Sunday, October 7, 2012

Slow News Summary: Autumn 2012

Happy (Canadian) Thanksgiving!

I'm switching to a seasonal schedule for the slow news summaries, to give me more time for other projects. If you'd like more frequent updates, you might want to check out the Slow Weekly on - although it's difficult to set that up so that it catches all the relevant news without having a lot of peripheral material.

These might be my favourite slow design seen in photos from London Design Festival: orphaned drawers in new chests of salvaged plywood by Rupert Blanchard (via Inhabitat), which were shown in his studio space in the Shoreditch Design Triangle. He also has photos of fascinating furniture made from a patchwork of damaged wooden packaging crates on his blog.

On Slow Design, Slow Home, and Eco-Products:
  • LifeEdited drew our attention to Saul Griffith's "Heirloom Design" philosophy, whose principles are interchangeable with slow design (except perhaps in that locavorism isn't an explicit requirement, although sustainability is).
  • My new favourite blog Slow It Down explored the fleeting pleasures of street art with examples of the scenes in Bristol, England and Melbourne, Australia. (Locally it is chronicled on the Foundmonton tumblr. I've found a few pieces of graffiti near my home on a stretch of abandoned road, but the bored teenagers tagging crumbling asphalt in my suburban neighborhood need to seriously up their game if they ever want to be considered street artists.)
  • Treehugger put together a great, up-to-date explanation of how to lower your home's carbon footprint without breaking the bank.
  • Laura from Simple Design wrote about the interior decor trends she's still not over - several of which I'd argue have achieved classic status. (Me? I'll never be over ikat.)
  • LifeEdited shared the story of McMansions being used as an intentional communities, artists' colonies, and cohousing space - and mused about how sprawling Victorian homes turned into apartments during the Great Depression are a model for the repurposing and right-sizing of huge modern homes.
  • An indoor hydroponic system that's an Ikea hack? I remember when the only people who talked hydroponics were, ahem, weed enthusiasts. This is a different sort of beast, coming from a fusion of permaculture and slow design principles, with one of the stated goals being to allow consumers to themselves become makers and designers.
  • Assemble Papers explored the slow-design ethos of furniture designer Daniel Barbera.
  • The London Design Festival showcased lots of sustainable and flat-pack design this year, but what interested me most were the handmade pieces and the ones designed using slow principles. I've already shown you Rupert Blanchard's work above. Chile's Bravo! showed their beautiful furniture at Tent London, made of copper and native wood species using "rescued local carpentry traditions". Roland Hunt showed stools made of recycled paper and hand-carved resin-coated logs at Designersblock. Naomi Paul showed her gorgeous hand-crocheted Omi Pendant lamps (the photos of the 'Gluck' shape make me weak-kneed). Breaded Escalope showed their Love Me Bender project, which turns creating steam-bent additions to broken mass-market chairs into performance art. English designers also played with the Anglepoise lamp form: Degross Design & Innovation created one from a discarded amber glass jug, while Jason Lloyd Fletcher used salvaged furniture parts for the lamp that was part of his Third Generation Furniture collection (I'm also loving his Genevieve chair woven from upcycled leather belts, which is so much better-executed than 99% of the belt-recycling projects I've noticed on Pinterest).
Jason Lloyd Fletcher's Genevieve chair and stool with marble top. Beautiful work! 
On Slow Fashion:

I'm coveting State's reconstructed smocks. Found via I Am The Lab.

