robertogreco + small   245

Are.na Blog / Reimagining Privacy Online Through A Spectrum of Intimacy
“Our privacy and intimacy metaphors:

The town hall is a digital gathering place that is the most public, somewhat like Twitter. This is where we shout our thoughts or share things we don’t mind thousands of people seeing. The town hall is a public square for speaking loudly and deliberately. Your thoughts can spread virally; They will be heard, amplified and sometimes misinterpreted.

The park bench is semi-public. It’s like walking down the street and engaging in conversation with a coworker or friend, or having a discussion on the tube or in a pub—is a space where anyone can have a conversation between two or a few people, but that conversation takes place in public. Those in the conversation can control who hears it by lowering their voice or walking to a less populated area. This setting is like Facebook: the content you put on Facebook cannot be accessed outside of Facebook, unlike Twitter, Sina Weibo, and others. This little bit of friction creates a higher level of intimacy than the town square, and the result is that it feels slightly more private. Depending upon a user’s settings, content or conversations can be accessed only by people on Facebook (quite a large amount), only by a user’s friends, or only by their friends’ friends.

The next metaphor, the living room, highlights a shift into the “privacy” end of the spectrum, with the town hall and park bench being “public” entities. It’s semi-private, but can also host large groups and conversations that are designed to be public, private, or in-between. This setting allows for more intimacy because it allows for a smaller group. This design functions much like a salon or a group gathered for lively debate. The living room is a metaphor for a closed Facebook group or a WhatsApp chat group.

The loo is most the private of the intimacy metaphors, and the most intimate place for conversations and activities. This is like a private DM or a text message between one or two friends or family members. It is a space to share your thoughts. Secrets are welcomed, and comfortably kept. One can also think of this metaphor as the “bedroom,” an equally intimate space where only a few people are invited in.

**

Our metaphors will not work as a literal guidepost for solving every problem within digital conversations, but we offer these as provocations for looking at how the form and design of a space creates the affordances and functions in that space.

[image: "Install shot of the Tate museum’s Higher Resolution exhibition by Hyphen Labs and Caroline Sinders."]

To start creating solutions for online harassment, tracking, and targeting in social networks, and to create better protections for users online, communication apps and online technology need to think of privacy not just as a security protocol, but as an intimate setting—and something that is already an organic part of our lives. This privacy needs to be designed into how conversations unfold. In practice, this could mean better privacy filters to create small and large groups easily, the ability to turn off comments or replies, the ability to easily share posts or content with a handful of people, and security protocols that protect user’s data and online behavior.  

We need town halls, park benches, living rooms, and loos online in every platform and every piece of technology that hosts social interactions.”
carolinesinders  are.na  harrassment  ai  intimacy  privacy  technology  small  slow  online  internet  web  socialmedia  interaction  interactiondesign  socialnetworking  socialnetworks  communication  conversation  hyphen-labs  michellecortese  andreazeller 
7 days ago by robertogreco
Poem: Small Kindnesses - The New York Times
"By Danusha Laméris
Selected by Naomi Shihab Nye
Sept. 19, 2019

Sometimes a poem just strikes a precise moment. “Small Kindnesses,” by Danusha Laméris, feels utterly necessary for our time — a poem celebrating minor, automatic graciousness within a community, which can shine a penetrating light. It’s a catalog of small encouragements, unfolding as might a child’s palm filled with shiny stones. It almost feels like another hope we remember having. Acknowledging the modern plight of autonomy and so many separations, the poem then easily passes through them, breezing compliments and simple care. Selected by Naomi Shihab Nye

Small Kindnesses
By Danusha Laméris

I’ve been thinking about the way, when you walk
down a crowded aisle, people pull in their legs
to let you by. Or how strangers still say “bless you”
when someone sneezes, a leftover
from the Bubonic plague. “Don’t die,” we are saying.
And sometimes, when you spill lemons
from your grocery bag, someone else will help you
pick them up. Mostly, we don’t want to harm each other.
We want to be handed our cup of coffee hot,
and to say thank you to the person handing it. To smile
at them and for them to smile back. For the waitress
to call us honey when she sets down the bowl of clam chowder,
and for the driver in the red pick-up truck to let us pass.
We have so little of each other, now. So far
from tribe and fire. Only these brief moments of exchange.
What if they are the true dwelling of the holy, these
fleeting temples we make together when we say, “Here,
have my seat,” “Go ahead — you first,” “I like your hat.”"
danushalaméris  naomishihabnye  small  poems  poetry  kindness  2019  community  graciousness  grace  care  caring  noticing  attention  connections  connectedness 
8 weeks ago by robertogreco
The OA Is Really Canceled—Despite the Hard Work of Fans—And Brit Marling Has a Message | E! News
[original text here:
https://twitter.com/britmarling/status/1165013288532332544
https://www.instagram.com/p/B1hKgS9pUZG/ ]

