Cardboard Castles and Other Amenities...

I am really interested in using different forms of cultural action to help build better communities. Communities are a vital social model, allowing us to tackle problems beyond the ability of individuals with the focus of a defined (usually relatively small) group of people. How do the arts and cultural work in general help communities grow more sustainable futures? If you have a cool website or project or your own ideas on these subjects please let me know.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Art and Activism: Check it Out

For all those who are in Stockholm between now and October 8 the Art and Activism exhibition at Mejan Labs looks pretty interesting. We-Make-Money-Not-Art lays out the exhibition pretty well in Art & Activism Exhibition in Sweden so I won’t.

However, I did want to point out one of the particularly cool pieces. Kate Rich has struck on a really interesting idea:

Feral Trade is developing protocols for trading goods over social networks... The passage of goods can open up wormholes between diverse social setting, routes along which other information, techniques or individuals can potentially travel... Feral Trade makes a direct intervention into the business of grocery running, using the surplus freight capacity of commuter, vacation, migration, cultural and other social movements for the underground distribution of goods.

Using social networks to challenge corporate distribution models is an interesting idea. I am curious how this might look on a local level. For example, could it be possible that when people take local vacations to the country they would bring back a car full of locally grown produce and using their social network to distribute the food.

Reflections on Hello

Well I’m finally settled in here at school, so I will be posting more regularly.

One of the very interesting things about coming back to school (especially here were ¾ of the junior class go abroad) is everyone is asking about what people did last year. This forces one to reflect and define their year into a quick sound bight capable of being communicated in a five minute conversation. Although this is a flawed form of social reflection on individual experiences, it does show that communities play an important role personal reflection. How I wonder can culture direct this natural tendency of community for inspiring individual contemplation towards a more significant reflection?

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


I came to an epiphany the other day. I have been planning on applying for the Watson Fellowship (a really amazing travel grant) and have been struggling to coherently describe what it is I am interested, and now I have it (or at least a beginning):

I am interested in how people create, maintain, and strength understandings of common interest within a group of people (i.e. a community) and how this awareness of communal relevance is/can be used solve problems.

Jon Lebkowsky has written a really interesting article for called Complexity, Megacommunity, and Adaptation about different models for community organizing. The ideas he talks about have been around for awhile (multi-institution problem solving and non-hierarchical complex organizing) but what is interesting is explanation about why these are better models for solving the problems we are facing today.


Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Vision Vessel: Portland’s Mirror to the Future

One of the keys to building better communities is the ability to image them. Portland, Oregon is tackling this problem in an inventive way.

The Vision Vessel is a multi-media recording booth where you can voice your ideas about the City of Portland as it grows and changes in the 21st century. The Vessel creates a living archive of Portlander’s insights, while offering a fresh, practical and innovative approach to urban civic engagement.

This is interesting because the project not only records peoples ideas about the direction Portland should take, but also presents a visual timeline of Portland’s past. The designers seem to recognize that the future and past are inexplicably linked, and that we must remember out history as we imagine our future.

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Sunday, August 06, 2006

Green Building 101... .2

GREEN BUILDING 101: Indoor Environmental Quality” is the latest addition to the “Green Building 101” series from Inhabitat. Although the article points out an important aspect to environmentally sustainable construction, namely that if done right it makes people healthier and more productive, it does not have nearly the breath of useful resources for implementing its own suggestions. It also does not site any specific scientific studies proving the impact of inside spaces, which would be really helpful to people having to justify to a penny pinching boss why s/he should make indoor environmental quality a priority.


Saturday, August 05, 2006

MTV... Meet the Green Generation

Here is another sustainability for dummies site brought to us from the makers of Next and Yo Momma. MTV initiated a 12-step anti-global warming campaign:

Are you ready to commit to changing? Join Break the Addiction's 12-step, 12-month action plan for fighting global warming and the effects of overconsumption in your environment and your world. Each month, learn new ways to make a big impact.

The information is all pretty basic, but does provide simple tools for reducing one’s environmental impact. There’s everything from a full house diagram with suggestions for reducing energy consumption to a NRDC overview of renewable resources.

Again this is all pretty basic, but it is encouraging to see sustainability entering the main stream more and more. As an artist this is exiting because it paves the way for the more complex environmentally conscious art to be understood and appreciated by mainstream audiences. The more people who understand the basics of sustainability, the less time artists and other cultural creators have to spend educating people on basics. Thus leaving them more energy to illustrate and comment on the complex nature of the environment and our relationship to it.

(Thanks Worldchanging!)


Friday, August 04, 2006

Rural Community Development with a Scandinavian Twist

Check out “Social Design for Scandinavian Towns” at It is about:

how art and architecture can play an important role in social development of small towns.

and is worth a look.