March 23, 2019
Social food projects re-make relationships between people, food and place | They reconnect urban and rural | As a medium of hospitality, they create solidarity and mutual understanding | They diversify income for farmers | They enhance the health and well-being of socially-isolated people | They can increase biodiversity ...
October 31, 2018
October 24, 2018
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)
August 29, 2018
Most of the component parts for ultra-light mobility ecosystems are on the table - from cargo bikes, to sharing platforms. But how to make them work together as a city-compatible system? My advice to city managers: First, visit India and marvel at the richness of bike-based commerce. Second, go to Indonesia and marvel at the range of services available on the Go-Jek platform. Next - well, read on
May 25, 2018
What is the a co-op grains movement, and how does it work? In this case, sixty citizens have each invested in a farmer's field for a year. Together with the farmer, they decided what to grow, how to grow it and what happens with the crop. It's a shared farming experience that supports farmers financially, and emotionally, and connects city people to what it takes to grow food.
May 18, 2018
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.
May 18, 2018
When the first botanical gardens were established 3,000 years ago, in Mesopotamia, they combined scientific enquiry with public education. Today's botanical gardens, ecomuseums, and National Parks are looking for new ways to engage citizens as active participants, not just as paying visitors. These new relationships need to be designed, enabled and supported.
May 14, 2018
The health of the soils, watersheds and biodiversity is in all our interests - so why should farmers do it all on their own? Interest is growing in ways by which citizens can play a practical role. The social, educational and health benefits of social farming can be huge - but they need to be designed....
May 8, 2018
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.
May 7, 2018
Hundreds of cities around the world are planting trees. But planting trees is just the start. A wide variety of activities and equipment - and a lot of knowledge-sharing - are involved in the management of tree popultions. Trees have to be climbed, pruned, inspected, and surveyed. All this involves equipment and services - most of which still need to be designed.
May 7, 2018
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?
May 7, 2018
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.
April 28, 2018
Wellbeing is intimately linked to connection - to other people, but also to place, and the living systems that inhabit it. Relational design creates those connections (I helped design this Masters in Relational Design course for Bangor University; at this time - September 2022 - it has not been re-started since Covid).
March 19, 2018
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?
March 8, 2018
I’ve come to an inconvenient conclusion: production is not the purpose of life. I say inconvenient because many of us depend on industrial production to meet our daily life needs. But the perpetual search for new forms of production - whether ‘clean’, ‘green’ or ‘circular’ - is not where our future lies. (Interview with Valentina Croci of Domus Magazine)
December 17, 2017
Learning the phrase "Whatever Makes Your Dough Rise" was one of many gifts I brought back from a Fellows' retreat at the Good Work Institute in the US. What makes my dough rise is helping people reconnect with the land at the scale of the bioregion. Here are some examples of that work.
December 8, 2017
“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.
October 23, 2017
Two hundred people per second now climb onto a dockless bike somewhere in China. The bigger story? We may have reached a peak-car tipping point - a moment of system transformation - that's been slowly 'brewing' for a very long time. (This text follows my keynote at Seoul Smart Mobility International Conference).
October 21, 2017
On a recent visit to @IAAC in Barcelona, I was charmed by their Smart Citizen platform. It enables citizens to monitor levels of air or noise pollution around their home or business. This innovation is impressive - but it leaves a difficult question unanswered: Under what circumstances will possession of this data contribute to the system transformation that we so urgently need?
September 18, 2017
I’ve been re-reading "the internet and everyone" by john chris jones. I’ve been astonished once again by the sensibility of an artist-writer-designer whose philosophy – indeed his whole life - first inspired me when I was a young magazine editor more than 30 years ago. Like another muse of mine, Ivan Illich, John Chris Jones was decades ahead of his time.
May 29, 2017
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’.
April 26, 2017
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).
April 8, 2017
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
February 28, 2017
The design priority now is to foster better and richer connections between people, places and living systems - to reawaken a joyful sense of being at home in the natural world. This is where art and storytelling come in. (Interview with Sarah Dorkenwald for her book Visionen Gestalten).