“To the fans of The OA—

We’re humbled, to be honest floored, by the outpouring of support for The OA. We’ve seen beautiful artwork in eulogy from Japan, France, Brazil. We’ve read moving threads and essays. And we’ve watched dozens and dozens of videos of people all over the world performing the movements with what can only be called perfect feeling. One young person from a wheelchair, another young woman standing astride two horses, a mother in her backyard with her two children at her side and an infant strapped to her back. (link in bio to a site with many of these videos someone has thoughtfully compiled)

Your words and images move us deeply. Not because the show must continue, but because for some people its unexpected cancelation begs larger questions about the role of storytelling and its fate inside late capitalism’s push toward consolidation and economies of scale.

The work you’ve made and shared has also just been very heartening inside our increasingly complex and often bleak time. The more news I take in of the world, the more I often feel terrifyingly certain that we are on the brink of moral and ecological collapse. Sometimes I feel paralyzed by the forces we are up against—greed, fear, vanity. And I can’t help but long for someone to rescue us from ourselves—a politician, an outlaw, a tech baron, an angel. Someone who might take our hand, as if taking the hand of an errant toddler, and gently guide us away from the lunatic precipice that the “logic” of profit unguided by the compass of feeling has brought us to.

Of course, my desire to lie in wait for a hero is nothing new. Nor is the anesthetizing comfort that brings. These concepts were birthed and encouraged by centuries of narrative precedent. We’ve been conditioned to wait.

Almost every story we’ve ever watched, read, been told, held sacred is framed in a single structural form: the hero’s journey. The hero’s journey is one man with one goal who goes up against increasing obstacles to win his objective and return to his people with the wisdom needed for all to move forward, to “progress.” This story has played out from Homer’s Odyssey in 8th century BC to every reiteration of the Star Wars franchise. It sallies forth lately with anti-heroes like the beloved Tony Soprano (who, even while doing what we all know to be wrong, is still a hero and the perfect one for late capitalism).

I have loved many of these stories and their heroes. I dressed up as She-Ra “princess of power,” He-Man’s bustier-clad, sword-wielding twin sister for more Halloweens then I care to admit. I have played roles in films where I have been the hero holding the gun and it certainly felt better than playing the female victim at the other end of the barrel. So it’s no surprise that as we face what seem to be increasingly insurmountable obstacles, we scan the horizon for the hero who will come for us. According to the stories we tell it will most likely be a hot man. And he will most likely be wearing brightly colored spandex and exceedingly rich.

But the more I think on this, the more it seems bat-shit crazy. No one is coming to the rescue. We have to save each other. Every day, in small and great ways.

So perhaps, at this late hour inside the dire circumstances of climate change and an ever-widening gap between the Haves and Have-Nots, we are hundreds of years overdue new mythologies that reflect this. Stories with modes of power outside violence and domination. Stories with goals for human agency outside conquest and colonization. Stories that illustrate the power of collective protagonism, or do away with protagonism entirely to illustrate how real, lasting change often occurs—ordinary people, often outsiders, often marginalized—anonymously organizing, working together, achieving small feats one day at a time that eventually form movement.

Steve, BBA, Buck, Jesse, French, Homer, Hap and OA are no longer authoring the story. Neither are Zal or I. You all are. You are standing on street corners in the hot sun in protest. You are meeting new people in strange recesses online and sharing stories about loss and renewal that you never thought you’d tell anyone. You are learning choreography and moving in ways you haven’t dared moved before. All of it is uncomfortable. All of it is agitation. All of it is worth something.

Many of you have expressed your gratitude for this story and for Zal and I and everyone who worked on The OA. But it is all of us who are grateful to you. You’ve broken the mold of storytelling. You’re building something far more beautiful than we did because it’s in real time in real life with real people. It’s rhizomatic—constantly redefining the collective aim as it grows. It’s elliptical—it has no beginning and no real end. And it certainly has no single hero. The show doesn’t need to continue for this feeling to.

The other day Zal and I pulled over to offer a bottle of water and food to a young woman who has been protesting the cancelation of the show on a street corning in Hollywood. As we were leaving she said “you know, what I’m really protesting is late capitalism.” And then she said something that I haven’t been able to forget since: “Algorithms aren’t as smart as we are. They cannot account for love.”

Her words. Not mine. And the story keeps going inside them.”

