Prof Stephen Emmott on the future of the planet – or lack of it.
This film takes a really interesting look at the future of food in Britain.
As an Aussie who cares a bit about shoes although not to the extent that I am adverse to wearing
thongs flip flops, sorry, throughout summer, I found this video about shoemaker Andrew McDonald interesting. As well as appreciating a lot of Andrew’s philosophies on shoe making and shoe ownership I also appreciate the focus on a somewhat neglected craft. His approach to criticism that he is designing for an elite is also interesting and I think I agree with him. That is not to say that everyone can afford his shoes, that would be naive, but maybe the focus needs to swing from buying numerous pairs of £20 shoes that break after a couple of months to buying one or two longlasting, well made pairs.
We don’t spend all of our time in the studio. Last weekend we caught a train up to the Todmorden, to get some country air and an update on how the Green Route is progressing.
Read more about our trip here.
Just came across this great quote from Ivan Illich whilst researching a paper and felt that it should be shared:
I believe that a desirable future depends on our deliberately choosing a life of action over a life of consumption, on our engendering a lifestyle which will enable us to be spontaneous, independent, yet related to each other, rather than maintaining a lifestyle which only allows to make and unmake, produce and consume – a style of life which is merely a way station on the road to the depletion and pollution of the environment. The future depends more upon our choice of institutions which support a life of action than on our developing new ideologies and technologies.
Ivan Illich, 1973
There was an interesting article in The Observer’s, The New York Times supplement this Sunday about Kumi Naidoo, the head of Greenpeace. The article draws the reader’s attention to the criticism that Naidoo is “betraying its [Greenpeace] environmental roots to turn it into a social welfare group.” Naidoo’s response to this is that “Traditional Western-led environmentalism has failed to make the right connections between environmental, social and economic justice” and that he “came to the environmental movement because the poor are paying the first and most brutal impacts of climate change.” Naidoo is right, not only are the world’s poorest bearing the greatest impacts of climate change, poverty and attempts to overcome it are a major driving force of environmental destruction. That is not to say that richer nations and questionable environmental practices do not still need to be challenged. It is however refreshing to see an environmental group with as much of a public presence as Greenpeace recognising that environmentalism needs to become about more than saving whales. Exactly how Greenpeace will carry this transformation out remains to be seen. Alleviating poverty is a vital step in creating a future for humanity, yes, but the direction this takes is important. Elevating the world to the standards that we have become used to in the West is simply not possible, neither is a continuation of the Western lifestyle. Raising awareness of the relationality between environmental, social and economic justice is, I think, a step in the right direction.
A little over a year ago I saw this great article from Core77 on the use of remote control helicopters as a filming device. The article focused on how advancements in stability and quiet motors with minimal vibration coupled with a digital SLR were making these little choppers a truly disruptive technology. As Core77 points out, one RC Helicopter, a pilot and a camera operator can now do the job of whole crane crew and the huge amount of equipment they use.
… and today see this amazing video from Raffaello D’Andrea using a number of robotic mulitcopters to build a structure. Could this be a first glimpse of a disruptive technology that could change the building industry?
Over the last year, members of the Pi Studio have been working with an inspiring community group in the north of England called Incredible Edible Todmorden (IET). IET campaigns for and grows local food on public land throughout the town of Todmorden, everywhere from roadside verges to the supermarket car parks. The genius of IET is their use of the simple, universal language of food to engage and educate inhabitants of Todmorden in the much larger issues of climate change and sustainability. Key member Nick Green sums up the IET approach brilliantly below:
The ethos is not about me me me. It is about us us us, thru the shared medium of food and towards a sustainable, survivable future.
We need strong communities to weather the tough times that we believe are coming. We need to re invent the collective skills of community. People that can rise to the challenges of the future without waiting for “the powers that be” to do the thinking and acting for us.
For that we need to take risks, to learn to ,not always, ask permission, to step out of comfort zones risking embarrassment or worse in order to do what we know is right and necessary.
Initiative taking, leading by doing, generosity and sharing, these are keystones.
The Pi Studio have engaged with IET to help realise their ambitious plan boost the town’s economy through a Green Route which will link two half’s of the town, currently bisected by a busy road. We’re exploring how design can help these community groups and, more importantly, what design needs to learn from their activities.
We attended evening of talks hosted by IET at the local theatre in Todmorden chaired by Matthew Taylor CEO of the RSA. Speakers included Pam Warhurst and Mary Clear of IET and a keynote by Professor Tim Lang. Matthew Taylor’s summary really captured the spirit of IET and perhaps the approach we all need to take in these difficult times:
There is an emotion that we have, that you have to hope to act. I’ve always believed that is the wrong way round. You have to act to hope. Its acting that gives you hope and its people in this town in the face of this massive global food crisis who didn’t just think were going to get upset about it or petition about it, they said we are going to do something about it in our own back yard.
In true IET style the local high school with help form the RSA was enlisted to make this great video covering the talks.
Members of the Pi Studio have just been invited to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Agroecology’s next meeting where they’ll be exploring the subject of “How to Feed a Town”. Friend of the studio Mary Clear MBE of Incredible Edible Todmorden will be among the speakers and knowing her, she’ll be eyeing up College Green as an opportunity for an edible oasis. That or there will be a few extra wild flowers appearing courtesy of her special seed bombs… the secret is in the fertiliser but we’ll save that for another time.
The meeting is on the 6th of December and we’ll be posting a report shortly afterwards – keep an eye out.