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You are Brilliant, and the Earth is Hiring :: Paul Hawken's Commencement Address to the Class of 2009 — YES! Magazine
"When I was invited to give this speech, I was asked if I could give a simple short talk that was “direct, naked, taut, honest, passionate, lean, shivering, startling, and graceful.” No pressure there.

Let’s begin with the startling part. Class of 2009: you are going to have to figure out what it means to be a human being on earth at a time when every living system is declining, and the rate of decline is accelerating. Kind of a mind-boggling situation… but not one peer-reviewed paper published in the last thirty years can refute that statement. Basically, civilization needs a new operating system, you are the programmers, and we need it within a few decades.

This planet came with a set of instructions, but we seem to have misplaced them. Important rules like don’t poison the water, soil, or air, don’t let the earth get overcrowded, and don’t touch the thermostat have been broken. Buckminster Fuller said that spaceship earth was so ingeniously designed that no one has a clue that we are on one, flying through the universe at a million miles per hour, with no need for seat belts, lots of room in coach, and really good food—but all that is changing.

There is invisible writing on the back of the diploma you will receive, and in case you didn’t bring lemon juice to decode it, I can tell you what it says: You are Brilliant, and the Earth is Hiring. The earth couldn’t afford to send recruiters or limos to your school. It sent you rain, sunsets, ripe cherries, night blooming jasmine, and that unbelievably cute person you are dating. Take the hint. And here’s the deal: Forget that this task of planet-saving is not possible in the time required. Don’t be put off by people who know what is not possible. Do what needs to be done, and check to see ifit was impossible only after you are done.

When asked if I am pessimistic or optimistic about the future, my answer is always the same: If you look at the science about what is happening on earth and aren’t pessimistic, you don’t understand the data. But if you meet the people who are working to restore this earth and the lives of the poor, and you aren’t optimistic, you haven’t got a pulse. What I see everywhere in the world are ordinary people willing to confront despair, power, and incalculable odds in order to restore some semblance of grace, justice, and beauty to this world. The poet Adrienne Rich wrote, “So much has been destroyed I have cast my lot with those who, age after age, perversely, with no extraordinary power, reconstitute the world.” There could be no better description. Humanity is coalescing. It is reconstituting the world, and the action is taking place in schoolrooms, farms, jungles, villages,campuses, companies, refuge camps, deserts, fisheries, and slums.

You join a multitude of caring people. No one knows how many groups and organizations are working on the most salient issues of our day: climate change, poverty, deforestation, peace, water, hunger, conservation, human rights, and more. This is the largest movement the world has ever seen. Rather than control, it seeks connection. Rather than dominance, it strives to disperse concentrations of power. Like Mercy Corps, it works behind the scenes and gets the job done. Large as it is, no one knows the true size of this movement. It provides hope, support, and meaning to billions of people in the world. Its clout resides in idea, not in force. It is made up of teachers, children, peasants, businesspeople, rappers, organic farmers, nuns, artists, government workers, fisherfolk, engineers, students, incorrigible writers, weeping Muslims, concerned mothers, poets, doctors without borders, grieving Christians, street musicians, the President of the United States of America, and as the writer David James Duncan would say, the Creator, the One who loves us all in such a huge way.

There is a rabbinical teaching that says if the world is ending and the Messiah arrives, first plant a tree, and then see if the story is true. Inspiration is not garnered from the litanies of what may befall us; it resides in humanity’s willingness to restore, redress, reform, rebuild, recover, reimagine, and reconsider. “One day you finally knew what you had to do, and began, though the voices around you kept shouting their bad advice,” is Mary Oliver’s description of moving away from the profane toward a deep sense of connectedness to the living world.

Millions of people are working on behalf of strangers, even if the evening news is usually about the death of strangers. This kindness of strangers has religious, even mythic origins, and very specific eighteenth-century roots. Abolitionists were the first people to create a national and global movement to defend the rights of those they did not know. Until that time, no group had filed a grievance except on behalf of itself. The founders of this movement were largely unknown — Granville Clark, Thomas Clarkson, Josiah Wedgwood — and their goal was ridiculous on the face of it: at that time three out of four people in the world were enslaved. Enslaving each other was what human beings had done for ages. And the abolitionist movement was greeted with incredulity. Conservative spokesmen ridiculed the abolitionists as liberals, progressives, do-gooders, meddlers, and activists. They were told they would ruin the economy and drive England into poverty. But for the first time in history a group of people organized themselves to help people they would never know, from whom they would never receive direct or indirect benefit. And today tens of millions of people do this every day. It is called the world of non-profits, civil society, schools, social entrepreneurship, non-governmental organizations, and companies who place social and environmental justice at the top of their strategic goals. The scope and scale of this effort is unparalleled in history.

The living world is not “out there” somewhere, but in your heart. What do we know about life? In the words of biologist Janine Benyus, life creates the conditions that are conducive to life. I can think of no better motto for a future economy. We have tens of thousands of abandoned homes without people and tens of thousands of abandoned people without homes. We have failed bankers advising failed regulators on how to save failed assets. We are the only species on the planet without full employment. Brilliant. We have an economy that tells us that it is cheaper to destroy earth in real time rather than renew, restore, and sustain it. You can print money to bail out a bank but you can’t print life to bail out a planet. At present we are stealing the future, selling it in the present, and calling it gross domestic product. We can just as easily have an economy that is based on healing the future instead of stealing it. We can either create assets for the future or take the assets of the future. One is called restoration and the other exploitation. And whenever we exploit the earth we exploit people and cause untold suffering. Working for the earth is not a way to get rich, it is a way to be rich.

The first living cell came into being nearly 40 million centuries ago, and its direct descendants are in all of our bloodstreams. Literally you are breathing molecules this very second that were inhaled by Moses, Mother Teresa, and Bono. We are vastly interconnected. Our fates are inseparable. We are here because the dream of every cell is to become two cells. And dreams come true. In each of you are one quadrillion cells, 90 percent of which are not human cells. Your body is a community, and without those other microorganisms you would perish in hours. Each human cell has 400 billion molecules conducting millions of processes between trillions of atoms. The total cellular activity in one human body is staggering: one septillion actions at any one moment, a one with twenty-four zeros after it. In a millisecond, our body has undergone ten times more processes than there are stars in the universe, which is exactly what Charles Darwin foretold when he said science would discover that each living creature was a “little universe, formed of a host of self-propagating organisms, inconceivably minute and as numerous as the stars of heaven.”

So I have two questions for you all: First, can you feel your body? Stop for a moment. Feel your body. One septillion activities going on simultaneously, and your body does this so well you are free to ignore it, and wonder instead when this speech will end. You can feel it. It is called life. This is who you are. Second question: who is in charge of your body? Who is managing those molecules? Hopefully not a political party. Life is creating the conditions that are conducive to life inside you, just as in all of nature. Our innate nature is to create the conditions that are conducive to life. What I want you to imagine is that collectively humanity is evincing a deep innate wisdom in coming together to heal the wounds and insults of the past.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once asked what we would do if the stars only came out once every thousand years. No one would sleep that night, of course. The world would create new religions overnight. We would be ecstatic, delirious, made rapturous by the glory of God. Instead, the stars come out every night and we watch television.

This extraordinary time when we are globally aware of each other and the multiple dangers that threaten civilization has never happened, not in a thousand years, not in ten thousand years. Each of us is as complex and beautiful as all the stars in the universe. We have done great things and we have gone way off course in terms of honoring creation. You are graduating to the most amazing, stupefying challenge ever bequested to any generation. The generations before you failed. They didn’t stay up all night. They got distracted and lost sight of the fact that life is a miracle every moment of your existence. Nature beckons you to be on her side. You couldn’t ask for a … [more]
paulhawken  humanity  2009  commencementaddresses  environment  sustainability  earth  peace  deforestation  poverty  climatechange  refugees  activism  davidjamesduncan  mercycorps  strangers  abolitionists  grnvilleclark  thomasclarkson  josiahwedgewood  progressives  england  anthropocene  civilization  globalwarming  movement  bodies  humans  morethanhuman  multispecies  interconnected  interdependence  charlesdarwin  janinebanyus  life  science  renewal  restoration  exploitation  capitalism  gdp  economics  maryoliver  adriennerich  ecology  interconnectedness  body  interconnectivity  commencementspeeches 
november 2017 by robertogreco
Metafoundry 68: Specific Diseconomy
"ON LONDON: Not surprisingly, I’ve been asked a number of times to reflect on my experience in London. There were the minor details, like how signing for a credit card now feels like the past to me, chip-and-PIN like the present, and contactless still feels like the future (and I’m sad that the utility of contactless is severely compromised in the US because tips aren’t normally included in bills). Between the Brexit referendum fallout, the snap election, the Manchester and London Bridge attacks, and the Grenfell fire, it felt like an eventful and consequential six months in the UK. But what was most striking to me about living in London was how steeped the city is in colonialism and empire.

