Eco Design Challenge (Schools’ sustainability competition, North East England, 2006-2007)

In Dott07’s Eco Design Challenge, more than fifteen thousand school students used custom–designed calculators to measure their school’s eco-footprint. They then ran projects to design lighter alternatives to the systems (food, water, transport, energy and waste) operating in their school. Many schools, with some modest help from Dott, invited professional designers in to help with these second phase projects.
The Dott07 campaign involved 80 schools; the winning school went on to present its project to parliamantarians in London.

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High entropy notions of quality

Last week I gave this talk at a seminar in Milan called Art For Business.
“On my way to this conference on art and business, two Erasmus University business school students (a Russian and a Dane) came to meet me in Amsterdam. They came from “Team Aesthetics” . We talked of Aesthetics, Innovation, Complexity, Meaning, Value. They asked me: “Is there a market at the intersection of aesthetics and business?”
Now there’s a question. Meeting these young MBAs triggered me to give them a warning. When the economy is booming, aor expanding like a bubble, like now, the minds of business will indeed turn to higher things – such as aesthetics. But the second the going gets tough, these elevated concerns will go straight out of the window.
One day I will write the story of my Bubble Economy years in Japan. Suffice to say here that, in January 1991, I expected to be incredibly rich by Christmas. I had invented a form of consultrancy that I called “cultural engineering” and some huge projects with prestigious Japanese partners were ready to be signed.
By April 1991, I pretty much went bankrupt when the bubble ecomnomy bust and every last one of my exotic cultural projects was put on hold. They were never re-started. Aesthetics, I learned, is a fair weather market.
And it’s going to get tough again. Unimaginably tough. Think of climate change. Resource depletion. Catabolic collapse. The global money system. Unsustainable food systems. Each of these is bad on its own. When they start to interact with each other….well….
Is there any point in even considering the connection between aesthetics and business at such a time?
The answer is yes. There is a connection, indeed a crucal one. There is a crucial aesthetic-cultural dimension to the transition to sustainability.
The ways we respond aesthetically to our environment now are horribly constrained. Urban man, industrial man (and woman) lack the visceral connectons to the biosphere that helped hunter gatherers survive.
Most of our inputs are mediated. We are blinded by a synthetic spectacle that envelops us all.
Modernity as a whole has been fuelled not just by cheap energy, but also by a cultural lust for speed, perfection, control.
We are bewitched, as a culture, by a high entropy concept of quality.
We would do well to remember the laws of thermodynamics. All order and control has an energy cost. It takes astronomical amounts of energy to acheve the pure, minimal, buildings, products, transport systems and infrastructures that we now aspire to and regard as emblematic of progress and quality.
We need new cultural-aesthetic ways of looking at – and acting in – the world. A new aesthetics of sustainability so that, when we look at things, we will think in totally new ways about whether a thing is “right”.
Think of an airport, for example. What might it mean to be aesthetically triggered to be aware of the amount of energy embodied in the artefacts, structures and processes that surrounded us in such places?
This is where aesthetics comes in.
(to be continued….)
discussed your post with a friend today who mailed it to me…
first of all: most of us working on the intersection of management and aesthetics had their waterloo one time or the other (again)… mine was 2001/02.
looking forward i guess in general there are three possibilities we are facing here:
a) as suggested by german author thomas mann: absolutely no hope for people who cannot decide whether to be on the art or the business side of life… no hope at all… they are ridiculous figures (thomas mann “tonio kroeger” 1903)
b) in germany the sales of new automobiles in 2007 were as bad as never before since the reunification. – in-spite of an economical up-swing people seem to be waiting for new hybrids and for political security to make automotive investments.
… waiting for a new aesthetics, for a new order of things?… could be.
at least i’d like to believe that. – at least i’d like to believe that the next recession – so it will come – will not be one where people are looking back in despair but are looking forward for new things to take shape.
c) all that we are talking about – and especially the way we are talking about it – is completely irrelevant because the next wave is coming from places like china and india and will hit old europe in such a way that we cannot even describe it.
the way we discuss our problem-solving patterns and management styles is so hopelessly euro-centric and grounded in a culture that exactly brought us to the point we are now, that the next wave will come from a totally different direction, in a totally different way that our game and the rules of our game will change for us in an also culturally unforeseeable way. – in that case our discussions here are nice but utterly irrelevant.
make your bet.
the ball is still rolling.

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…sachlichkeit is not a style.
it’s an attitude.

