Back To The Land 2.0

This reading list is for students on the summer course I run together with Konstfack, in Sweden. These texts span new ways to think about food and food systems – how to be, as well as what to do, in a food context.

Download the Reading List ‘Back to the Land 2.0’


2022-07-28T16:41:38+00:00June 15th, 2022|Commoning, Handouts & Lists, Urban-Rural|

Ideas for the City That Cares: Ezio Manzini’s new book, Livable Proximity

Below is my review of LIVABLE PROXIMITY: Ideas for the City that Cares, by Ezio Manzini (with a contribution by Ivana Pais). This review appears in the June 2022 edition of She Ji A city that cares brings new meaning and vitality to a world exhausted by a focus on concrete, and consumption. In these inspirational pages, … [continue …]

2022-07-28T11:46:58+00:00April 28th, 2022|Caring, Reviews, Urban-Rural|

How To Thrive In the Next Economy: Preface to the Chinese edition

A cultural disconnection between the man-made world and the biosphere lies behind the grave challenges we face today. We either don’t think about rivers, soils, and biodiversity at all – or we treat them as resources whose only purpose is to feed the economy. This ‘metabolic rift’ – between the living world, and the economic one – leaves us starved … [continue …]

2019-05-20T19:15:55+00:00October 31st, 2018|Commoning, development & design, Knowing, most read, Urban-Rural|

Manifesto For Utopias Are Over: Cities Are Living Systems

I was asked to write a provocation for DAMN magazine in Italy.

1         Change and innovation are no longer about finely crafted ‘visions’ of some future place and time. Positive change happens when people reconnect – with each other, and with the biosphere – in rich, real-world, contexts. Rather than ask about utopias, I challenge city leaders to answer … [continue …]

2017-05-05T15:02:43+00:00September 19th, 2016|most read, Urban-Rural|

How to be a rock

Screen Shot 2014-07-29 at 20.37.06

(Above: A forest skills workshop in Big Tree Country)

Last month I spent a day in a small town of 2,000 people in Perthshire, Scotland, with the following group of people: a blacksmith; a book maker; … [continue …]

2016-03-10T18:37:45+00:00November 29th, 2014|Urban-Rural|

Food As A Commons

People go hungry not because of a shortage of production, but because the food available is too expensive, or they lack the land to grow it on. In California, the prototype of a combined social, political and technical  solution has been launched which promises to unlock the food system crisis.

Kiel & Dan per thru <a href=… [continue …]

2015-06-20T19:42:07+00:00May 13th, 2014|Feeding, Urban-Rural|









As an artefact, the swallows’ nest is not exactly the Taj Mahal. It’s a ramshackle structure, made of mud pellets and straw, that’s stuck crookedly to the wall. But it seems to suit them well – or rather, the surrounding habitat does.

swallow nests

I’m sad. The family of swallows that spent the summer in the … [continue …]

2014-01-22T12:55:23+00:00September 3rd, 2013|energy & design, Urban-Rural|

Between Sorrel And Supertanker

aa XSKL FP herbs presentation

In what ways can design help people interact with living systems in ways that help both of them thrive? And, what small practical steps might one take to test the effect of small actions on the system as a whole?

These two questions informed our Doors of Perception xskool … [continue …]

2015-06-20T19:54:47+00:00August 22nd, 2013|Feeding, Urban-Rural|

How To Manage a Constellation

The map below is of the Baltic Sea. Over the last hundred years its ecosystems have been poisoned almost to death by outputs from a multitude of industries and farming activities in the nine countries that surround it. These deadly flows are shown on the  complicated chart below: … [continue …]

2013-05-24T17:57:06+00:00October 1st, 2012|Urban-Rural, [no topic]|

Top Down Nature

A huge urban master plan in southen France gets serious about nature as a project. In Bordeaux 55,000 (above) the city of Bordeaux (CUB) has invited five multidisciplinary teams to develop projects, during a a six month “competitive dialogue”, that … [continue …]

2015-06-20T20:04:55+00:00August 21st, 2012|Urban-Rural|

Iceland: eaten alive, or growing to live?

“Who needs oil when you have rain?” The ad for Landsvirkjun, Iceland’s national energy company, dominates this month’s Icelandair magazine. It sits alongside other ads that feature wild spaces, rugged outdoor clothing, and all-round natural purity. The message is not disguised: Iceland is blessed by massive amounts of clean energy.

The true picture on the … [continue …]

2015-06-20T20:14:07+00:00September 2nd, 2011|development & design, most read, Urban-Rural|

Life is a Picnic in The Fertile City

If you’re in Paris before 24 July a spectacular exhibition called The Fertile City: Towards An Urban Nature is well worth a visit.

The show’s OTT poster does not over-promise. The exhibition explores nature in the city from multiple perspectives: historical, social, cultural, botanical, ecological. Two narrative sequences overlap: an “immersion in the urban-vegetal world”, and … [continue …]

2019-02-28T20:00:01+00:00July 14th, 2011|most read, Urban-Rural|

From Eds & Meds, to Farms and Watersheds

The skyline of Pittsburgh, once America’s Steel City, is now dominated by towers belonging to two local giants of ‘Eds & Meds’ – education, and healthcare. Does this mean the city has successfully grown itself a resilient new economy?
If architectural bravura was an indicator, the answer would be yes. The older tower [above] … [continue …]

2012-04-02T16:06:43+00:00April 26th, 2011|most read, Urban-Rural|

Rotterdam: where time is no longer money

Twelve-year-old childen in Rotterdam have never known a time when their city was not being rebuilt around them. And because they know no better, or at least no different, they are not much daunted by the huge scale of the projects underway – still less, by the consequences those projects are likely to have … [continue …]

2012-04-02T17:19:53+00:00April 18th, 2011|Urban-Rural|

Design, regions, and the two economies

The stated ambition of Cornwall, in the the far south west of England, is to become a “green peninsular”. It’s an evocative concept, but people there interpret the word “green” in different ways.

For example, although Cornwall aspires to become a “knowledge economy” it is more of a tourism economy at the moment: Many of the 500,000 people who live in … [continue …]

2015-06-20T20:37:56+00:00April 3rd, 2010|development & design, Urban-Rural|

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|
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