March 10, 2023
Plans are being made to plant billions of trees – but who will care for them, and how? One answer: Green infrastructure is as much social, as it technical. That lesson informed the design of these urban ecology tools, equipment, and experiences.
March 3, 2023
This short talk is about an economy with caring for life as its centre, rather than extraction and production. I compare earth care to modern medical care, and suggest that looking is not the same as caring. I ask what design can learn from Care Ethics – and find inspiration [continue …]
November 9, 2022
CONTENTS: Website upgrade | Where to meet post-Twitter? | Meetups & Residences | Designing for Life Case Studies | Edible Food Forests | Bioregioning in India | Nature Reconnection Podcast | Moth-friendly Fashion | Designing for Interdependence | Chinese ‘In The Bubble’ |
October 4, 2022
A new course in Sweden asks, “what will a self-sufficient Hällefors Municipality taste like in 2030?” By turning ‘would-be-nice’ ideas into tangible prototypes, it turns ecological transition from an aspiration, into a practice. Included here: 20x emerging new livelihoods - from Edible Food Forests, to School-Farm Biocantines
September 27, 2022
Alastair McIntosh reminds us here that the World’s oldest book, the Epic of Gilgamesh, portrayed tension between the wild and the civilised. The Buddha taught the interconnection of all things. Plato depicted the world as being “a living god”.
August 15, 2022
These are curious times. Even as the world burns, sustainable finance and green capitalism are booming: Sustainability Reporting. Net Zero. Climate Finance. ESG. Green New Deal. By some estimates, assets invested with environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria now top £35 trillion. Why would investors put money into an asset [continue …]
July 3, 2022
You and I use more energy & resources in single month than our great-grandparents used during their whole lifetime. The science says we can thrive in future - but only if we meet our every day needs using 5% of the energy and material throughputs we’re using now. What are we supposed to do with that information?
June 20, 2022
Mapping Local Resources. Connecting Growers & Citizens. New Co-operatives. Urban-rural reconnection. (These videos introduce the annual Back To The Land 2.0 summer school, in Sweden, that I run together with Konstfack).
June 15, 2022
I was stupefied when I read this text in 2020: “CEO Anne Rigail announces that Air France will offset all carbon emissions from the 450 domestic flights it runs daily. It will do so by funding projects to plant trees, protect forests, transition to sustainable energy, or protect biodiversity” A [continue …]
June 10, 2022
(Keynote talk in China) A just transition will happen when we see nature differently, relate to nature differently, and understand the purpose of development differently. So, can AI foster new ways of knowing and being in the world? Can it be medium of attention; a medium of connection; a medium of relationship with the living world?
April 28, 2022
(This my review of Ezio Manzini's new book). You and I use more energy & resources in single month than our great-grandparents used during their whole lifetime. The science says we can only thrive in future by meeting our everyday needs using five percent of the energy and material throughputs we’re using now. That’s a Factor 20 reduction. What is anyone supposed to do with that information?
April 15, 2022
Can indigenous knowledges help us inhabit our own places in a more adaptive and responsive ways? Can connection with these kinds of lived experience help us redefine development, and progress, in our own situations? The text here is my introduction to "Tonantsintlalli - a Multidimensional Mother Earth" in Australia
March 24, 2022
Microbes and Social Equity | Tools for Changemakers | Multi-Species Cities | Design for Planet School for Village Hosts | Meetups/Retreats | Offsites for Teams |
March 24, 2022
Village Hosts bring new social, economic and ecological life to small villages and their local economy. They create new livelihoods, and good work, in emerging urban-rural markets: positive-impact tourism, nature reconnection, adventure sports, farm-shares, learning journeys, wellness retreats, work-vacations, heritage trails, and more.
March 19, 2022
Mutual aid. Local money. Collaborative care. Alternative futures are being created around the world -. but not, for the most part, in plain sight. David Bollier’s new book – Commoner’s Catalog for Changemaking: Tools for the Transitions Ahead – brings dozens of social projects like these to [continue …]
March 7, 2022
What would it mean to practice design in the knowledge that the well-being of humans, and non-humans, is inter-connected? Here are the results of a design workshop at Milan Polytechnic: practical ways to make cities hospitable for all of life, not just human life.
February 28, 2022
Twenty landscape students were given an unusual design brief: regenerate the soils of the Camargue bioregion - its rhizosphere - as a biological, living entity. Do do this, they were told, by creating new associations between, people, animals, vegetation, and weather.
