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Justice in America Episode 20: Mariame Kaba and Prison Abolition - The Appeal
"On the last episode of Season 2, Josie and Clint discuss prison abolition with Mariame Kaba, one of the leading organizers in the fight against America’s criminal legal system and a contributing editor for The Appeal. Mariame discusses her own journey into this work, provides perspective on the leaders in this space, and helps us reimagine what the future of this system could look like. Mariame’s way of thinking about this system, and the vision of possibilities she provides, is an excellent send-off to our second season."

[full transcript on page]

"I grew up in New York City and came of age in 1980s. So, um, when I was coming of age in the city, it was kind of the early eighties were a fraught moment for many different kinds of reasons. The tail end of deinstitutionalization. So the first time where we actually started seeing homeless people outside on the streets. Michael Stewart was killed by the police in 1983 which was a very big moment for me. I was 12 years old and that really impacted me. My, um, older siblings were very animated by that fact. Um, crack cocaine is coming into being, this is the time of ACT UP. Um, this is when Reagan comes to power. It was a very tumultuous period and moment of time. So coming of age in that time led me to start organizing for racial justice as a teenager. And I also came of age during the time when there was the Bensonhurst case where a young black man was pursued and then killed by a mob of white young people who were close to my age because he supposedly talked to a white girl in a way that people were not happy about. The Howard Beach incident comes up in 1986. There was a lot happening during my teenagers in the city and I did not have an analysis of the criminal punishment system at that time. I just saw a lot of my friends, I grew up on the Lower East Side, so a lot of my friends ending up in juvie and then in prison and I didn’t, and the cops were always in our neighborhood harassing people and I did not really put all these things together, but I had a frame that was a racial justice frame at a very young age, mainly because of my parents. My mom and my dad. Um, my father, who’d been a socialist in the anti-colonial struggles in Guinea. Like I had a politics at home, but all I understood was like they were coming after black people in multiple different kinds of ways. It wasn’t until I was older and I had come back from college, um, I went to school in Montreal, Canada, came back to the city right after, I was 20 years old when I graduated from college, came back to the city and got a job working in Harlem at the, um, Countee Cullen Library and then ended up teaching in Harlem. And it was there that I found out that all of my students were also getting enmeshed in the criminal punishment system. But I still didn’t have a really, like I didn’t have a politic about it. It wasn’t until a very tragic story that occurred with one of my students who ended up killing another one of my students that I became very clearly aware of the criminal punishment system cause they were going to try to, um, basically try him as an adult. The person who did the killing, he was only 16. And it was that incident that kind of propelled me into trying to learn about what the system was, what it was about. And it concurrently, it was also the time when I started to search for restorative justice because it occurred to me, in watching the family of my student who had been killed react to the situation, that they did not want punishment for the person who killed their daughter. They were, uh, they wanted some accountability and they were also talking about the fact that he did not want him charged as an adult."



"people who are practitioners of restorative justice see restorative justice as a philosophy and ideology, a framework that is much broader than the criminal punishment system. It is about values around how we treat each other in the world. And it’s about an acknowledgement that because we’re human beings, we hurt each other. We cause harm. And what restorative justice proposes is to ask a series of questions. Mostly the three that are kind of advanced by Howard Zehr, who is the person who about 40 years ago popularized the concept of restorative justice in the United States. He talks about since we want to address the violation in the relationships that were broken as a result of violence and harm, that you want to ask a question about who was hurt, that that is important to ask, that you want to ask then what are the obligations? What are the needs that emerge from that hurt? And then you want to ask the question of whose job is it to actually address the harm? And so because of that, those questions of what happened, which in the current adversarial system are incidental really, you know, it’s who did this thing, what rules were broken? How are we going to actually punish the people who broke the rules? And then whose role is it to do that? It’s the state’s. In restorative justice it’s: what happened? Talk about what happened, share what happened, discuss in a, you know, kind of relational sense what happened. And then it’s what are your needs? Would do you need as a result of this? Because harms engender needs that must be met, right? So it asks you to really think that through. And then it says, you know, how do we repair this harm and who needs to be at the table for that to happen. It invites community in. It invites other people who were also harmed because we recognize that the ripples of harm are beyond the two individuals that were involved, it’s also the broader community and the society at large. So that’s what restorative justice, at its base, is really the unit of concern is the broken relationship and the harm. Those are the focus of what we need to be addressing. And through that, that obviously involves the criminal punishment system. In many ways RJ has become co-opted by that system. So people were initially proponents of restorative justice have moved their critique away from using RJ and talking about instead transformative justice. That’s where you see these breakdowns occurring because the system has taken on RJ now as quote unquote “a model for restitution.”"



"Restorative justice and transformative justice, people say they’re interchangeable sometimes, they are not. Because transformative justice people say that you cannot actually use the current punishing institutions that exist. Whereas RJ now is being run in prisons, is being run in schools. Institutions that are themselves violently punishing institutions are now taking that on and running that there. And what people who are advocates of transformative justice say is RJ, because of its focus on the individual, the intervention is on individuals, not the system. And what transformative justice, you know, people, advocates and people who have kind of begun to be practitioners in that have said is we have to also transform the conditions that make this thing possible. And restoring is restoring to what? For many people, the situation that occurred prior to the harm had lots of harm in it. So what are we restoring people to? We have to transform those conditions and in order to do that we have to organize, to shift the structures and the systems and that will also be very important beyond the interpersonal relationships that need to be mended."



"I reject the premise of restorative and transformative justice being alternatives to incarceration. I don’t reject the premise that we should prefigure the world in which we want to live and therefore use multiple different kinds of ways to figure out how to address harm. So here’s what I mean, because people are now saying things like the current criminal punishment system is broken, which it is not. It is actually operating exactly as designed. And that’s what abolition has helped us to understand is that the system is actually relentlessly successful at targeting the people it wants and basically getting the outcomes that wants from that. So if you understand that to be the case, then you are in a position of very much understanding that every time we use the term “alternative to incarceration” what comes to your mind?"



"You’re centering the punishing system. When I say alternative to prison, all you hear is prison. And what that does is that it conditions your imagination to think about the prison as the center. And what we’re saying as transformative and restorative justice practitioners is that the prison is actually an outcome of a broader system of violence and harm that has its roots in slavery and before colonization. And here we are in this position where all you then think about is replacing what we currently use prisons for, for the new thing. So what I mean by that is when you think of an alternative in this moment and you’re thinking about prison, you just think of transposing all of the things we currently consider crimes into that new world."



"It has to fit that sphere. But here’s what I, I would like to say lots of crimes are not harmful to anybody."



"And it’s also that we’re in this position where not all crimes are harms and not all harms are actually crimes. And what we are concerned with as people who practice restorative and transformative justice is harm across the board no matter what. So I always tell people when they say like, ‘oh, we’re having an alternative to incarceration or alternative to prison.’ I’m like, okay, what are you decriminalizing first? Do we have a whole list of things? So possession of drugs is a criminal offense right now. I don’t want an alternative to that. I want you to leave people the hell alone."



"Transformative justice calls on us to shatter binaries of all different types. Most of the people who currently are locked up, for example, in our prisons and jails, are people who are victims of crime first. They’ve been harmed and have harmed other people. The “perpetrator,” quote unquote… [more]
mariamekaba  clintsmith  josieduffyrice  prisonindustrialcomplex  prisions  violence  restorativejustice  justice  prisonabolition  punishment  2019  angeladavis  howardzehr  incarceration  community  humans  transformativejustice  harm  racism  responsibility  repair  people  carceralstate  binaries  accountability  police  lawenforcement  jails  coercion  gender  criminalization  humanism  decency  humanity  transformation  survival  bodies  abolition  abolitionists  nilschristie  ruthiegilmore  fayeknopp  presence  absence  systemsthinking  systems  complexity  capitalism  climatechange  climate  globalwarming  livingwage  education  organization  organizing  activism  change  changemaking  exploitation  dehumanization  optimism 
4 weeks ago by robertogreco
Making the Ordinary Visible: Interview with Yasar Adanali : Making Futures
"Yaşar Adanalı defines his work over the past decade as being that of a “part time academic researcher and part time activist”. He is one of the founders of the Center for Spatial Justice in Istanbul, an urban institute that focuses on issues of spatial justice in Istanbul and beyond. In this interview, he reflects upon “continuance” as a tool of engagement, the power of attending to the ordinary within the production of space, and the different types of public that this works seeks to address.

What led to the founding of the Center for Spatial for Justice and how does its work relate to the worlds of academia, activism and urbanism?

I’m interested in questions regarding spatial production in general and more specifically justice – the injustices that derive from spatial processes or the spatial aspect of social injustices. The Center for Spatial Justice takes the acronym MAD in Turkish – a MAD organisation against mad projects, that’s our founding moto. We bring together people from different disciplines such as architects, urban planners, artists, journalists, filmmakers, lawyers and geographers to produce work in relation to what’s going here: grassroots struggles in the city and in the countryside. The Center for Spatial Justice believes in the interconnectedness of urban and rural processes.

As educator and an activist, you work both within and outside an institutional setting. Have you been able to take the latter experience back into the academy and if so, what in particular? How do these two roles inform each other?

Since 2014 I have been teaching a masters design studio at TU Darmstadt. It’s a participatory planning course that both follows and supports a cooperative housing project in Düzce, Turkey, produced for and by the tenants who were badly affected by the 1999 earthquake. Over the course of the past five years, the master students have been developing a 4000 sq m housing project from scratch. The students from Darmstadt come to Istanbul as interns, working partly on the project. The result is a long-lasting relationship with the neighbourhoods in question and with the organisations we have been working with.

Apart from that, through MAD and Beyond Istanbul we develop summer and winter schools – non-academic experiences that similarly bridge the gap between the alternative universe and the mainstream universe. When you start to put critical questions into the minds of the students, these linger and they then take them back to the university, so their friends and professors also become exposed to that. We prefer to develop this approach outside of the university so that we are freed from bureaucracy and rigid structures but we keep it open to enrolled students and professors.

What are some particular strategies and methodologies that you adopt to engender this approach to urban practice? How do you involve local residents, for example?

That building of long-term relationships with communities is why we do a lot of walking. Our research questions are informed by the community and the site we arrive at – we do not predetermine hypotheses in advance. We remain in direct contact with different groups in the city and walk through these territories – with the neighbourhood association – not just once but every week. We listen to a lot of stories and record them. Oral histories are an important part of the ethnographic enquiry.

We also use mapping, a tool commonly used to exert power but that nature can be reversed. Through mapping we reclaim territories that have perhaps been “erased” – that is, transformed by injustice. We also map informal areas and then give those maps to the communities there because the way they appear on official plans often doesn’t reflect how things look on the ground. What looks like a carpark in the plan might be someone’s house; what’s represented as a commercial development might currently be a neighbourhood park or some other form of already existing social infrastructure.

In addition, we try to embed journalistic means within our academic interests, which is why we work with documentary journalists and photographers on each of our projects. We broadcast spatial justice news videos, in depth films that offer 8-10 minutes of reporting on a particular issue, giving it context and also pointing towards possible solutions. Solution journalism, which doesn’t just focus on crisis, is very important in the work we do.

As part of its work making spatial injustices visible, MAD publishes a wide range of materials. Which are the publics you try to communicate with through this?

Research has to be coupled with a conscious effort to communicate because you want to make change. We don’t want to make research for the sake of research or produce publications for the sake of publishing. We want to create those publics you allude to – and to influence them. We are addressing people involved in the discipline in its broadest sense: planners, architects, sociologists, activists, but perhaps most especially students who are interested in spatial issues, urban questions and environmental concerns. They are our main target. We want them to understand that their discipline has much more potential than what they are learning at university. I’m not saying the entire education system is wrong but there is much larger perspective beyond it and great potential for collaboration with other disciplines and engagement with different publics as well.

Another important public is the one directly involved with our work, i.e. the community that is being threatened by renewal projects. These groups are not only our public but also our patrons – we are obliged to be at their service and offer technical support, whether that’s recording a meeting with the mayor or analysing a plan together. Then there is the larger audience of broader society, who we hope to encourage to think of and engage with these issues of inequality and spatial justice.

I found an interesting quote on your webpage that says that the founding of MAD “is an invitation to understand the ordinary in an extraordinary global city context”. Can you talk a little about the urban context of Istanbul, Turkey and why the focus on the ordinary?

Everything about Istanbul is extraordinary: transformation, speed, scale. We are interested in making the ordinary visible because when we focus so much on the mega-projects, on the idea of the global city, then the rest of the city is made invisible. We look beyond the city centre – the façade – and beyond the mainstream, dominant discourse. This “ordinary” is the neighbourhood, nature and that which lies beyond the spectacle – other Turkish cities, for example. This approach can entail initiatives that range from historical urban gardening practices, working with informal neighbourhoods subject to eviction and relocation processes, or rural communities on the very eastern border currently threatened by new mine projects.

More specifically, today we live in an extraordinary state. The public arena is in a deep crisis and the democratic institutions and their processes do not really deserve our direct involvement right now. Having said that, there are different pockets within these systems, municipal authorities that operate differently, for example, and when we find these we work with them, but we remain realistic with regards to our limits. The “now” in Turkey has been lost in the sense that its relevance is not linked to the future beyond or to the next generation. That is a deep loss. But if you have the vision and the production means, if you set up a strong system, build the capacity first of yourself and then of the groups your work with, then when the right moment comes, all of these elements will flourish."
urban  urbanism  urbanplanning  cities  maps  mapping  neighborhoods  unschooling  deschooling  education  independence  lcproject  openstudioproject  justice  visibility  istanbul  turkey  ethnography  inquiry  erasure  injustice  infrastructure  socialinfrastructure  2018  rosariotalevi  speed  scale  transformation  walking  community  yasaradanali  space  placemaking  interconnectedness  interconnected  geography  interdisciplinary  crossdisciplinary  socialjustice  architecture  design  film  law  legal  filmmaking  journalism  rural  engagement 
december 2018 by robertogreco
marwahelal on Twitter: "𝙰𝚗𝚍, 𝚘𝚏 𝚌𝚘𝚞𝚛𝚜𝚎, 𝚊 𝚕𝚊𝚗𝚐𝚞𝚊𝚐𝚎 𝚒𝚜 𝚗𝚘𝚝 𝚖𝚎𝚛𝚎𝚕𝚢 𝚊 𝚋𝚘𝚍𝚢 𝚘𝚏 𝚟𝚘𝚌𝚊𝚋𝚞𝚕𝚊𝚛𝚢 𝚘𝚛 𝚊 𝚜𝚎
"𝙰𝚗𝚍, 𝚘𝚏 𝚌𝚘𝚞𝚛𝚜𝚎, 𝚊 𝚕𝚊𝚗𝚐𝚞𝚊𝚐𝚎 𝚒𝚜 𝚗𝚘𝚝 𝚖𝚎𝚛𝚎𝚕𝚢 𝚊 𝚋𝚘𝚍𝚢 𝚘𝚏 𝚟𝚘𝚌𝚊𝚋𝚞𝚕𝚊𝚛𝚢 𝚘𝚛 𝚊 𝚜𝚎𝚝 𝚘𝚏 𝚐𝚛𝚊𝚖𝚖𝚊𝚝𝚒𝚌𝚊𝚕 𝚛𝚞𝚕𝚎𝚜. 𝙸𝚝 𝚒𝚜 𝚊 𝚏𝚕𝚊𝚜𝚑 𝚘𝚏 𝚝𝚑𝚎 𝚑𝚞𝚖𝚊𝚗 𝚜𝚙𝚒𝚛𝚒𝚝, 𝚝𝚑𝚎 𝚖𝚎𝚊𝚗𝚜 𝚋𝚢 𝚠𝚑𝚒𝚌𝚑 𝚝𝚑𝚎 𝚜𝚘𝚞𝚕

𝚘𝚏 𝚎𝚊𝚌𝚑 𝚙𝚊𝚛𝚝𝚒𝚌𝚞𝚕𝚊𝚛 𝚌𝚞𝚕𝚝𝚞𝚛𝚎 𝚛𝚎𝚊𝚌𝚑𝚎𝚜 𝚒𝚗𝚝𝚘 𝚝𝚑𝚎 𝚖𝚊𝚝𝚎𝚛𝚒𝚊𝚕 𝚠𝚘𝚛𝚕𝚍. 𝙴𝚟𝚎𝚛𝚢 𝚕𝚊𝚗𝚐𝚞𝚊𝚐𝚎 𝚒𝚜 𝚊𝚗 𝚘𝚕𝚍 𝚐𝚛𝚘𝚠𝚝𝚑 𝚏𝚘𝚛𝚎𝚜𝚝 𝚘𝚏 𝚝𝚑𝚎 𝚖𝚒𝚗𝚍, 𝚊 𝚠𝚊𝚝𝚎𝚛𝚜𝚑𝚎𝚍 𝚘𝚏 𝚝𝚑𝚘𝚞𝚐𝚑𝚝, 𝚊𝚗 𝚎𝚗𝚝𝚒𝚛𝚎

𝚎𝚌𝚘𝚜𝚢𝚜𝚝𝚎𝚖 𝚘𝚏 𝚜𝚙𝚒𝚛𝚒𝚝𝚞𝚊𝚕 𝚙𝚘𝚜𝚜𝚒𝚋𝚒𝚕𝚒𝚝𝚒𝚎𝚜." - 𝚆𝚊𝚍𝚎 𝙳𝚊𝚟𝚒𝚜

Welcome to the VERNACULAR HOME, a @nomadreadings #crafttalk. Before we begin, I ask that if you are following along, that you engage these ideas by sharing them, faving, RTing, and chiming in with your own comments.

This talk is dedicated to all displaced peoples and all people who engage in creating a home of language on the page.

1. We’ve witnessed in recent years how advertisers have co-opted vernacular made popular by Black communities on this very platform and profited from it.

2. What these advertisers know is what any good poet knows: vernacular is the pathway to transformation. It is your first language — that language before you were aware of language. It is “like a howl, or a shout or a machine-gun or the wind or a wave,” K. Braithwaite writes.

3. Sidenote: Transformation has a cost but cannot be bought.

4. And as this scene from Spike Lee’s Malcolm X reminds https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cfRDUsvu5fE , English is an inherently oppressive and racist language. As Malcolm X feels through this new insight into our language — a “con” as we’re told — he transforms and viewers are transformed with him.

