Categories
computing design music

Artful Design

Ge Wang is the Artful Designer. Associate Professor in the Department of Music (and by courtesy in Computer Science) at Stanford University.

His book Artful Design: Technology in Search of the Sublime is a masterpiece of photocomic that hides a book on the nature, meaning, and purpose of design in this age of technology, that hides a manifesto on values in practice.

Talking points

I make things that make me feel good.

Sufficiently good design

Design is a series of choices

Design not just for the needs, but for the values that underlie the needs.

(do we see value-wash?) Yes, things that were never designed with our wellbeing in mind.

What is good and for whom?

The choices we make hold implications…unintended consequences.

The choices we make in design hold implications for our users that are tantamount to taking actions ourselves.

The platinum rule: do unto others as they would have you do unto them.

Sustainability needs to be an act of design. What purpose are we serving? What kind of society do we want?

Questions about questions. We need to be asking questions for which we not only don’t have the answers, but those for which we don’t have the questions.

Activist? Yes, good things don’t happen by staying neutral.

Go out of your way to help good ideas flourish.

Motivation: There’s so much to be done.

Challenge: Education shift, education has trended to the transaction. How do we align the thing you do with what you are genuinely interested in.

The conversation was recorded at ACM Creativity and Cognition in San Diego in June 2019.

Categories
agriculture art community education geography

Rural imaginings

Professor Valentine Cadieux is Director of Environmental Studies and Director of Sustainability at Hamline University in St Paul, Minnesota. She studies collaborative knowledge practices related to food, agriculture, and land in the context of settler society cultures in Canada, the United States, and Aotearoa New Zealand.

Talking points.

Incentivised to explore the woods behind my house.

How to colloboratively define rural environments

Imagination of wilderness

People describing themselves as “rural people at heart” but don’t know any farmers.

Questions around what keeps people in the city when they’re living in rural areas?

Say your objectives out loud – in time you can hear them

Embedding sustainability across the curriculum

Validating what people are doing already.

Pieces of sustainability that dwarf the carpooling. Social justice, transformative change.

Sustainability has been “owned” by the environment, but more and more people are realising that it’s the connection to people – social justice, processes of change – that makes that special.

Institutions of higher learning promote value sets that are more consumerist than they intended. So we have to teach them (students) what is excessive.

Making food access and food liberty a part of being educated.

Students are so anxious about the future of the world. We’ve seen a huge reduction in scare tactics – they’re scared already, we have to present positivity as a message.

Permission to do the things you find pleasure and joy in.

A course: Planetary Home Care Manual.

How do you contribute as much as you take in a collaboration?

Definition: Conditions under which all can thrive

Activist: Social relationships are core – without them the technical won’t work.

Motivation: A surprisingly cheerful reaction to adversity.

Challenge: Not getting boxed in to recycling. Although that is a springboard to energy conversations.

Advice: Work with people who are joyful and find joy in the work. Be joyful and creative.

Categories
children climate change local government

Messaging for change

Matt Lawrey currently serves the community as a second term Nelson City Councillor. He is also the creator of New Zealand’s popular cartoon on family life, The Little Things. We talk about he brings from his background in the media, and how he is working to achieve a thriving green society for his family.

How do we design our city for thriving?

Encouraging people to look to the positive.

Our biggest problem is a lack of imagination

How do we fire people’s imaginations?

Questions that make people feel uncomfortable.

Getting more people thinking that engagement is the normal thing to do.

Nature gives us everything we need for free, we just need to respect that.

Giving people something to embrace.

My success is about using my voice to amplify those of others.

Definition: What works for me is how do we continue to live without killing the goose that lays the golden eggs.

Superpower: Resilience (hammer, reject, reject, push, push, push – eventually good ideas come to surface). And speaking out, even when I know it would cost me.

Activist” Wary of the term. Certainly activist energy to give to local government. An important part of change is to take a lot of people with you. Just winning the point doesn’t make change happen.

The voices of the future are only going to get louder

This conversation was recorded in Nelson in April 2019.

Categories
community garden computing education permaculture

Planting seeds

Cal Egan is a researcher at Edinburgh Napier University investigating intersections of permaculture and digital design and technology. He is developing Lions’ Gate as a regenerative ‘blended space’ as a space for exploring urban permaculture and as a place to explore the role of technology in a thriving future.

