From Control, to Kinship: Ecological Restoration in a More Than Human World

The following is a transcript of my keynote talk on 29 May at Quantum(Quantum(Quantum()))): Artificial Imagination – the 2022 aai International Conference on art(ai) hosted by Tongji University in Shanghai.

The video is here. Six months ago, in a talk titled Beyond Calculation, about AI and Sustainability, I asked whether artificial intelligence could be … [continue …]

2022-07-27T12:55:15+00:00June 10th, 2022|Knowing, transition & design|

Lean Logic: A Dictionary for the Future and How to Survive It

Five years ago I obtained an extraordinary 736 page book called Lean Logic: A Dictionary For The Future and How To Survive It. Written over a thirty year period by the English ecologist David Fleming, the book had been published in a limited edition after the author’s untimely death. Now, thanks to an heroic, expert and loving effort by editor … [continue …]

2016-09-01T12:16:38+00:00August 30th, 2016|Knowing, perception, transition & design|

Are positive stories enough?

“The world is in dire need of a narrative adjustment; that’s why we write” (Hamid Dabashi)

Since How To Thrive In the Next Economy was published in the autumn, my 29 conversations about the book have prompted all kinds of feedback. One question has cropped up repeatedly: In a world filled with melting ice caps, war, species extinctions, and economic peril, how … [continue …]

2016-09-05T15:29:49+00:00January 13th, 2016|transition & design|

How Does This Forest Think?

soil-tasting B

Xskool on Grinda
UnBox in India

Forthcoming events


Fifty designers, artists and architects spent a week at our Xskool on Grinda last month to explore two questions: What does this food system taste like? and, How does this forest think?

One team staged the Soil Tasting Ceremony shown above. They … [continue …]

2019-01-08T10:44:18+00:00September 1st, 2014|transition & design|

German Government Think-Tank Supports Fringe Change Agents

Good news from Germany: A ‘global transformation of values has already begun’. It’s proving tough to leverage changing attitudes into sustainable behaviour – but a transition to a more sustainable society ‘would be welcomed by a significant part of world society’.

In a 400-page report called World in Transition: A Social Contract for Sustainability, the German Advisory Council on Climate … [continue …]

2012-12-05T14:14:17+00:00December 5th, 2012|transition & design|

Transition Dogville

In Lars von Trier’s 2003 film Dogville (below) there is almost no set. Buildings in the town are represented by a series of white outlines on the floor. Dogville was a to-the-limit exercise in what von Trier calls ‘pure cinema’ – a commitment to use only real locations, and no special effects or background music, when making a film.

… [continue …]

2014-01-21T11:58:02+00:00October 4th, 2012|Commoning, most read, transition & design|

Knife sharpening

Last week I was taught how to sharpen our kitchen knives by a wood carver, Howard Raybould, who’s been honing his technique for 30 years. It’s the most useful skill I’ve acquired since learning how to ride a bike.
Howard arrived bearing: a wooden board; a clamp to attach the board to the table with; a … [continue …]

2011-06-27T14:36:45+00:00June 27th, 2011|transition & design|

A lesson from Cornwall

Shortly after my visit to Oslo I received this question from Andrea Siodmok: “what from Cornwall should the world know about?”.
The director of Dott Cornwall is preparing an exhibit to celebrate the achievements of this fascinating region in south west England, and wanted me to contribute a suggestion.
Andrea did not specify that the thing … [continue …]

2010-11-02T07:10:27+00:00November 2nd, 2010|transition & design|

Salvage design

(Summer re-run: first published 26 July 2008)
Bamboo scaffolding, knotted aerial lines, hand painted signs or converted plastic bags: German photographer Thomas Kalak has published a book called “Thailand – Same same, but different!” that celebrates the Thais’ exceptionally gifted art of improvisation.
The strange objects and arrangements remind Kalak of art world “ready-mades” from the beginning … [continue …]

2010-08-12T16:50:10+00:00August 12th, 2010|transition & design|

Of apocalypse and forest gardens

Three hundred people came to South Devon in England for the fourth gathering of the Transition Network. They were a modest cross section of the many thousands of people now involved in 330 official Transition initiatives (up from 170 this time last year) and many more less formal groups around the world that are ‘mulling over’ their participation.
… [continue …]

2012-04-02T16:05:18+00:00June 17th, 2010|Commoning, transition & design|

Designing an associative life

Government departments or ministries responsible for sustainability, or “the environment”, are too often constrained by small budgets and modest influence. Their very existence allows traditional departments – “industry”, “economic affairs”, “finance” or “transport” – to carry on their ecocidal ways as normal.