5. Perfect segue to the next point…

6. If the poem does not transform (itself or the reader) it is not a poem. I repeat: If the work does not transform, what you have are words on a page — not a poem.

7. Let's now establish what vernacular [poetry] is.

8. Vernacular is a term used to express the idea that all languages are equal. It eliminates hierarchies of dialects vs. language.

As Baldwin writes in an essay I will share more of later, “...language functions as ‘a political instrument, means, and proof of power,’ and only politics separates a language from dialect.” (from the introduction by ed. Dohra Ahmed, Rotten English) https://bit.ly/2pXfk3h

9. Now that we’ve established what vernacular is, please don’t tell me you speak only one language...

10. Your dreams are a vernacular. Nature is a vernacular. Your sneaker collection is a vernacular! Signage: a vernacular. Your unique way of looking at the world: a vernacular. Your heartbeat: a vernacular. Breath: same, a vernacular.

Whenever I teach this material, I end up yelling “EVERYTHING IS VERNACULAR” by the end of every class. So get ready.

11. Building on that (pun intended), vernacular is also the synthesis between the language (words and symbols in any language) we choose, and how we construct it with grammar, punctuation, syntax and form.

12. It is inaccurate to say we are "decolonizing" a language. What we are doing is reclaiming it by colonizing it with our own vernaculars and inventing what it has failed to imagine. It is a language that has failed to imagine 𝘜𝘚. And so this craft talk is also a call

A call to pay attention to where this language has become dull, stale, and boring. A call to pay attention to intentional and unintentional connotations. And to undo those connotations. In undoing them, I ask that we create radical solutions for this language that troubles us.

13. “It was during the anti colonial struggles of the twentieth century that the latent political potential of vernacular literature fully emerged.

14. Our resistance is in the refusal to assimilate, the preservation of our native vernaculars, the creativity in that preservation.

It is in understanding that there is a particular language [they] want [us] to know -- that particular language that is taught in schools, and the rules or codes implied in that agreed upon language and resisting those implications or overturning those agreements.

15. June Jordan said, “Good poetry & successful revolution change our lives, & you cannot compose a good poem or wage a revolution without changing consciousness—unless you attack the language that you share with your enemies & invent a language that you share with your allies.”

Now, with these ideas in mind, let’s go into the texts…

Harryette Mullen, "We Are Not Responsible," "Elliptical" and "Denigration" from Sleeping with the Dictionary [3 images of text]

Note the attention to language, the transformation or awareness brought to the everyday humdrum of signage and those aforementioned 𝓬𝓸𝓷𝓷𝓸𝓽𝓪𝓽𝓲𝓸𝓷𝓼.

Note the attention to punctuation. Each poem uses exactly one form of punctuation in a very distinct way.

I will leave the joy of those discoveries to you! We have more to read...

Here, this breathtaking excerpt by @yosuheirhammad from “break (clear)”, breaking poems [image of text]

The Arabic words "ana" and "khalas" are doing overtime.

"ana" = I am and becomes "I am my" in the last two instances. "Khalas" stands on its own line in the first instance -- open to many translations: "enough," "stop," or "no more" and establishes its commitment to finality in that last line, "khalas all this breaking."

MORE! Solmaz Sharif’s “Persian Letters” https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poems/57580/persian-letters

Here the vernacular “bar bar bar” not only shows us the creation of a word: “barbarians” -- it holds a mirror up to the ones who made it.

“We make them reveal
the brutes they are, Aleph, by the things
we make them name.” - @nsabugsme

NOW Baldwin: “People evolve a language in order to describe and thus control their circumstances, or in order not to be submerged by a reality that they cannot articulate. (And, if they cannot articulate it, they are submerged.)”

"Black English is the creation of the black diaspora. Blacks came to the United States chained to each other, but from different tribes: Neither could speak the other's language. If two black people, at that bitter hour of the world's history, had been able to speak to each...

other, the institution of chattel slavery could never have lasted as long as it did. Subsequently, the slave was given, under the eye, and the gun, of his master, Congo Square, and the Bible--or in other words, and under these conditions, the slave began the formation of the

black church, and it is within this unprecedented tabernacle that black English began to be formed. This was not, merely, as in the European example, the adoption of a foreign tongue, but an alchemy that transformed ancient elements into a new language:

A language comes into existence by means of brutal necessity, and the rules of the language are dictated by what the language must convey.

Link to the full essay: “If Black English Isn’t a Language, Then Tell Me, What Is?” James Baldwin https://archive.nytimes.com/www.nytimes.com/books/98/03/29/specials/baldwin-english.html

Further reading: “Mother Tongue” by Amy Tan
Link: http://theessayexperiencefall2013.qwriting.qc.cuny.edu/files/2013/09/Mother-Tongue-by-Amy-Tan.pdf

I leave you with this poem by @kyle_decoy “American Vernacular” via @LambdaLiterary
https://www.lambdaliterary.org/features/poetry-spotlight/09/19/a-poem-by-kyle-dacuyan/ ]
marwahelal  language  poetry  writing  words  vernacular  culture  resistance  2018  jamesbaldwin  displacement  transformation  appropriation  malcolmx  english  poems  dohraahmed  grammar  punctuation  syntax  decolonization  colonization  assimilation  creativity  preservation  junejordan  harryettemullen  connotation  suheirhammad  solmazsharif  arabic  amytan  kyledacuyan 
april 2018 by robertogreco
my friend pokey — futures market
"(ed. note: stephen died while writing this, may his sinful heart now rest in peace)

I think that every work implies an audience, i think that projected audience will be perpetually dreamlike and strange since it’s drawn not from human consciousness but from a form of same which has been distorted through embodiment in alien material. Refracted by some “medium” and then existing as a transferable, reproducible object and living an object life separable from the human circumstances by which it was produced. And I think that when we evaluate a work part of what we evaluate is this audience and the prospect of belonging to it, the possibility of a community with those assumptions and those values. The saying “give people what they want” always confuses me in this context because surely part of what they want is the possibility of wanting something else, of being a person who wants something else. Advertisements famously sell not just a product but also the prospect of being the kind of person who likes that product. Even the most conservative works pull a bait and switch in this regards in that part of what they suggest is the prospect of being a person who already knows what they want, of having character and qualities that persist in time rather than being a shapeless blob of experiences.

Avant-garde work could be said to be that which prioritises the formation of new audiences, or the possibility of forming new audiences, above any actual qualities which those audiences would have. It draws on the utopian aspect of creating new social structures, new communities, where whatever form they ultimately end up taking the fact that they can be made at all is in some way a celebration of agency and the possibility of new futures. But the other side of things is that even as the appeal of these imaginary communities comes partly from their distance from our real ones, they’re also evaluated on the basis of their feasibility - their power comes not just from a list of bloodless alternities but from possessing a transformative quality, the real possibility of enactment which is used to make demands on the contemporary. Not just a future but one already germinating in the present. And though I like and respect a lot of these works it’s also hard, for this reason, not to feel a little uneasy about them - because the imagery of an imminent, transfigurative break from the present has been so co-opted as a way to conceal the fundamental limitations and eerie inertia of capitalism that I think it’s hard for anything drawing on that tradition to escape lending credibility to it, even when its interests are directly opposed. 20+ years of an increasingly threadbare neoliberal consensus in the face of problems which grow more and more obvious mean the notion of an unexpected, miraculous shift in the causal order grows more and more central, from the vague sense that someone will invent, like, a moss or something which will stop global warming in the nick of time to the idea that the same clumsy, stupid videogames we’ve been bonking against invisible walls in for decades now will any minute now transmogrify into the effortless freefloating virtual lucid dreams of legend. And in fact videogames provide a constant running example of just how profitably this perception can be managed - - from a medium which from inception built upon a certain futuristic quality coming both from the historically new level of consumer access to computer technology and from decades of science-fiction representations of same, and which leveraged that into a perennial suggestion that the bright new day was always just around the corner - that by playing videogames now you were securing a kind of early-investor bragging rights to the media singularity to come. If there’s anything historically new about videogames it’s the extent to which the very suggestion of potential developments to be had later on was finally recognised as more profitable than any intrinsic qualities of the form itself.

And I think all this raises some problems when we think about avant-garde and experimental videogames, not just because in replicating some of the assumptions of the industry they risk being assimilated by it - you can’t game-design your way out of late capitalism, there are no final aesthetic solutions to economic problems etc - but because by repeating those assumptions they risk being judged by the standard of contribution to this same monolithic vidcon future, and then discarded accordingly when “the future” changes according to stockholder diktats. I mean that when you see these works as yet more expressions of “the medium” it’s harder for them to survive when that status is taken away again, and that at this point it’s difficult to conceive of a future of videogames that doesn’t in some way just flow back into the orthodox one still being sold.

Why does this matter. I think the videogame market will crash again because that’s what markets do, and when it does I believe it’ll be blamed on small engines, on unity and rpgmaker, on asset-flipping and joke simulators and walking games and political games rather than e.g. the incessant boom-bust cycles of capitalism or the fact that the particular interactive media singularity that videogames have invested so much image, money and energy into identifying themselves with looks more and more dated and less likely to happen. I think there’ll be more gamergate bullshit from people who invested in the stupid, stupid videogame dream and got told by youtube millionaires that it was being undermined from within by sjw fifth columnists making pug dating games. I think that just as places like YouTube have shown a willingness to quietly cut down on who’s able to make money through their service places like Steam will do the same thing, particularly after already raising the prospect of exponentially increasing the cost of using the store for small developers already. I think middlebrow columnists at the Atlantic will cash checks saying well, a lot of those games weren’t pushing the medium forward anyway, and that the whole thing will end up being recast as a morality tale about an overcrowded, overdiverse market, and that a lot of valuable work people are doing now will be just wiped from the record in the same way as a lot of pre-2007 indie games were, or flash games, or interactive CD-ROMs, or whatever the fuck.

I think that when this happens experimental games or avant garde games or alternative games will be seen less as possible alternatives to the mainstream tradition than as offshoots of it which got pruned, and I’m not sure how much help they will really be to anyone trying to figure out ways to make these things without getting pulled into the endless churning blood rotor of existing videogame culture.

I’ve written before that the game scenes which interest and excite me most are things like FNAF fangames, Undertale fangames, Unity horror games, RPG Maker games, hyperspecific utility pieces like the Prosperity Path orbs, less for any particular aesthetic or design qualities than for them being videogames which manage to escape some of the awful binary of Producer/Consumer and the ideas of “importance” which evolve later to help justify that perverse dynamic. Like what does it mean to experience a game if it’s just part of a big stack of almost interchangeable things and anyway you’re only absently going through it when searching for more stuff to steal for your own interchangeable thing. Which is healthier and more interesting than “art”. But I think part of it too is the sense of having a specific audience to bounce against, even if it’s just of people looking to take your Secret Of Mana midis, and the way that the concreteness of that audience helps defuse the kind of creeping tendency towards cultural speculation that comes with the belief in a big medium-wide payout somewhere down the line that’d justify the time and energies of everyone involved. I don’t think it’s enough to say people should make an effort to criticise games for what they are as opposed to what they might be, or whatever, insofar as that’s even possible. I think being able to appreciate what they are is dependent on recognizing that they have an audience which is similarly settled, similarly “just there”. And I think working towards constructing that kind of space would mean, yes, a sort of concession of “the future” to the stockholders of industry, renouncing the right to eventually reap that dread crop. But in the process being able to better engage with the present and all the disparite forces and strands within it who have similarly been lopped off that grand narrative, or were never part of it to begin with, and navigate all the ambiguities and potentials of that space. I think the future of videogames is the same kind of desperate, self-willed dream as those years worth of Twitter shares, for a company which has never actually been profitable, or the horrible locked-down image of infinity that sees new Rocket Racoon movies coming out every year til 2099, I think those dreams are ones that emerge and grow stronger as the actual basis for them either materially or affectively grows ever more decrepit, I think however overwhelming they get they can only really be strangled in the present.

As they say… no futur-what! what are you doing in my house! no-aieee!! (manuscript abruptly cuts off)"
via:tealtan  videogames  capitalism  avantgarde  audience  audiences  potential  invention  utopia  games  gaming  media  neoliberalism  2017  possibility  transcontextualism  alternative  art  future  markets  economics  alternities  transformation  change  fandom  agency  moss 
october 2017 by robertogreco
My Grandmother’s Shroud - The New York Times
"When my grandmother, my mother’s mother, died in late June in Nigeria, I was in Italy, at a conference. I wasn’t with her when she slipped into a coma or, three days later, when she died. When my brother told me the news, I called my mother and other members of my family to commiserate with them. She was buried the day of her death, in keeping with Muslim custom, and I couldn’t attend her funeral. My mother, visiting friends in Houston, would also miss the funeral.

I opened my computer and began to search my folders for pictures of my grandmother. On each yearly trip to Nigeria for the past several years, I went to see her in Sagamu, a town an hour northeast of Lagos, where she was born and where she lived for most of her life. On these visits, she would say: ‘‘Sit next to me. I want to feel your hands in mine. Be close to me. I want your skin touching mine.’’ I was always happy to sit with her and to hold hands with her. Afterward, I took photos. I have photos now of her alone, in selfies with me, in the company of my mother and my aunts. In these photos, she has surprisingly smooth skin, hardly any gray hair and, in most of them, a trace of amusement. In one, especially touching photo, my wife, Karen, applies polish to her nails.

To remain close to our dead, we cherish images of them. We’ve done so for millenniums. Think of the Fayum portraits, which show us the faces of Egyptians during the Imperial Roman era with stunning immediacy. Images — paintings, sculptures, photographs — remind us how our loved ones looked in life. But in most places and at most times, portraiture was available only to society’s elites. Photography changed that. Almost everyone is now captured in photographs — and outlived by them. Photographs are there when people pass away. They serve as reservoirs of memory and as talismans for mourning.

My grandmother was born in 1928. Her given name was Abusatu, but we called her Mama. Mama’s father, Yusuf, was a stern imam in Sagamu, and Yusuf’s father, Salako, was said to have been even more severe. But Mama herself was serene and good-natured, kind and tolerant. She was deeply consoled by her religion but not doctrinaire. Of her five daughters, two (including her firstborn, my mother) married Christians and converted to Christianity. It made no difference to Mama. The family had Muslims, Christians and some, like myself, who drifted away from religion entirely. Mama loved us all. An example of her unobtrusive kindness: While I was a college student in the United States, she sent me a white hand-woven cotton blanket. I never knew why and didn’t ask. But it is to this day the most precious piece of cloth I own.

I was leaving Rome when I received the sad news of Mama’s death. She was approaching 89. The end came swiftly, and she was surrounded by family. You could say it was a good death. But why couldn’t she have lived to 99, or to 109, or forever? Death makes us protest the fact of death. It makes us wish for the impossible. I could objectively understand that it was unusual to have had a grandmother in my 40s, and that my 67-year-old mother was equally fortunate in having had a mother so long. My father was 5 when his mother died, and he has been mourning her for longer than my mother has been alive. But the grieving heart does not care for logic, and it refuses comparisons. I mourned Mama as I left Italy for New York.

I mourned her but did not, or was not able to, weep. I arrived in New York in the late afternoon, perhaps at the very moment Mama was being interred. My mother had forwarded a couple of photos taken by my cousin Adedoyin to my wife’s WhatsApp. Karen reached for her phone and showed me the pictures. They were a shock. One was of Mama, dead on her hospital bed, wearing a flowery nightdress and draped in a second flowery cloth, the oxygen tube still taped to her nostrils. Her right arm was limp at her side, and she was not quite like someone asleep but rather like someone passed out, open and vulnerable. The other photograph, which seemed to have been cropped, showed a figure wrapped in a shroud, tied up with white twine, set out on a bed in front of a framed portrait: a white bundle in vaguely human shape where my grandmother used to be. I burst into sudden hot tears.

What did these photographs open? Imagination can be delicate, imposing a protective decorum. A photograph insists on raw fact and confronts us with what we were perhaps avoiding. There she is, my dear Mama, helpless on the hospital bed, and I cannot help her. Days later, I would find out from my mother that in this first photograph, Mama was still in a coma and not dead yet. But looking at the second photograph, the one in which she is incontrovertibly dead, my thoughts raced through a grim logic. I thought: Why have they wrapped her face up? Then I thought: It must be stifling under that thing, she won’t be able to breathe! Then I thought: She’s dead and will never breathe again. Then my tears flowed.

Mama’s life was hard. An itinerant trader of kola nut and later the owner of a small provisions shop, she was one of my late grandfather’s five wives and by no means the best treated. She never went to school, and the only word she could write was her name, sometimes with the ‘‘s’’ reversed. But when Baba died more than 20 years ago, Mama moved out of his house and lived in the two-story house that my mother built her. She was a women’s leader, a kind of deaconess, at the local mosque. She went to parties, to market and to evening prayers. She lived in the security of her own house, in the company of her widowed second daughter, my aunt. In those later years, life became easier.

‘‘She has a single obsession,’’ my mother used to say, ‘‘and that’s her burial rites.’’ Mama insisted that she be buried the same day she died. ‘‘She’ll say, ‘And I must not be buried at the house,’ ’’ my mother said, ‘‘ ‘Because what’s rotten must be thrown out. And for seven days, food must be cooked and taken to the mosque and served to the poor.’ ’’ And most important, my mother said, Mama would reiterate that in a cupboard in the room next to the meeting room in her house was her robe, the one she must be buried in. It was of utmost importance to her to meet her maker wearing the robe with which she approached the Kaaba, the holiest shrine in Islam.

The hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca, which she undertook in 1996, when she was 68, transfigured my grandmother. Through that journey, through her accomplishment of one of the central tenets of Islam, she sloughed off her old life and took on a new one, one that put her into a precise relationship with eternity. The year of her journey, thousands of Nigerian pilgrims were turned back, because of meningitis and cholera outbreaks. My grandmother was one of a few hundred who got through. When she returned from Mecca, many of her townspeople took to calling her ‘‘Alhaja Lucky.’’ And as though to fit the name, she wore the serene mien of someone who was under special protection.

My mother, an Anglican Christian, financed the journey, knowing what it would mean to her mother to fulfill this final pillar of the faith. But possibly, she had no idea how much it would mean. She anticipated the social satisfaction Mama would get from it but had not counted on the serious existential confirmation it provided.