I wanted to know why things were

We’re trying to be a bit provocative, but in a way that is beautiful and works

It’s about the relationships, the things you can’t see, the living engine, we have to enrich that.

We need to learn how to grow a different sort of abundance

Come hither, we’re reconceptualising our spaces – a permaculture garden in an urban setting, re-establishing a wildlife corridor, a food forest that is a place for sustainability.

Provoking to action

We’re at the interface of permaculture and computing. Both how computing can help permaculture, but perhaps more how permaculture helps computing, design, business. Dourish’s knowledge of space.

A place to slow down. Hurry up and slow down. How do we overcome information anxiety?

Living more thoughtful. Social relations. Stripping our crazy world back to reality.

Computing can learn about a different sort of design process. One focused on growing the substrate, on energies – personal and biophysical, and boundaries and edges. A process that starts and ends with care of the planet.

Care of the planet – that’s what makes me happy.

I decided to be a very vocal person.

We’re working towards a self-sustaining system, circular food, water management, performance – we’re a Fringe venue. We’re making an interactive throne that tells stories, bringing people into spaces. With a “horrible mode” if air pollution is bad it may lock people out.

A place of calm yet we have to provoke, I want it to be dangerous.

Advice: Plant seeds – take over the neighbourhood. Follow your heart and intuition.

Recorded at ICT4S and ACM Limits at Lappeenranta, Finland.

Categories
community local government permaculture politics

being better at imagining better

Nándor Tánczos describes himself as a Dad, social ecologist, educator, permaculturalist and a Whakatāne District Councillor. Others describe him as New Zealand’s first Rastafarian MP and one our our first Green MPs. We talk about what drives him, how he became socially active (radicalised in Darlington!), his new project – social permaculture, and our bigger goal – to recreate our society and culture as a homeotelic culture.

Talking points

We need to be better at imagining and rehearsing paradise

That awoke me to the potential – a transformation of consciousness.

The soft infrastructure is just as important for well-being

Social permaculture – how do we apply ideas of permaculture to regenerating society?

We need to avoid ecology becoming a reductionist science.

I’ve been inspired by Goldsmith‘s concept of homeotelic – to maintain and enhance the integrity of the whole. The default behaviour of any healthy part of the system serves to maintain and enhance the integrity of the whole. Human culture was – Goldsmith calls it the vernacular culture – and can be homeotelic – but in our industrialised culture the default behaviour of human individuals serves to undermine and degrade the integrity of the ecological whole. Our industrial society is hetereotelic. It was a real moment for me, realising that the task is to recreate our society and culture as a homeotelic culture. So it’s about mindset.

This whole reality is our collective creation – we can change it.

There’s a profound shift taking place.

Superpower: ability to work with different people

Challenge: Writing. We need people to be painting how things could be different.

Categories
community food permaculture

building earth

Louise Shaw describes herself as an earthbuilder, a teacher, a gardener, a mother (and new grandmother). She and her family live near Whakatane where we talk about building soil and regenerating ecological systems.

We need to change our view of capital, a bigger picture, a longer picture – soil is our capital, we need to build and improve that.

I can’t be self sufficient unless I’m living in a sufficient world

Ordinary but extraordinary

The more you start making (our impacts) visible, the more ugly it becomes. We’ve become good at hiding that, but we need to fix the ugliness.

People talk about better life not a lesser life, and it’s true, we’re so rich it’s awesome.

We can’t just be self-sufficient, we have to be community sufficient.

Positive, but shit-scared.

There’s so much learning in every single day. These things add up to big things.

Superpower: Doing it. Sniffing out other people doing it. A virtuous circle and community.

Categories
government systems

Living within system limits

Dr Morgan Williams is Chair of the Cawthron Foundation, is on the NZ international councils of the WWF, the National Energy Trust. We discuss his background in ecological systems science, from Antarctica to Fiji, and from North Canterbury farm through being the second Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment to his ongoing work.

Talking points

The research challenges are actually in understanding us – Homo sapiens. All the ways they interact, their decision making processes, their valuing systems, their moral structures and everything in that realm – that’s where most of the effort has to be.