Most of my days in London were spent on a north-south axis that ran from Somerset House on the bank of the Thames (where I was working with design consultancy Superflux and with collaborators at King's College London), through Holborn where my gym was located, to University College London (established 1826, ending the four-hundred-year duopoly in English higher education held by Oxford and Cambridge, and to which King's was established in response), and the British Library. A friend of mine laughed at this, noting that my stomping grounds would be instantly recognizable to Victorians.

The walk from my gym to Somerset House (built at the end of the 18th century, and the administrative centre of England and its empire during the 19th century) took me past India House, opened in 1930 to house the administration for the subcontinent. It’s decorated with crests for different regions, and I found the one for the North West Frontier Province, where my parents were born and where my father lived until Partition, when his family relocated from newly-formed Pakistan to newly-reconfigured India, as part of what is likely to have been the largest migration in human history. Between my family history and my own life in Canada and the US, I describe myself as a British colonial four times over, which no doubt shaped my perspective. As well as the gorgeous administrative buildings, the Victorian public engineering that Britons take justifiable pride in was paid for out of the coffers of Empire. Bazalgette’s pioneering sewer system for London (built between 1859 and 1865) was an enormous public good paid for with public funds, because of the success of the imperial project, although it was almost more depressing to learn that it's since been privatized as Thames Water. Nearly half of Brits are proud of colonialism and think it was a good thing, and it inarguably was, if you’re British. Estimates by historians suggest that India accounted for about a quarter of the world’s economic output before 1700; a few years after Independence, it had dropped to less than 5%. Even the much-vaunted Indian railroads were primarily a moneymaking scheme for British companies, who maintained ownership and kept the profits, while Indian taxes backed the returns guaranteed to British investors.

I’m most familiar with India, because of my family history, but by far the most telling indicator of how colonialism transferred wealth away from local populations to England is to look at the list of former colonies: with only a few exceptions, the former colonies that are wealthy (like Canada, the US, Australia, and New Zealand) are the ones where the original inhabitants and societies were largely wiped out and supplanted by Europeans. The rest of the former Empire, the places where descendents of the original residents still comprise the bulk of the population, are desperately poor. Even if you don’t look at any other metric, this is still prima facie evidence for colonialism as an unprecedented transfer of wealth.

[I don’t think I go a day without thinking about how my family moved from one type of colony to the other, how that means that I grew up with all of the benefits of being on the right side of Empire, and that my society is built on a hill of skulls.]

I worked out of the Science Reading Room at the British Library, across the hall from the Asian collection. There was a large sign that read, “Learn more about your ancestors in India!” I was halfway through the small text before I realised, tipped off by the references to baptismal and pension records, that they didn’t mean my ancestors. On the Tube, I’d see ads for Las Vegas, ‘where your accent is an aphrodisiac’ (which is utterly absurd until you realize that it's a vestige of imperial propaganda); for the Crown Jewels, ‘Every stone tells a story’ (Prime Minister David Cameron refused requests to return the Koh i Noor diamond to India, on the grounds that if the UK ‘says yes to one, you suddenly find the British Museum would be empty’); for Fever Tree tonic water, ‘We go to the ends of the earth’ to find the quinine (tonic water was created in the early 19th century to make the antimalarial palatable to British officials stationed in Africa and India). In front of the Tate Britain, a bollard at the edge of the Thames indicates where ships would tie up to transport prisoners to Australia from Milbank Prison, which was torn down to build the museum. Outside London, Manchester’s Museum of Science and Industry has an entire floor devoted to ‘Cottonopolis’ and how the industrial production of the region was the source of much of England’s wealth, in which there is literally one sentence about slavery and no mention of the destruction of the Bengali textile industry (nor the larger deindustrialization of India). I posted an excerpt about the word ‘pukka’ from a book about stepwells in India on my Instagram feed, and a stranger demanded to know where Jamie Oliver got the word from if it was Hindi. [While many of my examples are from India, other parts of the world have their own stories.]

If you've followed the links, you'll see that almost all of my citations are UK news outlets; it's not that there aren't lots of people in the UK who understand the full impact of colonialism. It's just that it's hard for me to understand how, if you've ever seen a list of famines in India under British rule, you could ever believe that colonialism was a good thing, or that it should be reflected in ads to sell me tonic water."

[See also: https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:dc6ff8124465

"[M]y society is built on a hill of skulls" is the most visceral expression of this particular truth that I've ever heard. https://twitter.com/debcha/status/911689430347415558 "
https://twitter.com/jkriss/status/911691879799865344

"Of course, my joke cortex goes straight for this: https://www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/things-this-city-was-built-on-besides-rock-n-roll "
https://twitter.com/jkriss/status/911695089134481408 ]" ]
debchachra  2017  london  colonialism  capitalism  india  uk  history  society  inequality  imperialism  england  canada  britain  britishempire  globalization  europe  globalsouth 
september 2017 by robertogreco
Hello World: Explore the Tech World Outside Silicon Valley With Ashlee Vance
"Hello World invites the viewer to come on a journey. It's a journey that stretches across the globe to find the inventors, scientists and technologists shaping our future. Each episode explores a different country and uncovers the ways in which the local culture and surroundings have influenced their approach to technology. Join journalist and best-selling author Ashlee Vance on a quest to find the freshest, weirdest tech creations and the beautiful freaks behind them.

Episode 1: New Zealand
New Zealand’s freaky AI babies, robot exoskeletons, and a virtual you.

Episode 2: Sweden
We explore Sweden's magical treehouses, faceswapping robots, and enjoy fika with Spotify’s Daniel Ek.

Episode 3: Israel
Learn how the constant threat of war has shaped Israel's tech industry.

Episode 4: Iceland
Iceland's punishing terrain inspires cutting-edge tech.

Episode 5: Mojave Desert
America's most passionate and daring inventors have built an engineering paradise in the middle of nowhere.

Episode 6: Australia
Bio-hackers, Internet playboys, and underwater drones have ignited Australia’s long-dormant tech industry.

Episode 7: England
Once a computing pioneer, England has struggled to remain relevant in tech. Now, a revival appears to be on the way.

Episode 8: Japan
Japan's obsessive robot inventors are creating the future.

Episode 9: Russia
Grab yourself a vodka and witness the bizarre spectacle that is Russian technology.

Episode 10: Chile
Searching for the origins of the universe in the Earth’s driest desert."
technology  video  chile  russia  japan  england  australia  mojavedesert  iceland  israel  sweden  newzealand  ashleevance 
july 2017 by robertogreco
A World Without People - The Atlantic
"For a number of reasons, natural and human, people have evacuated or otherwise abandoned many places around the world—large and small, old and new. Gathering images of deserted areas into a single photo essay, one can get a sense of what the world might look like if humans were to suddenly vanish from the planet. Collected here are recent scenes from abandoned construction projects, industrial disaster zones, blighted urban neighborhoods, towns where residents left to escape violence or natural disasters, derelict Olympic venues, ghost towns, and more."
landscape  photography  apocalypse  worldwithoutus  multispecies  riodejaneiro  brasil  brazil  us  nola  neworleans  alabama  germany  belarus  italy  italia  abandonment  china  bankok  thailand  decay  shengshan  athens  greece  lackawanna  pennsylvania  tianjin  russia  cyprus  nicosia  indonesia  maine  syria  namibia  drc  fukushima  congo  philippines  havana  cuba  vallejo  paris  libya  wales  england 
may 2017 by robertogreco
MLE or multi-cultural London English - YouTube
"MLE or Multi-cultural London English is a mixture of accents for both British an foreign English speakers in the UK. This comes from the BBC's One show"
language  england  london  change  2013  linguistics  mle  cockney  evolution  english 
march 2017 by robertogreco
Flatbread Society Seed Journey
"ABOUT

This journey to the Middle East can be seen as an awakening of the memory—the long journey the grain itself has taken—through the hands of time.

-Michael Taussig

Seed Journey is a seafaring voyage connected to a public art project* in the former port of Bjørvika in Oslo, Norway. Seed Journey moves people, ideas and seeds through time and space. This voyage—its crew and cargo—are agents that link the commons as they relate to local networks and a more global complex of seed savers and stewards of the land, air and water. A rotating crew of artists, anthropologists, biologists, bakers, activists, sailors and farmers join the journey and share their findings at host institutions along the route from small harbors to large ports from barns to museums (contemporary art, natural history and maritime) to social centers.

