Social Food Forum and Social Food Atlas – launch event, Matera, Sunday 10 March

(Press Release) Social Food Forum and Social Food Atlas – launch event, Matera, Sunday 10 March From 10.30 am to 12.30 pm Lanfranchi Museum – Sala Levi – Matera – Italy. Free entrance

A new Social Food Forum, together with an online Social Food Atlas, and a Social Food Green Paper, will be launched in Matera on Sunday 10 March.

A legacy project of Matera2019 European Capital of Culture, the Social Food Forum is part of the Mammamiaaa programme. It has been co-produced by Casa Netural, Matera’s social innovation hub, and Matera Basilicata 2019 Foundation, together with John Thackara, the social design curator.

The Forum has launched a Social Food Atlas as its first project. This online platform makes a wide variety of projects visible, in one place, for the first time.

These projects include harvest festivals; food hubs and community kitchens; school and community gardens; urban forests; agritourism; land-based learning; WWOOFing; ecological restoration camps; biosphere reserves; river rescue; elder care farms; agricultural heritage systems.

“Food is not just about consumption” John Thackara explained; “it’s also about our relationships with each other, with the land, and with nature. The Social Food Forum will multiply these relationships throughout Europe and beyond”.

Fifteen social food curators from across Europe will meet in Matera to prepare in the Social Food Forum launch. These include VaZapp, Rete Semi Rurali – Il Querceto, Alce Nero, Wonder Grottole, Avanzi Popolo, Funky Tomato, Liminaria, Casa Netural and Agrinetural from Italy; Simra from Scotland; Surcos Urbanos from Spain; Sustainable Food Lab from Sweden; Doors of Perception and Atelier LUMA from France; Holis from Poland.; Urbania Hoeve Social Design Lab from the Netherlands.

Andrea Paoletti, founder of Casa Netural, said: “Social food projects create a variety of public goods: Social cohesion, public health and wellbeing; territorial development the new rural economy – all these are improved by relationships based around food”.

The Social Food Forum will help its members expand their work, in new places, and with new partners, after Matera 2019 has completed its journey as European Capital of Culture.

Writing in the Social Food Green Paper, also published on 10 March, John Thackara writes that “these projects are about about care, not just consumption. They are about hospitality and connection – between people, and with place. They are a medium of solidarity among diverse cultures”.

Chiara Marzaduri, Communication Manager of Alce Nero S.p.a, one of the main italian organic food company and Mammamiaaa’s partner, added: “The projects of exchange, sharing, socialization, that also deal with sustainable forms of economy have many points in common with the world of organics. Alce Nero has always focused on relationship: especially the one between all the people who participate in the production of good quality food, whose cultivation respects the earth, and those who consume it. From this common ground the collaboration between Mammamiaaa and Alce Nero is born.


Mammamiaaa is a project of Matera 2019, European Capital of Culture, co-produced by Casa Netural and Matera Basilicata 2019 Foundation in collaboration with John Thackara and IdLab.

Partners of Mammamiaaa are Alce Nero, food company of farmer and processors, who strive to enhance the quality, identity and uniqueness of organic products, and SUPER Scuola Superiore d’arte applicata del Castello Sforzesco.



Press Office

Samuele Biagioni

cell: 3467393616


Posted in food systems & design | Leave a comment

Social Food Atlas: Call for Entries

Do you know someone who organises social food projects that create solidarity among people, and connection with the land? Let us know at:

As a legacy of the #Mammamiaaa project in #Matera2019, a Social Food Forum will be launched, in March, to help the social food movement grow. This project has three parts:
 Atlas of Social Food Projects;
 Social Food Forum; and Social Food Green Paper


In preparing the Atlas, we’re looking for meals, festivals, or platforms inspired by the cultural meanings of food and farming, people and place. 

(Above:Va’Zapp dinner for young farmers, Italy


In #Mammamiaaa, thousands of dinners are being held across Italy and Europe to celebrate the role of women in creating meals. At each dinner, the different ways in which grandmothers, mothers, fathers, uncles, and children, prepare, cook, and eat, together, are being collected, and shared.

More than 3,500 #mammaiaaa stories have already been shared online here.  

These stories are an invitation to the world: Let’s celebrate food as a medium of social connection and solidarity – and let’s find ways to do this more.

Social Food Atlas


Above: a Disco Soupe event in Nantes, France)

As preparation for the launch of the Forum later in 2019, an online Atlas of Social Food Projects will make visible – and findable – a wide variety of social food projects that, right now, are little known – even to each other.

(Above: Foodscape Schilderswijk,the Netherlands. Photo: Urbaniahooeve)

We therefore invite you to submit social food projects for the Atlas. Send us an email with a fewlines and a website address to:

We’re looking for 
projects such as food hubs and community kitchens;
 community supported baking – and brewing; 
 social farming, and care farming;
 citizen-farmer associations;
 soil restoration and and seed saver projects;
 school gardens
; community colleges and catering colleges
 with social programmes; food projects with refugees;
 urban farmers; edible foresters; bee keepers; 
street food projects; fair trade projects.