In the last few years, I often thought of Mama’s pilgrimage robe. I thought about how fortunate she was to have something in her possession so sacred to her, something of such surpassing worth, that she wished to have it on when she met God. And she had her wish: Beneath the plain white shroud in which she was sheathed after she died was that simple pilgrimage robe.

I look at the various photographs from Alhaja Lucky’s last years on my computer. None of them really satisfy me. Many are blurry, most are banal. I really like only the ones of her hands: They remind me of her wish to have her hands touched by mine. But the photograph I cannot stop thinking about is the one Adedoyin took, of Mama in her funeral shroud. The image reminds me of newspaper photos of funerals in troubled zones in the Middle East: an angry crowd, a shrouded body held aloft. But Mama was not a victim of violence. She died peacefully, well past the age of 88, surrounded by family.

Nevertheless, the custom is connected. It is a reminder that the word ‘‘Muslim’’ — so much a part of current American political argument, and so often meant as a slur — is not and has never been an abstraction, not for me, and certainly not for millions of Americans for whom it is a lived reality or a fact of family. A lead headline in The New York Times just a few days after Mama’s burial read: ‘‘Travel Ban Says Grandparents Don’t Count as ‘Close Family.’ ’’ The headline was about travel restrictions on visitors from six predominantly Muslim countries. Nigeria was not on the list, but the cruelty and absurdity of the policy was vivid. It felt personal.

On the night of Mama’s burial, I lay down to sleep in my apartment in Brooklyn. I couldn’t shake the image of my cousin’s photograph. I went into the closet and took out the white cotton blanket Mama sent me all those years ago. It was a hot night, high summer. I draped the blanket over my body. In the darkness, I pulled the blanket slowly past my shoulders, past my chin, over my face, until I was entirely covered by it, until I was covered by Mama."
2017  tejucole  photography  death  memory  nigeria  aging  relationships  hajj  islam  purpose  grief  mourning  grieving  customs  objects  textiles  immigration  us  policy  connection  families  tolerance  religion  acceptance  mecca  eternity  belief  spirituality  burial  life  living  change  transformation  talismans 
july 2017 by robertogreco
YBCA: Visualizing Citizenship: Seeking a New Public Imagination
“Teddy Cruz and Fonna Forman

Visualizing Citizenship: Seeking a New Public Imagination

Mar 10 2017 — Jun 18 2017

The Mexico-US border is a geography of conflict from which a more inclusive political vision can be shaped, based on integration and cooperation, not division and xenophobia.” - Teddy Cruz and Fonna Forman

In the face of a new, more divisive, political landscape, the public narrative around borders surfaces fears on all sides of the political spectrum. Yet for architect and theorist Teddy Cruz and political scientist Fonna Forman, border communities are opportunities for civic and political creativity, rather than criminalization. These sites, to which they refer as “geographies of conflict,” are the basis of three projects that present case studies for more expansive and inclusive ways of thinking of the relationships between the United States and its neighbors, and more broadly propose that citizenship is organized around shared values and common interests, and not on the action of an isolationist nation with a homogeneous identity.

Composed of videos, diagrams, maps, and visual narratives designed in collaboration with Studio Matthias Görlich, the exhibition presents The Political Equator (2011), a video and wall diagram that captures a collective border-crossing performance through a drainage pipe joining two marginalized neighborhoods along the border wall that divides an informal settlement in Mexico from a natural estuary in California. Produced for this exhibition, a series of posters synthesize their work on the Cross-Border Citizenship Culture Survey (2011-ongoing), the result of a collaboration with Antanas Mockus, the former mayor of Bogotá, Colombia; his think tank, Corpovisionarios; and city officials in San Diego and Tijuana. Also featured is The Medellín Diagram (2012-ongoing), which presents a new political and civic model for creating public spaces that facilitate cultural, political, and knowledge exchange based on the example of the city of Medellín and its extraordinary social and urban transformation."

[See also:
https://www.instagram.com/p/BUKugmPB1ev/
https://www.instagram.com/p/BUKuesOhEW3/
https://www.instagram.com/p/BUKucvjBnb4/
https://www.instagram.com/p/BT91baWBDUT/
https://www.instagram.com/p/BT91XhMB1B5/
https://www.instagram.com/p/BT91TldB9-0/ ]
ybca  teddycruz  fonnaforman  border  borders  sandiego  tijuana  medellín  antanasmockus  bogotá  matthiasgörlich  studiomatthiasgörlich  corpovisionarios2011  2012  cities  urban  urbanism  transformation  us  mexico  politcalequator  conflict  integration  cooperation  politic  geopolitics  art  design  california  medellin 
may 2017 by robertogreco
ISTE | Learning happens in a zigzag – and that’s OK
"Jad Abumrad is quick to say he doesn’t feel comfortable giving educators advice, and yet his career in radio touches on many topics educators are familiar with.

Tinkering. Curiosity. Messy experiences. Failing forward. Transformation.

Abumrad, host and creator of public radio’s “Radiolab,” will be the opening keynote speaker at ISTE 2017.

“I firmly believe that if the act of teaching could be closer to the act of living, that would be a good thing,” Abumrad said.

“Teaching and learning shouldn’t be things that happen in an artificial space," he said. "They should happen in as messy and chaotic a way as the rest of our life happens.”

Sounds like he speaks ISTE.

On tinkering.

Abumrad has said that “Radiolab” was a product of his tinkering with an idea for a show that would include dialogue, sound effects, music and interviews. Educators might call it inductive learning, and the idea of tinkering certainly connects with today’s makerspaces.

But what Abumrad knows for sure is that tinkering can help learners externalize their thinking “by fumbling around to find the other piece of your idea.”

He recalls tinkering around to solve the problem of defining a radio show without using a theme song, but instead by using sound. He spent hours creating 25 versions of layered voices and glitchy edits that would play at the top of “Radiolab.” It became a signature of the show.

“I feel a lot of my own development has been like that. The material somehow teaches you something and you keep tinkering until it feels good,” Abumrad explained.

On curiosity.

It’s an education industry debate. Can curiosity and creativity be taught? Abumrad says, based on his experience, the answer is “yes.”

He says “Radiolab” co-host Robert Krulwich turned him on to the idea that nothing propels you like a really well-asked question. “If you have a good question, you have tension and suspense. It’s like having booster rockets on,” Abumrad said. “I’ve learned that if you surround yourself with people who are relentlessly curious, you begin to get that practice and get that muscle.”

He describes it as having a sense of unease about the information that’s being provided and then pressing to know the question behind the question.

“I didn’t start by being someone who woke up and had a relentless curiosity about the world. I worked with people who do, and I just sort of stole their moves,” Abumrad said. “We need to allow kids to understand what it feels like to have a question and then give them permission to ask it.”

On messy experiences.

As a self-proclaimed late bloomer, Abumrad acknowledges that he didn’t learn in a straight line, but rather stumbled his way through things, wishing along the way that others were familiar with the way he learned.

“Learning happens in a strange zigzag that’s not neat. We try to clean it up and make it a set of facts, but it’s not that way.”

In his experience, if there was room for learning to be messy, it might be more interesting for students.

On failing.

“Radiolab” listeners have become accustomed to the show’s cadence. The interviews are not always clean. Speakers stumble. There are pauses. Flubs are part of the vibe.
Abumrad says those mistakes make the show more authentic and acknowledge the unnatural artifice that exists when people are placed in a studio in front of mics and separated by panes of glass.

Mistakes happen and they don’t have to be edited out. Imagine if that thinking were applied to learners.

“If you start in a prosaic place and think, ‘what’s going on here,’ and you fumble and you ask the dumb questions that get you to the next questions, and you don’t pretend you know more than you know and you flail through the dark until you hit on something ... the spirit of the show is more of a stumble than a podium-style presentation,” Abumrad described.

And he thinks that willingness to make mistakes is beneficial, even scientific.
“Nothing we do is definitive. We do our best and we try to get everything right, but at the end of the day, every sentence that comes out of our mouths is provisional. And that’s how science is.”

On transformation.

The New York Times asked Abumrad why anyone would create a new aesthetic for the retrograde form that is radio. A similar question could be asked of the education system. Why attempt to change the factory model?

Abumrad said his contribution to transforming radio was inadvertent, based in trying to do something others hadn’t and rooted in his experience as a musician.

But he pondered the question, why try and change the way things are taught?

“I actually think the way things are taught is a little like how I feel about any meeting I go to. You can have a plan for a meeting, but every third meeting, you have to throw the plan away. You have to blow it up.

“Teaching is one of those things that inherently has to be blown up every few years. By its essential nature, it should be continually rethought because in some sense, the act of learning should embody the spirit of learning. And the people doing the teaching should be constantly learning how to recalibrate. I feel like the idea of blowing up your preconceived forms should just be something that has to happen – like every quarter.”"
2017  jadabumrad  sfsh  learning  howwelearn  tinkering  failure  transformation  messiness  radiolab  nonlinear  non-linear  alinear  linearity 
may 2017 by robertogreco
manifesting roads
"The pace of change throughout this transformation - on educators and on parents has been nothing if not accelerated.

You could measure that in the amount being spent on professional development, for teachers, or by the hours spent on learning how to use any multitude of systems that are meant to make things “better”. Parents are asked to log in to a multitude of sites, to unpack learning, to share learning, to see in real-time what we’re doing inside our educational centres.

And the question I ask is - is it any better?

Do our educators feel more confident?
Do students feel more cared for or understood?
Are parents any closer to really understanding what it is their children are doing or learning when they come to school?
Do our communities have any better understandings of what it is we educators talk about - such that they feel they can trust us?

Is our understanding of the purpose of education and learning any more advanced or nuanced than say it was in 2000?

Or 1989?

Because if it’s not, then has all this “transformation” and expense been for naught? If we accelerate this change any more, will we do so while paying any attention to what’s being left behind.

Wouldn’t the only people that really, truly benefit from the rush to be transformational and significantly accelerated - be those who are self-promoting “transformation” and “acceleration” - not the ones who deal with the consequences and debris left behind."



"Promoting and ‘encouraging’ from the sidelines makes for a wonderful warm fuzzy for the tech sector, like they are "giving back" to the children - but while that's great and all - the public education sector in New Zealand has an annual budget of $14.4 billion dollars.

It’s a serious business.
And the tech sector knows this.

Schools aren’t charities, and they shouldn’t act as charities. But they also aren’t startups. Nor are they needing to change or save the world, like many in Silicon Valley and their ilk believe is their privilege.

The tech sector is aware of the wonderfully captive market that the education sector is - for their products, for their services, for their software and hardware.

Education on the whole has lapped those services and products up. Remember interactive whiteboards, 3D printers and Google cardboard VR sets?

The tech sector is also aware of the fact that schools in part, serve to produce competent workers that can fill the roles that the thriving tech sector needs and demands.

That’s fine also - and a perfectly valid role for public education to fill.

But let’s not insult each other by assuming the tech industry is mildly cheering from the sidelines of public education, for the perceived greater good of the fine citizens of New Zealand, while demanding that education shift itself to be something that serves the tech sector.

The tech sector is utterly invested in getting what’s best for itself and its shareholders..

To me it is manifestly evident, that what this document lays out is an ability to disengage from what we must strive to constantly do and be in education.

Namely - human and caring.

This manifesto removes any shred of humanity or care or concern for what it is to be an actual living human.

It talks of students and results and outcomes in such horribly abstract ways that it strips the very essence and soul out of our role as educators.

It knows nothing of humans who can’t for the life of themselves figure out why no-one likes them.

Humans who are angry and want to be liked, and for whom the digital space is just another way by which they’re excluded or made to feel small.

It knows nothing of humans who are dealing with so much other real life, off-line broken-ness, that a constant scroll through Instagram, Snapchat or Facebook is the only connection they have with any positive emotion.

It knows nothing of the realities that reading, writing, numeracy, art, dance and science bring to a child. Of course, all of these can be delivered via a small glass screen, an SSID and a series of interconnected IP addresses, but none of these subjects matter if the person viewing the screen doesn't care.

Education matters. Learning matters.

But only if we care enough as humans to be the connection."
timkong  education  edtech  2017  schools  teaching  howeteach  professionaldevelopment  pupose  transformation  change  manifestos  newzealand  humanism  humans  howwteach  influence  siliconvalley  caring  sfsh  biases  business 
may 2017 by robertogreco
bell hooks: Buddhism, the Beats and Loving Blackness - The New York Times
"G.Y.: Absolutely. You’ve talked about how theory can function as a place of healing. Can you say more about that?

b.h.: I always start with children. Most children are amazing critical thinkers before we silence them. I think that theory is essentially a way to make sense of the world; as a gifted child growing up in a dysfunctional family where giftedness was not appreciated, what held me above water was the idea of thinking through, “Why are Mom and Dad the way they are?” And those are questions that are at the heart of critical thinking. And that’s why I think critical thinking and theory can be such a source of healing. It moves us forward. And, of course, I don’t know about other thinkers and writers, but I have the good fortune every day of my life to have somebody contacting me, either on the streets or by mail, telling me about how my work has changed their life, how it has enabled them to go forward. And what greater gift to be had as a thinker-theorist, than that?"



"G.Y.: Is there a connection between teaching as a space of healing and your understanding of love?

b.h.: Well, I believe whole-heartedly that the only way out of domination is love, and the only way into really being able to connect with others, and to know how to be, is to be participating in every aspect of your life as a sacrament of love, and that includes teaching. I don’t do a lot of teaching these days. I am semi-retired. Because, like any act of love, it takes a lot of your energy."



"G.Y.: You’ve conceptualized love as the opposite of estrangement. Can you say something about that?

b.h.: When we engage love as action, you can’t act without connecting. I often think of that phrase, only connect. In terms of white supremacy right now for instance, the police stopped me a few weeks ago here in Berea, because I was doing something wrong. I initially felt fear, and I was thinking about the fact that in all of my 60-some years of my life in this country, I have never felt afraid of policemen before, but I feel afraid now. He was just total sweetness. And yet I thought, what a horrible change in our society that that level of estrangement has taken place that was not there before.

I know that the essential experience of black men and women has always been different, but from the time I was a girl to now, I never thought the police were my enemy. Yet, what black woman witnessing the incredible abuse of Sandra Bland can’t shake in her boots if she’s being stopped by the police? When I was watching that video, I was amazed the police didn’t shoot her on the spot! White supremacist white people are crazy.

I used to talk about patriarchy as a mental illness of disordered desire, but white supremacy is equally a serious and profound mental illness, and it leads people to do completely and utterly insane things. I think one of the things that is going on in our society is the normalization of mental illness, and the normalization of white supremacy, and the evocation and the spreading of this is part of that mental illness. So remember that we are a culture in crisis. Our crisis is as much a spiritual crisis as it is a political crisis, and that’s why Martin Luther King, Jr. was so profoundly prescient in describing how the work of love would be necessary to have a transformative impact.

G.Y.: And of course, that doesn’t mean that you don’t find an important place in your work for rage, as in your book “Killing Rage”?

b.h.: Oh, absolutely. The first time that I got to be with Thich Nhat Hanh, I had just been longing to meet him. I was like, I’m going to meet this incredibly holy man. On the day that I was going to him, every step of the way I felt that I was encountering some kind of racism or sexism. When I got to him, the first thing out of my mouth was, “I am so angry!” And he, of course, Mr. Calm himself, Mr. Peace, said, “Well, you know, hold on to your anger, and use it as compost for your garden.” And I thought, “Yes, yes, I can do that!” I tell that story to people all the time. I was telling him about the struggles I was having with my male partner at the time and he said, “It is O.K. to say I want to kill you, but then you need to step back from that, and remember what brought you to this person in the first place.” And I think that if we think of anger as compost, we think of it as energy that can be recycled in the direction of our good. It is an empowering force. If we don’t think about it that way, it becomes a debilitating and destructive force.

G.Y.: Since you mentioned Sandra Bland, and there are so many other cases that we can mention, how can we use the trauma that black people are experiencing, or reconfigure that trauma into compost? How can black people do that? What does that look like therapeutically, or collectively?

b.h.: We have to be willing to be truthful. And to be truthful, we have to say, the problem that black people face, the trauma of white supremacy in our lives, is not limited to police brutality. That’s just one aspect. I often say that the issue for young black males is the street. If you only have the streets, you encounter violence on all sides: black on black violence, the violence of addiction, and the violence of police brutality. So the question is why at this stage of our history, with so many wealthy black people, and so many gifted black people, how do we provide a place other than the streets for black males? And it is so gendered, because the street, in an imperialist white supremacist capitalist patriarchy, is male, especially when it is dark. There is so much feeling of being lost that it is beyond the trauma of racism. It is the trauma of imperialist white supremacist capitalist patriarchy, because poverty has become infinitely more violent than it ever was when I was a girl. You lived next door to very poor black people, but who had very joyful lives. That’s not the poverty of today.

G.Y.: How is the poverty of today different?

b.h.: Let’s face it, one of the things white people gave us when they gave us integration was full access to the tormenting reality of desire, and the expectation of constant consumption. So part of the difference of poverty today is this sort of world of fantasy — fantasizing that you’ll win the lottery, fantasizing that money will come. I always cling to Lorraine Hansberry’s mama saying in “A in Raisin in the Sun,” “Since when did money become life?” I think that with the poverty of my growing up that I lived with and among, we were always made to feel like money is not what life is all about. That’s the total difference for everyone living right now, because most people in our culture believe money is everything. That is the big tie, the connecting tie to black, white, Hispanic, native people, Asian people — the greed and the materialism that we all invest in and share.

G.Y.: When you make that claim, I can see some readers saying that bell is pathologizing black spaces.

b.h.: As I said, we have normalized mental illness in this society. So it’s not the pathologizing of black spaces; it’s saying that the majority of cultural spaces in our society are infused with pathology. That’s why it’s so hard to get out of it, because it has become the culture that is being fed to us every day. None of us can escape it unless we do so by conscious living and conscious loving, and that’s become harder for everybody. I don’t have a problem stating the fact that trauma creates wounds, and most of our wounds are not healed as African-Americans. We’re not really different in that way from all the others who are wounded. Let’s face it — wounded white people frequently can cover up their wounds, because they have greater access to material power.