"NOT STUCK ON TIME"

Seed Journey departs from the port of Oslo, Norway beginning with a few key defining points and space for new stops and invitations along the way. The crew’s interests will influence the route, but ultimately grains are the compass. Seed Journey maps not only space, but also time and phylogeny: while the more familiar space yields a cartographic map, time yields history and phylogeny yields a picture of networks of relationships between and among living beings—relationships between cultural groups, but also between human and non-human living forms such as seeds, sea-life and the terrestrial species from the various places and times we will traverse.

****

FLATBREAD SOCIETY

Flatbread Society is a permanent public art project created in a “common” area amidst the waterfront development of Bjørvika, in Oslo, Norway. In 2012, the international arts collective, Futurefarmers formed Flatbread Society as a proposition for working with local actors to establish an aligned vision for the use of this land. The groups’ dynamic activation of the site through public programs, a bakehouse and a cultivated grain field has attracted the imagination of farmers, bakers, oven builders, artists, activists, soil scientists, city officials; while simultaneously resulting in the formation of an urban gardening community called Herligheten, a Declaration of Land Use, and a permanent grainfield and bakehouse.

Flatbread Society has extended beyond Oslo into a network of projects and people that use grain as a prismatic impetus to consider the interrelationship of food production to realms of knowledge sharing, cultural production, socio-political formations and everyday life.

Flatbread Society is part of Bjørvika Utvikling (BU) public art program Slow Space, commissioned and produced by Bjørvika Utvikling and supported by The Norwegian Public Road Authroities (Eastern Region)."
futurefarmers  seedjourney  michaeltaussig  art  norway  oslo  bjørvika  naturalhistory  flatbreadsociety  slow  baking  biology  science  classideas  activism  sailing  boats  anthropology  barns  museums  seeds  sailboats  spain  denmark  españa  vejle  london  england  cardiff  wales  uk  antwerp  belgium  asturias  lena  mallorca  rmallah  palestine  istanbul  turkey  johanpetersen  børrepetersen  carlemilpetersen  fernandogarcíadory  agency  didierdemorcy  amyfranceschini  marthevandessel  viviensansour  ignaciochapela  martinlundberg  alfonsoborragán  hananbenammar  joeriley  audreysnyder  annavitale  jørundaasefalkenberg 
january 2017 by robertogreco
A Boom Interview: Mike Davis in conversation with Jennifer Wolch and Dana Cuff – Boom California
"Dana Cuff: You told us that you get asked about City of Quartz too often, so let’s take a different tack. As one of California’s great urban storytellers, what is missing from our understanding of Los Angeles?

Mike Davis: The economic logic of real estate and land development. This has always been the master key to understanding spatial and racial politics in Southern California. As the late-nineteenth century’s most influential radical thinker—I’m thinking of San Francisco’s Henry George not Karl Marx—explained rather magnificently, you cannot reform urban space without controlling land values. Zoning and city planning—the Progressive tools for creating the City Beautiful—either have been totally co-opted to serve the market or died the death of a thousand cuts, that is to say by variances. I was briefly an urban design commissioner in Pasadena in the mid-1990s and saw how easily state-of-the-art design standards and community plans were pushed aside by campaign contributors and big developers.

If you don’t intervene in the operation of land markets, you’ll usually end up producing the opposite result from what you intended. Over time, for instance, improvements in urban public space raise home values and tend to become amenity subsidies for wealthier people. In dynamic land markets and central locations, nonprofits can’t afford to buy land for low-income housing. Struggling artists and hipsters inadvertently become the shock troops of gentrification and soon can’t afford to live in the neighborhoods and warehouse districts they invigorated. Affordable housing and jobs move inexorably further apart and the inner-city crisis ends up in places like San Bernardino.

If you concede that the stabilization of land values is the precondition for long-term democratic planning, there are two major nonrevolutionary solutions. George’s was the most straightforward: execute land monopolists and profiteers with a single tax of 100 percent on increases in unimproved land values. The other alternative is not as radical but has been successfully implemented in other advanced capitalist countries: municipalize strategic parts of the land inventory for affordable housing, parks and form-giving greenbelts.

The use of eminent domain for redevelopment, we should recall, was originally intended to transform privately owned slums into publicly owned housing. At the end of the Second World War, when progressives were a majority in city government, Los Angeles adopted truly visionary plans for both public housing and rational suburban growth. What then happened is well known: a municipal counter-revolution engineered by the LA Times. As a result, local governments continued to use eminent domain but mainly to transfer land from small owners to corporations and banks.

Fast-forward to the 1980s. A new opportunity emerged. Downtown redevelopment was devouring hundreds of millions of dollars of diverted taxes, but its future was bleak. A few years before, Reyner Banham had proclaimed that Downtown was dead or at least irrelevant. If the Bradley administration had had the will, it could have municipalized the Spring-Main Street corridor at rock-bottom market prices. Perhaps ten million square feet would have become available for family apartments, immigrant small businesses, public markets, and the like, at permanently controlled affordable rents.

I once asked Kurt Meyer, a corporate architect who had been chairman of the Community Redevelopment Agency, about this. He lived up Beachwood Canyon below the Hollywood Sign. We used to meet for breakfast because he enjoyed yarning about power and property in LA, and this made him a unique source for my research at the time. He told me that downtown elites were horrified by the unexpected revitalization of the Broadway corridor by Mexican businesses and shoppers, and the last thing they wanted was a populist downtown.

He also answered a question that long vexed me. “Kurt, why this desperate, all-consuming priority to have the middle class live downtown?” “Mike, do you know anything about leasing space in high-rise buildings?” “Not really.” “Well, the hardest part to rent is the ground floor: to extract the highest value, you need a resident population. You can’t just have office workers going for breakfast and lunch; you need night time, twenty-four hour traffic.” I don’t know whether this was really an adequate explanation but it certainly convinced me that planners and activists need a much deeper understanding of the game.

In the event, the middle class has finally come downtown but only to bring suburbia with them. The hipsters think they’re living in the real thing, but this is purely faux urbanism, a residential mall. Downtown is not the heart of the city, it’s a luxury lifestyle pod for the same people who claim Silverlake is the “Eastside” or that Venice is still bohemian.

Cuff: Why do you call it suburbia?

Davis: Because the return to the center expresses the desire for urban space and crowds without allowing democratic variety or equal access. It’s fool’s gold, and gentrification has taken the place of urban renewal in displacing the poor. Take Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris’s pioneering study of the privatization of space on the top of Bunker Hill. Of course, your museum patron or condo resident feels at home, but if you’re a Salvadorian skateboarder, man, you’re probably headed to Juvenile Hall."



"Jennifer Wolch: Absolutely. However it’s an important question particularly for the humanities students, the issue of subjectivity makes them reticent to make proposals.

Davis: But, they have skills. Narrative is an important part of creating communities. People’s stories are key, especially about their routines. It seems to me that there are important social science skills, but the humanities are important particularly because of stories. I also think a choreographer would be a great analyst of space and kind of an imagineer for using space.

I had a long talk with Richard Louv one day about his Last Child in the Woods, one of the most profound books of our time, a meditation on what it means for kids to lose contact with nature, with free nomadic unorganized play and adventure. A generation of mothers consigned to be fulltime chauffeurs, ferrying kids from one commercial distraction or over-organized play date to another. I grew up in eastern San Diego County, on the very edge of the back country, and once you did your chores (a serious business in those days), you could hop on your bike and set off like Huck Finn. There was a nudist colony in Harbison Canyon about twelve miles away, and we’d take our bikes, push them uphill for hours and hours in the hope of peeking through the fence. Like all my friends, I got a .22 (rifle) when I turned twelve. We did bad things to animals, I must confess, but we were free spirits, hated school, didn’t worry about grades, kept our parents off our backs with part-time jobs and yard work, and relished each crazy adventure and misdemeanor. Since I moved back to San Diego in 2002, I have annual reunions with the five or six guys I’ve known since second grade in 1953. Despite huge differences in political beliefs and religion, we’re still the same old gang.

And gangs were what kept you safe and why mothers didn’t have to worry about play dates or child molesters. I remember even in kindergarten—we lived in the City Heights area of San Diego at that time—we had a gang that walked to school together and played every afternoon. Just this wild group of little boys and girls, seven or eight of us, roaming around, begging pennies to buy gum at the corner store. Today the idea of unsupervised gangs of children or teenagers sounds like a law-and-order problem. But it’s how communities used to work and might still work. Aside from Louv, I warmly recommend The Child in the City by the English anarchist Colin Ward. A chief purpose of architecture, he argues, should be to design environments for unprogrammed fun and discovery."



"Wolch: We have one last question, about your young adult novels. Whenever we assign something from City of Quartz or another of your disheartening pieces about LA, it’s hard not to worry that the students will leave the class and jump off of a cliff! But your young adult novels seem to capture some amount of an alternative hopeful future.