On Slow Food:
  • Here in Edmonton, the draft Food and Agriculture strategy has been released, with only an 8-day comment period (to comment online go here before Monday!) which promises to be followed by a raucous public meeting fuelled in part by a war of words between opposing groups and the emerging public interest in food security and urban agriculture. Those in the know are complaining about how rushed the process has been (possibly as a result of behind-the-scenes pressure from developers), how generic and watered-down the resulting 'toolkit' feels, and how little of the comments provided at various points by local experts have actually been incorporated. Those local experts who were part of the consultation process are not allowed to discuss it publicly. Certainly the report looks to me like very much like what was presented at the Food & Ag conference at the start of summer, which leaves the impression that the consultants were not really listening to the feedback from attendees. (I'll understand if those of you not in Edmonton want to mute my twitter feed until after October 26th - I'll also be doing a lot of retweeting in my role with The Local Good).
  • I'm also a bit obsessed right now with the idea of public urban orchard projects like the ones in London, Chicago, and even Calgary (I wonder how Ralph Klein would have felt about his name being attached to an urban agriculture project?).
  • Also upcoming in Edmonton: Food Secure Canada's annual conference.
  • Slow Money in Canada:

It's canning season, and Treehugger shared some brilliant vintage posters promoting food preservation. This one is part of the Preserve series by illustrator Carter Housh, which also included images of Uncle Sam rolling up his sleeves in the kitchen.

On Slow Travel:
On Sustainability: 

George Lakey penned a thought-provoking post for Yes! Magazine on why consumer choices aren't enough to address the bigger issue of climate change, which makes a slightly uncomfortable read about how the sociology of different socioeconomic groups are being wielded by the wealthy and the petroleum industry to maintain the status quo. Read in combination with this post about design thinking (which I found via Treehugger), it'll make you think hard about the narratives behind products, and how best to make a better world. 

On Slow Living and Slow Work:
  • My brilliant twitter friend Stacey has a little permaculture side project going on, that started with a passion for plants, a few fallen trees from a hurricane, and a willingness to dive in and learn on the fly. I've been thinking a lot about that approach to creativity lately - which this post calls "the creative power of the outsider" - maybe because as an over-educated ex-scientist I have an outsider's approach to the worlds of design and fine craft. Or maybe because I share Stacey's impulse to jump in with both feet and immerse myself in a subject. Or maybe both. Of course it has its drawbacks, like a steeper learning curve or not doing things in the most efficient way. However, the reward can be enormous. The most interesting work in any field emerges at the intersections between disciplines, where people with differing perspectives collaborate.
  • The case for spending more on less.
  • Why schools should help students find their passion.
  • A back-to-school kids' clothes and books swap held at a local school? What a lovely idea.
  • Turn off your smart phone and live in the moment.
  • London's RSA hosted a panel discussion on October 4th entitled The Slow Revolution - click through to the link to download an audio file.
  • Shareable on why sharing on a neighborhood scale is a tough sell, and how using tribes as the basis for sharing communities could sidestep those issues.
  • GOOD explained bokashi composting and gave some tips I've not seen before. That reminds me, I need to figure out where my bokashi setup got packed when we moved (oops).
  • I kind of love what New Dawn Traders are doing. Check out the Guardian's explanation from February of their inaugural slow-food-by-slow-cargo voyage, then go browse their blog. Their goals also include supporting and revitalizing the traditional skillsets of the age of sail, and treating each port-of-call as a pop-up opportunity to promote the ideas of the slow movement. How can anyone not want to run away to sea with them?
  • Stop overscheduling yourself and your children.
  • Brooke from Slow Your Home (who is writing a novel *and* an e-book! Go Brooke!) suggested trying single-tasking instead of multitasking, wrote about finding your passion through experimentation, and made a wonderful list of 21 quick ways to simplify that makes a brilliant supplement to her bootcamp posts.
  • Here's a book on slow democracy. What will we attach that adjective to next?
  • Shedworking drew our attention to a brilliant article on how the London Olympics have catalyzed a conversation about presenteeism versus working from home. Meanwhile Treehugger reported on a trade-show talk exploring the future of workspace design, which is leaning toward the creation of flexible team-use or co-working spaces given trends in technology, homeworking, and employees who need to be present at their clients' offices instead of their own.
  • Is it practical to switch back to not answering emails during our off hours?
  • David McCann wrote the terrific "Work Slower, Produce More?" about results-only work environments from a managerial perspective for CFO. The comments largely miss the point, which brings home to me that a lot of organizations are not remotely ready for the way disruptive technologies will change the nature of office work.

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