This free monthly newsletter starts conversations on issues to do with design for resilience — and thereby reveals opportunities for action. It also brings you news of Doors of Perception events and encounters. Back issues are now archived on Design Observer. To subscribe to future newletters by John Thackara click here.
CITY ECO LAB ENCOUNTERS
If you know of another event about city-regions and design that includes permaculture, mushrooms, spin-farming, fritzing, open money, peak protein, alternative trade networks, dry toilets, sustainable urban drainage, alternate reality games, watershed planning, seed banks, de-motorisation, and VeloWalas – go to it. That way I won’t suffer remorce for my encouragement of long-distance travel. Otherwise, here are highlights of the encounters and presentations planned for the event; it runs 15-28 November inSt Etienne.
Avinash Kumar on the story behind velowala.org, a media installation made by a team in Delhi that brings the bike-based commerce of the streets of India alive – in St Etienne. (Saturday 15/11)
New economic models, complementary currencies, local economy trading schemes, alternative trade networks, community supported agriculture: Bethany Koby & Ellie Thornhill talk about their eco-soft shop. They are followed later that day by special guest Alex Steffen, editor of Worldchanging. (Sunday 16/11)
DESIGN IMPERATIVES; ENERGY
Allan Chochinov, editor in chief of Core77.com, gives a keynote on “design imperatives”. Later, a worskhop on design and energy will discuss: can design help us choose among the growing number of green energy offers ? (Tuesday 18/11)
COMPOSTING; DE-MOTORISATION; MANZINI
Clare Brass + Flora Bowden from SEED Foundation talk about their neighbourhood composting service. Later there’s a design clinic : Design for mobility, or for de-motorisation? There follows a special keynote by Ezio Manzini on "design strategies for the small, local, open and connected". Oh yes, and the French edition of In The Bubble is launched at 18h. (Wednesday 19/11)
OPEN SYSTEMS AND INFORMAL TECHNOLOGY
A sustainable world will be densely networked – but not by closed, proprietary networks. Juha Huuskonen (Pixelache, Piksel, Pixelvärk, Afropixel, Pikslaverk, PixelAzo) and Jean-Noël Montagné (CrasLabs, Paris) discuss how self organisation and technological autarchy will be crucial in the coming years. (Thursday 20/11)
EDIBLE GARDENS ON LYON BROWNFIELD SITES; KIMCHI AND THE CITY
Emanual Louisgrand talks about l’Ilot d’Amaranthes - his gardens on brownfield sites in Lyon. Later, a design clinic on Food and the City features Matthieu Benoît-Gonin (Jardinethic); Debra Solomon (culiblog.org); and François Jégou (solutioning.net). (Friday 21/11)
DESIGNING SUSTAINABILITY EVENTS
A Doors of Perception lunchtime discussion. If you are serious about hoping to do an event City Eco Lab (or Dott 07) in your own region, Doors cannot fund it - but we can help with the strategy and process. (Saturday 22/11)
RE-LOCALISATION AND SMALL BUSINESSES
Design clinic for and with local companies. (Monday 24/11)
NURTURING A REGION’S HARD AND SOFT RESOURCES
How to find and document eco-materials - and human savoir faire (Tuesday 25/11)
WATER AND THE CITY; SUDS
Re-connecting a city with its natural systems: projects for St Etienne’s River Furan. Plus a design clinic on sustainable urban drainage systems (SUDS). (Wednesday 26/11)
MAPS OF THE FUTURE
Pirjo Haikola from the Why Factory (NL) a research institute on the future city founded by Winy Maas and MVRDV, shows how maps are used in rethinking, researching, reshaping and enhancing images of future urban life. (Thursday 27/11)
SO WHAT EXACTLY IS AN ECO NEIGHBOURHOOD
Citizens and designers involved in one of St Etienne's "eco quartiers" (eco neighbourhoods) discuss what functions make a place eco - or not - and how to measure their performance. (Thursday 27/11)
LESSONS OF CANTEEN 80KM
The City Eco Lab restaurant, Cantine80km, serves food sourced within a 80km radius - the maximum distance food may travel in France without being refrigerated (Friday 28/11). The design clinics will be in French, with English translation available; international speakers will do so in English, with vice versa.