Davis: Gee, you shouldn’t be disheartened by my books on LA. They’re just impassioned polemics on the necessity of the urban left. And my third LA book, Magical Urbanism, literally glows with optimism about the grassroots renaissance going on in our immigrant neighborhoods. But to return to the two adolescent “science adventure” novels I wrote for Viggo Mortensen’s wonderful Perceval Press. Above all they’re expressions of longing for my oldest son after his mother moved him back to her native Ireland. The heroes are three real kids: my son, his step-brother, and the daughter of our best friends when I taught at Stony Brook on Long Island. Her name is Julia Monk, and she’s now a wildlife biologist doing a Ph.D. at Yale on pumas in the Andes. I’m very proud that I made her the warrior-scientist heroine of the novels, because it was an intuition about her character that she’s made real in every way—just a remarkable young person."
mikedavis  2016  interviews  economics  california  sanfrancisco  losangeles  henrygeorge  urbanism  urban  suburbia  suburbs  jenniferolch  danacuff  fauxurbanism  hipsters  downtown  property  ownership  housing  populism  progressive  progressivism  reynerbanham  planning  urbanplanning  citybeautiful  gentrification  cities  homeless  homelessness  michaelrotundi  frankgehry  richardlouv  gangs  sandiego  friendship  colinward  thechildinthecity  architecture  fun  discovery  informal  unprogrammed  freedom  capitalism  china  india  england  ireland  famine  optimism  juliamonk  children  teens  youth  development  realestate  zoning  sanbernardino  sciarc 
january 2017 by robertogreco
Why Tokyo is the land of rising home construction but not prices - FT.com
"The city had more housing starts in 2014 than the whole of England. Can Japan’s capital offer lessons to other world cities?

It was the rapidity of what happened to the house next door that took us by surprise. We knew it was empty. Grass was steadily taking over its mossy Japanese garden; the upstairs curtains never moved. But one day a notice went up, a hydraulic excavator tore the house down, and by the end of next year it will be a block of 16 apartments instead.

Abruptly, we are living next door to a Tokyo building site. It is not fun. They work six days a week. Were this London, Paris or San Francisco, there would be howls of resident rage — petitions, dire warnings about loss of neighbourhood character, and possibly a lawsuit or two. Local elections have been lost for less.

Yet in our neighbourhood, there was not a murmur, and a conversation with Takahiko Noguchi, head of the planning section in Minato ward, explains why. “There is no legal restraint on demolishing a building,” he says. “People have the right to use their land so basically neighbouring people have no right to stop development.”

Here is a startling fact: in 2014 there were 142,417 housing starts in the city of Tokyo (population 13.3m, no empty land), more than the 83,657 housing permits issued in the state of California (population 38.7m), or the 137,010 houses started in the entire country of England (population 54.3m).

Tokyo’s steady construction is linked to a still more startling fact. In contrast to the enormous house price booms that have distorted western cities — setting young against old, redistributing wealth to the already wealthy, and denying others the chance to move to where the good jobs are — the cost of property in Japan’s capital has hardly budged.

This is not the result of a falling population. Japan has experienced the same “return to the city” wave as other nations. In Minato ward — a desirable 20 sq km slice of central Tokyo — the population is up 66 per cent over the past 20 years, from 145,000 to 241,000, an increase of about 100,000 residents.

[Chart: Change in house prices and population]

In the 121 sq km of San Francisco, the population grew by about the same number over 20 years, from 746,000 to 865,000 — a rise of 16 per cent. Yet whereas the price of a home in San Francisco and London has increased 231 per cent and 441 per cent respectively, Minato ward has absorbed its population boom with price rises of just 45 per cent, much of which came after the Bank of Japan launched its big monetary stimulus in 2013.

In Tokyo there are no boring conversations about house prices because they have not changed much. Whether to buy or rent is not a life-changing decision. Rather, Japan delivers to its people a steadily improving standard, location and volume of house.

In many countries, urban housing is becoming one of the great social and economic issues of the age. (Would Britain have voted for Brexit if more of the population could move to London?) It is worth investigating, therefore, how Tokyo achieved this feat, the price it has paid for a steady stream of homes, and whether there are any lessons to learn.

Like most institutions in Japan, urban planning was originally based on western models. “It’s similar to the United States system,” says Junichiro Okata, professor of urban engineering at the University of Tokyo.

Cities are zoned into commercial, industrial and residential land of various types. In commercial areas you can build what you want: part of Tokyo’s trick is a blossoming of apartment towers in former industrial zones around the bay. But in low-rise residential districts, there are strict limits, and it is hard to get land rezoned.

Subject to the zoning rules, the rights of landowners are strong. In fact, Japan’s constitution declares that “the right to own or to hold property is inviolable”. A private developer cannot make you sell land; a local government cannot stop you using it. If you want to build a mock-Gothic castle faced in pink seashells, that is your business.

In the cities of coastal California, zoning rules have led to paralysis and a lack of new housing supply, as existing homeowners block new development. It was a similar story in 1980s Tokyo.

“During the 1980s Japan had a spectacular speculative house price bubble that was even worse than in London and New York during the same period, and various Japanese economists were decrying the planning and zoning systems as having been a major contributor by reducing supply,” says André Sorensen, a geography professor at the University of Toronto, who has written extensively on planning in Japan.

But, indirectly, it was the bubble that laid foundations for future housing across the centre of Tokyo, says Hiro Ichikawa, who advises developer Mori Building. When it burst, developers were left with expensively assembled office sites for which there was no longer any demand.

As bad loans to developers brought Japan’s financial system to the brink of collapse in the 1990s, the government relaxed development rules, culminating in the Urban Renaissance Law of 2002, which made it easier to rezone land. Office sites were repurposed for new housing. “To help the economy recover from the bubble, the country eased regulation on urban development,” says Ichikawa. “If it hadn’t been for the bubble, Tokyo would be in the same situation as London or San Francisco.”

Hallways and public areas were excluded from the calculated size of apartment buildings, letting them grow much higher within existing zoning, while a proposal now under debate would allow owners to rebuild bigger if they knock down blocks built to old earthquake standards.

All of this law flows from the national government, and freedom to demolish and rebuild means landowners can quickly take advantage. “The city planning law and the building law are set nationally — even small details are written in national law,” says Okata. “Local government has almost no power over development.”

“Without rebuilding we can’t protect lives [from earthquakes],” says Noguchi in Minato ward, reflecting the prevailing view in Japan that all buildings are temporary and disposable, another crucial difference between Tokyo and its western counterparts. “There are still plenty of places with old buildings where it’s possible to increase the volume.”

Constant rebuilding helps to explain why housing starts in the city are so high: the net increase in homes is lower. Like our next-door neighbours, however, a rebuild often allows an increase in density.

All of this comes at a price, not financial, but one paid in other ways. Put simply, the modern Japanese cityscape — Tokyo included — can be spectacularly ugly. There is no visual co-ordination of buildings, little open space, and “high-quality” mainly means “won’t fall down in an earthquake”.

Some of Tokyo’s older apartment buildings give industrial Siberia a dystopian run for its money. The mock-Gothic castle is no flight of fancy: visit the Emperor love hotel, which (de) faces the canal in Meguro ward. Most depressing of all are the serried, endless ranks of cheap, prefab, wooden houses in the Tokyo suburbs.

“The Japanese system is extremely laissez-faire. It really is the minimum. And it’s extremely centralised and standardised. That means it is highly flexible in responding to social and economic change,” says Okata.

“On the other hand, it’s not much good at producing outcomes suited to a particular town in a particular place. It can’t produce attractive cities like the UK or Europe.” Okata wants to hand much more power to local government.

And yet. At the level of individual buildings, if you block from your vision whatever stands next door, Tokyo fizzes with invention and beauty. It is no coincidence that the country where architects can build has produced a procession of Pritzker prize winners.

Japanese urbanism, with its “scramble” pedestrian crossings, its narrow streets, its dense population and its superb public transport is looked to as a model, certainly in Asia, and increasingly across the rest of the world as well.

Most of all, Tokyo is fair. The ugliness is shared by rich and poor alike. So is the low-cost housing. In London, or in San Francisco, all share in the beauty, but some enjoy it from the gutter; others from high above the city, in the rationed seats, closer to the stars."
japan  tokyo  sanfrancisco  london  us  uk  housing  population  property  construction  development  urban  urbanism  urbanplanning  cities  california  zoning  homeownership  policy  england  economics  propertyrights  density 
august 2016 by robertogreco
These Policies Could Move America Toward a Universal Basic Income | The Nation
"As the economy continues to struggle, the debate over guaranteed basic income is back in the headlines. The idea is both simple and basic: Give people enough cash to eliminate poverty. A guaranteed check for, say, $12,000 a year per person would accomplish this. It could be arranged relatively easily through the tax code, without a large, stigmatizing welfare apparatus to go with it.