February 27, 2017
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)
February 9, 2017
Amid the spectacular setting created by my hosts at
#PuneDesignFestival (above) my talk was miraculously summarised on a single page by the talented @ragasy
There followed a #ThackaraThrive book launch in Mumbai at the Indian [continue …]
December 5, 2016
On the occasion of the publication of #ThackaraThrive in Spanish, I did an interview for Experimenta with Dr. Eugenio Vega Pindado. Here below is the English [continue …]
December 5, 2016
Con motivo de la publicación en lengua castellana de su último libro, John Thackara ha concedido una entrevista a Experimenta. En ella repasa las principales [continue …]
November 21, 2016
(Above: Debra Solomon examines nature’s internet at Schumacher College in England)
The Design Museum in London opens at its new home this week with, as its centrepiece, an exhibition called Fear and Love curated by Justin [continue …]
November 20, 2016
“The last thing we need to see the world with new eyes is a virtual reality headset“. On a recent visit to Milan, I was interviewed for Domus by Stefania Garassini. The Italian version is online here; the English one is here.
(Domus [continue …]
October 8, 2016
“Beware the scale trap”. In a Letter To Philanthropists Parker Mitchell, a former CEO of Engineers Without Borders in Canada, advised potential donors that [continue …]
September 19, 2016
Back in November, on the eve of the US book release launch for How to Thrive in the Next Economy, I sat down with Core77’s Allan Chochinov to talk about the project.
AC: When did the book project first begin? Is it something that you’ve been working on for [continue …]
September 19, 2016
I was asked, in an interview for Resilience, what it is that inspires my work, and what keeps me going.
1. Who/what has been your greatest inspiration? And why?
A: Rocks. And stones. I’ve always loved stones and rocky places – but it was only when I moved to south west [continue …]
September 19, 2016
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 …]
August 31, 2016
SEPTEMBER 2016 Newsletter
Since my book How To Thrive In the Next Economy was published – a year ago this week – I’ve had conversations about it at forty talks and workshops. With thanks to my diverse but always generous hosts, this email is to share the 72 [continue …]
August 30, 2016
Five years ago I obtained an extraordinary 736 page book called Lean Logic: A Dictionary For The Future and How To Survive It. Written over a thirty year period by the English ecologist David Fleming, the book had been published in a limited edition after the author’s untimely death. Now, [continue …]
August 21, 2016
I was invited to give a keynote in Milan to the general assembly of the International Biennials Association. My talk was called Life’s Work: Biennials and Regeneration. Here below is a summary:
August 1, 2016
The Belgian magazine Rekto Verso recently ran a review of my book by Mia Vaerman (in Dutch) with the title “Terug naar het wildebeest in ons” (“Back [continue …]
June 6, 2016
I was invited to write the Preface to Rethinking The Modular: Adaptable Systems in Architecture and Design edited by [continue …]
May 30, 2016
My interview with @tbonini has ben published in Italian at Che Fara.Here is the English version:
Q Among the many case histories that [continue …]
March 26, 2016
(Pic: Being Nicely Messy, CRIT, Mumbai) In London, I did this interview with Midtown Big Ideas Exchange:
Q Do you believe cities are rational or organized [continue …]
March 26, 2016
Last month I gave a talk at UC Berkeley School of Public Health, as part of the Dean’s Lecture Series, with the title, From Biomedicine to Bioregion: The Geographies of a Care-Based Economy. The video of that talk is here. My interview with Peter Jarrett, for their [continue …]
March 26, 2016
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 sustainability across the world. [continue …]
February 26, 2016
I wrote this preface for a new book called Recoded City: Co-Creating Urban Futures by Thomas Ermacora and Lucy Bullivant.
I write these words [continue …]
January 13, 2016
“The world is in dire need of a narrative adjustment; that’s why we write” (Hamid Dabashi)
Since How To Thrive In the Next Economy was published in the autumn, my 29 conversations about the book have prompted all kinds of feedback. One question has cropped up repeatedly: In a world filled with [continue …]
January 4, 2016
Doors of Perception is helping to lead a two week course at Schumacher College which runs from [continue …]
November 16, 2015
Should transport systems be designed to save time – or calories? Who should own mobility sharing platforms: private companies? cities? us? What kind of ecosystem is needed to support the sharing platforms we want? These three questions are the focus of a workshop in London on 25 November. I’ve asked a three friends [continue …]
November 11, 2015
September 25, 2015
Today, Plymouth University very generously awarded me an honorary doctorate. Here is my short statement to this year’s graduating class in Design, Architecture and Environment.
I nearly failed to get here yesterday, and I want to tell you why.
The road from my house to the city passes through a spectacular gorge. Several weeks [continue …]
September 19, 2015
Clare Cooper interview with John Thackara, 08 August 2014
John, why do you think so much attention is being paid to the ideas around the notion of ’the commons’ right now?
The commons is an idea, and a practice, that generates meaning and hope. Millions of people are busy in projects [continue …]