Our understanding of the physical world is racing ahead of our ability to reconstruct our values and belief structures to keep up with the changes that we need.

It’s a real challenge if you have a conservative view on life, then reshaping the language about how you utilise resources – which is what sustainability is all about – and recognising the science that says this tiny blue planet does have limits and we as a species can overthrow those limits.

We’re not particularly good at working out where the limits are, nor how we share the division of resources between all peoples.

How do we get to a society where we more fairly share the resources available?

A much greater level of equity across society really does help everybody understand it improves the chances of all of us surviving and maintaining a better lifestyle without trashing the planet.

I don’t think there’s enough going on in a policy and investment sense to involve people in society who are really finding life hard…questions such as emissions are off their radar as the day-to-day is what they rightly have to focus on.

(Green without social) Far too simplistic. It comes back to equity. If we’re going to get on top of how do we as a species walk more lightly on the planet, you’ve got to work out how do we have a fair access to resources. It’s not just liters of water, or sunshine, it’s resources that we generate and provide through every facet of our society – access to music or health, housing…

Asking the hard questions…has elements of representing the future.

The problem with the whole notion of being fair and living within budgets of a small planet, is putting that into a political framework.

The value of an office such as PCE is to till the landscape a way ahead of the policy of the day. Its real value is to be seeding thinking, being an evidential thought-leader, putting out the evidence on the landscape a way ahead of where any government is at.

(Can we democracy our way out?) Good question. The evidence to date is with difficulty. There’s so much evidence that when we get to these big wicked problems we get tensions, and we get a Brexit, Trump in the Whitehouse.

(Can we business our way out?) Business – all the mechanisms of provision of goods and services for society – has to be part of it. There’s no question that we can empower a whole lot of innovation and adaption and a whole lot of smart people , but how do we do that in a way that has a moral compass that is 100% better that those that have shaped Facebook and so on.

(On profit motive) They have to stay in business but there are groups of businesses around the planet who are working for values other than profit, things are shifting and they have to keep shifting. There has to be viability there, but the notions of what is viable needs to change dramatically.

Journey of living within limits

Looking more and more at the drivers – what the things that we are doing as a species that putting all the pressures? (the breakdown of systems).

Goal areas, mostly aimed at saving something, that’s appropriate, a mitigation model. But when you look deeper, it’s a capital problem.

Young people are quite rightly saying “this is our future we’re talking about”. Their leaders are going to inherit some pretty tough spaces. I’d be getting my boots on and starting to kick some tyres too.

We have to have conversations and actions that we can craft a sustainable world, we lift the expectations we can deal with the turbulence, we’re going to have to get hold of the tiger and believe that we can make a difference, and we’re going to have to go fast. And we can.

Sustainability: Activity through endless generations. That’s really asking whether the resilient characteristics of our ecological systems, our atmosphere, our species mixes…can they evolve to deal with this turbulence? It’s not about saving species, it’s about saving the capacity of ecological systems to change at the pace that the pressures are generating. Resilience is quite an important word here. Resilience of the ecological system to change.

Have they found the Narnia door? A totally different way of thinking, of talking.

Superhero: might be useful.

Activist: I didn’t until last year.

Motivation: Seeing that you can make a difference. I’ve been encouraged by a lot of people. Having a partner in a life journey.

Challenge: Water security.

Miracle: Education. That we build into our education system how to relate, share ideas, recognise power of communities.

Advice: Think about your day to day life. Your impact, waste and so on, but it needs to be much more than that, so think about your purchasing, particularly clothing.

Categories
conservation biology engineering environmental entrepreneur

inadvertent ecological engineer

Kelly Hughes places a flexible baffle inside a concrete culvert.  He's wearing gumboots in about 12cm of flowing water.

Kelly Hughes of ATS-Environmental describes himself as a inadvertent ecological engineer. With baffles, ramps, ropes and fish-friendly flood gates, Kelly is reconnecting waterways around the world.

Talking points

Solving problems with technology

The ecological world came to me with a problem – all I could hear was excuses.

Creating environments where fish can move at their leisure, with choices

Overcoming ignorance and bureaucracy that believes things are not doable, even when you have done them.