Yet this debate stalls because it directly challenges how we think about work and money. Won’t people simply sit around and play video games? Do we want to endorse the right to be lazy? A basic-income referendum was rejected overwhelmingly by Swiss voters in June, in part over such concerns. But proponents argue that a lot of labor—care work in the home, community work—is currently unpaid, and that the increasing mechanization of work might leave us with still fewer jobs. Experiments in Canada have shown that the fear that a guaranteed basic income would destroy all incentive to work is unwarranted. New experiments to further test its effects are being launched in Kenya and elsewhere.

Still, a guaranteed basic income would require a big shift in perspective among American voters. What we need is a policy (or perhaps several of them) that benefits Americans while destigmatizing the concept of giving people no-strings-attached cash. Think of it as a basic-income starter kit, which would also include things like a $12-an-hour minimum wage and generous paid leave. And there’s one policy in particular that should lead: a basic income for children.

Often called a “child allowance,” this would be a small cash payment made regularly to parents with children. We know that access to resources makes a major difference in the development of children. Yet 17 percent of children live in poverty according to the Century Foundation, with nearly 5 percent living in deep poverty (defined as just 50 percent of the poverty line). There are a lot of ways to structure such a program, but the idea is that any parents with a child would have a guaranteed level of income regardless of whether they work for wages. Unless you’re a stone-cold Randian, you probably don’t think 3-year-olds should survive only on the wages they can earn.

Since this allowance would be universal, it would avoid much of the stigma associated with the welfare system dismantled by former president Bill Clinton in the 1990s. Politically, it would counter the argument that people with basic incomes will frivolously play video games, cease contributing to society, and cause the decline of Western civilization. Practically, it would reward the essential labor that takes place within the household—work that the capitalist system relies on, but never pays for. Taking care of kids is hard work.

Such a program is clearly workable. Other countries, like Canada and England, have child allowances, and they’re very effective. Estimates from the Century Foundation argue that a $2,500-a-year child allowance would lift 5.5 million children out of poverty. That allowance would cost $100 billion a year—a hefty sum, but still less than 20 percent of the military’s budget, and about as much as it costs us to subsidize the wealthy by allowing them to pay lower taxes on capital income.

There are more programs we could add to this basic-income starter kit. Policies that encourage high wages and innovation will lead to further automation that could create the conditions for a “post-work” economy. This should be combined with the fight for fewer hours (paid at higher wages) for more people, thus avoiding conflicts and resentment between workers and nonworkers while shifting toward less work for all. President Obama’s changes to overtime regulations took a step in this direction: Rather than raising wages directly, they limited the number of hours that people work by requiring employers to pay extra for certain salaried workers after about 40 hours a week.

The arguments for a guaranteed basic income tend toward theoretical debates about the work ethic, even though the stakes are very high in practical ways. By enacting a basic-income starter kit, we can benefit from the most important elements of the concept while also making the broader case for why such policies would work in the future."
us  universalbasicincome  policy  poverty  2016  mikekonczal  canada  england  uk  switzerland  childcare  childallowance  labor  ubi 
august 2016 by robertogreco
When Did Americans Lose Their British Accents? | Mental Floss
"There are many, many evolving regional British and American accents, so the terms “British accent” and “American accent” are gross oversimplifications. What a lot of Americans think of as the typical "British accent” is what's called standardized Received Pronunciation (RP), also known as Public School English or BBC English. What most people think of as an "American accent," or most Americans think of as "no accent," is the General American (GenAm) accent, sometimes called a "newscaster accent" or "Network English." Because this is a blog post and not a book, we'll focus on these two general sounds for now and leave the regional accents for another time.

English colonists established their first permanent settlement in the New World at Jamestown, Virginia, in 1607, sounding very much like their countrymen back home. By the time we had recordings of both Americans and Brits some three centuries later (the first audio recording of a human voice was made in 1860), the sounds of English as spoken in the Old World and New World were very different. We're looking at a silent gap of some 300 years, so we can't say exactly when Americans first started to sound noticeably different from the British.

As for the "why," though, one big factor in the divergence of the accents is rhotacism. The General American accent is rhotic and speakers pronounce the r in words such as hard. The BBC-type British accent is non-rhotic, and speakers don't pronounce the r, leaving hard sounding more like hahd. Before and during the American Revolution, the English, both in England and in the colonies, mostly spoke with a rhotic accent. We don't know much more about said accent, though. Various claims about the accents of the Appalachian Mountains, the Outer Banks, the Tidewater region and Virginia's Tangier Island sounding like an uncorrupted Elizabethan-era English accent have been busted as myths by linguists.

TALK THIS WAY

Around the turn of the 18th 19th century, not long after the revolution, non-rhotic speech took off in southern England, especially among the upper and upper-middle classes. It was a signifier of class and status. This posh accent was standardized as Received Pronunciation and taught widely by pronunciation tutors to people who wanted to learn to speak fashionably. Because the Received Pronunciation accent was regionally "neutral" and easy to understand, it spread across England and the empire through the armed forces, the civil service and, later, the BBC.

Across the pond, many former colonists also adopted and imitated Received Pronunciation to show off their status. This happened especially in the port cities that still had close trading ties with England — Boston, Richmond, Charleston, and Savannah. From the Southeastern coast, the RP sound spread through much of the South along with plantation culture and wealth.

After industrialization and the Civil War and well into the 20th century, political and economic power largely passed from the port cities and cotton regions to the manufacturing hubs of the Mid Atlantic and Midwest — New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Chicago, Detroit, etc. The British elite had much less cultural and linguistic influence in these places, which were mostly populated by the Scots-Irish and other settlers from Northern Britain, and rhotic English was still spoken there. As industrialists in these cities became the self-made economic and political elites of the Industrial Era, Received Pronunciation lost its status and fizzled out in the U.S. The prevalent accent in the Rust Belt, though, got dubbed General American and spread across the states just as RP had in Britain.

Of course, with the speed that language changes, a General American accent is now hard to find in much of this region, with New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Chicago developing their own unique accents, and GenAm now considered generally confined to a small section of the Midwest.

As mentioned above, there are regional exceptions to both these general American and British sounds. Some of the accents of southeastern England, plus the accents of Scotland and Ireland, are rhotic. Some areas of the American Southeast, plus Boston, are non-rhotic."
us  uk  england  britain  history  language  accents  2016  english  networkenglish  bbcenglish  receivedpronunciation 
july 2016 by robertogreco
John Lanchester · Brexit Blues · LRB 28 July 2016
"I once asked Danny Dorling why, when I was at school, geography was about the shapes of rivers, but now all the best-known geographers seem to be Marxists. He said it’s because when you look at a map and see that the people on one side of some line are rich and healthy and long-lived and the people on the other side are poor and sick and die young, you start to wonder why, and that turns you towards deep-causal explanations, which then lead in the direction of Marxism. Travelling around England, I’ve often had cause to remember that remark. We’re used to political analysis based on class, not least because Britain’s political system is arranged around two political parties whose fundamental orientations are around class. What strikes you if you travel to different parts of the country, though, is that the primary reality of modern Britain is not so much class as geography. Geography is destiny. And for much of the country, not a happy destiny.

To be born in many places in Britain is to suffer an irreversible lifelong defeat – a truncation of opportunity, of education, of access to power, of life expectancy. The people who grow up in these places come from a cultural background which equipped them for reasonably well-paid manual labour, un- and semi- and skilled. Children left school as soon as they could and went to work in the same industries that had employed their parents. The academically able kids used to go to grammar school and be educated into the middle class. All that has now gone, the jobs and the grammar schools, and the vista instead is a landscape where there is often work – there are pockets of unemployment, but in general there’s no shortage of jobs and the labour force participation rate is the highest it has ever been, a full 15 points higher than in the US – but it’s unsatisfying, insecure and low-paid. This new work doesn’t do what the old work did: it doesn’t offer a sense of identity or community or self-worth. The word ‘precarious’ has as its underlying sense ‘depending on the favour of another person’. Somebody can take away the things you have whenever they feel like it. The precariat, as the new class is called, might not know the etymology, but it doesn’t need to: the reality is all too familiar."



"As for the economics of the post-Brexit world, the immediate chaos was both predictable and predicted. The longer-term picture is much harder to discern. It’s not all bad news: the weakened pound is a good thing, and the likely crash in London property was long overdue. It might even make property in the capital affordable for the young again, which would be a strong overall positive for our national life. The uncertainties around the immediate future are quite likely to make demand slow down so much that it triggers another recession. The primary victims of that will be the working-class voters who voted Leave; the recessionary shrinking of the tax take will target them too. The faltering economy will cause immigration to slow, which will further damage the economy.