I find it fascinating that every day you go to the supermarket, and you look at the people, and you look at us, and you look at all of this media that is parading the sorrows and the mental illnesses of the white rich in our society. And it’s like everybody just skips over that. Nobody would raise the question, “why don’t we pathologize the rich?” We actually believe that they suffer mental illness, and that they deserve healing. The issue for us as black people is that very few people feel that we deserve healing. Which is why we have very few systems that promote healing in our lives. The primary system that ever promoted healing in black people is the church, and we see what is going on in most churches today. They’ve become an extension of that material greed.

G.Y.: As you shared being stopped by police, I thought of your book “Black Looks: Race and Representation,” where you describe whiteness as a site of terror. Has that changed for you?

b.h.: I don’t think that has changed for most black people. That particular essay, “Representations of Whiteness in the Black Imagination,” talks about whiteness, the black imagination, and how many of us live in fear of whiteness. And I emphasize the story about the policeman because for many of us that fear of whiteness has intensified. I think that white people, for the most part, never think about black people wanting to be in black only spaces, because we do not feel safe.

In my last book, “Writing Beyond Race: Living Theory and Practice,” I really wanted to raise and problematize the question: Where do we feel safe as black people? I definitely return to the home as a place of spiritual possibility, home as a holy place.

I bought my current house from a conservative white male capitalist who lives across the street from me, and I’m so happy in my little home. I tell people, when I open the doors of my house it’s like these arms come out, and they’re just embracing me. I think that is part of our radical resistance to the culture of domination. I know that I’m not who he imagined in this little house. He imagined a nice white family with two kids, and I think on some level it was very hard for … [more]
bellhooks  2015  georgeyancy  buddhism  christianity  spirituality  religion  race  class  patriarchy  racism  classism  mentalillness  money  greed  mentalhealth  society  capitalism  consumerism  materialism  domination  power  gender  feminism  idenity  listening  love  humor  martinlutherkingjr  cornelwest  allies  influence  homes  intellectualism  theory  practice  criticalthinking  pedagogy  writing  children  unschooling  deschooling  teaching  howweteach  oedagogy  solitude  workinginpublic  publicintellectuals  narcissism  healing  malcolmx  blackness  whitesupremacy  abandonment  betrayal  anger  masculinity  markmcleodbethune  resistance  safety  whiteness  terror  wealth  imperialism  inequality  pathology  poverty  truth  truthfulness  sandrabland  thichnhathanh  activism  estrangement  everyday  humanism  humanization  humility  grace  change  changemaking  transformation  canon  empowerment  composting  desire  lotteries  lorrainehansberry  araisininthesun  culture  trauma  sorrow  leadership  psychology  self-determination  slow  small  beatpoets  jackkerouac  garysnyder  beatpoetry  ethics 
december 2015 by robertogreco
[Essay] | The Neoliberal Arts, by William Deresiewicz | Harper's Magazine
"I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.

leadership
service
integrity
creativity

Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.

A spatial structure, the sentence also suggests a temporal sequence. Thinking clearly, it wants us to recognize, leads to thinking independently. Thinking independently leads to living confidently. Living confidently leads to living courageously. Living courageously leads to living hopefully. And the entire chain begins with a college that recognizes it has an obligation to its students, an obligation to develop their abilities to think and live.

Finally, the sentence is attributed to an individual. It expresses her convictions and ideals. It announces that she is prepared to hold herself accountable for certain responsibilities.

The second text is not a sentence. It is four words floating in space, unconnected to one another or to any other concept. Four words — four slogans, really — whose meaning and function are left undefined, open to whatever interpretation the reader cares to project on them.

Four words, three of which — “leadership,” “service,” and “creativity” — are the loudest buzzwords in contemporary higher education. (“Integrity” is presumably intended as a synonym for the more familiar “character,” which for colleges at this point means nothing more than not cheating.) The text is not the statement of an individual; it is the emanation of a bureaucracy. In this case, a literally anonymous bureaucracy: no one could tell me when this version of the institution’s mission statement was formulated, or by whom. No one could even tell me who had decided to hang those banners all over campus. The sentence from the founder has also long been mounted on the college walls. The other words had just appeared, as if enunciated by the zeitgeist.

But the most important thing to note about the second text is what it doesn’t talk about: thinking or learning. In what it both does and doesn’t say, it therefore constitutes an apt reflection of the current state of higher education. College is seldom about thinking or learning anymore. Everyone is running around trying to figure out what it is about. So far, they have come up with buzzwords, mainly those three.

This is education in the age of neoliberalism. Call it Reaganism or Thatcherism, economism or market fundamentalism, neoliberalism is an ideology that reduces all values to money values. The worth of a thing is the price of the thing. The worth of a person is the wealth of the person. Neoliberalism tells you that you are valuable exclusively in terms of your activity in the marketplace — in Wordsworth’s phrase, your getting and spending.

The purpose of education in a neoliberal age is to produce producers. I published a book last year that said that, by and large, elite American universities no longer provide their students with a real education, one that addresses them as complete human beings rather than as future specialists — that enables them, as I put it, to build a self or (following Keats) to become a soul. Of all the responses the book aroused, the most dismaying was this: that so many individuals associated with those institutions said not, “Of course we provide our students with a real education,” but rather, “What is this ‘real education’ nonsense, anyway?”"



"So what’s so bad about leadership, service, and creativity? What’s bad about them is that, as they’re understood on campus and beyond, they are all encased in neoliberal assumptions. Neoliberalism, which dovetails perfectly with meritocracy, has generated a caste system: “winners and losers,” “makers and takers,” “the best and the brightest,” the whole gospel of Ayn Rand and her Übermenschen. That’s what “leadership” is finally about. There are leaders, and then there is everyone else: the led, presumably — the followers, the little people. Leaders get things done; leaders take command. When colleges promise to make their students leaders, they’re telling them they’re going to be in charge.

“Service” is what the winners engage in when they find themselves in a benevolent mood. Call it Clintonism, by analogy with Reaganism. Bill Clinton not only ratified the neoliberal consensus as president, he has extended its logic as a former president. Reaganism means the affluent have all the money, as well as all the power. Clintonism means they use their money and power, or a bit of it, to help the less fortunate — because the less fortunate (i.e., the losers) can’t help themselves. Hence the Clinton Foundation, hence every philanthropic or altruistic endeavor on the part of highly privileged, highly credentialed, highly resourced elites, including all those nonprofits or socially conscious for-profits that college students start or dream of starting.

“Creativity,” meanwhile, is basically a business concept, aligned with the other clichés that have come to us from the management schools by way of Silicon Valley: “disruption,” “innovation,” “transformation.” “Creativity” is not about becoming an artist. No one wants you to become an artist. It’s about devising “innovative” products, services, and techniques — “solutions,” which imply that you already know the problem. “Creativity” means design thinking, in the terms articulated by the writer Amy Whitaker, not art thinking: getting from A to a predetermined B, not engaging in an open-ended exploratory process in the course of which you discover the B.

Leadership, service, and creativity do not seek fundamental change (remember, fundamental change is out in neoliberalism); they seek technological or technocratic change within a static social framework, within a market framework. Which is really too bad, because the biggest challenges we face — climate change, resource depletion, the disappearance of work in the face of automation — will require nothing less than fundamental change, a new organization of society. If there was ever a time that we needed young people to imagine a different world, that time is now.

We have always been, in the United States, what Lionel Trilling called a business civilization. But we have also always had a range of counterbalancing institutions, countercultural institutions, to advance a different set of values: the churches, the arts, the democratic tradition itself. When the pendulum has swung too far in one direction (and it’s always the same direction), new institutions or movements have emerged, or old ones have renewed their mission. Education in general, and higher education in particular, has always been one of those institutions. But now the market has become so powerful that it’s swallowing the very things that are supposed to keep it in check. Artists are becoming “creatives.” Journalism has become “the media.” Government is bought and paid for. The prosperity gospel has arisen as one of the most prominent movements in American Christianity. And colleges and universities are acting like businesses, and in the service of businesses.

What is to be done? Those very same WASP aristocrats — enough of them, at least, including several presidents of Harvard and Yale — when facing the failure of their own class in the form of the Great Depression, succeeded in superseding themselves and creating a new system, the meritocracy we live with now. But I’m not sure we possess the moral resources to do the same. The WASPs had been taught that leadership meant putting the collective good ahead of your own. But meritocracy means looking out for number one, and neoliberalism doesn’t believe in the collective. As Margaret Thatcher famously said about society, “There’s no such thing. There are individual men and women, and there are families.” As for elite university presidents, they are little more these days than lackeys of the plutocracy, with all the moral stature of the butler in a country house.

Neoliberalism disarms us in another sense as well. For all its rhetoric of freedom and individual initiative, the culture of the market is exceptionally good at inculcating a sense of helplessness. So much of the language around college today, and so much of the negative response to my suggestion that students ought to worry less about pursuing wealth and more about constructing a sense of purpose for themselves, presumes that young people are the passive objects of economic forces. That they have no agency, no options. That they have to do what the market tells them. A Princeton student literally made this argument to me: If the market is incentivizing me to go to Wall Street, he said, then who am I to argue?

I have also had the pleasure, over the past year, of hearing from a lot of people who are pushing back against the dictates of neoliberal education: starting high schools, starting colleges, creating alternatives to high school and college, making documentaries, launching nonprofits, parenting in different ways, conducting their lives in different ways. I welcome these efforts, but none of them address the fundamental problem, which is that we no longer believe in public solutions. We only … [more]
williamderesiewicz  education  highereducation  neoliberalism  capitalism  learning  purpose  stevenpinker  2015  individualism  economics  leadership  missionstatements  courage  confidence  hope  criticalthinking  independence  autonomy  liberalarts  wealth  inequality  citizenship  civics  society  highered  publicpurpose  business  ronaldreagan  billclinton  margaretthatcher  government  media  lioneltrilling  socialgood  creativity  innovation  amywhitaker  service  servicelearning  change  fundamentalchange  systemsthinking  us  civilization  transformation  money  power  aynrand  meritocracy  plutocracy  college  colleges  universities  schools  markets  wallstreet  helplessness  elitism  berniesanders  communitycolleges  aristocracy  reaganism  clintonism  politics  entrepreneurship  volunteerism  rickscott  corporatization  modernity  joshuarothman  greatbooks  1960s  stem  steam  commercialization  davidbrooks 
october 2015 by robertogreco
A conversation with President David Skorton and Pulitzer Prize winner Junot Díaz MFA '95 - CornellCast
"Each year, the Olin Lecture brings to campus an internationally prominent speaker to address a topic relevant to higher education and the current world situation. Junot Díaz is a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and creative writing professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)."

[Great chat with Junot Díaz (is there any other kind?) and I especially love the part towards the end in response to a prompt from the audience about social action.

“There is no more important mandate to anyone living in a society than civic engagement. Civic engagement is just what's owed. There is no person, poor or rich, who does not take more out of this country than what they put back in. No one. There is no one so afflicted that doesn't owe this nation a debt. Civic engagement is how we begin to pay the interest on that debt. And, part of civic engagement is looking for places that we think that we can improve and trying to improve it. It is just something that has been lost for a long time, something that I think isn't valued enough. I think that what you are doing is incredibly important under the most fundamental level of what it means to be alive in a civic society. To give back, to attempt to engage yourself in that way is absolutely essential.

The thing is that we live in a society that has spent the last thirty or forty years promulgating, convincing people that the only thing that matters is you and how much money you have made. A perverse neoliberal individualism that has collapsed a lot of what we would call our civic communities. People aren't just bowling alone, gang. People are also not engaged in civic society the way they used to. They've got us all mad at each other, whether we're Republican or Democrats because that is a way to convince people that this is civic engagement. Partisan politics is not civic engagement. We think it's civic engagement, but it's not. And I think the nature of civic engagement is that in a country like ours, in a moment like ours, it is going to be very hard to convince people to go against the pied piper music of individualism and neoliberal profit-making and to think more seriously about what our community requires and what is owed of all of us. And I think that the nature of this work, is that you are going to find that it is going to be difficult to engage large movements of people. And that despite this, what you do is utterly invaluable.

My sense of this is that you've got to constantly model, you've got to constantly reach out, and you've got to everything you cant that when you're home, or wherever you settle, to go to every damn school and get every teacher who is an ally and let you make a presentation. And try to get allied teachers to come and visit your project so that at least the young people are exposed and given some modeling. And it is the same thing. How many people are at home looking for things to do? And, again, I don't know what community you are in or what kind of space, but if you can sort of figure out a place where there is a lot of traffic that you could present and model your work, you can begin to slowly pull people in. Will it be a lot? No. Will it be as much as you need? Perhaps. Will it be transformational and save individual lives through that engagement and through that reaffirmation of the most important values of our civic society? Absolutely. Being an artist in some ways is no different than being someone who wants to make this country better. there is very little money in it, especially if done correctly.

You know, there is little acclaim and respect. And in fact, there is very few signs that what you're doing is working. And yet, without your presence, what remains is not worth calling a society. Nothing is more a faith-based initiative than the kind of work you're doing. But I would argue, trying to get into the schools, trying to get into the places where a lot of adults flow through who don't have that kind of training or don't have that kind of literacy, and tying to kind of increase the exposure, that is what tends to work best in this battle. And I leave you with this: whether you're someone who is trying to do the work this young sister is doing or you're a teacher trying to convince their students that reading is good, in this battle, it is hand to hand. If you can transform one life, you've given more than most of us can dream. And, that life may do the work the future needs to make the future that we all dreamed possible. And therefore you must stick with it.”

See 1:02:29 for that.]
junotdíaz  art  activism  writing  race  2015  via:javierarbona  howwewrite  whywewrite  experience  socialjustice  us  education  highered  highereducation  inclusion  inclusivity  diversity  immigrants  immigration  elitism  politics  struggle  mfas  hardship  gratitude  civics  citizenship  engagement  migration  bilingualism  language  accents  rutgers  cornell  stigma  latinos  patriarchy  capitalism  publicadministration  socialaction  society  movements  storytelling  neoliberalism  individualism  money  wealth  inequality  transformation  modeling  lcproject  openstudioproject  inlcusivity 
june 2015 by robertogreco
The future of loneliness | Olivia Laing | Society | The Guardian
"Loneliness centres on the act of being seen. When a person is lonely, they long to be witnessed, accepted, desired, at the same time as becoming intensely wary of exposure. According to research carried out over the past decade at the University of Chicago, the feeling of loneliness triggers what psychologists call hypervigilance for social threat. In this state, which is entered into unknowingly, the individual becomes hyperalert to rejection, growing increasingly inclined to perceive social interactions as tinged with hostility or scorn. The result is a vicious circle of withdrawal, in which the lonely person becomes increasingly suspicious, intensifying their sense of isolation.

This is where online engagement seems to exercise its special charm. Hidden behind a computer screen, the lonely person has control. They can search for company without the danger of being revealed or found wanting. They can reach out or they can hide; they can lurk and they can show themselves, safe from the humiliation of face-to-face rejection. The screen acts as a kind of protective membrane, a scrim that allows invisibility and transformation. You can filter your image, concealing unattractive elements, and you can emerge enhanced: an online avatar designed to attract likes. But now a problem arises, for the contact this produces is not the same thing as intimacy. Curating a perfected self might win followers or Facebook friends, but it will not necessarily cure loneliness, since the cure for loneliness is not being looked at, but being seen and accepted as a whole person – ugly, unhappy and awkward, as well as radiant and selfie-ready.

This aspect of digital existence is among the concerns of Sherry Turkle of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who has been writing about human-technology interactions for the past three decades. She has become increasingly wary of the capacity of online spaces to fulfil us in the ways we seem to want them to. According to Turkle, part of the problem with the internet is that it encourages self-invention. “At the screen,” she writes in Alone Together (2011), “you have a chance to write yourself into the person you want to be and to imagine others as you wish them to be, constructing them for your purposes. It’s a seductive but dangerous habit of mind.”

But there are other dangers. My own peak use of social media arose during a period of painful isolation. It was the autumn of 2011, and I was living in New York, recently heartbroken and thousands of miles from my family and friends. In many ways, the internet made me feel safe. I liked the contact I got from it: the conversations, the jokes, the accumulation of positive regard, the favouriting on Twitter and the Facebook likes, the little devices designed for boosting egos. Most of the time, it seemed that the exchange, the gifting back and forth of information and attention, was working well, especially on Twitter, with its knack for prompting conversation between strangers. It felt like a community, a joyful place; a lifeline, in fact, considering how cut off I otherwise was. But as the years went by – 1,000 tweets, 2,000 tweets, 17,400 tweets – I had the growing sense that the rules were changing, that it was becoming harder to achieve real connection, though as a source of information it remained unparalleled.

This period coincided with what felt like a profound shift in internet mores. In the past few years, two things have happened: a dramatic rise in online hostility, and a growing awareness that the lovely sense of privacy engendered by communicating via a computer is a catastrophic illusion. The pressure to appear perfect is greater than ever, while the once‑protective screen no longer reliably separates the domains of the real and the virtual. Increasingly, participants in online spaces have become aware that the unknown audience might at any moment turn on them in a frenzy of shaming and scapegoating.

The atmosphere of surveillance and punishment destroys intimacy by making it unsafe to reveal mistakes and imperfections. My own sense of ease on Twitter diminished rapidly when people began posting photos of strangers they had snapped on public transport, sleeping with their mouths open. Knowing that the internet was becoming a site of shaming eroded the feeling of safety that had once made it seem such a haven for the lonely.

The dissolution of the barrier between the public and the private, the sense of being surveilled and judged, extends far beyond human observers. We are also being watched by the very devices on which we make our broadcasts. As the artist and geographer Trevor Paglen recently said in the art magazine Frieze: “We are at the point (actually, probably long past) where the majority of the world’s images are made by machines for machines.” In this environment of enforced transparency, the equivalent of the Nighthawks diner, almost everything we do, from shopping in a supermarket to posting a photograph on Facebook, is mapped, and the gathered data used to predict, monetise, encourage or inhibit our future actions.

This growing entanglement of the corporate and social, this creeping sense of being tracked by invisible eyes, demands an increasing sophistication about what is said and where. The possibility of virulent judgment and rejection induces precisely the kind of hypervigilance and withdrawal that increases loneliness. With this has come the slowly dawning realisation that our digital traces will long outlive us."



"This space, the future now, is characterised, he believes, by a blurring between individuals and networks. “Your existence is shared and maintained and you don’t have control over all of it.”