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Who is afraid of local food?

In the October issue of Blueprint its editor Vicky Richardson’s accused Designs of the time (Dott 07) of secretly buying 10,000 pounds worth of fruit and vegetables when our Urban Farming project in Middlesbrough “did not generate adequate grub for the guests”. Vicky declined to name the greengrocer for whom Christmas came so early – and I hereby confirm that her charge is ridiculous and untrue. But she did give me the space to publish this reply.
“The biggest problem with the porkies in her (Vicky’s) story is that you can’t eat them. Dott’s Urban Farming project was not an aesthetic game, nor a yuppy lifestyle fad. It was a practical response to the urgent necessity to develop alternative food systems from the ground up.
Standing in Harvey Nichols Food Hall, or wherever it is that Biueprint’s editor shops, food supplies may well look secure. But as I write, there are empty shelves in Caracas, food riots in West Bengal and Mexico, warnings of hunger in Jamaica, Nepal, the Philippines and sub-Saharan Africa. Record world prices for most staple foods have led to 18 percent food price inflation in China, 13 percent in Indonesia and Pakistan, and 10 percent or more in Latin America, Russia and India, according to the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO). Wheat has doubled in price, maize is nearly 50 percent higher than a year ago, and rice is 20 percent more expensive, says the UN.
Harvey Nicks may look well-stocked now – but at what cost,. and for how much longer? Almost a third more food was flown into Britain last year than in 2005. Air-freight rose 31 per cent in the year to 2006, according to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Food air miles have more than quadrupled – a rise of 379 per cent – since 1992.
The emerging food challenge we face is about energy, not ethics. Today, up to 40 percent of the ecological footprint of a city can be attributed to the systems which keep it fed and watered. On American farms in the early 1800s, the balance between calories expended and calories produced as food was about even. In ‘developed’ countries now it takes ten calories worth of energy from fossil fuels – in the form of fertilizers, pesticides, irrigation, and transportation fuel – to get one calorie back in the form of food.
That insane ratio was sustainable whilst energy, especially oil and natural gas, was cheap. But what about now? Since Dott’s New Urban Farmers fed 2,500 people in Middlesbrough’s Town Meal, the price of crude oil has shot up by $25 a barrel, and there’s a growing consensus that the imminent $100 a barrel energy crunch will not be a blip, but the new norm.
In her attack on Dott’s Urban Farming project, Vicky Richardson writes that “the idea that a modern urbanised society can survive by growing its own food is unrealistic and undesirable”. Undesirable to whom, for goodness sake? The interests most threatened by a re-localisation of food supply are those associated with biotechnology and the agribusiness.
I’m perplexed that Vicky should cite “the spirit of invention and free-thinking” in defence of these corporate interests at a time when many of them are also embarking on radical change. Patrick Cescau, for example, the boss of Unilever, one of the world’s largest food businesses, spoke recently of “ seismic shifts in the world we do business in A reality gap has opened up between where we are and where we know – both instinctively and intellectually – we need to be”.
Global industrial agriculture was less the result of “free-thinking” than of saturating land with fertilizers and pesticides, and soaking it with vast irrigation schemes, using cheap oil and gas to do so. That era is over. Besides, it was an approach based on brute force compared to the innovation required now to re-localise food supply at the level of the city-region.
Real innovation now combines top-down and bottom-up approaches. Middlesbrough Council was deeply impressed by the enthusiasm with which the experiment was taken up at grass roots within the community. Its officers tell me that many residents are asking how they can get involved again next year. But Dott’s project was not about returning Middlesbrough to some kind of pre-industrial Emmerdale Farm. It was inspired by and complements the larger Stockton-Middlesborough Initiative, a 20-year vision for regenerating the urban core of the Tees Valley to ceate a “Green-Blue Heart” for more than 500,000 people.
Middlesbrough is in a global vanguard of city regions – from Arrezzo and Barcelona, to Toronto and the South Bronx, that are beginning to integrate food and water systems into their strategic planning. For these pioneers, food flows and water systems are a new layer of productive infrastructure, not a decorative afterthought.

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Designs of the Time (Dott07) (Sustainability festival, North East England. 2007)

Doors of Perception’s director, John Thackara, was programme director of Designs of the time (Dott 07), a year of community design projects in North East England that explored what life in a sustainable region could be like – and how design can help us get there.