February 15, 2022
Ninety nine percent of life, it turns out, is invisible - so how do we design for that? My guest in this conversation is microbiome researcher Dr. Suzanne Ishaq, founder of the Microbes and Social Equity working group
January 30, 2022
Dates for my Meetups/Retreats in 2022 | YouTube Channel | Nature Reconnection: Hour of Ecology | Project Regenerative Design in China | School for Village Hosts in Europe | Back To The Land Summer School in Sweden | Recent Publications |
December 9, 2021
(Keynote talk in China): Even before AI came along, “what’s good for humans” helped shape an economy that extracts vitality, as well as resources, from the planet’s living systems. This cultural disconnection – between the living world, and the economic one – explains why we either don’t think about rivers, soils, and biodiversity at all – or we treat them as natural ‘resources’ whose only purpose is to feed “the economy.”
October 7, 2021
The chaos at Heathrow’s Terminal 5 is an excellent example of what happens when the logic of finance interacts with the logic of large complex systems. As Will Hutton wrote at the weekend, shareholders in British Airways (its sole tenant) and BAA (which runs the airport) demand perpetually growing dividends. [continue …]
October 7, 2021
This is the French version of my interview with Domus Magazine: "When Value Arises From Relationships, Not From Things"
September 11, 2021
(My foreward to DEDI) Indigenous peoples have a closer relationship with the ecologies of their land than those who practice ‘production agriculture’. But their intimate, fine-grained knowledge can always be enhanced. For example, biodata collected from plants could be ‘heard’ by the farmer as music.
September 10, 2021
(I wrote this Prologue) Feeling powerless to change the course of events, the inclination to switch off can feel like self-defence. Karin Fink’s response is both nimble, and wise. Rather than re-draw the whole picture at a stroke, her focus in this book is on small connections, and how to enhance them.
May 18, 2021
“Voyager, there are no bridges, one builds them as one walks” writes Gloria E. Anzaldúa. For her, life-centered design could as well be thought of as weaving, as walking. “We humans need to be nepantleras - bridge builders and reweavers of relationality” (My chapter in the new Bauhaus book).
April 8, 2021
(Interview for Politecnico Milano). Design needs to ask these questions first: “has anyone found a different way to meet this daily life need (for food, shelter, care, mobility etc)? In the past? In another culture?” Let’s find out what alternatives already exist, first, and then explore how to adapt and improve on those.
Its publisher, Bloomsbury, describes designing designing as “one of the most extraordinary books on design ever written”. It’s therefore welcome news that – after a period out of print – this classic book has now been reissued. (That’s my copy in the photograph above; it just arrived). [continue …]
March 4, 2021
(A conversation with John Wood, professor at Goldsmiths, University of London, and joint editor (with Julia Lockheart) of the Journal of Writing in Creative Practice). I question why artists and designers should be encouraged to write in an intellectual way. After all these years, I still don’t understand the need to converse in abstruse language.
December 5, 2020
(For an exhibition called Sensory Orders curated by Erik Adigard at Laznia Centre, in Gdansk). "As a writer, my work involves a search for small islands of coherence – that I can later describe – in which social and ecological relationships thrive together. My aim as a curator is similar: I strive to enable embodied encounters in which we feel ourselves to be part of nature, rather than separate from it.
November 27, 2020
Whether connecting schools to farms in France, daylighting rivers in Mexico, or rewilding grasslands in Patagonia, we’re learning how to ‘do’ biodiversity well. (This text was commissioned by the Swiss Ministry of the Environment, FOEN).
June 16, 2020
(in Spanish only, interview for BBC News Mundo,): Coronavirus | “Una de las locuras que se ha apoderado de Norteamérica y Europa es el pánico que les entra cuando las cosas van mal”: entrevista con el filósofo John Thackara William Marquez BBC News Mundo
May 19, 2020
The concept of sustainable tourism was invented 45 years ago – but it was added to global mass tourism, it did not replace it. Since then, although sustainable tourism brands have proliferated, mass tourism has continued to devastate its ‘destinations’ with growing intensity. So: what to do?
May 15, 2020
In this China keynote I describe three enabling conditions for system change: a capacity for ecological thinking; a focus on social infrastructure (rather than the concrete kind); and a shift of focus from place making, to place connecting.
