FWD: August

This is the first of the FWD series, which summarizes hand picked content I find elsewhere on the web and would like to share with you.

 from the In the Shadow of Progress a picture show on the GOOD website.

The stark reality of this moment in time is that many people are losing their jobs, their homes, and their ways of life. Yet amid what can seem like ceaseless news of loss, there are those who refuse to surrender hope. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Tent City, a temporary encampment below a freeway in Nashville, Tennessee, where hard-pressed and otherwise homeless strangers have come together to form a community.

– see the entire picture show on GOOD

From the harsh reality of Tent Cities we move to how the instruments with which we engage these problems are changing. In his piece The End to Movements on arthurmag.com(via Burak Arikan) Douglas Rushkoff poses a theory that the phenomenon of ‘movements’ as a means of civil activism has reached its limits. (Also check out the recent interview with Ruskhkoff and Kurt Andersen on Design Observer)

(…) Between the 1960s and today, however, the mediaspace through which these causes disseminated ideas and gained momentum has changed. The best techniques for galvanizing a movement have long been co-opted and surpassed by public relations and advertising firms. Whether a movement is real or Astroturf has become almost impossible for even discerning viewers to figure out. The question often becomes the new content of the Sunday morning news panel, taking the place of whatever real issue might have been addressed.

But the problem is not simply that we’ve lost the ability to distinguish between real movements and cynically concocted fake ones. It’s that they are functionally indistinguishable. They may as well be the same thing. (…)

– Douglas Rushkoff

Rushkoff argues that clinging on and promoting ideals or brands disconnects us from the real. “(…) by creating and branding a movement, even the most well-meaning activitsts are disconnecting from terra firma, and instead entering the world of marketing, public opinion, and language selection.

Besides bringing culture, and the search for meaning back down to earth, also money needs to be connected again to more earthly matters, argues Woody Tasch, author of the new book Slow Money: Investing as if Food, Farms and Fertility Mattered and founder of the burgeoning Slow Money Alliance,

The topic on hand: How to bring money back down to earth. Literally. How to slow money down from its dizzying (and destructive) speed where all it takes is seconds for “collateral” to get parsed into pieces, distributed as “debt” that no one is responsible for, or understands where it actually ends up. The world of finance has been like playing a high-priced game of “Musical Chairs”—with no chairs. And in this world, there is no place that’s “here.” Investing is perplexingly abstract and has little to do with place or relationships. Externalized this way, few grasp the implications of financial dislocation, of a financial system where money is nomadic and wanders un-rooted—until, as we’ve witnessed with the meltdown, the game ends abruptly and we’ve all landed on our butts wondering where the chairs went.

– continue reading on Track Changes

Not everyone appreciates the ‘slowing down’ propaganda. Previously we promoted Michael Pollan the writer of The Omnivores Dilemma. Blake Hurst wrote the article The Omnivore’s Delusion: Against the Agri-intellectuals
being fed up with the farmer bashing and a one-sided view on industrial farming. “Farming has always been messy and painful, and bloody and dirty. It still is. This is something the critics of industrial farming never seem to understand.” Make up your own mind and read the article at The American.

During summer some of us had the chance to read some of the classics, Jason King read Learning from Las Vegas and reflects on the relevance of the book today. When we go beyond cities being shaped by the automobile, we should take a look at $20 Per Gallon: How The Inevitable Rise in the Price of Oil Will change Our Lives For the Better. Read the review by Jebediah Reed on The Infrastructurist. Finally, if you’re still doubting if you should buy Volume 20 on Storytelling, check out Regine Debatty’s review on WMMNA

From the NL Architects blog: “A long time fantasy: cad drawing in a game arcade: drafting with a joy stick. Now finally Master Gen seems to have succeeded in hooking up a game console to drafting software…”

To wrap up this first FWD, i’d like to shine a light on architecture/design practices who are blogging! It’s great to see architects and designers sharing their inspiration, office pictures, how project evolve on site and of course the occasional promoting of their own lectures and exhibitions. Take a look at the blogs of JAJA Architects, JDS and Bruce Mau Design. But in a category all in its own is NL Architects, where Kamiel Klaasse is personally running the blog and writing original posts, with gritty mobile phone pics, real world inspiration and the occasional office fun. Love it!