It was an initiative of the UK Design Council and a regional development agency, One North East.
More than 200,000 citizens engaged with Dott, including 20,000 who came to the concluding two week festival on the banks of the River Tyne, and 15,000 school students who responded to its design briefs and projects.

Seventy percent of Dott’s public commission projects continued with new partners once the biennial season was over. WorldChanging published extracts from the Dott Manual here and here. The book may be purchased here.

The Move Me project tackled the need for mobility and access in a rural community in Northumberland.


In policy terms, the project looked at transport intensity, rural access and resource efficiency. In Dott terms, Move Me involved the exploration of practical ways to improve daily life for one community, in one place, and the co-design of a reliable and sustainable transport service.

The aim was to improve access without adding more cars or building new roads.

The design company live|work developed several service proposals; these were plotted on a region-wide shared-transport dashboard (below):


In a project called Urban Farming more than 1,000 residents from Middlesbrough grew fruit and vegetables in containers around the town.

Senior Producer David Barrie brought together community groups, allotment holders and other citizens together to grow their own food in previously unused public spaces; he also persuaded Middlesbrough Council, 15 primary and secondary schools, and numerous local community and voluntary sector organizations and existing allotment growers to participate.

These ‘new urban farmers’ brought their harvested produce to “kitchen playground’ events where they shared advice on how best to prepare and cook dishes using these ingredients.

The project culminated in a Middlesbrough Town Meal, where over 6,000 local people were fed.


Walker School of Technology was one of the first schools in England to receive funding as part of the government’s £70 billion Building Schools for the Future (BSF) national programme. The money is to improve and upgrade its buildings.

Together with Dott 07, the school community launched OurNewSchool to identify the design priorities for their school before the architects came on board.

Senior Producer Engine created an in-school design laboratory at Walker; this enabled all members of the school community to become ‘design ready’.

Engine then put together a design brief in the form of a professionally published book titled ‘Dear Architect.’


Dott 07’s Alzheimer100 project set out to explore ways in which the daily lives of people with dementia and their carers might be improved.


Working with the Alzheimer’s Society’s 13 regional branches, Senior Producers ThinkPublic helped people to record their experiences of dementia using video, interviews, drawings and the written word.

They discovered that six issues were of particular importance: First experiences ; Early stages; Stigmatization; Enabling and assisitive technology; End-of-life (including issues to do with care homes, palliative care; family support; end-of-life directives; support for carers before and after death).

A series of co-design workshops focused on five service scenarios, including a ‘time bank’ scheme for volunteers to make it easier for friends and family to help; and a Dementia Concierge Service to help guide people through the early stages of dementia.

This latter project is still ongoing (below) three years after Dott07 itself ended.


In Dott 07’s Design and Sexual health (Dash) project, service design techniques were used to develop a sexual health service blueprint.

This was a live project to meet a real need. 40 professionals and more than 1,000 Gateshead citizens were engaged.
DaSH was led by Design Options together with Gateshead Primary Care Trust (PCT) and the Centre for Design Research, Northumbria University.

People on the street and among high risk groups were a particular focus; Design Options spoke to many young people, gay and bisexual men, and other groups who find it harder to use health services.

The DaSH team published a blueprint which set out strategic recommendations for service networks, information management, clinical leadership, ongoing monitoring and workforce development, and a < a href=””>service experience blueprint which set out guidelines for the promotions strategy, clinic environments and care journey experiences.

Low Carb Lane set out to explore what it would take for one residential street – Castle Terrace in Ashington – to reduce its carbon footprint and save money on energy bills.

Dott’s senior producers, live|work, ran a series of co-design exercises; these led to three main concepts: ‘Saverbox’ – a financial product designed to remove financial barriers; Nesco (North East Energy Service Co-operative) – a not-for-profit, energy utility; and a Home Energy Dashboard that would take display information from customers’ household meters on their resident’s televison screen.

A project called Welcomes explored ‘welcoming’ in various locations at the region’s edges. Small groups worked with independent media company Media 19 to make images, films and audio/written material on their ideas. These ideas were presented in a special exhibition on the Transporter Bridge in Middlesbrough.

Mapping the Necklace involved the use of design to re-focus attention on the forgotten qualities of a place.

Dott 07 teamed up with The Durham Necklace Park team to co-produce a four day mapping exercise along a 12 mile stretch of riverside that runs through Durham (a world heritage city).

The Durham Necklace Park involves local people in efforts to gain more access to this stunning riverside environment. Twenty original films were made from the mapping weekend and displayed in the Dott 07 Festival.

