Infrastructures of care

Most of these projects that are heavy, expensive and ecologically damaging. But in the absence of practical alternatives, simply saying "Stop!" is hopeless advice for the millions of people whose livelihoods depend on hard infra, now. Alternatives to concrete - infrastructures of care - are proliferating, and design can play a key role in moving these alternatives into the mainstream.

2023-08-26T12:34:27+00:00August 22nd, 2023|biodiversity, care, development, earth repair|

Ethics, Design, Care

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 …]

2023-03-13T09:13:02+00:00March 3rd, 2023|biodiversity, care, development, most read, nature-connection, urban-rural|

Beyond Calculation: AI and Sustainability

(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.”

2022-10-07T11:41:03+00:00December 9th, 2021|care, development, most read|

How To Thrive In the Next Economy: Preface to the Chinese edition

A cultural disconnection between the man-made world and the biosphere lies behind the grave challenges we face today. We either don’t think about rivers, soils, and biodiversity at all – or we treat them as resources whose only purpose is to feed the economy. This ‘metabolic rift’ – between the [continue …]

2022-10-04T10:10:09+00:00October 31st, 2018|development, knowing, most read, urban-rural|

Welsh Chapels and Coworking

The 6,426 chapels in Wales were once the heart of community life in remote communities. These chapels could be be part of the next economy, too - but these ways need to be designed, and with diverse collaborators. Possibilities range from CoWoLi (Coworking-Coliving), or new kinds of creative residencies, to learning hubs and new kinds of school.

2023-04-18T07:32:18+00:00May 18th, 2018|development|

Making as Reconnecting: Crafts In The Next Economy

The 'gig economy' and the 'precariat' may be uncomfortable novelties for people in the North - but for eighty percent of the world's population they are the old normal. As welfare and solidarity innovators, we have much to learn from different times as well as from different places. (An an edited version of my keynote to the Craft Reveals conference, Chiang Mai, 2016)

2022-10-12T15:25:56+00:00February 27th, 2017|development|

Conflict and Design

An exhibition in Belgium poses a timely challenge: When confronted by such complex issues as an ageing population, resource depletion, migration, or growing impoverishment, how are we to balance the desire to do something positive, with the need to understand the back story before we intervene?

Screen Shot 2013-12-20 <a href= [continue …]

2022-10-04T10:15:47+00:00January 22nd, 2014|development|

Shoe City vs Sole Rebels

Two radically opposed models of development are being born in Ethiopia at the same time. One is small, local, socially fair, and ecologically respectful. The other takes the globalisation of fashion to a new and more destructive level.


No sooner had I posted a long [continue …]

2022-10-04T10:15:50+00:00January 12th, 2014|development|

Work Faster, India!

“Work faster, get time for life.” I just got back from a short trip to India where this insane slogan adorned a poster at a bus stop.
It pretty much sums up a febrile mood in Delhi where it was announced [continue …]

2022-10-04T10:29:47+00:00March 1st, 2011|development|

Afghan culture museum

A lifetime ago, during a six month journey in Afghanistan, I passed the spectacular site of Bamiyan, shown in this photograph, on my way into the Hindu Kush.

This was long before the three enormous statues of Buddha, carved into the sides of cliffs, were destroyed [continue …]

2022-10-07T15:20:43+00:00January 3rd, 2011|development|

Innovating our way to oblivion

(Summer re-run: first published 16 June 2008)
Out-of-control buzzwords are like locusts: you can swat handfuls of them down with a bat, but more will come to take their place.
I’ve been swatting away for ages in this blog at all things Conceptual, Cultural, Clustered and (especially) Creative.
But now we’re suffering a [continue …]

2022-10-04T10:46:08+00:00August 11th, 2010|development|

Don’t donate – invest

We added a donate button. (It’s on the left). has been online – and free – since 1994. We’ve waited sixteen years before seeking your support. Now, we can use it.

2010-04-07T17:12:25+00:00April 7th, 2010|development|

Design, regions, and the two economies

The stated ambition of Cornwall, in the the far south west of England, is to become a “green peninsular”. It’s an evocative concept, but people there interpret the word “green” in different ways.

For example, although Cornwall aspires to become a “knowledge economy” it is more of a tourism economy at [continue …]

2022-10-21T12:08:48+00:00April 3rd, 2010|development, urban-rural|

Transition countries and transition towns

I went to Poznan, in Poland, to speak at a conference called World Innovation Days. In brushing up on the history of the Wielkopolska region [of which Poznan is the capital] I was reminded that Central and Eastern countries of Europe are still called “Transition Countries” – as in, transitioning [continue …]

2022-09-28T15:10:43+00:00October 11th, 2009|development|

China’s clean little secret

As an experiment this weekend, I went through all 192 stories tagged “China” on a major eco website. More than 90 per cent of its posts were about at least bad, and often terrible, environmental news and developments.
It’s not that [continue …]

2009-09-07T10:35:31+00:00September 7th, 2009|development|

Green noise: expert meeting

The biggest challenge we face in City Eco Lab (see below) is the explosion of public events, media channels, reports, platforms, trade shows, and government initiatives, at all levels, to do with sustainability. Paul Hawken’s WiserEarth web portal, alone, alone lists over 100,000 non-profit projects and organisations. In the UK, [continue …]

2022-09-28T15:40:00+00:00September 1st, 2008|development|


I am reading with nervous enjoyment a semi-samizdat French magazine called La Decroissance (De-Growth). An offshoot of the French equivalent of Adbusters, La Decroissance fills a big gap: critical discussion of the politics and economics of environmentalism. The issue I’m reading includes a sharp critique of the myth of ‘transhumanism’ [continue …]

2022-08-28T15:10:33+00:00June 5th, 2008|development|

Druids as designers

jmg.jpg Which box does one belong in during these curious times? Jan Jaap Spreij sent me links to two excellent articles – on peak oil, and the future of industrial society – written by the Grand Archdruid of the Ancient Order of Druids [continue …]

2007-04-01T09:56:13+00:00April 1st, 2007|development|
Go to Top