Once the particularities of our post-Brexit arrangement have been established, we’ll know a lot more about where we are. A great deal of economic uncertainty will attach not so much to the issue of trade – since the advantages of the freest trade possible are clear to all parties – as to the status of the City of London. Nobody outside the City loves the City, but the tax revenues raised by London’s global role in financial services are very important to the UK. At the moment, the City is the beneficiary of ‘passporting’, which allows it to deal freely in services across the EU. That passporting is likely, highly likely, to be the subject of an attack by the combined powers of Frankfurt and Paris (and English-speaking, low-business tax, well-educated Dublin too). Other anti-London regulatory moves can be expected. That could prove expensive for the UK.

A reduction in the dominance of finance might be a net positive; we would have a smaller GDP, probably, but the country wouldn’t be bent out of shape – or not to the same degree – by the supremacy of the City. There’s a lot to unpick here, though. For one thing, the anti-London moves might well have been coming anyway: one finance-world Brexiter of my acquaintance was in favour of Leave precisely because a narrow win for Remain (which is what he was expecting) would in his view have encouraged the regulatory bodies to gang up and crack down on London. There are likely to be all sorts of unintended consequences to exploit, and the City is full of people whose entire working lives revolve around exploiting unintended consequences. The biggest source of finance in the world is Eurodollars, the confusing name for dollars held on deposit outside the US. That entire market was an unintended consequence of US banking regulation in the 1960s and 1970s. The Eurobond (a bond denominated in a currency not native to the country where it is issued) was a huge new market created in the City in 1963, long before the Euro was even a glint in Frankfurt’s eye. The City is creative, opportunistic, experienced and amoral; if any entity has the right ‘skill-set’ to benefit from the post-Brexit world, it is the City of London.

In addition, nervous governments, desperate for revenue, are likely to bend even further backwards to give the City the policies it wants. An early sign of policy direction was George Osborne’s announcement that he wanted to cut corporation tax to 15 per cent to show that post-Brexit Britain is ‘open for business’. Osborne has gone; the policy probably hasn’t. The business press has been full of speculation that the government will backtrack on its plans to crack down on non-domiciled tax status for ultra-wealthy foreigners. The need for revenues makes it important not to drive non-doms out of the country, one City lawyer told the FT. ‘We need a friendly regime.’ There will be plenty more where that came from.

None of this is what working-class voters had in mind when they opted for Leave. If it’s combined with the policy every business interest in the UK wants – the Norwegian option, in which we contribute to the EU and accept free movement of labour, i.e. immigration, as part of the price – it will be a profound betrayal of much of the Leave vote. If we do anything else, we will be inflicting severe economic damage on ourselves, and following a policy which most of the electorate (48 per cent Remain, plus economically liberal Leavers) think is wrong. So the likeliest outcome, I’d have thought, is a betrayal of the white working class. They should be used to it by now."
brexit  johnlancaster  2016  politics  uk  inequality  globalization  london  immigration  finance  class  middleclass  workingclass  england  wealth  geography  marxism  destiny  upwadmobility  society  elitism  policy  precarity  precariat 
july 2016 by robertogreco
What History Teaches Us About Walls - The New York Times
"It is lost to history whether Hadrian, Qin Shi Huang or Nikita Khrushchev ever uttered, “I will build a wall.”

But build they did, and what happened? The history of walls — to keep people out or in — is also the history of people managing to get around, over and under them. Some come tumbling down.

The classic example is the Great Wall of China. Imposing and remarkably durable, yes, yet it didn’t block various nomadic tribes from the north. History is full of examples of engineering thwarted by goal-oriented rank amateurs. But Donald Trump has promised to build a wall on the United States-Mexican border that he says will be big, beautiful, tall and strong, and he says Mexico will pay for it.

Here’s some more historical perspective on walls."
walls  borders  border  us  mexico  israel  palestine  germany  history  2016  photography  donaldtrump  china  spain  españa  morocco  melilla  hadrian'swall  england  moscow  russia  vaticancity  korea  southkorea  northkorea  romania  roma  warsaw  poland  india  bangladesh  cyprus  ireland  northernireland  mauritania 
may 2016 by robertogreco
DYNAMIC AFRICA - Taking up Space
"Kenyan-British artist Marion A. Osieyo photographs women of colour and their daily acts of resistance. She is based in London, UK."
marionosieyo  occupation  takingupspace  resistance  england  oxford  diaspora  africanwomen  women  photography  art  feminism  uk 
december 2015 by robertogreco
The Acorn School
"The Acorn School is a co-educational independent school in Gloucestershire known for its unique approach in providing an outstanding holistic education for children aged 6 to 18. Established by Graeme Whiting in 1991, the education in the Lower School encompasses the main elements of Graeme Whiting’s life work in education, while Upper School students receive a stimulating and highly academic programme, supported by our own internal examination and assessment system. Every student who has applied to university direct from The Acorn School has achieved a place, without state examinations. Furthermore, we have received ‘Outstanding’ Ofsted reports in 2005, 2009, and 2012, concluding that: ‘Students leave the school as well educated, intelligently-opinionated, free-thinking adults’ (Ofsted, 2012)."



"The Acorn School is an independent, co-educational school which provides an invigorating, quality education for pupils from 7 to 18 years of age. The diverse curriculum integrates creative and physical activities with academic studies to form a unique, threefold structure designed to support and engage students throughout the various stages of their development.

everyoneAcademic studies are carefully balanced with subjects encompassing creative, physical and outdoor activities, which create a wholesome, rewarding programme that challenges and motivates students to think, learn and grow. The broad range of subjects is designed to engage and cultivate the intellectual, emotional and physical aspects of every child, and to inspire them to create work that they can be proud of.

State examinations are not offered at The Acorn School as they create unnecessary pressures that can detract from true academic, personal and spiritual growth. Instead, the school features an internal examination and assessment system that encourages students to learn for the joy of learning, and helps to turn them into high-achieving young people who gain university entrance or confidently take their place in the world, with strength of character, academic potential and an excellent work ethic. Students pursuing university education direct from The Acorn School have excelled academically, achieving above average results. Those who choose not to take up their places in higher education have the skills required to succeed in their chosen careers.

The threefold structure is designed to develop and strengthen the elements of will, feeling and intellect in every student. Most subjects are taught in three or four week blocks, known as main lessons. Through the main lessons, students are able to study a wealth of subjects in depth, and create beautiful books with writing, art and diagrams about what they have learnt. An intrinsic part of the education is the three-day-rhythm: during the first day the teacher gives a presentation on a given topic. This may include doing experiments, giving anecdotes, looking at books from the library, etc. On the second day everything that was covered during the presentation is recalled by the students who may now take some notes. During the third day students work on either written or artistic elements related to the previous presentation. In this way information becomes part of the human being. These lessons are often complimented with cultural trips, ranging from local museums and walks in the Lower School to three week Art History Tours of France and Italy in the Upper School.

Parallel to the academic, the school programme focuses on building confidence and leadership through its exciting range of sports and outdoor activities. Physical education is a central part of the education at The Acorn School, with all students partaking in regular physical activity in the form of gymnastics, games and outdoor education. Every month the upper school students depart on a weekend away, with activities including mountain walking, Canadian canoeing, surfing, sailing, wakeboarding and kneeboarding and cycling.

Backed by a strong family community, the school aims to give children the opportunity to learn with a sense of purpose, to realise their full potential and become confident, conscientious, well-rounded individuals ready to step out into the world."



"The school’s ethos is to educate students as threefold human beings, nurturing the will, feeling, and thinking elements which are related to the head, heart, and hands. It is the school’s aim to provide an education and environment that is conducive to this threefold developmental concept, cultivating all three aspects in equal measure to support students as they develop into freethinking adults."

[via: http://www.theguardian.com/film/2015/jun/13/education-school-tilda-swinton-scotland ]
schools  england  education  acornschool 
june 2015 by robertogreco
‘A change of heart towards children.’ Historical perspectives from England, Australia and New Zealand on the design of a new primary school for Cambridge, Catherine Burke
"Architects and educators who collaborated in the post war era have talked about the development of a ‘common vocabulary of design’ in relation to the planning of new school buildings supported by a consensus in the dominant ways of envisaging the modern school. From the 1930s, there also developed a common vocabulary of progressive education. Key concepts that were presented and discussed at international conferences (1930s-70s) included the phrases; ‘education for living’; and ‘education through art’. John Dewey’s Art as Experience (1934) was no doubt responsible for much discussion about the place of the arts in education.

