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|

The Good Work In Urban-Rural

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

2023-05-09T09:47:51+00:00October 4th, 2022|bioregioning, food systems, urban-rural|

The (Design) Journey Back To Local

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?

2022-10-04T13:46:41+00:00July 3rd, 2022|urban-rural|

Ideas for the City That Cares: Ezio Manzini’s new book, Livable Proximity

(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?

2022-10-10T13:32:36+00:00April 28th, 2022|care, urban-rural|

Open School for Village Hosts

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.

2022-10-04T09:23:25+00:00March 24th, 2022|urban-rural|

Urban-Rural: The New Geographies of Innovation

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.

2022-10-04T09:23:48+00:00May 15th, 2020|urban-rural|

Urban-Rural: 10 Takeaways

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.

2022-10-04T10:09:43+00:00November 1st, 2019|urban-rural|

Press Release: Urban-Rural exhibition in Shanghai

(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.

2022-10-04T10:09:44+00:00October 28th, 2019|urban-rural|

Back to the Land 2.0 Reader (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

2022-10-06T16:55:45+00:00May 18th, 2019|food systems, urban-rural|

Bioregioning: Pathways to Urban-Rural Reconnection

My 6k words paper for She Ji. Keywords: Bioregion | Urban-rural reconnection | Civic ecology | Social infrastructure | Smart villages | System change | Knowledge ecologies

2022-10-04T10:10:09+00:00April 13th, 2019|urban-rural|

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|

From Neighbourhood To Bioregion: The City as a Living System

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)

2022-10-04T10:10:09+00:00October 24th, 2018|food systems, newsletter, urban-rural|

Coders in the Countryside

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.

2023-04-18T07:32:10+00:00May 8th, 2018|urban-rural|

Beyond Adventure

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?

2023-04-18T07:32:07+00:00May 7th, 2018|urban-rural|

Field-to-Face: Beauty in Biorefining

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.

2023-04-18T07:32:05+00:00May 7th, 2018|urban-rural|

Connecting the “what is?” with the “what if?”

“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.

2022-10-10T12:58:34+00:00December 8th, 2017|urban-rural|

Back To The Land: Design Agenda For Bioregions

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’.

2022-10-10T12:59:02+00:00May 29th, 2017|urban-rural|

Earth Repair In Your Bioregion: Short Course at @SchumacherColl

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

2022-10-04T10:10:15+00:00April 8th, 2017|urban-rural|

Manifesto For Utopias Are Over: Cities Are Living Systems

I was asked to write a provocation for DAMN magazine in Italy.

1         Change and innovation are no longer about finely crafted ‘visions’ of some future place and time. Positive change happens when people reconnect – with each other, and with the biosphere – in rich, real-world, [continue …]

2022-10-08T16:07:22+00:00September 19th, 2016|most read, urban-rural|

No organism is truly autonomous – including us

An interview with Jonny Gordon-Farleigh, the editor and publisher of STIR magazine.
Current and back issues of the magazine are available in the online shop

Jonny Gordon-Farleigh: Your new book, How to Thrive in the Next Economy, explores practical innovations in [continue …]

2023-04-21T16:16:47+00:00March 26th, 2016|most read, urban-rural|

Bioregions: Notes On A Design Agenda

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 …]

2023-02-19T10:55:40+00:00April 23rd, 2015|most read, urban-rural|

Food As A Commons

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.

[continue …]

2022-10-04T10:14:55+00:00May 13th, 2014|food systems, urban-rural|









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.

swallow nests [continue …]

2022-10-04T10:17:56+00:00September 3rd, 2013|energy, urban-rural|

Connecting With The Other

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.

13010114 PARENTHESES R°-9 [continue …]

2022-10-04T10:17:58+00:00August 26th, 2013|urban-rural|

The Ecozoic City

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? 

[continue …]

2022-10-04T10:19:08+00:00March 19th, 2013|most read, urban-rural|

How To Manage a Constellation

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 …]

2022-10-04T10:19:12+00:00October 1st, 2012|urban-rural|
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