People aren’t very good at joining the dots, and that’s what we need, joined up waterways.

Plastic bottles really are the icon of unsustainability

All my learning has been done wearing gumboots

Kids should go to school with their gumboots on.

Sustainable: being conscious of impacts – being mindful of the things that you touch – both self and societal

Superpower: Tempering one’s desires to match

Activist: Yes, Don’t walk on eggshells

Motivation: We need to make the most of being awake

Miracle: Every school had an enviroclass teacher like Graham Henton

Advice: Be honest about who you think you are trying to impress.

Categories
art

Painting is my language

Jo St Baker is an award winning visual artist. We talk about the golden thread that runs through First Wave, Resilience: Land Sea Transition and works including Turtle Alaia, Wall of Perpetual Momentum, the various modalities of Requiem (Paddle Out) and the Surfing Sandman. Common to all this is an exploration of light and movement and water. When asked if she considers herself an activist, Jo says “gently – people listen to those who whisper”. Celebrating ever changing land-sea transitions, Jo brings light to edges, a reminder that we need to look after our fragile systems.

Jo works with “things that inspire me on a daily basis” and asks us to look differently, be true to yourself, pay attention, and keep swimming.

Categories
community conservation biology environmental entrepreneur local government

Getting things done


It seems everyone in the Eastern Bay of Plenty has a good word about Bill Clark and his many hats. He is a conservationist, entrepreneur, author, the energy behind the Onepu Community Recreation Park and the restoration of the Tumurau Lagoon, and is a Bay of Plenty Regional Councillor.

Talking points

If you want more whitebait, you have to make whitebait habitat

It gives me a feel good. There’s so many naysayers out there that say if you build it they’ll break it, I accept there will be a little bit of collateral damage… but that’s only one person, there’s 99 enjoying it and looking after it.

Kia ora Bill, how’s our wetland doing bro? – that gives me a great deal of satisfaction

Service clubs: Saw the need for what they could achieve, and got out and did it.

An environmental activist, I don’t go out on the streets, I get out and do stuff.

Our governance and management systems…are working with value systems of yesterday, when resources seemed infinite.

We have yet to realise that our resources are not infinite and we can not carry on the way we are doing things and sustain ourselves on this planet – it’s as simple as that.

Thinking forward

I like my life. Is see what I do in the environment is a form of creativity.

Advice: Enjoy Aotearoa and look.

Categories
conflict

Rethinking conflict

Tracy Scott is a conflict consultant. We talk about how her goal is to providing opportunities and processes for collaborative positive change.
R

This conversation was recorded in Christchurch shortly before the tragic mosque shootings. Tracy describes how the moment of conflict isn’t positive but what can happen because of the conflict that can be, if we choose to let that guide us to learning and understanding.  In the wake of the incredible tragedy we are seeing positive change,  new learning, new understanding and even more connections and building of relationships.  We plan to get Tracy back soon to discuss what we can learn from the positive community responses to what happened as we all find our way through to make some kind of sense out of it all.  Kia Kaha Christchurch.

Talking points

Conflict is a natural part of life

Conflict is opportunity

Empathy is probably our most important tool – consideration for somebody else

Self-empowerment is the real key

My focus is on a facilitated process (rather than the legislative, evaluative approach), it’s a journey, a community mediation model

My job is to open up the doors, people choose if they want to walk through them.

It’s a new paradigm, its OK to enter into a journey of conflict

Sustainability: Activity and programme is bigger than the person doing it.

Success: Spread of community moderation in New Zealand

Superpower: I read people really well.

Activist: Probably. I create change. It can be uncomfortable, change is about the unknown.

Motivation: Knowing it makes a difference. And I’m comfortable to say I’m good at it.

Building youth resilience, aligning with school curriculum. We need people to have this toolkit and to put it into play earlier.

Categories
waste

Waste not

Lisa Eve

Lisa Eve is a waste management consultant at Eunomia Research and Consulting. We talk about her background – how she became a specialist in waste, and why it is so important.

Helping people to make a real difference in their lives.

The oil industry successfully found a way to get rid of waste portions of the oil streams…wildly successful so that now we’re totally unable to live without plastic

It’s too late to fix packaging at the consumer end, we need to fix at the source…extended producer responsibility

We’re not good at seeing waste as our problem – it’s someone else’s crisis, “they” should fix it.