In Dott07’s Sustainable Tourism Design Camp, led by Steve Messem, young designers and visual artists from eight countries investigated how sustainable tourism might be developed and implemented in four specific locations.

An Urban Camping team transformed a disused urban space beneath Byker Bridge in Newcastle Gateshead into a temporary, sustainable accommodation for visitors to the Dott 07 Festival.

A second group created night-time outdoor light installations that evoked Allendale’s lead mining heritage.

A third group investigated the concept of power generation as visual spectacle and tourist attraction.

In Landlines, a section of land the size of three football pitches was ploughed in a way that created a remarkable but temporary landscape design for train passengers on the East Coast mainline to see as they passed through the area. 15,000 people per day saw the Dott 07 pilot.

Dott07 also participated in Picture House. Curated by Judith King, the event brought together film directors, artists and designers who were invited to transform English Heritage’s Belsay Hall in Northumberland.

A series of cutting edge art installations featured fashion, sculpture, music design, electronic art and video installations – incuding this magic mirror by UVA:


In Vital Signs Alnwick’s award-winning town crier John Stevens, and performance art group Lone Twin, were commissioned by Forma to create a series of proclamations to be ‘cried’ across North East England.

Each proclamation told stories of places, events and communities, compiled during a period of research in the area, and gave a sense of the eclectic nature of local life by combing hearsay, first-person accounts, factual narrative and fictional construct.

The Dott 07 Festival brought the Dott 07 projects and their participants together so that a broader public might learn from and be inspired by their projects, processes and results.

22,000 visitors were attracted to the festival’s programme of workshops and demonstrations – such as this one of ‘ThingLink’, a system for tracking the history of a product using a mobile phone as the interface:

A highlights of the festival was the Dott 07 Creative Community Awards which celebrated and awarded individual and community achievements in the various projects.

A series of set-piece debates reflected on ways sustainable design can provide solutions to complex problems.

And throughout Dott07, Explorers Clubs met in which citizens and designers developed ideas and prototypes together:


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Why our design festival has no things in it

