John Thackara | Essays

Xskool, Sweden, August

Somewhere on the island of Grinda in the Stockholm Archipelago., where FuturePerfect takes place 14-18 August.

What are social-ecological systems? How do you design in them? What new skills do we need to do so? These three questions inform a Doors of Perception xskool that takes place in August as part of the FuturePerfect Festival in Sweden.

Stockholm’s Archepelago is looking for ways to grapple with an array of complex issues — waste, water, forests, sewage, sanitation, and so on. These issues have one thing in common: they are all situations in which people interact with other living systems. Climate and social scientists describe these interactions between people and living systems as social-ecological systems.

Many such systems are in trouble but many groups are looking for ways to reverse that trend — often working at at the scale of a bioregion. Real-life examples include: farmers’ markets as hubs for knowledge exchange; the collection of food waste as s social enterprises that regenerates the soil; textiles managed at the scale of the fibreshed; watershed regeneration, and pollinator pathways, as socially created green infrastructure.

The purpose of the xskool in August is to explore how design projects might become starting points for larger change. Our plan is, first, to make a social network map of actors, and the relationships between them and local ecosystems. This artefact becomes our ‘campfire’. Next, we will hear from invited stakeholders about a question or challenge that is bugging them. We will design artefacts in response. Finally, we will design a project, or projects, with the potential to shift a social-ecological system in a positive direction.

FuturePerfect takes place over three days and we’ll leave you plenty of time to enjoy the rest of the programme, the amazing food, and the island itself. The whole island of Grinda is beautiful nature reserve with there’s kayaking, swimming in pure water, breathing fresh air….

The Grinda Xskool is a partnership with Konstfack. John Thackara will be there from Doors of Perception; Konstfack will be represented by Professor Bo Westerlund and Martin Avila. We’ll announce other participants — including you — during July.

Participation in the xskool is included in registration for FuturePerfect. You can buy tickets here or write to FP’s producer, Michael Toivio ([email protected]); Michael will answer your ticket queries and also direct you to accommodation or camping options.

Posted in: Social Good

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