But Trecartin feels broadly positive about where our embrace of technology might take us. “It’s obvious,” he said, “that none of this stuff can be controlled, so all we can do is steer and help encourage compassionate usage and hope things accumulate in ways that are good for people and not awful … Maybe I’m being naive about this, but all of these things feel natural. It’s like the way we already work. We’re making things that are already in us.”

The key word here is compassion, but I was also struck by his use of the word natural. Critiques of the technological society often seem possessed by a fear that what is happening is profoundly unnatural, that we are becoming post-human, entering what Turkle has called “the robotic moment”. But Surround Audience felt deeply human; an intensely life-affirming combination of curiosity, hopefulness and fear, full of richly creative strategies for engagement and subversion."



"Somehow, the vulnerability expressed by Laric’s film gave me a sense of hope. Talking to Trecartin, who is only three years younger than me, had felt like encountering someone from a different generation. My own understanding of loneliness relied on a belief in solid, separate selves that he saw as hopelessly outmoded. In his worldview, everyone was perpetually slipping into each other, passing through ceaseless cycles of transformation; no longer separate, but interspersed. Perhaps he was right. We aren’t as solid as we once thought. We are embodied but we are also networks, living on inside machines and in other people’s heads; memories and data streams. We are being watched and we do not have control. We long for contact and it makes us afraid. But as long as we are still capable of feeling and expressing vulnerability, intimacy stands a chance."
2015  olivialaing  loneliness  internet  isolation  urbanism  edwardhopper  online  presentationofself  sherryturkle  behavior  shaming  scapegoating  vulnerability  honesty  conversation  connection  web  socialmedia  facebook  twitter  surveillance  sousveillance  trevorpaglen  brucebenderson  aloneness  technology  future  anxiety  jeancocteau  ryantrecartin  peterschjeldahl  laurencornell  joshkline  frankbenson  art  film  jenniferegan  aurroundaudience  compassion  oliverlaric  intimacy  networks  collectivism  individualism  transformation 
april 2015 by robertogreco
K. Verlag | Press / Books / . 2 Land & Animal & Nonanimal
" … is an ensemble which contends that the meaning of the Anthropocene is less a geological re-formation than it is trans-formation of both land and animal; once exposed to some of the parameters defining this transition, the reader-as-exhibition-viewer may begin to discern erratic rhythms generated by the creatures of nonconformity that inhabit, with their violence, struggles, and love the vast, machinic reality called Earth.

Land & Animal & Nonanimal turns the attention from the built space of cultural repositories to the postnatural landscapes of planet Earth. In his interview about urban soils of the Anthropocene, landscape architect Seth Denizen considers a history of land use practices that is also reflected in artist Robert Zhao Renhui’s photographs of Singapore as a scenario of continuous development. Inspired by a recent visit to the environment of Wendover in the Utah desert, Richard Pell and Lauren Allen of Pittsburgh’s Center for PostNatural History make a case for a postnatural imprint upon the geologic aspects inherent in the concept of the Anthropocene. By encountering "the last snail," environmental historian and philosopher Thom van Dooren considers the meaning of hope and care in the context of species extinction. And while curator Natasha Ginwala’s paginated series with contributions by Bianca Baldi, Arvo Leo, Axel Staschnoy, and Karthik Pandian & Andros Zins-Browne turns to cosmological and ancestral human-animal scenarios, sound artist and researcher Mitchell Akiyama explores philosophies of consciousness against the background of the phonogram in nineteenth-century simian research.

.

Co-edited by Anna-Sophie Springer & Etienne Turpin

Design by Katharina Tauer

Paperback, thread-bound, 160 pages

13 color + 39 black/white images

ISBN 978-0-9939074-1-8 15.99 €

Co-published by K. Verlag and the Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin

Made possible by the Schering Stiftung

Order the book via info@k-verlag.com

+ + 6 for 4: The intercalations box set subscription offer! + +

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Published in January 2015"
anthropocene  books  toread  animals  multispecies  transformation  land  landscape  earth  postnaturalhistory  postnatural  sethdenizen  robertzhaorenhui  richardpell  laurenallen  thomvandooren  natashaginwala  biancabaldi  arvoleo  axelstaschnov  karthikpandian  androszins-browne  mitchellakiyama  consciousness  human-animalrelationships  human-animalrelations  geology  centerforpostnaturalhistory  nonconformity  kverlag  katharinatauer  anna-sophiespringer  etienneturpin  posthumanism 
march 2015 by robertogreco
What Use Is the Future? | Boom: A Journal of California
"California is a set of circumstances that I don’t think can happen again: this weird thing, a place, sort of without history—and “without history” in air quotes here, because our history was erased; it was ripped out by the roots—a place without history, made vastly wealthy then suddenly landed right in the middle of the global cultural discussion and the global economic future, and it has been there for eighty years, arguably more. That, I don’t think, is a thing that can happen again, because there’s nowhere left without history. There’s nowhere left where there’s a fresh start, with “fresh start,” again, in air quotes.

California is, by its very nature, the end of one kind of possibility. We got to the coast and we ran out of frontier. That means that California has stayed the frontier for a very, very, very long time. In fact, the frontier is a thing of our past, everywhere on Earth. You won’t find it in the Arctic or Antarctica or the deepest Amazon or the Sahara. They’re not landscapes of human possibility. They’re simply the most remote places left."



"But failure is not our only future. We might, instead, choose to reinvent ourselves again, to become the people who can reconcile prosperity, sustainability, and dynamism. We could raise our vision to take in the whole state and imagine for it and ourselves new ways of life that fit its realities and our own. Because failing exurbs and potholed freeways, government bankruptcies and climate chaos, eroding clear-cuts, dwindling salmon runs and drought-ravaged crops, a permanent underclass and a massive housing crisis—these aren’t the only way to live. We know enough to know that remaking all of that is at least possible. We could rebuild our cities with lots of new green housing and new transit and infrastructure, run our state on clean energy, remake forestry and farming, and look at water in a more sane way. We might even find a future for the suburbs, because if the twenty-first century has a frontier, it will be, as Bruce Sterling says, in the ruins of the unsustainable. All of these things would make us richer, and done properly they would actually become an export industry, because the whole wealthy world needs to figure out all this stuff, too. So those who figure it out can sell it, and should. We need the scale and speed of change that comes with a boom, and the self-transformation you see unleashed in democratic revolutions.

The practicalities of how we build a bright green state are tough, but even tougher is the cultural question: Who are “we” when we talk about ourselves as a group? The questions of who we are together are thorny and deep-rooted here in California, and we need a new and better answer."
california  future  2015  alexsteffen  jonchristensen  green  sustainability  reinvention  brucesterling  democracy  transformation  change  systems  systemsthinking  history  2115  environmentalism  environment  westcoast  aldoleopold  futurism  culture  society  poverty  inequality 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Textures of the Anthropocene | The MIT Press
"We have entered the Anthropocene era—a geological age of our own making, in which what we have understood to be nature is made by man. We need a new way to understand the dynamics of a new epoch. These volumes offer writings that approach the Anthropocene through the perspectives of grain, vapor, and ray—the particulate, the volatile, and the radiant. The first three volumes—each devoted to one of the three textures—offer a series of paired texts, with contemporary writers responding to historic writings. A fourth volume offers a guide to the project as a whole.

Grain: Granular materials add up to concrete forms; insignificant specks accumulate into complex entities. The texts in this volume narrate some of the fundamental qualities of the granular. In one pairing of texts, Robert Smithson compares the accumulation of thoughts to the aggregation of sediment, and an environmental historian writes about the stakes for earthly knowledge today. Other authors include Alfred Russel Wallace, Denis Diderot, and Georges Bataille.

Vapor: The vaporous represents matter’s transformations. In this volume, a political scientist compares Kafka’s haunting “Odradek” to “vibrant matter”; a media theorist responds to poems and diagrams by Buckminster Fuller; and more, including texts by Hippocrates, Italo Calvino, and James Clerk Maxwell.

Ray: A ray is an act of propagation and diffusion, encompassing a chain of interdependencies between energy and matter. This volume includes texts by Spinoza (with a reconceptualization by a contemporary philosopher), Jacques Lacan (followed by an anthropologist’s reflections on temporality), Thomas Pynchon (accompanied by an interpretation of Pynchon’s “electro-mysticism”), and others.

These volumes constitute a unique experiment in design and composition as well as content. The mingling of texts and the juxtaposition of different areas of knowledge represented in a variety of forms express the dynamics of a world in change."

[See also: “Five Minutes with the editors of Textures of the Anthropocene”
http://mitpress.mit.edu/blog/five-minutes-editors-textures-anthropocene

"How would you like this collection to change our notion of how we relate to the earth?

The world of the Anthropocene exhibits a mundane gravity. The news, the feed, the live stream, the status update, the flow of bits and bytes, the push notifications, our constant information flows, all bearing the quality of finitude, immediacy, and disharmony. Today, planes crash or disappear off the radar, epidemic diseases are merely managed instead of cured, methane gas erupts due to global warming, mud volcanoes are flowing, unstoppable, after drilling accidents, genocidal wars are fought, occupations continue, barbarism abounds, the weather, indeed, is strange, kids, clubbing, dance all weekend high on horse tranquilizers, toxic fluids are shared body between body in the nighttime capitals of Southeast Asia, yoga workshops in California offer Paleolithic snacks, and every Monday it is business-as-usual, back-to-work, as if the nineteenth century never ended. Work, capital, play.

As of tomorrow, we shall need a new art named by its true appellation — gaia scienza — the Science of the Earth. It is rooted in history, but not the “universalist” history we know all too well, with a bulldozing that mercilessly moves forward, seeking a conclusion, making 
a point, arguing a thesis, aiming at synthesis. The gaia scienza searches the creative, the material output of all times, those matters that have contributed to form the history of imagination. Heinrich Heine hit the nail: “all configurations that have previously existed on this earth must yet meet, attract, repulse, kiss, and corrupt each other again.” 
In this cultivated sensitivity for flows and its ruptures, finally, the Anthropocene can rid us of the Enlightenment project, for, as Woodbine put it, “in the Anthropocene, the critical gesture is finished. It’s so liberating [...] everything is to be reinvented.” We can embark on an Aesthetic Project, a practice of anamnesis, of remembering to remember not to forget." ]
anthropocene  books  nature  2015  katrinklingan  ashkansepahvand  christophrosol  berndscherer  grain  vapor  rays  design  bookdesign  buckminsterfuller  italocalvino  spinoza  thomaspynchon  jaqueslacan  jamesclerkmaxwell  odradek  kafka  vibrantmatter  transformation  propogation  diffusion  interdependence  dynamism  hippocrates  robertsmithson  paulklee 
march 2015 by robertogreco
King David - The Atlantic
"Carr loved the technology of storytelling and those who wielded it. He was the only person I could sit with and hash over the technical wizardry of This American Life. If you mentioned a great narrative writer in their element—say Gary Smith profiling Pat Summitt—his eyes would perk up like he’d just seen Carl Lewis mid-sprint and he would say, “Oh, he can go.” He once saw an article on how one might incorporate the tools of poetry into nonfiction. He tore out the article and left it on my desk with a note saying something like, “Still waiting to see some of this in your writing.” Another time he left a copy of The New Yorker on my desk—knowing my interest in hip-hop—with instructions for me to read a deeply reported feature on Tupac’s death. He would bring in writers from Vanity Fair and enlist them to break-down our own stories and explain where we were going wrong and how we could make it right. David wanted us always moving faster, always getting stronger, always reaching higher.

Virtually the entire staff at Washington City Paper was liberal. That included David, but he was deeply skeptical of lefty activism concealed as journalism. David had no interest in objectivity, but he always believed that the truest arguments were reported and best bounded by narrative. Narrative was the elegant Trojan horse out of which the most daring and radical ideas could explode and storm a great city. An 800-word column demanding or rejecting reparations is easily repelled. Clyde Ross isn’t."



"David Carr convinced me that, through the constant and forceful application of principle, a young hopper, a fuck-up, a knucklehead, could bring the heavens, the vast heavens, to their knees. The principle was violent and incessant curiosity represented in the craft of narrative argument. That was the principle and craft I employed in writing The Case for Reparations. That is part of the reason why The George Polk Award, the one with my name on it, belongs to David. But that is not the most significant reason.

It has been said, repeatedly, that David was tireless advocate of writers of color, of writers who were women, and of young writers of all tribes. This is highly unusual. Journalism eats its young. Editors tell young writers that they aren’t good enough to cover their declared interest. Editors introduce errors into the copy of young writers and force them to take the fall. Editors pin young writers under other editors whom they know to be bad at their job. Editors order young writers to cover beats and then shop their jobs behind their backs. Editors decide to fire young writers, and lacking the moral courage to do the deed themselves, send in their underlings. Editors reject pitches from young writers by telling them that they like the idea, but don’t think their byline is famous enough. Editors allow older black editors to tell young black writers that they are not writing black enough. Some of these editors end up working in public relations. Some of them become voting-rights activists. Some of them are hired by universities to have their tenured years subsidized by aspiring young writers.

All of that happened to me. And I know that I am not alone, that I am just the tip of what happens to young writers out there. And I know that even I, who am no longer a young writer, do not always wear my best face for young writers. And among the many things I am taking from David’s death is to be better with young writers, and young people in general. Because every single time some editor shoved me down, David picked me back up. It was David who I called at his home out in Montclair, in 2007, with a story to pitch to this magazine. And I asked him who he knew. And he knew James Bennet. And this is my life. It was David I called after an editor-in-chief called me into his office to tell me I did not have “the fire” to cover housing policy and development, and instead ordered me to write a weekly column on “black men.” It was David who told me that the editor did not know what he was talking about, and it was David who confronted the editor directly.

The Case for Reparations is, before it is anything, a reported story about housing policy and development. It is the story that David was urging me to write 19 years ago. The award belongs to him because I would not be a journalist were it not for him. The award belongs to him because I would not be at The Atlantic if not for him. The award belongs to him because he urged me on for nearly my entire adult life—faster, stronger, higher—and his memory will urge me on for the rest of my natural life."
ta-nehisicoates  davidcarr  2015  storytelling  narrative  journalism  writing  mentoring  transformation  life  living  work  howwewrite  mentorship  relationships 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Rem Koolhaas in the country - Icon Magazine
"Rem Koolhaas thinks that too little attention is paid to the countryside, where change is happening at a faster rate than in most cities. In this illustrated essay, the OMA founder argues that architects need to take stock of a new agricultural revolution"



"Based on these observations, we began realising that there is a totally new condition taking place in the countryside.

Yet practically all our attention goes to the red (urbanised) areas which physically constitute a very small part of the world.

In architecture books we are bombarded with statistics confirming the ubiquity of the urban condition, while the symmetrical question is ignored – what are those moving to the city leaving behind?

The rest, a significantly larger section of the world, falls under neglect and lack of knowledge.

However, it is subject to the same market forces encountered in cities.

You could therefore see the countryside as a place where people are disappearing from. In this void new processes are taking place and new experiments and developments are being made.

At this scale, agriculture is being increasingly submitted to the market economy and now this is the new state, a more digitalised landscape.

This new digital frontier is changing the way we understand even the most far removed environments and they are becoming better known than many parts of the city. There is a software, Helveta, that enables people in the Amazon to identify and track every single tree. Swathes of forest are now carefully inventorised environments and tribesmen are turned into digital infomers.

A colossal new order of rigour is appearing everywhere. A feed lot for cows is organised like the most rigid city and server farms are being hidden in remote forests and deserts – the countryside being the ideal situation for these types of conditions.

Today, a hyper-Cartesian order is being imposed on the countryside, enabling the poeticism and arbitrariness, once associated with it, to now be reserved for cities.

The countryside is now the frontline of transformation. A world formerly dictated by the seasons and the organisation of agriculture is now a toxic mix of genetic experiment, science, industrial nostalgia, seasonal immigration, territorial buying sprees, massive subsidies, incidental inhabitation, tax incentives, investment, political turmoil, in other words more volatile than the most accelerated city.

The countryside is an amalgamation of tendencies that are outside our overview and outside our awareness. Our current obsession with only the city is highly irresponsible because you cannot understand the city without understanding the countryside.

We are now only beginning to increase our understanding of conditions that were previously unexplored – a process to continue further."
remkoolhaas  ruricomp  cities  urban  urbanism  automation  change  2014  rural  economics  transformation  capitalism  production  oma  agriculture  countryside  farming 
september 2014 by robertogreco
The Mudang's Dance - Issue #1 - Compass Cultura
"In a single generation, South Korea has matured from a poor backwater monarchy to a flashy economic powerhouse. In less time than it took the Americans to go from the muscle car to the Prius, the Koreans went from the ox-and-plow to the bullet train. But Korea’s rapid transformation is not without growing pains. Canadian writer and teacher, Gord Sellar, explores the traditions and tendencies in a country whose past looks very little like its future."



"Superficially, it seems like shamanism has all but disappeared in South Korea: jettisoned, like Korea’s traditional music, mythology and so much else of Korea’s indigenous culture. South Korea has developed, at least superficially, into a fully modernized society clad in baseball caps and American blue jeans and red-soled Louboutin knockoffs, sporting 4G smartphones and Louis Vuitton purses, surfing the waves of ubiquitous broadband wifi.

Although cultural time moves more quickly than geological time, all this has happened (relatively speaking) overnight. Just a couple of generations ago the Korean peninsula was essentially a semi-feudal, agrarian monarchy. While Europe tumbled through the shocks of colonial expansion, the Enlightenment, industrialization and the scientific revolution, Korea had remained a land of farmers and scholarly elites who were ruled by a king. Although the government changed in 1905, when Japan annexed the peninsula, in technosocial terms things stayed approximately the same for the majority of Koreans until the mid-1950s or so. The South found itself newly independent, half a country ripped apart by one of the hottest flareups of the Cold War, and bereft of the industrial centers of the North. As a result, the agrarian Southern half of Korea picked itself up off the ground, dusted itself off, and went in search of its fortune.

The best way to understand what followed is to imagine that someone had read Isaac Asimov (Pebble in the Sky, perhaps) and decided that this economic basketcase — poorer at the time than almost anyplace else on Earth — ought to be transformed into a spacefaring empire as rapidly as possible. Somewhere along the way, the stuff about spacefaring empires got forgotten, so Korea just ramped up the “transforming-as-quickly-as-possible” part."