May 14, 2020
Social Food Forum | The Internet of Things and Earth Repair | Design Agenda for Bioregions | Peak Car | Re-wilding the Bauhaus | The City as a Living System (a selection of my texts selected for publication by Resilience magazine)
May 13, 2020
Paving over the soil, and filling our lives with media, obscured our interdependency with living systems. We must learn to think of the places where we live as ecosystems, not as machines. (This was my first keynote in Shanghai)
May 12, 2020
The word ‘transformation’ sounds uncontroversial - but does any of us has the right to transform somebody else’s life without them being part of the process? (An interview at Alison Clarke's Victor Papanek exhibition in Barcelona)
May 11, 2020
What is innovative in design today? What urgent issues is the discipline tackling? For this special feature in Domus Magazine, Valentina Croci talks with Paola Antonelli, Aric Chen and John Thackara. Paola muses on the disturbed relation between us and nature, the subject of her (then) forthcoming show at the [continue …]
May 8, 2020
Manifesto For Utopias Are Over | Healing the Metabolic Rift | Sustainability, Design and Old Growth | Tour of the New Economy | When Value Arises From Relationships, Not From Things (A selection of articles reposted by P2P Magazine)
February 29, 2020
On the island of Bornholm, in the Baltic Sea, a curious figure is handing out small packages to strangers in the high street. The young woman is dressed in orange, water-resistant clothes that are dirty, smelly and oversized. (On why art matters so much)
January 2, 2020
The prospect of an ecological civilisation is transformative In three profound ways: care for place takes priority over ever-growing production and communication; value creation is defined in terms of healthy soils, and ecological restoration; 3 an EC gives priority to social relationships, and institutional innovation.(My keynote to the China Eco-Civilization Research and Promotion Association)
December 10, 2019
Tree-consciousness | Cotton Capitalism in India | 32 Case Study Collections | Learning journeys | Water museums | Social fermentation | Shanghai’s BIOfarm | Bioregional fiber economies
November 1, 2019
Takeaways from the big Urban-Rural exhibition I curated in China: Urban and Rural are one place, not two | the same goes for Analogue and Digital | A farm is not a factory - it's a social and ecological system | my definition of 'Sustainable Fashion' | Old knowledge and new tech are not a choice - we need both.
October 28, 2019
(Press Release) Many people want to reconnect with nature and rural life - but cannot move out of the city for good. Zhangyan Harvests Festival in Shanghai, in November, is filled with practical ways to reconnect the two worlds. Located in a beautiful high-tech agricultural dome, an exhibition called Urban-Rural features a dazzling array of real-world projects.
October 3, 2019
Rewilding AI | Bioregional design | Social Food Atlas | Back to the Land Reader | Meetups and Residencies chez nous
June 8, 2019
Some of my more popular talks on video: From Biomedicine to Bioregion - The Geographies of Care | Thinking Like a Forest | Future Ways of Living | The Skills We need | Regenerative City | Social Farming
June 3, 2019
My research agenda in China: Care. Value. Place | Rewilding the Bauhaus | Social Food Forum takeaways | "Making as Connecting" - text for Atelier Luma book
May 18, 2019
Annie Proulx on Barkskins | Simone Weil on The Need for Roots | Pamela Mang on Storying of Place | Jane Memmott on Ecosystem Interactions | Arturo Escobar on Buen Vivir | Gloria E. Anzaldúa on weaving | Ann Whiston Spirn on Bacterial Urbanism | Margaret Wheatley on Emergence | Molly Scott Cato on Gaian Economics | and many more
May 15, 2019
Drawing on my work organising Doors of Perceptions and xskools in 20 countries, the following three research topics are the focus of my contribution at Tongji University in Shanghai (D&I): Care. Value. Place | Urban-Rural Reconnection | Knowledge ecologies and scale
April 20, 2019
We lack situated and embodied experiences - a sense of interdependency with living systems. I therefore propose a new Bauhaus Vorkurs, or Foundation Course. The course would foster ecological literacy, and a whole-systems understanding of the world. It would unite wisdom traditions from other places and times, with the latest insights of systems thinking and complexity science.
April 13, 2019
My 6k words paper for She Ji. Keywords: Bioregion | Urban-rural reconnection | Civic ecology | Social infrastructure | Smart villages | System change | Knowledge ecologies