TRANSITION CITIES CONFERENCE
Transition Towns groups are growing like wildfilre. The transition model “emboldens communities to look peak oil and climate change squarely in the eye and unleash the collective genius of their own people to find the answers to a big question: for all those aspects of life that this community needs in order to sustain itself and thrive, how are we going to rebuild resilience (in response to peak oil) and drastically reduce carbon emissions (in response to climate change)?” The Transition Cities conference will share ideas and insights, tools and techniques, and explore what works and what doesn’t. November 27-28 Nottingham.
ECONOMIC ASHES TO ASHES
The policy think-tank Demos is launching a new book in London called After the Apocalypse. The report asks, “what we do when the (financial crisis) dust begins to settle?” When, or if? The speakers listed are heavyweight inside-the-tenters – but I wish Demos could also have invited Ilargi from Automatic Earth. 6pm, Wednesday 5 November at Demos, London.
ONE PLANET, ONE DAY
A sustainability event hosted by BioRegional in London will focus on real life developments and businesses: One Brighton urban living; Sonoma Mountain Village mixed-use community; B&Q One Planet Living retail (sic); Masdar City zero carbon city; One Planet 2012 London Olympics; Mata de Sesimbra eco-tourism and conservation development, Portugal. Is building eco cities like Masdar from scratch in the middle of a desert appropriate, or even viable? The debate could be lively. 3 December, London.
WEB-BASED TOOLS FOR SOCIAL CHANGE
Social Innovation Camp is looking for the best ideas for web-based tools to create social change. From 5-7 December the camp will connect software developers and designers with front-line practitioners to develop six web tools to change the world. Idea submissions are required by Friday 7 November.
MASTER OF ADVANCED STUDIES IN DESIGN CULTURE
A new masters at the interface of science and society has been launched at the Institute for Design Research in Zurich.
NORWEGIAN JOURNAL FOR DESIGN RESEARCH
invites articles in Norwegian, Swedish, Danish and English.
SERVICE DESIGN CONFERENCE
Speakers include Shelley Evensen (Carnegie Mellon University) Rory Hamilton and Sean Miller (Live|work), Jamin Hegeman (Nokia), Oliver King (Engine), Craig LaRosa (Continuum) and Denis Weil (McDonalds). 24-26 November, Amsterdam.
450 FILMS ABOUT ARCHITECTURE
I’m not sure whether this counts as a threat, or a promise, but the new website of Rotterdam’s Architecture Film Festival lists a staggering 450 movies. The next festival (it’s biennial) begins 29 October 2009.
THE INTERNET OF THINGS
Rob van Kranenberg (with Sean Dodson) has published a a timely book about “ambient technology” and the all-seeing network of Radio Frequency Identification Devices (RFID). Anyone living in a city is exposed daily to dozens of closed-circuit television and camera-phones - but in a few years’ time even more pervasive and technologies will take their place as consumer goods are assigned IP addresses, just as web pages are today. Are designers, architects, policy makers equipped to deal with these fundamental issues ? They will be better prepared if they read this book. It’s downloadable for free.
CURRY STONE DESIGN PRIZE
A South African architectural firm whose ingenious, yet simple design re-envisions low-income housing for a Cape Town shantytown, was named the winner. Luyanda Mpahlwa, 49, and Mphethi Morojele, 45, received the $100,000 prize, administered by the University of Kentucky College of Design. The prize is given annually to breakthrough design solutions with the power and potential to improve our lives and the world we live in.
In the Sahel, desertification is a major threat to the local people and their environment. The traditional use of raw timber as a construction material, particularly for roofing, is no longer feasible. Population growth, deforestation, and desertification have contributed to a shift in rural areas to importing building materials, including sheet metal, to be used for roofing. To address this problem, the Nubian Vault Association (AVN) has adapted an age-old construction technique that has been used in other parts of Africa and throughout the world. To date, AVN has trained 110 builders, is currently training 100 more, and has built 550 vaults in Burkina Faso, Mali, Senegal, and Togo. AVN needs money to establish new partnerships and bring its "Earth Roofs" program to other countries in the Sahel. We know the people - which is why we urge you support AVN if you can.
CYNICAL ABOUT SYNTONY
The Royal Society of Arts asked me to fill in a survey: “Can Cynicism be good for Society and Democracy?” The survey was so repetitive that I gave up half-way through. I should have known better - and stopped earlier - when I saw the word "syntony." A significant cause of the cynical society is surely the creation of synthetic buzzwords. But one thousand of my fellow Fellows, being made of stronger stuff , completed the survey – and cynicism is indeed infecting the very fabric of our society. Top of the list was politics (51 per cent) compared with 31 per cent for “general cynicism of life” and 30 per cent for business. What a surprise!