"Europe’s peasant farmers had hundreds of years to adapt to the heady shocks of their already-present, unfurling future; to rework their culture again and again until the notions of democracy, statecraft, rights and freedoms and public discourse had percolated (however watered-down) throughout the various cultures.

In Korea’s case, the spaceship launched in 1963 and it flew much faster, and arrived (in economic terms, at least — the only terms apparently relevant to Park) sometime around 1995 or 1996, disgorging most of the same passengers who’d first boarded it (plus their kids) into an alien world. In less time than it took Americans to go from the first muscle car to the Prius and the Humvee, Koreans went from ox-and-plow to bullet train; from mountaintop signal fires to cell phones and free webmail."



"It seems puzzling that Koreans wouldn’t crave the “literature of change” that science fiction purports to be. After all, every change ongoing in the industrialized world is ongoing in Korea too, often more rapidly and radically. The postwar ideology identifying Korea as a racially-pure, homogenous society is being shattered by increasing numbers of interracial marriages, mixed-race children, and a massive influx of immigrants, so that “multiculturalism” is a major buzzword today. The country’s population is graying at an extraordinary rate, and its economy is bound (precariously) to America’s. Even in the least-disastrous scenario, the question of what to do with a post-collapse North Korea (and its hostile, confused citizenry) looms on the horizon.

Sometimes, I’m frankly dumbfounded by my students’ relationship with the future: most generally seem to imagine it to be essentially like today is, but with neater gadgets. Often, I suggest they’d better think really carefully about that vision, but sometimes, I can’t help but wonder — against my better judgment — whether Korean society simply grasps by means of experience something about social change that we North Americans don’t: maybe when you grow up dancing the mudang’s dance, wearing the ghosts of an alien history so close to your skin, it’s harder to be fazed by the fact that you’ve slid a little farther up the slope of an exponential curve that you aren’t about to abandon anyway."
korea  future  cities  modernization  modernity  speed  transformation  urban  urbanism  parkchung-hee  change 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Against "Innovation" #CNIE2014
[See also: http://steelemaley.net/2014/05/16/philosophers-innovation-and-questioning/ ]

"One culture values openness and collaboration and inquiry and exploration and experimentation. The other has adopted a couple of those terms and sprinkled them throughout its marketing copy, while promising scale and efficiency and cost-savings benefits. One culture values community, and the other reflects a very powerful strain of American individualism — not to mention California exceptionalism — one that touts personal responsibility, self-management, and autonomy."



"As I read Solnit’s diary about the changes the current tech boom is bringing to San Francisco, I can’t help but think about the changes that the current ed-tech boom might also bring to education, to our schools and colleges and universities. To places that have also been, in certain ways, a "refuge for dissidents, queers, pacifists and experimentalists.”

Global ed-tech investment hit a record high this year: $559 million across 103 funding deals in the the first quarter of the year alone. How does that shape or reshape the education landscape?

In the struggle to build “a great hive,” to borrow Solnit’s phrase, that is a civil society and not just a corporate society, we must consider the role that education has played — or is supposed to play — therein, right? What will all this investment bring about? Innovation? To what end?

When we “innovate” education, particularly when we “innovate education” with technology, which direction are we moving it? Which direction and why?

Why, just yesterday, an interview was published with Udacity founder Sebastian Thrun, who’s now moving away from the MOOC hype and the promises he and others once made that MOOCs would “democratize education.” Now he says, and I quote, “If you’re affluent, we can do a much better job with you, we can make magic happen." Screw you, I guess, if you're poor.

I’ve gestured towards things so far in this talk that might tell us a bit about the culture of Silicon Valley, about the ideology of Silicon Valley.

But what is the ideology of “innovation.” The idea pre-dates Silicon Valley to be sure."



"See, as I started to gather my thoughts about this talk, as I thought about the problems with Silicon Valley culture and Silicon Valley ideology, I couldn’t help but choke on this idea of “innovation.”

So I’d like to move now to a critique of “innovation,” urge caution in chasing “innovation,” and poke holes, in particular, in the rhetoric surrounding “innovation.” I’d like to challenge how this word gets wielded by the technology industry and by extension by education technologists.

And I do this, I admit in part, because I grow so weary of the word. “Innovation” the noun, “innovative” the adjective, “innovate” the verb — they’re bandied about all over the place, in press releases and marketing copy, in politicians’ speeches, in business school professors’ promises, in economists’ diagnoses, in administrative initiatives. Um, in the theme of this conference and the name of this organization behind it.

(Awkward.)

What is “innovation”? What do we mean by the term? Who uses it? And how? Where does this concept come from? Where is it taking us?

How is “innovation” deeply ideological and not simply descriptive?"



"The technology innovation insurrection isn’t a political one as much as it is a business one (although surely there are political ramifications of that).

In fact, innovation has been specifically theorized as something that will blunt revolution, or at least that will prevent the collapse of capitalism and the working class revolution that was predicted by Karl Marx.

That's the argument of economist Joseph Schumpeter who argued most famously perhaps in his 1942 book Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy that entrepreneurial innovation was what would sustain the capitalist system — the development of new goods, new companies, new markets that perpetually destroyed the old. He called this constant process of innovation “creative destruction."



"The precise mechanism of the disruption and innovation in Christensen’s theory differs than Schumpeter’s. Schumpeter saw the process of entrepreneurial upheaval as something that was part of capitalism writ large — industries would replace industries. Industries would always and inevitably replace industries.

Schumpeter argued this process of innovation would eventually mean the end of capitalism, albeit by different processes than Marx had predicted. Schumpeter suggested that this constant economic upheaval would eventually cause such a burden that democratic countries would put in place regulations that would impede entrepreneurship. He argued that, in particular, “intellectuals” — namely university professors — would help lead to capitalism’s demise because they would diagnose this turmoil, develop critiques of the upheaval, critiques that would appealing and relevant to those beyond the professorial class.

That the enemy of capitalism in this framework is the intellectual and not the worker explains a great deal about American politics over the past few decades. It probably explains a great deal about the ideology behind a lot of the “disrupting higher education” talk as well."



"“The end of the world as we know it” seems to be a motif in many of the stories that we hear about what “disruptive innovation” will bring us, particularly as we see Christensen’s phrase applied to almost every industry where technology is poised to transform it. The end of the newspaper. The end of the publishing industry. The end of print. The end of RSS. The end of the Post Office. The end of Hollywood. The end of the record album. The end of the record label. The end of the factory. The end of the union. And of course, the end of the university.

The structure to many of these narratives about disruptive innovation is well-known and oft-told, echoed in tales of both a religious and secular sort:

Doom. Suffering. Change. Then paradise."



"Our response to both changing technology and to changing education must involve politics — certainly this is the stage on which businesses already engage, with a fierce and awful lobbying gusto. But see, I worry that we put our faith in “innovation” as a goal in and of itself, we forget this. We confuse “innovation” with “progress” and we confuse “technological progress” with “progress” and we confuse all of that with “progressive politics.” We forget that “innovation" does not give us justice. “Innovation” does not give us equality. “Innovation" does not empower us.

We achieve these things when we build a robust civic society, when we support an engaged citizenry. We achieve these things through organization and collective action. We achieve these things through and with democracy; and we achieve — or we certainly strive to achieve — these things through public education. "
audreywatters  2014  edtech  culture  technology  californianideology  innovation  disruption  highered  highereducation  individualism  google  googleglass  education  schools  learning  ds106  siliconvalley  meritocracy  rebeccasolnit  class  society  poverty  ideology  capitalism  novelty  change  transformation  invention  language  salvation  entrepreneurship  revolution  business  karlmarx  josephschumpeter  johnpatrickleary  claytonchristensen  sustainability  mooc  moocs  markets  destruction  creativedestruction  publiceducation  progress  justice  collectivism  libertarianism 
may 2014 by robertogreco
Michael Rosen: Manifesto for arts education as a democratic practice
"(nb I've posted this before, but I've just been an Arts Award Conference in Newcastle, presented it, and informed people that I would put it up on this blog to save them scribbling notes.)

Advocates for the arts find themselves facing some choices: do we claim the arts can help children achieve and by extension haul the UK up the league tables? Do we claim for them a unique role in pupils' mental and physical well-being? Do we say that the arts offer some kind of aid to school discipline, enlisting children in team-building?

Should we be linking the creative activities at the heart of the arts with active, inventive learning that can and should take place across the core curriculum? Do we say that the arts is an industry and part of the job of education is to train people so they can enter any industry, including the arts? Or should our claim be that old cry of the aesthetes – art for art's sake?

My own view is that the arts are neither superior nor inferior to anything else that goes on in schools. It's just as possible to make arts-focused lessons as weak, oppressive and dull as other subjects. It's just as possible to make those other lessons as enlightening, inventive and exciting as arts work.

The key is in the 'how' – not whether arts education in itself is a good thing but what kinds of approaches can make it worthwhile for pupils. We should think in terms of necessary elements:

'pupils' (or young people in any arts situation) should:

1) have a sense of ownership and control in the process of making and doing,

2) have a sense of possibility, transformation and change – that the process is not closed-ended with predictable, pre-planned outcomes, but that unexpected outcomes or content are possible,

3) feel safe in the process, that no matter what they do, they will not be exposed to ridicule, relentless assessment and testing, fear of being wrong or making errors,

4) feel the process can be individual, co-operative or both, accompanied by supportive and co-operative commentary which is safeguarded and encouraged by teachers/leaders/enablers,

5) feel there is a flow between the arts, and between what used to be called (wrongly) 'high-brow' and 'low-brow' and that these are not boxed off from each other according to old and fictitious boundaries and hierarchies,

6) feel they are working in an environment that welcomes their home cultures, backgrounds, heritages and languages into the process with no superimposed hierarchy,

7) feel that what they are making or doing matters – that the activity has status within the school, club, group and beyond

8) be encouraged and enabled to find audiences for their work whether in the same school, other schools or in the communities beyond the school gate, including digital (blogs, e-safe environments etc),

9) be exposed to the best practice and the best practitioners possible or available in order to see and feel other possibilities,

10) be encouraged to think of the arts as including or involving investigation, invention, discovery, play and co-operation and that these happen both within the actual making and doing but also in the talk, commentary and critical dialogue that goes on around the activity itself."
michaelrosen  education  teaching  learning  arteducation  art  making  doing  control  transformation  change  hierarchies  hierarchy  horizontality  pedagogy  democracy  inversigation  invention  discovery  openstudioproject  lcproject  tcsnmy  play  cooperation  criticism  critique  highbrow  lowbrow  commentary  manifestos  via:mattward  2014 
february 2014 by robertogreco
Educate in resistance: the autonomous Zapatista schools | ROAR Magazine
"Zapatista education crosses wide areas of alternative knowledge and being, and offers a space where collective knowledge is aimed at social transformation.

The first surprise when you get to the Zapatista community of Cintalapa is the contrast between the beauty of the Lacandon Jungle and the Mexican federal army checkpoint, set up outside the ejido.

For the Zapatista children it seems normal that their little bags are reviewed at the checkpoint, or that they are asked questions when they go to the fields with their parents. They have lived through this their entire lives. The adolescent girls seem to be upset that the soldiers look up and down or yell things at them. So the lives of children in the Zapatista territory of tseltales remain full of contradictions.

These are children living between resistance and death, children who attend and together with their parents and siblings build up the autonomous education of the Zapatistas; a form of education based on their own needs and supported by the community through popular assemblies and collective work.

The Zapatista project of autonomy is more than a political and economic proposal for local, municipal and regional self-governance. It constitutes a broad-based social and cultural initiative, of which education is a core element. As a socializing space, the school reproduces culture, practices and discourses; but it can also generate change and resistance, not only in the form of education, but in the subjects themselves, in their forms of community organization and their family relationships.

Although there are differences between municipalities, Zapatista autonomous education is conceived as a university of life. Its objectives and contents arise from the experienced problems, and the possible solutions, through reflection and collective participation."



"The challenge for autonomous education is to turn the community into a classroom and to incorporate a formal system of Tseltal education, where children learn about planting and harvesting seasons, traditional festivals or about the oral tradition, in order to combine schooling with an indigenous upbringing."



"Autonomous education is an opportunity to form a different type of socialization, arising out of different ideas and practices of gender relations and collective identity. As such, it is not limited to the political, social and cultural spheres: it crosses wide areas of alternative knowledge and being. Zapatista schools are places where collective knowledge is aimed at social transformation."
via:caseygollan  2014  resistance  zapatistas  education  schools  autonomy  alternative  knowledge  being  transformation  cityasclassroom  community  communityasclassroom  gender  angélicarico  socialization  identity  collectivism  collectiveidentity  socialtransformation  deschooling  ivanillich 
january 2014 by robertogreco
The New York Review of Science Fiction: Liminal Places and Liminal States in John Crowley’s Little, Big, by Bernadette Lynn Bosky
"Especially over the past fifteen years, the terms “liminal” or “liminality” and “interstitial” have become increasingly popular in discussion of the arts. Some of these discussions, such as the mission statement of the Interstitial Arts Foundation, seem to use the term primarily in terms of work that crosses the borders of, and/or exists in the interstices between, different genres and art forms (also see Gordon 9). The conference on “Liminality in the Humanities” at the University of Utah takes the term a bit further, presenting papers at the borderlands and interstices of various disciplines. However, that conference also uses the term as it will be used in this study. So, even more strongly, does The International Seminar on Liminality and the Text and its associated journal and books published by Gateway Press.

This use of the terms is based on their origins in anthropology, referring to the borders of and spaces between categories much more fundamental than genre or even different arts. Towards the beginning of the last century, anthropologist Arnold van Gennep stated that rites of passage generally have three stages: “preliminal rites (rites of separation), liminal rites (rites of transition), and postliminal rites (rites of incorporation)” (11). In the 1960s and 1970s, Victor Turner expanded and somewhat adapted van Gennep’s work, concentrating on the liminal stage. As summarized by Richard E. Palmer:
Limen in Latin means threshold, and anthropologists like Turner have become interested in a certain state experienced by persons as they pass over the threshold from one stage of life to another. For instance, Turner notes that the rite of passage at puberty has three phases: separation from one’s status as a child . . . , then a liminal stage, and finally reintegration into society as a full and independent member with rites and responsibilities that the initiate did not have before. During the liminal stage, the between stage, one’s status becomes ambiguous, one is “neither here nor there”[;] one is “betwixt and between all fixed points of classification.” (1–2)


Two clear examples of a liminal state in modern Western culture are divorce and, even more so, marital separation. The couple isn’t joined anymore, but they aren’t separate. (Note even the switch from single to plural verb.) Rules from neither state apply; one is betwixt-and-between. Many people find that some others avoid them in such a liminal state, not knowing what to say or do. Another example is graduate school, an often arduous and curiously protracted liminal state. Graduate students aren’t professionals or students, yet they are both. They are expected to be bold as if the professors are colleagues but submissive as if they are only students; they are paid to teach but not paid much. Many of us would have preferred to be locked in a hut and fed only with implements that would be disposed of afterwards, a more common cultural response to such liminal states.

Places as well as times may be liminal. Crossroads are a meeting of two places and hence not fully either one; they are also, like the liminal stage of initiation, a place of possibilities and choices. Thus, it should not surprise us that the liminal figure of a vampire (neither alive nor dead, yet both) may be slain or buried there (see Clements, “Ogre” 39). Within a house, stairs, landings, and hallways are liminal areas—places we pass through, not generally places where people live. Unsurprisingly, landings, hallways, and stairs are among the most popular places for sightings of ghosts (us and not us, not alive or dead). Two even more popular places for ghost sightings are windows and doorways, which are quintessentially liminal, existing purely to separate yet join areas of room vs. room, room vs. hallway, inside vs. outside.

Here a distinction must be made between boundaries and thresholds, but a connection must be made as well. As stated by that quintessentially liminal figure, Hedwig of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, “Ain’t much difference/Between a bridge and a wall.” On the simplest level, that which separates is often also that which joins; one example is the semicolon.

More mythically, one of the goals of ritual is to turn boundaries into thresholds, as when a shaman crosses the barrier between our world and the other world and then personally forms a bridge between them or as a culture hero makes those boundaries less impermeable (Ellis). Roads and paths can be liminal also; they lead from one place to another, joining them, but also help define, for instance, what is safe versus what is not, as in the story “Little Red Riding Hood.” Finally, liminality is also connected to the idea of hybrids—that is, places, people, events, and things that take part in two categories that are thought of as being not only separate, but dichotomous, such as the ghost or vampire.

Note that many processes have a pattern of departure, entry into other realms, and return—Joseph Campbell’s pattern of the hero, for instance, and shamanic initiations. The difference here is that when it is defined as liminal, the middle stage presents not only physical, mental, and/or spiritual danger but also social and epistemological danger, as its very nature challenges the concept of categories of behavior and thought as absolute. In fact, at their most radical, these liminal areas challenge the binary nature of dichotomies that are supposed to be all encompassing: man/woman, human/animal, human/divine, approved/prohibited, life/death. Because it challenges these dichotomies, liminality is a source of great potential, but also at best uncanny and at worst abject.1 Liminal phenomena are taboo, again in the more technical sense—taboo things and processes are hedged with prohibitions, regarded as excluded and dangerous but still having great magic, religious, and/or social power. When William Clements discusses the work that Mary Douglas and Edmund Leach have done in this area, he concludes that liminal things and processes often inspire dread, perhaps because they “invite chaos by revealing the inadequacies of the ordering system that cannot accommodate them” (“Legends” 83). Those who understand the ordering system as inherent in life rather than constructed feel a different fear because then the anomalies become examples in themselves, or at least omens, of catastrophic rupture in the world itself (see Purcell).

Critics have commented on the mixing of genres in Little, Big. Thomas Disch remarks upon its “incredible tightrope act” between realistic human events and magic (159). James Hynes wittily describes the novel as “a long, gorgeously written picaresque family saga, in the last fifty pages of which all the major characters, with one heartbreaking exception, turn into fairies” (1). (Actually, the hint of an abrupt change within the book is vastly unfair: early indications of the presence of fairies may often be baffling to the first-time reader, but they are undeniable.) However, Little, Big is also a liminal book in a deeper, more mythic sense. It is about transitions, which are repeated on multiple scales and on multiple occasions: the turnings of the seasons and of the history of the world, the personal changes of the many characters and the overarching Tale of their final crossing-over from the world of human beings to the world of the fairies. Much of the book is about the peril and potential of these turning points. Boundary-crossings and the interstitial time between the old and the new are reflected in the novel’s nigh-ubiquitous use of liminal places, times, and processes. Characters generally do well or poorly based on their ability to live in, or at least accept, various degrees of conjunction of our world with that of the fairies.

