This is the category for entries that aren’t assigned a topic within the John Thackara Topic List.

The (Design) Journey Back To Local

I did a 30 minute talk last October for Allan Chochinov’s Products of Design class at the School of Visual Arts, in New York City. Here is the video – and below are the main points, followed by a transcript.


You and I use more energy & resources in single month than our great-grandparents used during their … [continue …]

2022-07-27T14:45:47+00:00July 3rd, 2022|[no topic]|

Sustainability You Can Touch

Ganges, 15 June 2022

Sustainability You Can Touch
Open School for Village Hosts
AI and sustainability: new talk
Back To The Land Reade

I was stupefied when I read this text in 2020: “CEO Anne Rigail announces that … [continue …]

2022-07-28T11:43:33+00:00June 18th, 2022|[no topic]|

Tonantsintlalli – a multidimensional Mother Earth

Can indigenous knowledges help us inhabit our own places in a more adaptive and responsive ways? Can connection with these kinds of lived experience help us redefine development, and progress in our own situations? The text below is my introduction to Tonantsintlalli – a multidimensional Mother Earth presented by Desiree Hernandez Ibinarriaga & David Marcelino Cayetano … [continue …]

2022-07-28T06:53:29+00:00April 15th, 2022|[no topic]|

Newsletter: Microbes and Social Equity. Tools for Changemakers. Meetups & Offsites

  • Microbes and Social Equity
  • Tools for Changemakers
  • Multi-Species Cities
  • Design for Planet School for Village Hosts
  • Meetups/Retreats
  • Offsites for Teams


Ninety nine percent of life is invisible – so how do we design for that? To begin that conversation, I talked with Dr. Suzanne Ishaq – a microbiome researcher and founder of the Microbes and … [continue …]

2022-07-28T11:59:01+00:00March 24th, 2022|News & Latest, [no topic]|

Open School for Village Hosts

The Open School for Village Hosts – a pan-European Erasmus+ project – has been launched in Barcelona. Above: project partners meeting at Elisava earlier this month. (This post is a preview: the project’s website will be launched shortly).

Village Hosts bring new social, economic and ecological life to small villages and their local economy.  They … [continue …]

2022-07-28T07:25:46+00:00March 24th, 2022|[no topic]|

Design for Multi-Species Cities

What would it mean to practice design in the knowledge that the well-being of humans, and non-humans, is inter-connected? A recent design workshop at Milan Polytechnic explored just this question: practical ways to make cities hospitable for all of life, not just human life.

‘Driade’, Alessia Pinna| Clarissa … [continue …]
2022-07-28T07:40:35+00:00March 7th, 2022|[no topic]|

“An inspiring design”

For its inaugural meeting, @designcouncil asked its eight Design For Planet Fellows, of which I am one, to share “an inspiring design”. I chose a publication called Regenerative Empathy – and below I explain why.

“Place” wrote Simone Weil, “is a doorway into caring. Love … [continue …]

2022-07-28T07:52:17+00:00February 28th, 2022|[no topic]|

Microbes and Social Equity – Dr Sue Ishaq in conversation with John Thackara

The more we learn about life on earth, the clearer it becomes that the well-being of humans, and of non-humans, is inter-connected. They are a single story. Sustainable design, in this context, means designing for all of life – not just human life. That’s a big step! Not so long ago, human-centered design was considered progressive in itself – and … [continue …]

2022-07-28T08:44:10+00:00February 15th, 2022|[no topic]|

How AI might be used to enhance local knowledge

Indigenous peoples have a closer relationship with the ecologies of their land than those who practice ‘production agriculture’. But their intimate, fine-grained knowledge can always be enhanced. Sarah Kaushik (above) describes a system in which biodata collected from plants could be ‘heard’ by the farmer as music

I wrote the Foreword (below) to a new book called … [continue …]

2022-07-28T11:12:16+00:00September 11th, 2021|[no topic]|

The Anthroponaut’s Wordbook, by Karin Fink. A prologue

The following is my prologue to The Anthroponaut’s Wordbook, by Karin Fink, which has just been published by Postmedia Books.

The scale of the societal and environmental challenges we face can be debilitating. Feeling powerless to change the course of events, the inclination to switch off can feel like self-defence. Karin Fink’s response … [continue …]

2022-07-28T11:25:08+00:00September 10th, 2021|[no topic]|

Cities as Lifeworlds

Ahead of a talk in Milan at the Politecnico di Milano, I was interviewed about relational ecology and design

Q: Sometimes “sustainable” ways of living are often more expensive. They are more elite, how can we make them more accessible?