The location of each project will be identified on an interactive map, together with a link back to the project’s website.

Social Food Forum

Social food projects do not organise themselves. They happen thanks to the work of Social Food Producers. These individuals co-create – with diverse partners – a rich variety of events, festivals and platforms.

Right now, social food producers tend to be low-profile; their work is not well understood by commissioners in government, or business; and they are not well connected to each other.

As a legacy of #Matera2019, Mammamiaaa will therefore establish a community of practice, which we are calling the Social Food Forum. The Forum will help its members do more of this work, in new places, and with new partners, after Matera2019 is over.

An inaugural meeting of a Social Food Forum will take place in Matera in March.

(Above: Sicilia Integra, Sicily )

Between now and then, a small working group of social food producers will meet to identify core subjects for discussion; prepare short briefing documents; and consider the best way to ensure effective and open governance.

After the launch, an online platform will connect Social Food Producers to each other, and organisations wishing to commission them.

Social Food Green Paper

At a public event in Matera on Sunday 10 March 2019, a working group of the Social Food Forum will publish a Green Paper (discussion paper) as the basis of their work, going forward.

(Above: meeting at AgorAgri community garden in Matera).

The Green Paper will address four initial questions:
1 What is valuable about the kind of work that social food producers do?
2 Can this value be measured – and if so, how?
3 What are the most important success factors?
4 What can public officials in municipalities or regions most helpfully do?

(Above: Funky Tomato, Italy)

The Green paper will identify the skills, connections and resources needed to develop their work. It will invite local government, food organisations and anchor institutions to discuss. together, how to extend social food projects across Europe and beyond.



Posted in food systems & design, social innovation & design | 3 Responses

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 living world, and the economic one – leaves us starved of meaning and purpose. We have to heal this damaging gap.

This book is about the design of connections between places, communities, and nature. Drawing on a lifetime of travel in search of real-world alternatives that work, I describe the practical ways in which living economies thrive in myriad local contexts. When connected together, I argue, these projects tell a new ‘leave things better’ story of value, and therefore of growth. Growth, in this new story, means soils, biodiversity and watersheds getting healthier, and communities more resilient. 

The signals of transformation I write about are not concepts, and they are not the fruits of a vivid imagination. They are happening now. But in conversations about the book, I am often asked the same question: Are small local initiatives an adequate response to the global challenges we all face? Read More »

Posted in city & bioregion, development & design, learning & design, most read, social innovation & design | Leave a comment

Chinese Book Launch of “How to Thrive in the Next Economy”

Pre-order: "How to Thrive in the Next Economy", in CHINESE

Pre-order: “How to Thrive in the Next Economy”, in Chinese

I’m in Shanghai for the launch of the Chinese version of my book: “How to Thrive in the Next Economy”.
As of today you can pre-order it! (click the image)

Posted in [no topic] | Leave a comment

From Neighbourhood To Bioregion: The City as a Living System

I wrote the following text for a new book, Human Cities: Challenging The City Scale (published by Cite du Design and Clear Village).

The Greek physician Hippocrates described the effects of “airs, waters, and places” on the health of individuals and communities. For a short period, 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.

Humanising the city in this context – making it healthy for people – therefore means making it habitable for all of life, not just human life. It means thinking of the city as a local living economy, not as a machine. And it means the embrace of biodiversity, and local economic activity, as better measures of a city’s health than the amount of money that flows through it. Read More »

Posted in city & bioregion, food systems & design | Leave a comment

Two-wheeled logistics: a city manager’s 19-point to-do list

(Above, in 2018: large areas of Shanghai have fallen silent thanks to the widespread use of electric cargo bikes; there’s hardly a white van to be seen)

City Manager’s To-Do List

1. To see what your city’s two-wheeled future could be like, visit India and marvel at the richness of bike-based commerce. Then go to Indonesia and marvel at the range of services available on the Go-Jek platform.  And visit Shanghai, where large areas of of the city have fallen silent thanks to the widespread use of electric cargo bikes; there’s hardly a white van to be seen

1   Next, develop a shared vision among stakeholders – an approach pioneered in Denmark’s Kickstand Policy Training

2   Encourage the creation of multi-actor meeting and market places  – such as the Cargo Bike Festival

3   publish a catalogue of business models to aid decision-support

4    provide small business support, as anticipated in the EU’s GoPedelec programme

5   encourage the provision of micro-finance

6   create hard infrastructure – such as the Dutch cycle superhighways

7   organise logistics hubs such as  Germany’s ‘Bentobox’ system

8  address nitty-gritty governance issues – for example, the regulations for city parks – in Municipal Decision Maker Workshops