#IsThisYours?

If it is not sustainable from a community angle – social justice etc – then environmental sustainability is meaningless

In New Zealand pretty much everything goes to landfill, and biodegradable is really bad in landfill – we have to work on that.

Super-power: feminist warrior

Activist: Yes, Trying to change people’s ideas and perceptions – but to do that you have to be prepared to change your own.

Start conversations

Try and educate yourself – not by reading facebook.

Be positive – surround yourself with people.

Categories
agriculture coffee fashion food pacific

Celebration of people and place

We talk with Jon Ching, farm manager of Kauai Coffee Company, and Vance Pascua, owner of Ainofea Productions. We talk about how a seed to cup estate and the Ainofea (I no fear) philosophy both come from a positive place of celebration of the people and place of Kauai’i.

It’s about passion

This is what we are doing and this is what we believe in

I can’t save the world by myself, but I can change one life, and who knows what they might go on to do

If you take care of the land, it will take care of you

Do as much as you can, with the resources you have

These kids, their passion, they will be the future

Activist: Fighting kids off looking down on themselves

Love what you do and the rest comes easy

Categories
children education

Every student can make a difference

Graham Henton is an inspirational Enviro Science Teacher at Whakatane Intermediate School, in the Eastern Bay of Plenty. We talk about his background, his approach to teaching and the restoration of the Awatapu lagoon and why he loves what he is doing.

Talking points

What a difference a child can make

Every child – I believe in you

Understanding – what we do as human beings

Interdependence is everything

If you don’t like Enviro, come and talk to Mr H, what’s going worng, what am I doing wrong?

Too many takers and not enough givers

I’ve made up a word for people who are selfish: BigISpoilers – their mission in life is to spoil things for everything and everyone else. I encourage the kids to be enviro-kids, and they are going to assist the planet to be sustainable.


Empower their life of making a difference

Put your cards on the table, lets figure out what we can do

Why would you want to cultivate a culture of extravagance?

They’re doing it, that my legacy.

It buzzes me out, I met people all over NZ, big burly fellas at the petrol station, “Mr H you believed in me”. I empower kids to make a difference. I want to empower children to make a difference in their life first, and then make a difference in the environment. They’re doing, that is my greatest encouragement.

Sustainability: Helping earth, not fighting it. Allowing the earth to do what it wants to do without us ruining and spoiling. Instead of creating carnage wherever we go.

Success: meeting students years later. In high school, trying to continue what we have begun here. Young children, 10-11 years old, they’re getting it, they’re embarking on a life of sustainability.

Superpower: Empowering young people, to help them understand the importance of the environment. People don’t do things unless they understand it, my job as an educator is to help them understand why we do stuff.

Kids teaching me – I love it. Boom!

Because I love what I’m doing, and because I’m enthusiastic about it, the kids love it (mostly).

Activist? I don’t think so, I’m just a passionate person who believes that passion breeds passion. Enthusiasm breeds enthusiasm. I’ve taken the time to develop a programme that works with kids, and I believe in it.

The world is filled with people who believe in things, and people who believe in things, make things happen. I what kids to know that, to believe that, that they can make things happen.

Categories
food maori

Food sovereignty

Toi Kai Rākau Iti is of Tūhoe, Waikato and Te Arawa decent. An actor and documentary maker, he is back home in Tūhoe working with his community, Hāpu and Iwi. We talk about food sovereignty – agroecological regenerative systems which intersect western horticultural science with traditional Tūhoe ecological knowledge and practice.

Talking points

Transitioning to a place of wellbeing

Te Reo – the magic of nature, codified in language

We talk about the importance of mana motuhake, of sovereignty – the right to life as you see fit – yet we are dependent on industrialised food systems

I come from a tradition of exposing the theatre of power, recoginising the power of spectacle, now we are developing a theatre of community

Food sovereignty is climate change

Gardening as performance art – this is a show garden, a manifestation of energy.

We see intergenerational dysfunction, we say karakia to the land, but then sit down to industrialised sausages.

The layers of colonisation are subtle, deep and thick.

