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
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?
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).
(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?
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.
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.
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)
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.
(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.
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
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
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
My 6k words paper for She Ji. Keywords: Bioregion | Urban-rural reconnection | Civic ecology | Social infrastructure | Smart villages | System change | Knowledge ecologies
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 …]
The Greek physician Hippocrates described the effects of “airs, waters, and places” on the health of individuals and communities. The industrial age distracted us from this whole-systems understanding of the world - but we are now learning again to think of cities as habitats, and as ecosystems, that co-exist on a single living planet. (Chapter for a new Cite du Design book)
Soil health, human health, microbiomes, biodiversity, the climate - they all are connected. Digital tools can help us perceive the living world - and care for it - in new ways. Design be transformative where citizen science, and digital craft, converge.
Founded in 1941, Outward Bound began as a school on the coast of Wales that trained seamen for the harsh life of working at sea. The model expanded to include outdoor, adventure-based, programs. Could Outward Bound be reinvented today as an urban-rural co-operation platform for today?
The elements of a thriving bio-economy exist in Wales - but they are disconnected. The country’s uplands, for example, are filled with grasses, and colourful wild flowers. One project scenario could be a product-service platform that links biorefining and beauty treatments.
Peak Car | Cloud Commuting | Gram Junkies | Green Tourism | Caloryville: The Two Wheeled City | From Bike Chain to Blockchain | From Autobahn to Bioregion | A Tale of Two Trains | From My Car to Scalar | Is an environmentally neutral car possible?
“The future will be all about cities” – say people who live in cities. Endlessly. Our xskools, in contrast, are about reconnecting with rural communities and looking, together, for ways ways to unlock value. Here is an invitation to check out our updated xskool page.
To effect the system change we yearn for, we need a shared purpose that diverse groups people can relate to, and support, whatever their other differences. My candidate for that connective idea is the bioregion. A bioregion re-connects us with living systems, and each other, through the places where we live. It acknowledges that we live among watersheds, foodsheds, fibersheds, and food systems – not just in cities, towns, or ‘the countryside’.
North West Wales has the potential to lead the world as a living laboratory for innovation where adventure sport, tourism, and wellness meet. To realise this potential, and turn ideas into new livelihoods and enterprise, the region's assets need to be combined and connected in new ways. But how? (I've been invited to gjve a talk).
Ecological restoration adds new kinds of value to planning and design. On this short course, I introduce you to 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
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 [continue …]
People go hungry not because of a shortage of production, but because the food available is too expensive, or they lack the land to grow it on. In California, the prototype of a combined social, political and technical solution has been launched which promises to unlock the food system crisis.
As an artefact, the swallows’ nest is not exactly the Taj Mahal. It’s a ramshackle structure, made of mud pellets and straw, that’s stuck crookedly to the wall. But it seems to suit them well – or rather, the surrounding habitat does.
A hand, a map, a story: In each of 30 photographs made by Céline Boyer, a cartographic fragment of someone’s country of origin is projected onto the subject’s own hand. Cities, seas, rivers, roads and borders are glimpsed.
What are social-ecological systems? How do you design in them? What new skills do we need to do so? These three questions inform a Doors of Perception xskool that takes place in August as part of the [continue …]
Over the ages we’ve invested huge amounts of effort and energy to keep cities and nature separate. What would it mean if that were about to change?
The map below is of the Baltic Sea. Over the last hundred years its ecosystems have been poisoned almost to death by outputs from a multitude of industries and farming activities in the nine countries that surround it. These deadly flows are shown on the complicated chart below: [continue …]
As the guest last week of Zurich University of the Arts I set the following task to a group of sixteen masters students: “Create the plan for a social harvest festival that will reconnect Zurich with its natural ecosystems and grassroots social innovators.”
The idea was to demonstrate, in practice, [continue …]
How best do you help a resilient economy emerge in a region that has one foot in ancient ways and traditions – its other in the world of global universities and nuclear power?
Left: “The Hill Farmer” by Bedwyr Williams. Right: a [continue …]