‘Education through art’ is an idea most closely identified with Sir Herbert Read however when one considers the evidence from important gatherings of educationalists in the antipodes during this period, one realizes that the phrase may have been used more generally and was certainly used by the Canadian artist and educator (Toronto Art Gallery) Arthur Lismer in 1937 as the title of one of his addresses at the Victoria NEF conference."



"The change of heart towards children that Clegg was striving for also concerned attitudes towards the older child, often as he saw it abandoned by the system owing to their talents being measured merely in academic terms. Clegg was a significant voice in the findings of the Newsom Enquiry which reported in 1963 as ‘Half Our Future’. These were the majority of secondary modern pupils, the rejected and the neglected as ‘they do not readily lend themselves to measurement by the conventional criteria of academic achievement.’ (Newsom Report 1963, p. 1). The report concluded there was a need for ‘ a change of heart, on the part of the community as a whole ‘ towards children. What was needed was a recognition that those parts of education, less easily measurable, were as vital to the individual and society as those that were. This was an education of the spirit: That part of humanity that defies measurement. In particular, Clegg drew attention to the role of the expressive arts and their impact on other basic skills.

‘one can more often than not measure the things of the mind,
the things governed by law and regulations - spelling,
punctuation, calculations, the facts of history and geography,
science, technical proficiency, the accuracy of the perspective,
the effectiveness of the timetable, even the degree of
submission achieved by the cane. But you cannot measure the
love of poetry, the sensitivity to music or art, the zest or
initiative with which the peculiarities of nature are
investigated, the extent to which encouragement and
expectation and just treatment breed trust and compassion and
concern in a child.

When he was asked by an American scholar if he had any statistics to share with them about this revolution in primary education, Clegg reached for his leather briefcase he carried with him and emptied the contents saying these are your statistics ‘extraordinary samples of paintings, drawings, collages, embroideries, stories, poems and essays produced by pupils in his district.’ (Charles Silberman, Revolution, Foreword p.5) and Clegg insisted that the products were the children themselves."



"A new school for Cambridge

Under the UK government's Free Schools policy, every new build must have a sponsor and the new primary school for Cambridge is one of two University Training Schools currently under construction – the other being a secondary school in Birmngham. The University College London sponsored and opened an academy two years ago.

The Cambridge primary school will be a University training and research school (UTS) and is intended to be a beacon for the region as well as representing the best possible practice nationally and internationally. There is a lot of expectation. Today, I want to describe the design of the school and share with you some of the ways that knowledge of the history of education and school design past and present has informed the design process. The school is due to open in September 2015. It will be a three form entry school : 60 Reception, 20 year 1 and 20 year 2 growing to 630 children ( 21 classes) by 2016017. It will include a 78-place nursery by 2016-17. The architects are Marks Barfield (designers of the London Eye). In many ways in terms of design, the building and its relationship with the grounds share many characteristics of children’s; design ideas in The School I’d Like. It is possible to measure these comparable features. However, whether this school is able to come close to the radical agenda agreed across time and space by the generation of ambitious teachers artists architects and administrators associated with the powerful ‘revolutionary’ capacity of education through art, and the aspirations of children and young people in the SIL is another matter. There is hope that inspired leadership informed by an historical sensibility and a high level of energy will indeed create a showcase of what is possible to achieve through ‘learning beyond limits’ a terms associated with the beliefs and practice of advisory head teacher for the project, Dame Alison Peacock. However, we are reminded that the spirit of a creative school cannot reasonably be measured and evaluated in the same terms that are likely to characterize research that will be carried out at the school. Whether the school fits the child in the way that Alec Clegg, a generation of progressive educators and children expressing their hopes for the future intended, will depend on the capacity of teachers to practice their art fully and with a wisdom that is rooted in a respect for the child as an artist and creator of their own worlds.

Final words of Alec Clegg “the entire object of true education is to make people not merely do the right things but enjoy the right things’"
catherineburke  2015  alecclegg  education  schools  schooldesign  architecture  children  learning  england  australia  newzealand  creativity 
june 2015 by robertogreco
The school with no rules that teaches the unteachable | Education | The Guardian
"The school’s guiding principles are empathy, respect, being non-judgemental and listening. This is, Lillis points out, a special school – there are only 40 boys, a maximum of eight to a class and in-house psychotherapists, one dedicated to children, the other to staff. Not every school can be like this, but she clearly believes that much of what goes on here could be applied elsewhere.

The building is colourful and inviting. There’s a rescue dog called McFlurry that the boys (and staff) dote on; the dining room has a juke box which seems to play all the time and there’s a flat where the boys can relax at lunchtime and where they have lessons in how to cook, wash and iron.

Elsewhere there’s a salon, where they can get haircuts, manicures and facials. It creates an easy, intimate atmosphere where even the most aggressive boys soften and have their spots squeezed and eyebrows shaped. They also learn about personal hygiene.

The atmosphere is calm and good-humoured, but the staff are constantly on alert, watching for signs of tension and intervening before anything erupts.

During the course of photographs being taken one of the boys pockets the photographer’s phone. “He always gives stuff back,” says Lillis, and he does, holding it way above the photographer’s head so she can’t reach it before finally handing it over. The head’s keys go missing; they quickly turn up. James, so closed and angry in the second episode, is there fresh-faced and laughing with the other boys.

Lillis is anxious about the documentary going out – extra support will be provided for the boys and their families – but she felt it was worth doing to encourage the public to empathise with the boys in her care and the difficulties their families face. “The current government has taken a real punitive stance in education and against families who have difficulties. Some parts of the media have run with that and glorified it.

“I wanted to give a voice to those who have been under attack and also challenge what it is that we are trying to do with education. We’ve lost sight of what education means.”

The world has changed dramatically in the past few decades, she says, “yet we are trying to have an education system that has not progressed and has not moved with society.”

Talking about the perils of idle chatting, she says: “Why are we trying to silence our children? They are locked into screens a lot of time. We need to encourage more oracy at school.”

Reacting to Pisa international league tables and the current obsession around learning from education systems in Singapore and elsewhere, she says: “We need to stop comparing ourselves to global markets and Asia. Where’s the innovation and creativity gone in Britain?

“We need to play again. We need to be creative. We need to get enjoyment again into our schools and our classrooms.”

She also warns against restrictions. “The more we try and suppress our youth, [the more likely it is] we will end with another form of riots and it will be far worse than it was a few years ago.”

Too Tough to Teach? Channel 5 9pm Monday 29 September and 6 October

The Ian Mikardo school rules

1 There are no rules

2 No detentions

3 No punishments

4 No rewards

5 No uniform (for staff or students)

6 No physical restraint

7 Instead, children are encouraged to empathise

8 Listen to each other

9 Be non-judgemental

10 And respect one another"
education  england  uk  alternative  listening  rules  ianmikardo  2014  behavior  patience  teaching  howweteach  disruption  empathy  respect 
november 2014 by robertogreco
Portlander on Vimeo
"Portlander is a site-specific publication produced from a one-month residency in a public library on the Isle of Portland, England in June 2014. The 64-page print-on-demand newspaper contains photography, oral histories, text fragments, found material and other ephemera collected during chance encounters and connections with various members of the Portland communities. 3,000 copies of Portlander were printed and distributed throughout Portland for the b-side arts festival in September 2014. Funded by Arts Council England."

[See also: http://soulellis.com/2014/08/the-last-day-of-august/
http://soulellis.com/2014/06/on-portland/ ]
paulsoulellis  artbooks  books  publication  newspapers  photography  place  2014  portlander  portland  england  print  projectideas  classideas  srg  artistsbooks 
september 2014 by robertogreco
Association for Cultural Equity
"The Association for Cultural Equity (ACE) was founded by Alan Lomax to explore and preserve the world's expressive traditions with humanistic commitment and scientific engagement. ACE was registered as a charitable organization in the State of New York in 1983, and is housed at New York City's Hunter College.

OUR MISSION

Inspired by the example set by Alan Lomax, our mission is to stimulate cultural equity through preservation, research, and dissemination of the world's traditional music, and to reconnect people and communities with their creative heritage."