Note that the world of the fairies is not, in itself, liminal. In fantasy, there is the place one gets to by crossing a threshold: the world of fairy, or Oz, or Shangri-La. Then, there is the place or time or condition that is the threshold itself. In most fantasies, the emphasis is on the former, while in Little, Big most of the pages and most of the emotional energy of the novel goes to the latter."



"The turning of the seasons is indicated by social holidays as well as the geophysical solstices and equinoxes. John Storm Drinkwater, writer and liminal figure who can communicate with the world of animals (192), significantly identifies Christmas as a spot out of time: “a kind of day, like no other in the year, that doesn’t seem to succeed the day it follows. . . . Every Christmas seemed to follow immediately after the last one; all the months between don’t figure in” (161). That is, the holiday is a liminal time in the technical sense, just as the period of transition in the ritual entry into adulthood has more in common with all other periods of transition, in such rituals back across the years, than to the initiate’s time before as a child and time after as an adult; and all of these out-of-time experiences are somehow the same time."



"John Crowley states in a 1994 interview, “One of the reasons you write fiction is because you can create your own world. You need that constant sense of possibility. If you don’t have that sense of possibility in your own life, don’t even feel a craving for that kind of possibility and change, it makes it hard to write” (4). Why someone with this opinion would be drawn to fiction with liminal concerns seems clear. First, the liminal state, with its breaking of old associations and even questioning of received categories of thought, is highly creative, perhaps containing the essence of creativity. Moreover, the process of writing a book is in some ways liminal, itself a transformative seclusion: while some worlds may be made immediately, with no pause—“Fiat lux!”—in general, lengthy processes of change and refashioning are essential to the act of creation, … [more]
liminality  liminalspaces  interstitial  johncrowley  bernadettelynnbosky  arnoldvangennep  anthropology  victorturner  richardpalmer  borders  thresholds  inbetween  crossroads  boundaries  josephcampbell  writing  worldbuilding  possibility  change  migration  transformation  trickster  cv  williamclements  marydouglas  edmundleach 
december 2013 by robertogreco
Tomgram: Todd Gitlin, Climate Change as a Business Model | TomDispatch
"Transforming the world is something like winning a war. If the objective is to eliminate a condition like hunger, mass violence, or racial domination, then the institutions and systems of power that produce, defend, and sustain this condition have to be dislodged and defeated. For that, most people have to stop experiencing the condition -- and the enemy that makes it possible -- as abstractions “out there.”

A movement isn’t called that for nothing. It has to move people. It needs lovers, and friends, and allies. It has to generate a cascade of feeling -- moral feeling. The movement’s passion has to become a general passion. And that passion must be focused: the concern that people feel about some large condition “out there” has to find traction closer to home.

Vis-à-vis the slow-motion apocalypse of climate change, there’s plenty of bad news daily and it’s hitting ever closer home, even if you live in the parching Southwest or the burning West, not the Philippines or the Maldive Islands. Until recently, however, it sometimes felt as if the climate movement was spinning its wheels, gaining no traction. But the extraordinary work of Bill McKibben and his collaborators at 350.org, and the movements against the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline and its Canadian equivalent, the Northern Gateway pipeline, have changed the climate-change climate.

Now, the divestment movement, too, becomes a junction point where action in the here-and-now, on local ground, gains momentum toward a grander transformation. These movements are the hinges on which the door to a livable future swings."
toddgitlin  sustainability  2013  climatechange  divestment  investment  harvard  movements  energy  fossilfuels  bigenergy  change  revolution  history  transformation 
november 2013 by robertogreco
"Life is going to present to you a series of... - Noteworthy and Not
"Life is going to present to you a series of transformations. And the point of education should be to transform you. To teach you how to be transformed so you can ride the waves as they come. But today, the point of education is not education. It’s accreditation. The more accreditation you have, the more money you make. That’s the instrumental logic of neoliberalism. And this instrumental logic comes wrapped in an envelope of fear. And my Ivy League, my MIT students are the same. All I feel coming off of my students is fear. That if you slip up in school, if you get one bad grade, if you make one fucking mistake, the great train of wealth will leave you behind. And that’s the logic of accreditation. If you’re at Yale, you’re in the smartest 1% in the world. […] And the brightest students in the world are learning in fear. I feel it rolling off of you in waves. But you can’t learn when you’re afraid. You cannot be transformed when you are afraid."

—Junot Díaz, speaking at Yale
junotdíaz  education  accreditation  credentials  credentialism  2013  neoliberalism  efar  risktaking  risk  learning  transformation  unschooling  deschooling  schooliness 
november 2013 by robertogreco
Brendan Dawes - Erik Spiekermann - I add the sound
"Love how Erik Spiekermann talks about how he can get inspiration from something that already exists, then when he draws it the next day from memory it'll be the same but different."
erikspiekermann  newness  inspiration  2012  memory  transformation  difference  howwework 
july 2012 by robertogreco
Chris Hedges: How to Think - Chris Hedges' Columns - Truthdig
"Cultures that endure carve out a protected space for those who question and challenge national myths. Artists, writers, poets, activists, journalists, philosophers, dancers, musicians, actors, directors and renegades must be tolerated if a culture is to be pulled back from disaster. Members of this intellectual and artistic class, who are usually not welcome in the stultifying halls of academia where mediocrity is triumphant, serve as prophets. They are dismissed, or labeled by the power elites as subversive, because they do not embrace collective self-worship. They force us to confront unexamined assumptions, ones that, if not challenged, lead to destruction. They expose the ruling elites as hollow and corrupt. They articulate the senselessness of a system built on the ideology of endless growth, ceaseless exploitation and constant expansion. They warn us about the poison of careerism and the futility of the search for happiness in the accumulation of wealth. They make us face ourselves, from the bitter reality of slavery and Jim Crow to the genocidal slaughter of Native Americans to the repression of working-class movements to the atrocities carried out in imperial wars to the assault on the ecosystem. They make us unsure of our virtue. They challenge the easy clichés we use to describe the nation—the land of the free, the greatest country on earth, the beacon of liberty—to expose our darkness, crimes and ignorance. They offer the possibility of a life of meaning and the capacity for transformation."
via:tom.hoffman  chrishedges  thinking  culture  2012  transformation  change  meaning  meaningmaking 
july 2012 by robertogreco
Atlas of Transformation
"Atlas of Transformation is a book with almost 900 pages. It is a sort of global guidebook of transformation processes. With structured entries, its goal is to create a tool for the intellectual grasping of the processes of social and political change in countries that call themselves "countries of transformation" or are described by this term. The Atlas of Transformation was first published in Czech and it contains more than 200 "entries" and key terms of transformation. Several dozen authors (more than 100) from the whole world contributed to this book and also some influential period texts were republished here."
toread  exhibition  guidebooks  socialtransformation  socialchange  politicalchange  czech  process  transformation  gamechanging  change  mapping  maps  atlas  books 
april 2012 by robertogreco
raumlabor berlin
"yes we do love the great ideas of the 60s 70s & the optimism which is inherent in changing the world at the stroke of a pen to the better. but we strongly believe that complexity is real & good & our society today does need a more substantial approach. therefore our spacial proposals are small scale & deeply rooted in the local condition…. BYE BYE UTOPIA!"

"There was once a society that believed the future would bring better living conditions to everyone. There were people, utopian thinkers, who thought about the big questions of the city. Today only a feeling remains, half desire, half melancholy, reminiscing of those architects who wanted to live in a better society and who had dreamed of better places. Such an era is now over. Here begins my work.

raumlaborberlin is a network, a collective of 8 trained architects who have come together in a collaborative work-structure. We work at the intersection of architecture, city planning, art and urban intervention…"
crossdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  interdisciplinary  interdisciplinarity  activism  history  transformation  experimentalarchitecture  experimental  adaptability  change  adaptation  dynamic  masterplanning  meaningmaking  place  research-baseddesign  urbaninterventions  complexity  urbanplanning  cityplanning  collaboration  cities  architects  art  design  urbanism  urban  architecture  berlin  raumlabor  local  small 
april 2012 by robertogreco
The Studio-X NY Guide to Liberating New Forms of Conversation - Reading Room - Domus
"Studio-X is a multifunction outpost of Columbia University's Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation in lower Manhattan. Alternately a studio space for several of GSAPP's research groups (including C-Lab, Netlab, Living Architecture Lab and Urban Landscape Lab), exhibition space, and events venue, Studio-X's flexible programming makes it a uniquely unpredictable site where architectural and urban thinkers interact with a curious public. Now exporting its model to other cities around the world where GSAPP has a presence, including Rio de Janeiro, Beijing, and Amman, Studio-X marks its first publication with The Studio-X NY Guide to Liberating New Forms of Conversation. José Esparza talked to the book's editor and Studio-X NY's former programming director Gavin Browning, as well as Glen Cummings and Aliza Dzik of New York design firm MTWTF, who designed the book."
process  competition  hierarchy  typologies  transformation  documentation  tabularasa  blankslate  studio-xny  craigbuckley  markwigley  danielperlin  innovation  creativity  rapidresonse  multidisciplinary  mixed-use  classroomdesign  informality  informal  workshops  studios  schooldesign  learningspaces  glvo  openstudio  columbia  nyc  studio-x  glencummings  gavinbrowning  design  adaptability  flexibility  adaptivespaces  lcproject  interdisciplinary  books  domus  architecture 
january 2012 by robertogreco
dConstruct2011 videos: The Transformers, Kars Alfrink
"In this talk, Kars Alfrink – founder and principal designer at applied pervasive games studio Hubbub – explores ways we might use games to alleviate some of the problems wilful social self-seperation can lead to. Kars looks at how people sometimes deliberately choose to live apart, even though they share the same living spaces. He discusses the ways new digital tools and the overlapping media landscape have made society more volatile. But rather than to call for a decrease in their use, Kars argues we need more, but different uses of these new tools. More playful uses."

[See also: http://2011.dconstruct.org/conference/kars-alfrink AND http://speakerdeck.com/u/dconstruct/p/the-transformers-by-kars-alfrink ]

"Kars looks at how game culture and play shape the urban fabric, how we might design systems that improve people’s capacity to do so, and how you yourself, through play, can transform the city you call home."
monocultures  rulespace  self-governance  gamification  filterbubble  scale  tinkering  urbanism  urban  simulationfever  animalcrossing  simulation  ludology  proceduralrhetoric  ianbogost  resilience  societalresilience  division  belonging  rioting  looting  socialconventions  situationist  playfulness  rules  civildisobedience  separation  socialseparation  nationality  fiction  dconstruct2011  dconstruct  identity  cities  chinamieville  design  space  place  play  gaming  games  volatility  hubbub  howbuildingslearn  adaptability  adaptivereuse  architecture  transformation  gentrification  society  2011  riots  janejacobs  karsalfrink  simulations 
december 2011 by robertogreco
America Deserta Revisited: Detroit - Architecture - Domus [Part of a series on US cities: http://www.domusweb.it/en/search/author/?filtro=Tom%20Keeley ]
'We Hope For Better Things; It Shall Rise From the Ashes'…the city motto coined in 1805, but still so apt. I really hope it can…someone said to me that what's happening in Detroit isn't new, it isn't terrifying…isn't the apocalypse. They said that it's happened to cities all over the world throughout history, and will happen again. It's true to say places come back from the brink, but maybe it's to do with a big change in the way we think about cities, and the way we use them, rather than thinking about getting them back to the way they once were. Detroit is never going to be the city it was, and I don't think it should be; but it could run a different race, be a different proposition. This city in turmoil has seen big ideas come before, and as the oil continues to flow away, maybe it could be a model for a more intelligent urbanism? I can't think of a more fitting location for a city that truly understands its environment, scars and all, & responds to it with a new purpose."
detroit  cities  decline  2011  tomkeeley  change  transformation  urbanism  urban  renewal 
september 2011 by robertogreco
Detroit: The Death of Manhattanism - Op-Ed - Domus
"As far as the similarities from one urban circumstance to another, there is a case to be made for the emergence of a global typology and the slow transformation of American cities toward a global model. White flight, the demographic phenomenon that defined American cities in the 2nd half of the twentieth century, is finally unwinding itself. Witness the rise of the "hipster," which is really just a polite and racially sublimated way of talking about white culture as urban culture. Alongside this, we are witnessing the rise of the black and immigrant suburbs. American cities are moving in the direction of operating more like European and South American cities. The latter part of the twentieth century in this country was an anomaly compared to global urban and suburban development, and that historical moment is over."
detroit  brooklyn  berlin  cities  mitchmcewen  urban  hipsterism  globalcities  transformation  hipsters  gentrification  us  urbanism  2011  suburbs  innercities  diversity  segregation  nola  neworleans 
august 2011 by robertogreco
The Messiness of “With” | Rush the Iceberg
"Education is not a “I learned from” concept; rather, it is a “I learned with” concept.
“From” is clean.“With” is messy.

“From” is binary.“With” is human.
“From” is instant.“With” takes time.
“From” is passive.“With” is active.
“From” is singular.“With” is together.
“From” is shallow.“With” is deep.
“From” is informative.“With” is transformative.
Do you interact WITH your students the same way you tweet?

Which word describes your pedagogy in the classroom and tweets on Twitter?"
stephendavis  with  and  thisandthat  nuance  teaching  learning  conversation  from  messiness  education  collaboration  collaborative  depthoverbreadth  transformation  behavior  howwework  human  time  slow 
august 2011 by robertogreco
Business Innovation Factory | Participatory Design Studio
"What if we put students in the driver's seat of a new kind of R&D to transform education? One that provided a platform for engaging students more fully in a real world effort that also involves faculty, education administrators and other system players? Could we improve a student's education experience? Yes. Could we take it a step further and transform education itself? Yes.

The Business Innovation Factory's participatory design studio gives students the opportunity to use real-world research and design methodologies to transform their student experience. Framed within the context of a real problem, the lab leads students through the design process, ultimately landing on a set of solutions to improve their experience."

[See also: http://businessinnovationfactory.com/projects/sxl ]
businessinnovationfactory  via:monikahardy  lcproject  learning  innovation  education  transformation  realworld  research  design  problemsolving  apprenticeships  student-centered  studentdirected  tcsnmy  bigpictureschools  projectbasedlearning  unschooling  deschooling  pbl 
august 2011 by robertogreco
Wicked (1) - Charlie's Diary
"…our biggest challenges are no longer technological. They are issues of communication, coordination, & cooperation. These are, for the most part, well-studied problems that are not wicked. The methodologies that solve them need to be scaled up from the small-group settings where they currently work well, & injected into the DNA of our society…They then can be used to tackle the wicked problems.

What we need…is a Facebook for collaborative decision-making: an app built to compensate for the most egregious cognitive biases & behaviours that derail us when we get together to think in groups. Decision-support, stakeholder analysis, bias filtering, collaborative scratch-pads &, most importantly, mechanisms to extract commitments to action from those that use these tools. I have zero interest in yet another open-source copy of a commercial application or yet another Tetris game for Android. But a Wikipedia's worth of work on this stuff could transform the world."
technology  politics  psychology  philosophy  public  problemsolving  wicketproblems  society  facebook  google+  decisionmaking  collaboration  communication  coordination  cooperation  gamechanging  karlschroeder  charliestross  wikipedia  transformation  worldchanging  2011 
august 2011 by robertogreco
From Precarity to Precariousness and Back Again | Brett Neilson and Ned Rossiter | Variant 25
"The ongoing tussle between those who cast the creative worker as the precarious labourer par excellence and those who assign this role to the undocumented migrant is one symptom of this divide. Such a debate is certainly worth having, but it also misses the point: that being, to alter the circumstances in which capital meets life. All too often the precarity struggle revolves about the proposition life is work. But the challenge is not to reaffirm the productivism implicit in this realisation but rather to take it as the basis for another life – a life in which contingency and instability are no longer experienced as threats. A life in which, as Goethe wrote in Faust II, many millions can “dwell without security but active and free”."
florianschneider  brettneilson  nedrossiter  leisurearts  work  labor  uncertainty  flexibility  transformation  communication  insecurity  expression  networks  freedom  life  artleisure 
june 2011 by robertogreco
miscellany · When you inherit a language, it does not mean you...
"When you inherit a language, it does not mean you are totally in it or you are passively programmed by it. To inherit means to be able to, of course, appropriate this language, to transform it, to select something. Heritage is not something you are given as a whole. It is something that calls for interpretations, selections, reactions, response and responsibility. When you take your responsibility as an heir, you are not simply subjected to the heritage, you are not called to simply conserve or keep this heritage as it is, intact. You have to make it live and survive, and that is a process - a selective and interpretive process."

—Jacques Derrida
jacquesderrida  language  culture  remixing  appropriation  transformation  livinglaanguage  meaning  meaningmaking  unfinished  remixculture 
june 2011 by robertogreco
Most liveable city: Helsinki [Monocle]
"Helsinki claims the number 1 spot in Monocle’s 2011 Quality of Life survey, which ranks the top 25 cities in the world to call home. Rising from fifth position in 2010, Helsinki outperformed Zürich at number 2 and Copenhagen at number 3 to claim the mantle as the world’s most liveable city. An unorthodox but well-deserving champion, the Finnish capital stands out for its fundamental courage to rethink its urban ambitions, and for possessing the talent, ideas and guts to pull it off."
helsinki  cities  monocle  2011  finland  urban  urbanplanning  urbanism  small  local  scale  design  glvo  parks  art  business  collectives  simplicity  slowness  appropriation  life  food  development  livability  transformation 
june 2011 by robertogreco
X-skool: Not so much a finishing school — more a starting over again school.
"Most design and architecture schools, and design firms, contain one or two people who are ready to make a fundamental transition to a new kind of design – one that creates social value without destroying natural and human assets.

Xskool is for them. For you.

Xskool is the germ of an idea: a professional development programme for mid-career designers, architects and design professors. The idea is to equip you with the ideas, skills and connections you need to help your organization change course and engage with the restorative economy that is now emerging.

