Tag Archives: narrative

value of nature


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?

moar Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under ideas, Uncategorized

arts & crafts revisited


***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…

Continue reading


Filed under conversation, enterprise, ideas

el vampiro and intuition

in august i spent a couple of days in nyc, in search of conversations and connection. this post is a bit delayed, but such is the nature of being what tom calls pathologically busy. it was really fantastic to touchbase with friends and colleagues, old and new, and flow into the local velocity, and belated thanks is due to those who put up with my questions over lunch or dinner (thx scott, john, elena, baker!). nyc is one of the few places where i feel like the pace of the external environment is matched with what’s going on inside. it would more likely than not make me bonkers to stay for any extended length, but refreshing in short spurts.

i dropped by eyebeam research lab during their open studio hours and chatted with a few of the residents and fellows about what they’re up to. i highly recommend pinging them if you’re in the neighbourhood on tuesday afternoons. it’s a fantastic space, with really incredible people who are fully engaged in their work and totally open about what they want to do. amazing.

michael dila, a fellow overlapper and perpetual troublemaker, was also in the big apple that week and was kind enough to organize an nyc overlap meetup, as serendipity encouraged all those little ducks to line up. an awesome conversation with michael, dave walczyk, paul pangaro, vic lombardi and manuel toscano ensued – somewhat raucous and always inspiring.

conversation eventually turned to innovation, creativity, imagination, the strengthening relationship between business and design practice, and passion. what fuels these things? where do they come from, and what conditions encourage and cultivate them? a recurring conversation that i hope to continue having.

the gem in this conversation was this. to some degree, we are all guided by intuition, the immediate, somewhat difficult to communicate compass that shapes our behaviour in more ways than we perhaps are conscious of.

intuition is tacit knowing – it is an unmediated process of pattern recognition and a reconciliation of complexity (internal/external, systems, ideas, histories, etc, etc) that influence future perceptions and actions.

it is direct, instinctive, perceptive – a form of knowledge that can be fiendishly difficult to communicate or validate because of its resistance to analytical metrics or quantitative definitions. which i think emphasizes its importance in how we construct and share knowledge and ideas – we engage in multi-layered communication of which we’re only partly conscious, and our intuition picks up the subtleties as an unending flow of incoming signals, some strong, and some weak.

our discussion was fuelled by vampiros, the house specialty of a little place called paladar, on ludlow south of houston. perfect for fiesty conversations and exuberant autumn evenings.

el vampiro

  • tequila
  • hibiscus flower  nectar (bought at health food stores, fresh or brewed as tea from the dried flowers)
  • ground chili
  • salt

mix tequila and nectar, in proportion to evening’s intent.

rim  glass with mixture of chili and salt


Leave a comment

Filed under adventure, conversation, ideas

the re-emergence of the guild, pt one


over the past while i’ve been brushing up on my history of craft for a course i’m teaching in september, and i keep coming back to an idea that first emerged back in the winter. i’m glad it wasn’t lost, and regret that it’s only now i’m getting to it ‘cos i think it might be neat. i’d love to know what you think.

a broad swath of the tech-and-media-enabled communities that we see and participate in today demonstrate patterns that relate quite strongly to various guild systems of the past, collecting, controlling and propagating both codified and experiential knowledge to direct members and indirect affiliates.

more after the jump…

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under ideas

Open Cities Registration Begins!

super exciting day! open cities registration begins!!

Open Cities came out of observations and conversations about issues that affect many of us, slowly growing into a desire to think about the kinds of questions and possibilities around what ‘open’ means and what it enables. A big kudos to Mark Kuznicki, who first looped me into the conversation. The passionate people/participants/citizens organizing Open Cities hope to facilitate

a weekend-long web of conversation and celebration that asks: how do we collaboratively add more open to the urban landscape we share? What happens when people working on open source, public space, open content, mash up art, and open business work together? How do we make Toronto a magnet for people playing with the open meme?”

Open Cities is premised around an unconference format – participant driven with sessions unscheduled til the day of. Open Cities aspires to be the first of many, locally and internationally. If you are interested in participating, the only caveat is that both feet must be in the conversation. As well, we expect spaces to fill up rather quickly so please go and sign up asap! And huge thanks to the Centre for Social Innovation and Fort York for their generous sponsorship! And some amazing preliminary press from BoingBoing (thx cory!) and BlogTO

Pass it along. Post it! Ping it! Pay it forward!

  • 23 June 9am-6pm: Open Cities unconference, Centre for Social Innovation, 215 Spadina
  • 23 June 6pm-9pm: Open Cities BBQ, Fort York
  • 24 June 12pm-7pm: PS Kensington/Open Cities Collaboration, Kensington Mkt

ps- i didn’t think i’d make it to Open Cities due to a scheduling conflict, but things have cleared up. :)

1 Comment

Filed under adventure, conversation, ideas, toronto

for alicia

from last night’s dinner. we had this with honeyed leek and sweet potato strips and arugula salad with pears and almonds, and alicia brought over a nice shiraz (errasuriz). we followed our gluttony with fresh mint tea.

cedar-roasted salmon

  • 1 lg salmon filet (enough for 2 people)
  • mashed garlic and ginger
  • diced leeks
  • olive oil
  • lime juice
  • spices: cumin, fennel seed, salt, pepper, cayenne
  • 2 cedar sheets (enough to wrap or cover filet), soaked

preheat oven to 400C. rinse and pat filet dry. rub down with garlic and ginger. rub in spices. sprinkle leeks. drizzle with lime juice and olive oil. let marinate for 20+ minutes at room temperature. place one cedar sheet on baking sheet, position salmon, add 2nd sheet and make a little cedar sandwich. roast for 30 minutes, or until done. enjoy! (i like this method because the salmon stays extremely moist and light, like poaching without the hassle, and enough crispy roasty goodness to change up the texture a bit)

more after the jump

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under adventure, conversation, ideas, toronto

kctos and vienna in december!

good news this week!

an abstract proposal i submitted was accepted!! Tacit Knowledge Creation in Knowledge-Based Hybrid Communites will be presented at the biannual INST conference, held in Vienna this December. This year’s them is Knowledge, Creativity and Transformations of Societies, and the section where my paper will be presented is Knowledge Production, Cultural Discourse and Media.

so what’s it all about? i’m looking at the way hybrid communitiesform and develop. a hybrid community is one where the people involved encourage literacy, mobility and intent along a digitally mediated continuum –  from non-digital to digital technologies – to cultivate and create contexts for new forms of knowledge and exchange. tacit knowledge is the subjective stuff of experience and expectation, our implicit lens that to some extent frames the nature of our position, relationships, communities, beliefs and values, intents and narratives. how do new technologies, new behaviours and new tensions/opportunities in the space of digital and non-digital presence create bridges for tacit knowledge?

there’s tie-ins here to benkler’s wealth of networks – where he discusses the values and motivations of digitally enhanced (hybrid) communities, as well as henry jenkins and the idea of transmedia literacy – where content is distributed across various platforms and contextualized according to the constraints and desires of those involved. also drawing upon danah boyd’s recent research on social networking among young americans (thanks to david crow for the heads up regarding danah’s recent work), and a slew of real world examples.

i’ll be posting sections and ideas as they’re written for feedback and comments over the summer! see you soon!

1 Comment

Filed under adventure, conversation, ideas