In growing stuff – not just food – you can see the energy

Questions to end (short answers)

Definition: It goes on

Success: Moving home

Superhero: Bringing value

Activist: Yes. Do stuff. Subversive

Motivation: Doing stuff for people

Challenge: Creating space for healing

Miracle: An awakening.

Categories
conservation biology maori

Learning from rongoā Māori

Dr Rob Whitbourne works in conservation in Whakatāne. We talk about how he came to be involved in conservation and how this is driven by
Rongoā Māori medicine.

(note: We apologise for the sound quality of this conversation, the main recorder failed, so this is the back-up. All hail the back-up).

Talking points

Always into nature

Lucky that our playgrounds and experience in life was always based around the bush. My father was always a bushman…when you grow up with people like that they impart on you a sense of understanding….You grow up knowing the names of the trees, where different birds nest, how trees change during the seasons

Sense of curiosity and understanding

(after teenage years in Australia) For a long time after I came back I had this sense of the New Zealand bush as this foreboding dark forest

I went to a rongoā wānanga, a workshop on traditional medicines…it opened my eyes, gave me a feeling of really knowing the bush

PhD focussing on traditional crops and how their significance is maintained today…The bigger question: how indigenous communities engage with research institutes?

The social side of knowledge, isn’t given the same focus – especially when it comes to Western Science and indigenous knowledge systems – the focus is often on factual knowledge and deeper assumptions, ontologies.. and the social stuff isn’t given that much attention..and that leads to a focus on difference…here’s the body of knowledge that one system has, and here’s the body of knowledge that this other system has, or a deeper level, we see the world this way and you see the world that way. That tends to draw out difference and it doesn’t give much room for common ground or interaction.

If we put more attention on the social side of things, on the practitioners, how can the people who do Mātauranga Māori, or people who practice indigenous knowledge in Peruvian communities, how can they best interact? How do the people interact? So the questions are of who has decision making control? How do you respectfully engage with and respond to each others knowledge traditions?

It’s too easy to say these indigenous ideas of nature having a spiritual element, well empiricism doesn’t deal with that so they’re incompatible. But if we say people who work and live in urban institutes and others who live in rural communities, they speak different languages, they have different values, they make decisions in different ways, how can those come together? That gives you more scope to work together.

We lose knowledge when our people are depleted. The two are the same.

We might be lucky to name 5 or 6 plants. We know the world we are familiar with, today we might know 300 logos, before it was 300 plants and animals.

How do we get people connected, to feel part of those places? We are those places

We need to find the spark that’s already there for people – in my case it was rongoā o wananga.

It’s a love of those places, and a love for each other in those places, we are those places.

Environmental management is really people management

A Māori perspective – we are all family (people and land), do you know your family, do you care for them? I’m surrounded by my family.

It reminds us that we are part of something bigger than ourselves.

Activist: Yes, I’ve always stood up to confront and fight for the positive. In a sense of accelerated disruption and destruction there’s a real need for urgency.

Superpower: A genuine commitment to the world around me and its people. I’m an idealist, positive. Maybe that comes from the sense of being I have.

Challenge: conservation on Māori land.

Advice: All of these things require the collective, none you can do on your own.

Categories
design fashion waste

Zero-waste textile practitioner

Fiona Clements of Senorita Awesumo and Sustainable Dunedin City describes the many challenges of the clothing industry – not least of these that it is a business model that relies on changing fashions. She describes social injustice, water use, manufacturers’ waste (call it what it is – wasted resource). But rather than complaining, she has taken a positive approach to activism – making a difference through her own business and leadership in not-for-profit community sewing room Stitch Kitchen.

Categories
design education food waste

Food systems whisperer

Finn Boyle variously describes himself as a compost nerd”, a “food philosophy explorer” and a “yeast whisperer”. Realising the question of “what am I eating?” took him down a rabbit hole, Finn saw that he needed to change the world and that his lever was food systems design. He embarked on a food design degree which eventually saw him a grand tour of compost. Amongst several other activities, he is now working to reduce Otago Polytechnic’s organic waste. We talk about making disruption attractive.

Read more on Finn’s work on taking a thriving approach to Otago Polytechnic’s organic waste system (pdf)