The house is cold, someone keeps turning the lights off, and the greywater toilet is blocked again.
As a way of life, sustainabilty often sounds grim. The media don’t help: they tell us we have to consume our way to redemption. The shopping pages are filled with hideous hessian bags; and ads that used to be placed by double-glazing cowboys now feature wind turbines, and solar roofs.
Adding mental discomfort to the mix, politicians scold our bad behaviour as if we were children dropping litter. And preachy environmentalists expect us to feel guilty when we fail to embrace their hair-shirted future with joy.
Could one planet living be made desirable, better than what we have now? I think it can, and I have evidence to prove it. For the last 23 months Designs of the time (Dott 07) has explored what life in a sustainable region (North East England) could be like, and how design can help us get there.
The results of our efforts are on show at the Dott 07 Festival, on the banks of the River Tyne in Gateshead, which opened last week (and ends on 29 October). [Dott 07 is a project of the Design Council and the regional development agency One North East. Doors of Perception was responsible forprogramme direction].
Although Dott 07 is a design event, it is not filled with shiny products. The Festival’s main exhibits are not things, but people – people who’ve been busy exploring practical ways to live better, more modern lives with less stuff.
One example is the UK’s biggest urban farming project in Middlesbrough. Three weeks ago, 8,000 citizens celebrated a bountiful harvest of fruit and vegetables grown in municipal flower beds, allotments, roadside verges, and skips, all over town. 2,500 people at the Middlesbrough celebration ate a town meal based on recipes created by pro and am chefs in communal kitchens.
The main contribution of designers was to make visible, and connect together, people, knowledge, and resources that for the most part were already there. An “Edible Middlesbrough” map, on show at the Dott Festval, was commissioned by the town as an action plan for the years ahead. Uniquely for a development plan, the map highlights flows of food rather than rivers of traffic.
The Dott Festival also features Year 8 students re-designing an aspect of their school. A year ago, more than 80 schools in the region responded when Dott 07 posed them two questions: “how big is your school’s carbon footprint?”; and, “what design steps would it smaller?”.
Partcipating students had to find ways to measure resource flows in their school: how much water is used, how waste is dealt with, how pupils get to school, where their food comes from. These numbers, represented in 3d graphics, gave them insight into how their school was performing as a system.
Phase 2 was to design ways to make these systems more efficient. The students had help from professional designers and architects, but many turned out to know as much about the issues as the experts – and some students went out and talked to local businesses in a kind of reverse education process.
Another Dott 07 project, called Move Me, looked for ways to improve transport provision in Scremerston, a small rural community in Northumberland. The idea was to identify un-met transport needs and then design ways to use exsting public and private transport resources in a radically more efficient way to help people to get around.
At one level, Move Me was about ride-sharing, which is not such new ideas. But ride-sharing – in common with all schemes to share resources and time – is bedevilled by issues of trust and security: how do you ensure that the stranger sharing your commute to work is not a psycopath?
The breakthrough, in Move Me, was the realisation that, when a sharing service is co-designed by the ctizens who will use it, many of these trust and security issues can be resolved without major effort.
Less stuff, more people. The patterns of daily life emerging from Dott 07 rely more on social solidarity than on fancy buildings, or shiny objects. The contribution of design is to make it easier for people to help and support each other in ways that bring material benefit in the immediate term.
A Dott project called Low Carb Lane, for example, looked for ways to make being energy efficient affordable for poorer people, not just a lifestyle choice for the well-to-do. Our homes are responsible for one third of total greenhouse gas emissions, and small changes can have a big impact. But for people on low incomes, investing thousands of pounds on insulation, new boilers, or solar panels, is simply not an option.
The solution developed by Dott’s designers, live|work, is a financial service called SaverBox. A package of energy-saving measures, such as loft and cavity wall insulation, make someone’s home cheaper to run, and greener – but the occupier does not have to make a large up-front investment. Instead, each month, the household pays off the cost of the insulation at a rate less than the energy savings that are generated by the insulation. The SaverBox scheme can be replicated nationwide using the existing structure of Credit Unions.
A less stuff more people spirit informs another Low Carb Lane outcome, the proposed NorthEast Energy Service Co-operative, or NESCO. NESCO is the prototype of a not-for-profit energy utility: it would work for the benefit of its members by putting them in control of their energy use, encourage energy efficiency, and make energy payment processes transparent.
Dott 07 projects have addressed basic aspects of daily life: food, schools, transport, energy. The idea is not to dream up global solutions to the challenge of one planet living but, on the contrary, to provide practical benefits for real people in a specific situations.
The tools, methods, models and services developed for one context during Dott are available to be adapted, scaled up, and multiplied by others. Whenever small steps taken by Dott 07 look like succeeding, even in part, others can quickly follow suit – only better, and faster.
This model of change gives governments a clearer task, too. They can stop hectoring us about personal behaviour change and concentrate, instead, on removing obstacles to change and creating incentives for the mass social innovation that wll be the basis for a sustainable society and economy.

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Bottles half empty and bottles half-full

We made a list of recommended books for the Dott festival bookshop and published it (the list) in the October Doors Report. A long-list is online at Amazon. I am now receiving suggestions of books we should have added, so I’m adding the best-sounding additions (recommender in brackets) below:
1 Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed – Jared Diamond
2 Heat – George Monbiot
3 An Inconvenient Truth – Al Gore
4 A Demon of Our Own Design – Richard Bookstaber
5 Six memos for the next millennium – Italo Calvino
6 Relational Aesthetics – Nicolas Bourriaud
7 Smart Mobs – Howard Rheingold
8 Worldchanging – Alex Steffen
9 Continuous Productive Urban Landscapes – Viljoen&Bohn
10 In The Bubble – John Thackara
11 A Geography of Time – Robert V. Levine
12 Fire and Memory: On Architecture and Energy – Luis Fernandez-Galiano
12 Powerdown – Richard Heinberg
13 Cradle to Cradle – William McDonough and Michael Braungart (Tammow Trantow)
14 The Upside of Down: Catastrophe, Creativity and the Renewal of Civilization – Thomas Homer-Dixon (Andrew Curry)
My fellow list-a-holic Andrew Curry has now anotated this list.