[Sound recordings: http://research.culturalequity.org/home-audio.jsp ]
[Video recordings: http://www.culturalequity.org/rc/videos/video-guide.php ]
[Photographs: http://research.culturalequity.org/home-photo.jsp ]
[Geo archive: http://www.culturalequity.org/lomaxgeo/ ]
archives  culture  music  us  alanlomax  video  audio  spain  italy  appalachia  photography  caribbean  europe  africa  russia  centralasia  afghanistan  anguilla  armenia  azerbaijan  bahamas  dominica  dominicanrepublic  england  france  georgia  guadeloupe  ireland  kazakhstan  kyrgyzstan  martinique  morocco  netherlandsantilles  romania  scotland  españa  tajikstan  stkittsandnevis  stlucia  trinidadandtobago  uzbekistan  wales  turkmenistan  mississippidelta  neworleans  cajun  louisiana  johnsisland  fieldrecording  nola 
january 2014 by robertogreco
BEAT SCHOOL - British Pathé
"Narrator states: "England has long been famous for its educational establishments, the freedom of choice of schools and for their political and social toleration. But here's a boarding school where youth is not merely allowed but encouraged to have its fling." Shots of children arriving at school. Some arrive on their own motorbikes, others jump out of a van. The kids wear casual clothes - jeans and leather jackets. A couple of the boys are "rockers" with quiffs and sunglasses, some might be called "beatniks". They go into the school building - this is the progressive Burgess Hill School in Hertfordshire. …"

[Clip here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c_1ne8WJUvI ]
unschooling  democraticschools  england  uk  burgesshillschool  hertfordshire  1961  1960s  alternative  education  schools  schooling  learning 
april 2013 by robertogreco
Scarfolk Council
"Scarfolk is a town in North West England that did not progress beyond 1979. Instead, the entire decade of the 1970s loops ad infinitum. Here in Scarfolk, pagan rituals blend seamlessly with science; hauntology is a compulsory subject at school, and everyone must be in bed by 8pm because they are perpetually running a slight fever. "Visit Scarfolk today. Our number one priority is keeping rabies at bay." For more information please reread."

[Via http://www.creativereview.co.uk/cr-blog/2013/march/scarfolk via http://plsj.tumblr.com/post/46445130141/brilliant-eat-me ]
1970s  culture  scarfolk  humor  england  hauntology  books  posters 
march 2013 by robertogreco
Levellers - Wikipedia
"The Levellers were a political movement during the English Civil War which emphasised popular sovereignty, extended suffrage, equality before the law, and religious tolerance, all of which were expressed in the manifesto "Agreement of the People". They came to prominence at the end of the First English Civil War and were most influential before the start of the Second Civil War. Leveller views and support were found in the populace of the City of London and in some regiments in the New Model Army.

The levellers were not a political party in the modern sense of the word, and did not all conform to a specific manifesto. They were organised at the national level, with offices in a number of London inns and taverns such as The Rosemary Branch in Islington which got its name from the sprigs of rosemary that Levellers would wear in their hats as a sign of identification. From July 1648 to September 1649 they published a newspaper The Moderate,[1] and were pioneers in the use of petitions…"
tolerance  suffrage  sovereignty  england  history  equality  freedom  politics  levellers 
july 2012 by robertogreco
Albion's Seed Review
"Fischer's basic thesis is that although less than 20% of the present U.S. population has British antecedents, our British genesis is still the dominant factor determining our culture. This formative British culture, however, was not monolithic. America still reflects the regional, religious, and class divisions of 17th and 18th century Britain.

According to Fischer, the foundation of American culture was formed from four mass emigrations from four different regions of Britain by four different socio-religious groups. New England's constitutional period occurred between 1629 and 1640 when Puritans, most from East Anglia, settled there. The next mass migration was of southern English cavaliers and their servants to the Chesapeake Bay region between 1640 and 1675. Then, between 1675 and 1725 thousands of Quakers, led by William Penn settled the Delaware Valley. Finally, English, Scots, and Irish from the borderlands settled in Appalachia between 1717 and 1775. Each of these migrations produced a distinct regional culture which can still be seen in America today.



Whether or not Professor Fischer provides the right answers, he has asked the right questions. To finish enumerating the accomplishments of the book, probably the work's greatest asset is that it asks the right questions. The author asks, "Where do we come from? Who are we? Where are we going?" To be useful, history should ask the big questions, the questions of collective identity and purpose, Asking the right questions is half the battle."
book  review  history  england  albion  culture  race  america  via:migurski 
july 2012 by robertogreco
Invasion of the Viking women unearthed - Science Fair - USATODAY.com
"So, the study looked at 14 Viking burials from the era, definable by the Norse grave goods found with them and isotopes found in their bones that reveal their birthplace. The bones were sorted for telltale osteological signs of which gender they belonged to, rather than assuming that burial with a sword or knife denoted a male burial.<br />
Overall, McLeod reports that six of the 14 burials were of women, seven were men, and one was indeterminable. Warlike grave goods may have misled earlier researchers about the gender of Viking invaders, the study suggests. At a mass burial site called Repton Woods, "(d)espite the remains of three swords being recovered from the site, all three burials that could be sexed osteologically were thought to be female, including one with a sword and shield," says the study."
via:kottke  history  vikings  england  medieval 
july 2011 by robertogreco
FT.com / FT Magazine - Don’t touch me, I’m British
"But though Americans won’t touch strangers, they will talk to them. They will chat to people at neighbouring tables in restaurants, or in line at the supermarket. That conversation doesn’t turn the speakers into friends – a mistake Europeans sometimes make. Generalising grossly: to Americans, conversation doesn’t imply intimacy.

Applying Carroll’s theories to Britons, you understand why foreigners think we are repressed. Americans won’t touch strangers, the French won’t talk to them, but Brits will neither touch nor talk to them. Passport to the Pub, a semi-official guide for foreign tourists to the UK, warns: “Don’t ever introduce yourself. The ‘Hi, I’m Chuck from Alabama’ approach does not go down well in British pubs.”

Nor are Britons permitted to make eye contact…

Latins are luckier. They can touch and talk to strangers even when sober…"
culture  rules  sex  cultureshock  france  germany  finland  uk  english  england  touching  conversation  americans  us  relationships  speaking  talking  kissing  interpersonal  norms  culturalnorms 
march 2011 by robertogreco
Comparing Brazil and the United States: American brothers | The Economist
"OTHER Latin Americans think of Brazilians a bit like the rest of the world thinks of Americans: loud, flashy & rich. This is as it should be, because a strong argument can be made that Brazil is actually is the US—just disguised beneath a Carmen-Miranda-style fruit hat. Sounds a stretch? [long list of similarities]…Obviously, list of dissimilarities would be as long as your arm…a big difference lies in the inheritance from the colonial power. Britain bequeathed to the United States a language; a legal system; a political elite (WASPs); a middle-class liking for commerce; a tradition of political liberalism (in the British sense); and a certain puritanical impulse. Portugal bequeathed Brazil the language and Catholicism. And that is about it. Brazil itself developed the rest. And it did so with something that most of the United States lacks: a Dionysian spirit, a happy sense that all the squalor and conflict will end—or at least be suspended—in a samba."
brasil  us  comparison  england  portugal  colonialism  coloniallegacy  brazil 
august 2010 by robertogreco
Cookies by Douglas Adams [Something for the first week of school?]
"This actually did happen to a real person, and the real person was me. I had gone to catch a train. This was April 1976, in Cambridge, U.K. I was a bit early for the train. I'd gotten the time of the train wrong.

I went to get myself a newspaper to do the crossword, and a cup of coffee and a packet of cookies. I went and sat at a table. … [Funny story]"
anecdote  douglasadams  stories  writing  humor  funny  psychology  perspective  classideas  via:preoccupations  life  society  uk  english  england  tcsnmy 
august 2010 by robertogreco
The Soldier in Later Medieval England
"The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) has awarded a Research Grant worth just under £500,000 to Dr Adrian Bell of the ICMA Centre and Professor Anne Curry of the University of Southampton to challenge assumptions about the emergence of professional soldiery between 1369 and 1453.
england  history  military  databases  soldiers  medieval  genealogy  database  archives 
july 2009 by robertogreco
"Happy Counterterrorism Day" by Scott Horton (Harper's Magazine)
"Today Guy Fawkes is increasingly viewed as the heroic figure prepared to stand against an unjust and oppressive state, as a martyr and a victim of torture. What are the lessons of Guy Fawkes Day for 2007?"
politics  terrorism  guyfawkes  history  uk  england 
november 2007 by robertogreco
Strange island: Pacific tribesmen come to study Britain - Independent Online Edition > This Britain
"For centuries, anthropologists have travelled overseas to live among ‘strange’ tribes and observe their ‘colourful’ ways. But rarely has it been tried the other way round. So what happened when a group of South Pacific islanders spent a month in
anthropology  community  comparison  diversity  culture  experiments  england  uk  documentary  society  study  television  tv  social  religion  people  international  ethnography 
september 2007 by robertogreco
Ozbus, London to Sydney Bus Travel
"We are an adventure travel company like no other! We operate a regular overland service for backpackers travelling between London and Sydney."
australia  england  uk  sydney  travel  london  asia 
september 2007 by robertogreco
PULPHOPE: LONDON
"Also England is a good country for introverts; they have a place in society for the introvert, which the United States does not. In fact there is a place in London for everything"
ursulaleguin  london  introverts  england  society  travel 
august 2007 by robertogreco

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