A similar problem persists in business where Corporate Social Responsibility has long been treated as a sideline to the … [continue …]

2015-06-20T20:40:27+00:00December 15th, 2009|transition & design|

Territorial development books

It has always been a point of pride at Doors of Perception events to curate the bookstore as carefully as we curate the speakers. We do this because when a conference theme cuts across disciplines – as ours do – no single bookseller is likely to know which are the best supporting titles on sustainability … [continue …]

2015-06-20T20:42:11+00:00December 15th, 2009|transition & design, Urban-Rural|

Transition countries and transition towns

I went to Poznan, in Poland, to speak at a conference called World Innovation Days. In brushing up on the history of the Wielkopolska region [of which Poznan is the capital] I was reminded that Central and Eastern countries of Europe are still called “Transition Countries” – as in, transitioning from communist statehood to membership of a bright, shiny and … [continue …]

2012-04-02T17:06:41+00:00October 11th, 2009|transition & design|

In transition

Fui So means “ability to rejuvenate” in Mandarin. I learned this from Wong Lai-yin, a Chinese participant in last week’s Transition Towns event in London.
Transition initiatives and groups are multiplying at extraordinary speed: 170 communities … [continue …]

2009-06-02T15:52:01+00:00June 2nd, 2009|transition & design|

One mound at a time

I’ve been on the road most of this month talking and meeting and transitioning (see above) like mad – but not actually dong anything practical. So yesterday I spent the day up in the mountains helping to construct a bio-intensive, multi-layered planting bed under the instruction of a noted agro-ecologist called Robert Morez.
The technique involves layering all sorts of … [continue …]

2009-05-31T09:55:14+00:00May 31st, 2009|transition & design|

What Tools for Transition Towns?

This morning I received an interesting email from Transition Towns. “We recognise that out in transition land there’s a great diversity of web tools and processes currently in use and under development” the mail begins; “some of these will be resilient and adaptable enough to support the changing needs of transition groups around the world”.
I am then asked to … [continue …]

2009-03-25T08:22:09+00:00March 25th, 2009|transition & design|

Silent tree hugging in Tenerife

The criminal over-development of the Canary Islands – and the loss of biodiversity and social capital that followed – was financed by the same banks and speculators that our governments are now trying so desperately to save.

Given the desecration of these beautiful islands, the bankers who financed it all do not deserve to be … [continue …]

2015-06-20T20:47:51+00:00March 12th, 2009|transition & design, Urban-Rural|

Feeling peaky

I have this image of the 19-strong Emergency Economy Committee sitting down in Number 10 Downing Street in London (as they did yesterday, for the first time) to discuss the money crisis. The economy war-room is lined with screens on which red graphs plunge downwards. The Prime Minister calls the meeting to order: “Any suggestions?” Before any of the 19 … [continue …]

2008-10-07T07:57:52+00:00October 7th, 2008|transition & design|

Salvage design

Bamboo scaffolding, knotted aerial lines, hand painted signs or converted plastic bags: German photographer Thomas Kalak has published a book called “Thailand – Same same, but different!” that celebrates the Thais’ exceptionally gifted art of improvisation. The strange objects and arrangements remind Kalak of art world “ready-mades” from the beginning of the 20th century. They … [continue …]

2008-07-26T07:14:53+00:00July 26th, 2008|transition & design|


I am reading with nervous enjoyment a semi-samizdat French magazine called La Decroissance (De-Growth). An offshoot of the French equivalent of Adbusters, La Decroissance fills a big gap: critical discussion of the politics and economics of environmentalism. The issue I’m reading includes a sharp critique of the myth of ‘transhumanism’ and a mocking review of a right-on new book by … [continue …]

2008-06-05T07:59:46+00:00June 5th, 2008|transition & design|

Tools for survival

Imagine that you have the attention and presence of 80,000 designers and architects. Which five tools, business models, platforms, or applications, would you badly want them to learn about – and use? Tools for Survival is such an opportunity. The event and encounter, which Doors is directing for the St Etienne Design Biennial, takes place in November. We have a … [continue …]

2008-01-02T23:35:00+00:00January 2nd, 2008|transition & design|
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