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20 reasons to go to the Dott festival

The Dott 07 Festival opens in 13 days time in Gateshead, England. It brings together the results of projects and events that explore what sustainable life in one region could be like – and how design can help us get there. North East England, as one of the birthplaces of the carbon age, is anxious to help design its replacement. The 12 day Festival runs 16-28 October on the banks of the River Tyne. Doors of Perception has programmed its content.
If you can’t come, but know people who might be interested – please pass this on.
1) Free 100-page Dott Manual (handed to you on condition that you have five conversations with a stranger).
2) Debates (the “why?” questions)
3) Site and location (world-class array of bridges)
4) Town Criers (how to be heard)
5) Landscape/Portrait (demonising design data)
6) Move Me! (no car? no problem!)
7) Welcomes (and unwelcomes)
8) Urban Camping (the real thing)
9) Landlines (landscape as spectacle)
10) Mapping The Necklace (from food to fondling)
11) New Work (time, space and lonliness)
12) Low Carb Lane (one house at a time)
13) Eco Design Challenge (the follower-generation takes charge)
14) Our New School (it’s not just the building)
15) Better Lives With Dementia (an eBay for time?)
16) Design and sexual health (mourning after the night before)
17) Our cyborg future? (brain-scan heaven)
18) City Farming (hoodies cook burgers)
19) DE07 (twenty more events)
20) North East England (it’s gorgeous)
You could ‘do’ the festival in a morning – but rushed visits are old-paradigm. The days Thursday 18 to Monday 22 October are probably best. Monday 22 is a one day mini-Doors, on Food Systems, Cities, and Design.
What a good idea. Yes. At 18:00h on Sunday 21 October at the Urban Camping site in Ouseburn.
We’ll head for a local pub afterwards.
Monday 15 October
Café Scientifique @ World Headquarters 1900-2100
Thursday 18 October
Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, 1300 – 1600
Friday 19 October
Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art – 11:00 -14:00
Friday 19 October
Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art – 15:00-17:30
Monday 22 October
Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art – 11:00-16:00
Tuesday 23 October
Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art 12:00 –14:00
Tuesday 23 October
Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art 15:00-17:30
INTERSECTIONS new design know-how
Thursday 25 October & Friday 26 October
Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art 0930-1900
Yes, here
Choose one of these

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The movement dilemma

Can transport and tourism ever be sustainable? The movement of people and goods around the world consumes vast amounts of matter, energy, space, and time – most of it non-renewable. Could transport intensity be de-coupled from economic progress – and if so, how?

This event in October’s series of Dott Debates begins with two keynotes from international speakers. Antony Townsend , research director at the Institute of the Future in Palo Alto, asks: “must we keep on moving?” And Sunil Abraham talks about “open systems as sustainable infrastucture”.

These two introductions are followed by a review of Dott 07’s Move Me project which explored the potential to transfrom transportation resource efficiency in one village, Scremerston, in Northumberland.

After the break, the results of three Dott 07 projects – Welcomes , Sustainable Tourism Design Camp and Mapping The Necklace – introduce a discussion of in the North East’s strategies for tourism and transport.

The event brings together citizens, policy and tourism professionals, site owners and managers, and designers. Its aims are to start debate about decoupling transport intensity from economic progress; to understand opportunities to transform transportation resource efficiency (eg using ICT networks); and third, to discuss proposals for sustainable tourism solutions

Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, UK, Thursday 18 October. The Dott 07 Debate on the movement dilemma takes place Monday 22 October, Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead 10h-17h. Tickets are free. But you absolutely have to reserve your seat by emailing

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Food systems and cities: Doors event in UK

Up to 30 percent of the ecological footprint of a city can be attributed to the systems which keep it fed and watered. But when the Mayors of the world’s 40 largest cities met recently to discuss sustainability strategies, food was not on the agenda. Why not?
Doors is organising a one day international debate, jointly with Designs of the time (Dott 07), to reframe the food systems of city-regions as design opportunities. The debate opens with a review of Dott 07’s Urban Farming project, in Middlesbrough, UK, which has involved more than a thousand citizens.
The debate is intended for service and food system designers; policymakers who deal with rural and urban development; urban planners and developers; and change leaders from retail, food and house building businesses.
John Thackara will moderate the day’s proceedings. Among the speakers will be Chris Hardwicke, a Toronto-based architect who is involved in Toronto’s emerging food strategy and who was one of our group at Doors of Perception 9 on ‘juice’ in India earlier this year. Chrtis is also part of a team organizing Alphabet City a festival about food, in Toronto, that immediately preceeds the Dott 07 Festival.
Key people from Dott’s Urban Farming project presenting (who were also at Doors 9) include David Barrie (senior producer), Debra Solomon (, Nina Belk (Zest innovation) and Andre Viljoen (architect and urban designer).
Tim White from Middlesbrough Council and someone from Bioregional Quintain will also take part.
The Dott 07 Debate on food systems and cities takes place Monday 22 October, Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead 10h-17h. Tickets – just this once! – are free. But you absolutely have to reserve your seat by emailing

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