A: Good question. Food is an obvious example, but many ‘green’ products … [continue …]

2021-05-06T06:59:17+00:00April 8th, 2021|[no topic]|

The relationship of my texts to a dead fish

The following is a conversation with John Wood, professor at Goldsmiths, University of London, and joint editor (with Julia Lockheart) of the Journal of Writing in Creative Practice. Please cite: Thackara, John (2021), ‘The relationship of texts to dead fish’, Journal of Writing in Creative Practice, 14:1, pp. 5–11, doi: … [continue …]

2021-05-05T18:39:18+00:00March 4th, 2021|[no topic]|

Bottom-up Biodiversity

Whether connecting schools to farms in France, daylighting rivers in Mexico, or rewilding grasslands in Patagonia, we’re learning how to ‘do’ biodiversity well. Fifteen minute read.

Illustration © BAFU | Pierre Dubois, collectif Marie-Louise
This text was commissioned by the Swiss Ministry of the Environment, FOEN. It is also available online in these other … [continue …]

2021-05-05T18:26:54+00:00November 27th, 2020|[no topic]|

A “Marshall Plan for tourism” – but with what aim? (20 minute talk)

EU Commissioner @ThierryBreton promises a “Marshall Plan for tourism” – but with what aim? In this talk, I propose a new storyin which the design of new urban-rural relationships creates value by leaving places healthier. Video:

The concept of sustainable tourism was invented 45 years ago – but it was added … [continue …]

2021-05-05T18:19:19+00:00May 19th, 2020|[no topic]|

Civic Ecology as a Design Space

What is innovative in design today? What urgent issues is the discipline tackling? For this special feature in Domus Magazine, Valentina Croci talks with Paola Antonelli, Aric Chen and John Thackara. Paola muses on the disturbed relation between us and nature, the subject of her (then) forthcoming show at the Triennale di Milano. From his observatory in Hong Kong, … [continue …]

2021-05-05T16:43:46+00:00May 11th, 2020|[no topic]|

In an Ecological Civilization, Place is our Professor

I gave a plenary talk (by video) to the China Eco-Civilization Research and Promotion Association (CECRPA) Conference, 17 November 2019.
My focus was an ecological design training platform for designers in China.

会议11月17日:约翰·萨卡拉(John Thackara)全体会议 生态创新培训

2020-01-09T16:14:16+00:00January 2nd, 2020|[no topic]|

December Newsletter

Dates for my 2020 Meetups and Retreats | Report on our Urban-Rural exhibition in China | Next steps for the Social Food Atlas | Recent publications | Thirty-two case-study collections |Five recommended books

For a second year, I’m hosting week-long Meetups|Project Retreats| Residencies at our home in France. If you are a designer, project curator, (post-)grad student, … [continue …]

2020-01-09T15:48:02+00:00December 10th, 2019|[no topic]|

Press Release: Urban-Rural exhibition in Shanghai

Shanghai 28 October 2019
Zhangyan Harvests Future Country Living Festival
John Thackara curates Urban-Rural exhibition

Many people want to reconnect with nature and rural life – but cannot move out of the city for good.

Zhangyan Harvests Festival in Shanghai, on 3 and 4 November, is filled with practical ways … [continue …]

2020-01-09T15:30:15+00:00October 28th, 2019|[no topic]|

Three texts, a book, two meet-ups, and one off-site that you might have missed

(TEXT 1)
In April, I began work as an adjunct (visiting) professor at Tongji University (College of Design and Innovation) in Shanghai. As part of the appointment process, I submitted this research statement. It describes the three research topics that will be the focus of my work in China: Care. Value. … [continue …]

2019-06-04T09:24:54+00:00June 3rd, 2019|[no topic]|

Peak Car, Cloud Commuting, Gram Junkies, Green Tourism, Caloryville

Here are ten stories on all things mobility that I posted too soon. I have a hunch they will resonate better now than when they were written.

Is Peak Car Headed For Seneca’s Cliff? (2017)
Sharing platforms enable new relationships between people, goods, equipment, and spaces. The consequence? The notion of mobility as a discrete economic sector no longer makes … [continue …]

2018-04-29T05:44:20+00:00March 19th, 2018|[no topic]|

When Value Arises From Relationships, Not From Things

The following interview with Valentina Croci appears in the March 2018 special edition on innovation of Domus magazine . The print edition is in Italian and English, but does not include all the illustrations I’ve used here). 

Q1 The consumerist model and our fossil resources have been stretched to their limits. What could be an alternative model of production?

… [continue …]

2018-04-09T07:00:06+00:00March 8th, 2018|[no topic]|
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