9   secure buy-in from place-based retailers

10  provide topographical decision support to cargo bike operators (in the form of real-time data on isohypses and isoenergetes)

11  like Vienna, subsidize cargo bikes for citizens

12  copy Vooralberg, which has made 500 pedelecs available to city workers

13  support fiscal measures that incentivise company pedelecs

14  frame your city’s procurement policy on batteries: rent not buy

15  encourage bike trailer rental of the kind pioneered by Israel’s Tel-O-Porter platform

16   tell everyone to check out online knowledge sharing platforms such  as endless-sphere

17  enable bike-riding lessons for all, as happens in Albania’s Shining Cycle Culture

18  find ways to upgrade your city’s bike repair infrastructure, as they do  in Slovenia)

19  partner with firms like Germany’s ChargeLockCable to enable secure bike storage

Most of the component parts for ultra-light mobility ecosystems are on the table – from cargo bikes, to sharing platforms. Social and technical innovations are transforming relationships between people, goods, energy, space, and value.

The sale of transformation is huge. Having studied the potential of what’s out there, Germany’s Institute of Transport Research reckons 85 percent of all parcel deliveries in a city like Berlin could be made by two-wheeled vehicles such as bikes and pedelecs.

But as the grotesque piles of discarded dockless bikes have shown – not to mention the plummeting expectations for autonomous vehicles – logistics systems are harder to deploy than toy train sets.

Multiple actors are involved in bicycle commerce, for example, and they often have differing or conflicting agendas.

For one-act firms like Mobike, managing the ecosystems of infinitely diverse cities is simply too hard. You can’t just plug the bits together and walk away.

This is why cities need transport ecosystem managers. As I learned when writing Caloryville: The Two-Wheeled City in 2014, co-ordination and connection are key success factors.

The private sector, it’s true, is now selling ‘mobility as a service‘ (MaaS) platforms. But with a business model predicated on the perpetual growth of trips, private actors simply cannot steward the social and ecological health of the city as a living whole. Only city halls can do that.

Platforms such as Munich’s Gscheid Mobil, with its focus on reducing car traffic, is an exception right now. But for the hundreds of cities now thinking, at least, along similar lines, my modest contribution is the following list of mostly small and inexpensive steps to get them started.

Caloryville: The Two-Wheeled City

Posted in mobility & design | Leave a comment

From commodities, to connection: A platform for the co-op grains movement

At Pontio, in North Wales, a new Masters by Research in Relational Design (#api_MRRD) helps you make a positive step-change in a live wellness project for a region. Here below is a project scenario.

Between Autumn 2015 and Autumn 2016, in an artist-led project called A Field Of Wheat, a collective made up of 42 members of the public, the food industry, farming community, artists and researchers become active stakeholders in a field of wheat in Branston Booths, Lincolnshire, England.

Following two years of research into the culture and economics of wheat growing on a local and global scale, the Field of Wheat project meant building relationships with the region’s farmers, representatives of the farming industry, local historians, and researchers.

A direct outcome of this experiment is a project called – the live prototype of a co-op grains movement. Sixty citizens have each invested in a farmer’s field for a year. Together with the farmer, they decide what to grow, how to grow it and what happens with the crop.

#OurField is a shared farming experience: It supports farmers financially and emotionally, and  connects mostly city people to what it takes to grow food.

#OurField is brilliant experiment. It has huge potential. But building on this opportunity is easier said than done. As is true for most pioneers, the founders and organisers of #OurField lack the time and space to build the co-operation platform they know is needed.

So, one project scenario for the #api_MRRD masters is easily described: an ideal candidate would spend spend a year developing the prototype of an #OurField platform – together with the movement’s founders, a farmer from the North Wales region, and relevant other partners.



Posted in food systems & design | Leave a comment

Welsh Chapels and Coworking

At Pontio, in North Wales, a new Masters by Research in Relational Design (#api_MRRD) helps you make a positive step-change in a live wellness project for a region. Here is a project scenario.

The 6,426 chapels in Wales (like Capel Salem chapel in Pwllheli, above) were once at at the heart of community life in remote communities.

There are numerous ways 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.

Scroll down for other #api_MRRD project ideas.


Posted in development & design | Leave a comment

Connected Botanic Garden


At Pontio, in North Wales, a new Masters by Research in Relational Design (#api_MRRD) helps you make a positive step-change in a live wellness project for a region. Here is a project scenario.

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, in the UK especially, #National Parks –  are looking for new ways to engage citizens – and as active participants, not just as paying visitors. These new relationships need to be designed, enabled and supported.

One #api_MRRD project scenario could be to work with Tregorth Botanic Garden (top); develop new relationships; and design a platform to enable them. 

is needed  in national parks the world over. An inspiring example of this approach was envisaged by @DubberlyDesign in their project Engaging members to re-imagine National Geographic

Scroll down for other #api_MRRD project ideas.


Posted in learning & design | 3 Responses