesses can be traced to untreated fecal matter, and the health consequences of open defection are especially dire for poor people forced to live in densely packed urban communities. Nobody disputes that something major must be done.

Given the scale of the challenge, large-scale solutions that will improve life for large numbers of people sound like good news. India’s government, in this spirit, has proclaimed that ‘toilets are more important than temples’ and is committed Read More »

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How to be a rock

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(Above: A forest skills workshop in Big Tree Country)

Last month I spent a day in a small town of 2,000 people in Perthshire, Scotland, with the following group of people: a blacksmith; a book maker; a soldier turned master mead maker; an artist whose work explores how we interact with the ecology of the earth; a student of the ecosystems to be found in dry stone walls; a curator of artist-led walks; a man who helps youth hostels reinvent themselves; a botanist who specialises in sphagnum moss; another artist who makes outfits that disguise you as a rock; a public arts funder; someone from a field studies centre where one can see the Clouded Drab (a rare moth); a fiddler who organises traditional music festivals; a nurse who leads healing walks; a designer of natural golf courses; a raspberry farmer; an outdoor education provider; the tutor at a forest school; a felter and knitter; a man who ”hated going to the potatoes”; a breeder if ill-disciplined Hebridean sheep; a man who studies lumps and bumps in the landscape; a digital arts producer; a bare foot walker; a designer of water cleaning systems; a book festival organiser; and a countryside steward.

Our task was to imagine new ways for residents and visitors to connect with the ecological and cultural assets of The Cateran Trail. This 64 mile (103 km) circular track, in the heart of ‘Big Tree Country’ in central Scotland, Read More »

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Leathershed lab

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On Saturday 12 December, together with Mansi Gupta, I’m running a workshop at the UnBox Festival in Delhi.

We will develop the programme of a Lab, to be situated at the heart of India’s largest leather-producing region, that will develop products and services that combine clean forms of leather making with direct connections between between producers and customers. Read More »

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