Participants in Xskool will ideally be sponsored; the idea is to transform design organizations and communities, not just the individual. Xskool is not another sustainable design course."
xskool  johnthackara  design  education  schools  business  sustainability  unschooling  deschooling  lcproject  tcsnmy  socialvalue  society  altgdp  economics  restorativeeconomy  transformation  gamechanging  2011  place  land  perception  presence  diversity  method  solidarity  value 
june 2011 by robertogreco
Op-Ed: Sticks and Stones; Ai Weiwei and the Uses of Architecture | Features | Archinect
"…new form does have the potential to enable new social relationships. If we, as architects, didn't believe that built space could change lives, we wouldn't do what we do. The students whose bones were broken in Sichuan certainly had their lives changed by architecture…It is not enough to merely say that CCTV is an office building for government censors, & Bird's Nest is a giant political distraction, Rem & Herzog were wrong, & that all building in China is wrong. Just as it is equally unproductive to simply reproduce the press releases for the latest spectacular cultural institution to be completed or proposed in China , w/out caveat or disclaimer: this state jails artists. "Stunningly Omnipresent Masters Make Mincemeat of Memory". Architecture is large enough to be both radical social transformer & retrograde political instrument, if we're willing to talk about it. These things must be the beginning terms in a larger conversation about architecture in China, & in the world.
fredscharmen  architecture  aiweiwei  china  2011  press  journalism  remkoolhaas  herzogdemeuron  change  transformation  activism  society 
may 2011 by robertogreco
Liminality - Wikipedia [See also the section on "Liminal experiences in large-scale societies]
"Liminality is a psychological, neurological, or metaphysical subjective state, conscious or unconscious, of being on the "threshold" of or between two different existential planes, as defined in neurological psychology (a "liminal state") and in the anthropological theories of ritual by such writers as Arnold van Gennep and Victor Turner.

As developed by van Gennep (& later Turner), the term is used to “refer to in-between situations and conditions that are characterized by the dislocation of established structures, the reversal of hierarchies, and uncertainty regarding the continuity of tradition and future outcomes”. Although initially developed as a means to analyze the middle stage in ritual passages, it is “now considered by some to be a master concept in the social and political sciences writ large”. In this sense, it is very useful when studying “events or situations that involve the dissolution of order, but which are also formative of institutions and structures.”"
psychology  politics  theory  neurology  metaphysics  threshold  thresholds  ideas  victorturner  via:steelemaley  change  transformation  disruption  hierarchy  reversal  dislocation  establishment  disestablishment 
april 2011 by robertogreco
Shadows Bright As Glass: When Brain Injuries Transform Into Art : NPR
"Jon Sarkin was working as a chiropractor when he suffered a massive stroke. Afterwards, the 35-year-old became a volatile visual artist with a ferocious need to create, as his brain tried to make sense of the world at large.

"[My artwork is] a manifestation of what happened to me," Sarkin tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "I've learned how to visually represent my existential dilemma caused by my stroke."

Sarkin is the subject of Shadows Bright as Glass, a new book by science writer Amy Nutt. The book describes Sarkin's journey from happy-go-lucky doctor to manically-compulsive artist. It also raises larger questions about identity and what makes us each who we are.

"Is it memory? Is it emotion? Is it cognition? Is it personality?" asks Nutt. "I think all of those things play a part in Jon's story.""
art  books  medicine  neurology  npr  freshair  jonsarkin  amyellisnutt  stroke  creativity  linearity  streamofconsciousness  flow  transformation  relationships  linear 
april 2011 by robertogreco
EAFIT presenta libro Medellín, Medio Ambiente, Urbanismo, Sociedad
"El texto, una visión de la realidad reciente, mostrará las transformaciones y las políticas públicas hechas en el Valle de Aburrá en los últimos 15 años."
colombia  medellin  books  environment  urban  urbanism  via:javierarbona  society  transformation  medellín 
april 2011 by robertogreco
Mongolian Diptychs Tell of Profound Change: A Yin and Sim Chi Yin Talk About His Work - NYTimes.com
"A Yin is documenting his home province of Inner Mongolia. He is a self-taught anthropologist-photographer who has made it his mission to record the last of the nomads there. The phenomenal changes he captures tell the broader story of China’s transformation. A Yin was cited by the National Geographic All Roads Film Project in 2007. Sim Chi Yin, a photographer and writer based in Beijing, interviewed A Yin for Lens. Their conversation has been translated from Mandarin."
photography  mongolia  culture  asia  china  urban  rural  tradition  clothing  fashion  urbanism  society  transformation  migration  nomads  nomadism  identity  innermongolia  lifestyle 
december 2010 by robertogreco
YouTube - Deep Roots; An Ideal Preserved
"Short documentary on Deep Springs College in Inyo Valley, CA. An Academy of Integrated Media project that embodies the American character."

[Also at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v01LKW1EshU ]
deepspringscollege  education  colleges  universities  self-governance  omnicompetence  learning  failure  schools  empowerment  tcsnmy  california  alternative  alternativeeducation  purpose  urgency  transformation 
september 2010 by robertogreco
YouTube - Metamorphosis of the Cube
"The Metamorphosis of the Cube is a video envisioned and created by Erik Demaine, Martin Demaine, Anna Lubiw, Joseph O'Rourke, and Irena Pashchenko. It appears in a refereed video collection, the 8th Annual Video Review of Computational Geometry, associated with the 15th Annual ACM Symposium on Computational Geometry (SoCG'99)"
geometry  math  mathematics  cubes  transformation  folding 
august 2010 by robertogreco
Shikshantar - The Peoples' Institute for Rethinking Education and Development
"Shikshantar is an applied research institute dedicated to catalyzing radical systemic transformation of education in order to facilitate Swaraj-development throughout India."
alternativeeducation  education  india  learning  deschooling  activism  development  dialogue  organizations  research  unschooling  lcproject  factoryschools  tcsnmy  transformation  gamechanging  ivanillich  johnholt  kenrobinson  johntaylorgatto  schools  schooling  schooliness  paulofreire  dialog 
august 2010 by robertogreco
Charles Leadbeater: Education innovation in the slums | Video on TED.com
"Charles Leadbeater went looking for radical new forms of education -- and found them in the slums of Rio and Kibera, where some of the world's poorest kids are finding transformative new ways to learn. And this informal, disruptive new kind of school, he says, is what all schools need to become."
charlesleadbeater  demos  education  future  innovation  pedagogy  poverty  learning  ted  technology  slums  unschooling  deschooling  tcsnmy  riodejaneiro  brasil  kibera  kenya  informal  informallearning  disruptive  lcproject  futureoflearning  finland  leapfrogging  compulsory  india  development  transformation  newdelhi  sugatamitra  holeinthewall  socialentrepreneurship  literacy  pull  push  engagement  belohorizonte  sãopaulo  mobile  phones  cities  urban  hightechhigh  outdoctrination  brazil 
july 2010 by robertogreco
How to deal with poverty in schools « Re-educate
"Perhaps that’s one way to define wealth: the ability to choose from many options. In this way, our schools are suffering from a poverty that is much more profound than just a lack of money. Our schools—teachers & students—are suffering from a staggering lack of options...a profound absence of the possibility of anything interesting happening."
pscs  pugetsoundcommunityschool  tcsnmy  small  transformation  lcproject  cv  schools  education  poverty  options  wealth  change  gamechanging  deschooling  optimism  stevemiranda  choices  teaching  scale 
june 2010 by robertogreco
An exercise in empathy « Snarkmarket
"thing I have done since 7/8th grade, at least, & still do all the time today.

It goes like this:

Sitting in any space with other people—a classroom, a city bus, even a big wide-open park—I’ll sometimes let my mind wander and imagine the space from someone else’s vantage point. It’s as simple as that. No deep emotional imagination involved; it’s really just visual.

But the important thing is that I am included in the transformed scene. Doodling on a legal pad, hunched into a laptop, reading a book, whatever. The core of the exercise, I think, is that you see yourself as just another person in the space—an opaque bag of bones—instead of as, you know, the movie camera. The privileged POV.

Does that make any sense? It’s stuck with me as a habit, I suppose, because it’s so simple. This isn’t level 12 meditation. It’s just a little flip, a little dose of visual imagination. But I always find it entirely transporting. And it tends to put me in my place.

Anybody else ever do this?"
empathy  meditation  transformation  robinsloan  totry  ego  pointofview  pov  perspective  thoughtexcercises  tcsnmy  imagination  snarkmarket 
june 2010 by robertogreco
Sir Ken Robinson: Bring on the learning revolution! | Video on TED.com
"In this poignant, funny follow-up to his fabled 2006 talk, Sir Ken Robinson makes the case for a radical shift from standardized schools to personalized learning -- creating conditions where kids' natural talents can flourish."
kenrobinson  children  2010  learning  revolution  education  creativity  ted  future  teaching  schools  standardization  personalization  unschooling  deschooling  lcproject  tcsnmy  gamechanging  human  experience  life  wisdom  gettingon  sufferingthrough  waitingfortheweekend  reform  startingover  evolution  evolutionarychange  revolutionarychange  change  innovation  transformation  commonsense  tyrannyofcommonsense 
may 2010 by robertogreco
Spatial History Project: Chile's Aquaculture Industry 1950-2000
"Recognizing that it is difficult to ameliorate environmental problems without understanding their connections to associated social changes, we aim to research the complex feedback loops that connect environmental and social change in the salmon-farming industry of southern Chile. We propose to map and analyze the social transformations brought about by comparing the region before and after the advent of salmon-farming using methodologies from both the humanities and social sciences. Data will be gathered through both quantitative and qualitative surveys, archival research, and collaborations with ongoing research in Chile."
chile  environment  fishing  research  water  time  history  transformation  salmon  salmon-farming  data 
april 2010 by robertogreco
Praxis (process) - Wikipedia
"Praxis is used by educators to describe a recurring passage through a cyclical process of experiential learning, such as the cycle described and popularised by David A. Kolb.[1]

Paulo Freire defines praxis in Pedagogy of the Oppressed as "reflection and action upon the world in order to transform it." Through praxis, oppressed people can acquire a critical awareness of their own condition, and, with their allies, struggle for liberation.[2]

In the BBC television documentary "New Order: Play At Home", Factory Records owner Tony Wilson describes praxis as "doing something, and then only afterwards, finding out why you did it"."

[via: http://generalpraxis.blogspot.com/]
praxis  paulofreire  pedagogy  experientiallearning  cycles  learning  education  davidkolb  reflection  transformation  liberation  play  do  doing 
february 2010 by robertogreco
The Good-Morrow - Educational Research and News - More on BSF...Spending or Investment? What do you Think?
"Having spent a dozen years or so selling 'cutting edge' ICT tools and systems into schools, being very successful in the job of telling schools what to do and how to do it, I felt so much a fraud that a year ago I chose to spend some time back in the classroom after 25 years. I have managed to visit around 40 schools in four LA areas as a Supply Teacher in that time, and the result of my Action Research is that I have not found a SINGLE school that shows ANY evidence of using technology to transform teaching and learning. Not a single one - and that includes a whole number of so-called Specialist Colleges. I think there are some good things going on, because I have been told so by some schools in the past - or are they as good at the sales patter as Neil's shiny-suited salesman?"
education  learning  elearning  k-12  technology  tcsnmy  value  transformation 
february 2010 by robertogreco
Robin writes a book (and you get a copy) » The Moving Monks, a mysterious package, and a contribution to the commons — Kickstarter
"What's an interesting remix opportunity for the text and illustrations from a short book, in part or in whole? Not just redistribution—that's easy—but something transformative. Any examples you can think of? Any new ideas—things you'd like to see?" [see comments]
creativecommons  copyright  remixin  books  writing  robinsloan  transformation  corydoctorow  publishing 
october 2009 by robertogreco
Weblogg-ed » “Tinkering Toward Utopia”
""Schlechty refers to past efforts at reform as "tinkering toward utopia" and says that if we continue to introduce change at the edges, we'll continue to spin our wheels. He says that schools are made up primarily of two types of systems, operating systems and social systems, and makes the point that up to now, most efforts to improve schools have centered on changing the former, not the latter.""
change  reform  schools  education  society  learning  willrichardson  leadership  innovation  technology  transformation  disruption  utopia  resilience  unschooling  deschooling  tcsnmy  lcproject 
july 2009 by robertogreco
Snarkmarket: Towards A Theory of Secondary Literacy
"impact of radio, television & telephone weren’t going to be solely or even primarily on more & more speech, but, for technical or cultural or who-knows-exactly-what reasons, on writing! We didn’t give up writing - we put it in our pockets, took it outside, blended it w/ sound, pictures, video, sent it over radio waves so we could “talk” to our friends in real-time. & we used those same radio waves to download books & newspapers & everything else to our screens so we would have something to talk about. This is the thing about literacy today, that needs above all not to be misunderstood. Both people who say that reading/writing have declined & that reading/writing are stronger than ever are right & wrong. It’s not a return to the word, unchanged. It’s a literacy transformed by existence of electronic media that it initially has nothing in common with. It’s also transformed by all textual forms - mail, newspaper, book, bulletin board, etc. It’s not purely one thing or another."
literacy  media  newmedia  secondaryliteracy  snarkmarket  writing  reading  speech  tcsnmy  change  transformation  evolution  aggregation 
july 2009 by robertogreco
Personal Transformations in the Internet Age - Boing Boing
"What I do wonder about, however, is how will personal transformations be achieved in this era of persistent and vivid reference points from the past? I see these transformations as an integral and necessary part of going through life, a part of creating new selves as one matures, learns, and acquires new life experiences. What tools and practices will we develop to shed the old reference points as a part of such transformations? In other words, what is the new equivalent of the old shoebox or cobwebbed attic in the Internet era?"
change  psychology  internet  history  culture  time  maturation  identity  self  transformation  forgetting  memory  technology 
july 2009 by robertogreco
The Miracle Transformation Falacy - OLPC News
"There is a second fallacy, which is also very important, which we might call the miracle transformation fallacy -- i.e., the notion that, if we could get little green laptops into children's hands, it would miraculously transform their lives. This fallacy falls within an approach known as "media determinism," the notion that a particular media or technology will automatically have a certain effect no matter what context it is deployed in. However, a long history of experience with all media indicates that they are heavily influenced by the context of their use."
education  olpc  literacy  technology  transformation  ict  context 
june 2009 by robertogreco
MichaelMoore.com : Goodbye, GM ...by Michael Moore
"But you and I and the rest of America now own a car company! I know, I know -- who on earth wants to run a car company? Who among us wants $50 billion of our tax dollars thrown down the rat hole of still trying to save GM? Let's be clear about this: The only way to save GM is to kill GM. Saving our precious industrial infrastructure, though, is another matter and must be a top priority. If we allow the shutting down and tearing down of our auto plants, we will sorely wish we still had them when we realize that those factories could have built the alternative energy systems we now desperately need. And when we realize that the best way to transport ourselves is on light rail and bullet trains and cleaner buses, how will we do this if we've allowed our industrial capacity and its skilled workforce to disappear?"
gm  michaelmoore  detroit  economics  recession  bankruptcy  cleanenergy  retoolinggm  us  future  energy  oil  generalmotors  environment  transportation  trains  industry  transformation  gamechanging 
june 2009 by robertogreco
Raph’s Website » The perfect geek age?
"Was being born in 1971 the perfect time to be born a geek? ... [long list of examples here] ... Looking back on it, it makes me feel a bit sorry for those born ten years later. And I can’t judge ten years earlier, but so much of that seemed to hit at the right age. Looking back at history, it seems like the last big waves of popular invention like this were decades ago. Teens with hot rods? Engineering in the 20s? I see my kids now, and they are so clearly getting the finished products of so much, not the products in the process of invention… Am I wrong?"
1971  cv  history  childhood  transformation  videogames  dungeonsanddragons  libraries  internet  web  online  wikipedia  computers  programming  geek  via:blackbeltjones  raphkoster  mac  education  learning  culture  popculture  gamechanging  flux  google  sciencefiction  futureshock  starwars  comics 
may 2009 by robertogreco
This rarely kills That outright « Adam Greenfield’s Speedbird
"The important thing is this: the grandeur always lives at the top of the stack. Right now, it’s vested in “social media,” just as it was in blogging ten (!) years ago, in television forty years ago and in newspapers sixty years before that. What each new media technology does do is knock away one or more of the social and economic props on which the success (and ultimately, the viability) of other channels in its layer depend. With the introduction and mass adoption of anything new, those channels move further down the stack. They become less central to the production of consensus culture, more a niche proposition, almost certainly less glamorous. But if a given way of doing things offers something that no other mediating technology can - whether for reasons of exceedingly low cost, low barriers to entry, or robust simplicity - it will never disappear entirely."
adamgreenfield  print  newspapers  victorhugo  technology  media  writing  death  evolution  change  television  tv  radio  socialmedia  future  knowledge  transformation 
february 2009 by robertogreco
Progress is continuous by nature
"In his excellent blog post Convergent Evolution and Multiple Discovery, Peter Turney wrote: "(…) a close study of the history of any particular technology invariably shows a series of small, incremental developments. The apparent jumps are an illusion, caused by the way technology is adopted." To express it differently, apparent jumps forward are social effects. If you ever become part of history as an innovator, it will not be because of your superior ideas, but because you were at the center of a social phenomenon. Be humble."
technology  change  society  gamechanging  ideas  evolution  heliocentrism  science  culture  transformation  progress  creativity  innovation  networks 
january 2009 by robertogreco
YouTube - Moebius Transformations Revealed
"A short film depicting the beauty of Moebius Transformations in mathematics. The movie shows how moving to a higher dimension can make the transformations easier to understand."
math  video  geometry  visualization  transformation  science  graphs  graphics  animation 
september 2007 by robertogreco
PingMag - Transformable Architecture [Chuck Hoberman]
On the way to his current exhibit at the Kitakyushu Innovation Gallery, the inventor made a quick stop in Tokyo for an impressive presentation at, you guessed it, Pecha Kucha. PingMag wanted to know all about transformable architecture!
design  architecture  engineering  toys  transformation  geometry  kinetic  origami  sculpture  chuckhoberman  pingmag 
july 2007 by robertogreco
Peripheral Landscapes
"In three great urban expansion zones in Mexico City, Arquitectura 911sc goes in search of a way in which formal and informal can complement each other."
informal  design  construction  cities  urban  growth  urbanism  formal  architecture  mexico  mexicodf  df  population  transformation  mexicocity 
june 2007 by robertogreco

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