Newsletter March/April 2015
Doors of Perception Summer Xskool
Media City Conference
My new book
Core77 Design Awards
Commoning in Scotland
On ecological empathy – and getting fired
Three new books: Soil Atlas; Social Design; Art Nurses in Iceland
[Above: our venue for the summer Xskool is the cultural-ecological community at Hjulsjö ]
FOOD, BIOREGIONS, DESIGN: OUR SUMMER XSKOOL IN SWEDEN
Farmers’ markets as hubs of knowledge exchange? Food waste as a social enterprise? Pollinator pathways across an ecological region? This year’s summer Xskool is about food systems as a key element in a design agenda for bioregions. We will ask: What are the key social-ecological systems in this place? How night one design in them? How does one get started? Doors of Perception partners once again with Konstfack, together with Art Academy of Latvia. For students in the 42 European Economic Area countries, the (7.5 credits) course is free apart from your travel to Sweden and food on site. The full course runs in two phases: an online element (22 June to 7 August); and a residential workshop, somewhere in Sweden, from 10-16 August. European students should apply online here. For professionals and researchers who don’t need to take the full course, but would like to join the workshop, a number of Residencies will be available. More info here.
THE SOCIAL SMARTS OF A CITY
From lighting a bus stop, to the sound of a tunnel: The Media City conference in Plymouth will focus on artistic and experimental projects that foster collaboration and sharing in the city. Saskia Sassen’s keynote follows the publication her new book Expulsions: Brutality and Complexity in the Global Economy; mine talk will be about the relationships between cities and their bioregion. There also hands-on workshops. 1-3 May, Plymouth, UK.
MY NEW BOOK
My new book, How To Thrive In The Next Economy: Designing Tomorrow’s World Today, will be published by Thames & Hudson in September (a bit later in the US). With chapters such as Grounding, Waterkeeping, Social Farming, Clothing, Bioregions, and Commoning, it’s about the power of small actions to transform big systems. If you’re planning a conference or lecture series from September this year onwards, and could be interested in a talk, please let me know.
CORE77 DESIGN AWARDS
I’ve agreed to be a jury captain in this year’s Core77 Design Awards, in the Social Impact category. Together with my fellow jurors – Babitha George from Quicksand in Delhi; Dr Mathilda Tham from Linnaeus University, in Sweden, and Gill Wildman from Plot, in London – we are looking for projects that benefit social, humanitarian, community or environmental causes. These might include community or environmental impact initiatives, products for underrepresented communities, or alternative distribution systems. The first deadline is 24 March.
COMMONING IN SCOTLAND
The commons is an idea, and a practice, that generates meaning and hope. In Scotland’s ‘Big Tree Country’ a a two year programme of arts and cultural activities called Cateran’s Common Wealth celebrates the region’s social, cultural and ecological assets. Here is my conversation with its founder, Clare Cooper.
ON ECOLOGICAL EMPATHY – AND GETTING FIRED
What connects a blacksmith, a digital arts producer, a land owner, a raspberry farmer, a soldier turned master mead maker, an expert on the ecosystems to be found in dry stone walls, a service designer, an artist who makes outfits that disguise you as a rock, the tutor at a forest school, a designer of water cleaning systems? Well, their work adds up to a new concept of the world. Here is more of my conversation with Allan Chochinov.
THREE RECOMMENDED BOOKS
SOIL ATLAS by Heinrich Böll Foundation. It takes several thousand years to build a thin layer of fertile topsoil, but only a generation of “production agriculture” to exhaust it. The Heinrich Böll Foundation has published a wonderful atlas to enrich our understanding of the earth beneath our feet. It’s not just about data; the atlas helps us understand who we are. It’s available as a pdf to download for free. Highly recommended.
DESIGN, WHEN EVERYBODY DESIGNS by Ezio Manzini. Ezio Manzini’s inspiring new book describes an emerging social economy in which human and environmental interests converge. We are introduced to an archipelago of microworlds in which a new economy, so long awaited, is being born. In this world, collaboration counts for more than consumption, and relationships are the true source of value.
SCARCITY IN EXCESS: THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT AND THE ECONOMIC CRISIS IN ICELAND by Arna Mathiesen. The collapse of Iceland’s economy led to the deepest peacetime fiscal crisis ever recorded – so how did design-minded people cope? The book features projects by carpenters, engineers, geologists, farmers, ‘art nurses’, chemists, cooks, and ecologists. Their actions wire together ecological and human systems in ways that lead to more resilient solutions.