Tag Archives: history

value of nature

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from henri lefebvre, the production of space, 1974; 1991

[...] natural space is disappearing. granted, natural space was – and it remains – the common point of departure: the origin, and original model, of the social process. granted, too, that natural space has not vanished purely and simply from the scene. it is still in the background of the picture; as decor, and as more than decor, it persists everywhere, and every natural detail, every natural object is valued even more as it takes on symbolic weight (the most insignificant animal, trees, grass and so on).

as source and resource, nature obsesses us, as do childhood and spontaneity, via the filter of memory. everyone wants to protect and save nature; nobody wants to stand in the way of attempting to retrieve its authenticity. yet at the same time everyone conspires to harm it. the fact is that natural space will soon be lost to view. anyone so inclined may look over their shoulder and see it sinking below the horizon behind us. nature is also becoming lost to thought. [...] even the powerful myth of nature is being transformed into a mere fiction, a negative utopia: nature is now seen as merely the raw material out of which the productive forces of a variety of social systems have forged their particular spaces.

i was lucky enough to grow up in the niagara peninsula (well, really an isthmus), a fertile microclimate in southern ontario famous for tender fruit, vineyards and the rusting remains of a once-thriving auto industry. historically inhabited by first nations and then settled by the united empire loyalists and the site of the war of 1812, the niagara region birthed 4 incarnations of the welland canal, is one of only two regions in canada that can produce grapes and peaches, and the home of the spectacular niagara falls. it has always been valuable for it’s natural resources and political geography, .

why lucky?

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what i learned from the arts & crafts movement

241598686_dd3ae61ab8_o.jpgphoto by 3blindmice

from my post from last week, and some really inspiring conversations since, these are some of my thoughts and a bit of rationale of the connections that’ve been flitting thru my head over the past few months…

  • people are happier when they have control over the nature and outcome of what their goals, as well as the process in which they can work. the desire to make is innate – we desire to be heard and to leave a trace of our voice, in materials, events, systems, etc, and i think we strive for integrity in our tone of voice.
  • objects/services that represent the values and integrity (or the brand, if you will) of the maker have a stronger attraction and potential for engagement.
  • objects that retain traces of those who made them speak not only of the context in which the thing was made, but also create a sort of relational continuity with the maker*. our perception of objects and their social systems is intersubjective, and the flavour added here becomes personal and human, providing space for social practice, creating narrative and future legacies.

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arts & crafts revisited

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***update below***

a few weeks ago i gave a talk on the arts & crafts movement that emerged during the latter part of victorian britain, from roughly 1860 to 1900, and i was taken with the similarities between now and then, in relation to the changes and/or transformation our culture has undergone over the past twenty years or so; and i think i’m still in teacher-mode, so this is a bit of a long post. while the circumstances and contexts are very different, there are arguable parallels in the nature of how people responded. lately i find myself more and more fascinated by the past incidents of massive change, thinking about what insights into the future can be gained by looking back.

bit of history…. originating a few centuries prior with the printing press, the industrial revolution took hold in the early 1800’s with the advent of mechanized innovations in the textile industry, and the mechanization of labour quickly spread to other industries and spurred the production of goods towards extraordinary volumes, creating a greater need for regulated tradeways (rail, road, canal, etc) and urban development. mass production of goods was rampant, newly established factories hired workforces in the thousands, and a new middle class of entrepreneurs and nouveau riche emerged.

by mid-century, the industrial revolution was reaching the crest of its first wave, transforming every aspect of british culture while it gained strength as a global empire. it’s critical to remember that these changes were happening for the first time ever, accelerating human life into the modern age at a pace that barely allowed time to gain vantage on the present before hurtling into the future, all the while changing the expectations of what that future might hold.

more after the jump…

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