[See also: https://ew.com/tv/2019/08/24/brit-marling-the-oa-cancelation-fan-hunger-strike/ ]
theoa  britmarling  heroes  latecapitalism  capitalism  storytelling  herosjourney  collectivism  protest  love  solidarity  mutualaid  mythology  protagonism  protagonists  collaboration  humanagenct  conquest  colonization  violence  domination  movements  activism  organizing  wisdom  progress  greed  vanity  climatechange  2019  economics  consolidation  economiesofscale  small  decentralization  hierarchy  form  homer  theodyssey  tonysoprano  thesopranos  power  inequality  fear 
12 weeks ago by robertogreco
Going Home with Wendell Berry | The New Yorker
[via: https://twitter.com/annegalloway/status/1150867868696772608 ]

[Too much to quote, so here’s what Anne quoted:]

“Lancie Clippinger said to me, and he was very serious, that a man oughtn’t to milk but about twenty-five cows, because if he keeps to that number, he’ll see them every day. If he milks more than that, he’ll do the work but never see the cows! The number will vary from person to person, I think, but Lancie’s experience had told him something important.”
via:anne  wendellberry  rural  slow  small  empathy  kindness  georgesaunders  relationships  neighbors  amish  care  caring  maintenance  human-animalrelations  human-animalrelationships  culture  farming  agriculture  local  locality  place  trees  history  multispecies  morethanhuman  language  restorativejustice  justice  climatejustice  socialjustice  johnlukacs  environment  sustainability  kentucky  land  immigration  labor  work  gender  ownership  collectivism  conversation  lancieclippinger  god  faith  religion  christianity  submission  amandapetrusich  individualism  stewardship  limits  constraints  memory  robertburns  kafka  capitalism  corporations  life  living  provincialism  seamusheaney  patrickkavanagh  animals  cows  freedom  limitlessness  choice  happiness  davidkline  thomasmerton  service  maurytilleen  crops  us  donaldtrump  adlaistevenson  ezrataftbenson  politics  conservation  robertfrost  pleasure  writing  andycatlett  howwewrite  education  nature  adhd  wonder  schools  schooling  experience  experientiallearning  place-based  hereandnow  presence 
july 2019 by robertogreco
Sarah Marshall on Twitter: "I think a lot abt how boomers are alarmed by what they see as millennial inactivity--our rented rooms, lack of purchases, houseplant children--& how their lives were often abt doing BIG things for their BIG careers w/o thinking
“I think a lot abt how boomers are alarmed by what they see as millennial inactivity–our rented rooms, lack of purchases, houseplant children--& how their lives were often abt doing BIG things for their BIG careers w/o thinking abt the consequences. We live in the consequences.

It’s like swooping through a big buffet, loading your plate, and then wondering why ppl in the next group are just eating rolls? And trying to take rolls out to the parking lot to give to the people out there who can’t get into the buffet? What’s happening??

And you, with your tummy full of chicken a la king, go through a range of emotions. Should I question the idea that I could take as much as I want because I thought there would always be plenty? Should I accept that there were things I didn’t understand then?

I’ve also been thinking a lot, lately, about how hostility often arises when we feel our vulnerability. The ego tenses to protect us from self-insight. & at the boomer/millennial buffet it appears as: why are you being such a self-righteous baby, HAVE STEAK. (There is no steak)

I find it most interesting when boomer ire is raised by the littleness of our lives. We want quiet things, we want to be peaceful, we want to adopt old dogs instead of having children. The inability to let people be when they quietly abstain for your way of life is so telling.

Because what if you really wanted to live in a room in a house with your friends and have an old dog and some plants and never amass debt or be the hero of anything and then quietly die? But you thought you couldn’t??

(I realize a lot of you have kids or want them, we’re sort of talking about my dreams now)

This is also why STONER is secretly a millennial novel: it’s about achieving the great dream of dying quietly without ruining anyone’s life by living yours”
slow  small  life  living  generations  2019  unschooling  deschooling  suceess  debt  children  sarahmarshall 
july 2019 by robertogreco
Black Mountain College Museum en Instagram: “"Civilization seems in general to estrange men from materials, from materials in their original form. The process of shaping these is so…”
""Civilization seems in general to estrange men from materials, from materials in their original form. The process of shaping these is so divided into separate steps that one person is rarely involved in the whole course of manufacture, often knowing only the finished product. But if we want to get from materials the sense of directness, the adventure of being close to the stuff the world is made of, we have to go back to the material itself, to its original state, and from there on partake in its stages of change." - Anni Albers (Black Mountain College Bulletin. Series 1, No. 5. Anni Albers, Work With Material, November 1938)⠀

Emerging in the aftermath of WWI and revolting against the consumerism of the Industrial Revolution, the Bauhaus was based upon the philosophy that good design, intentional design, the melding of function and art, can change the world. The quote above, from Anni Albers' essay "Work With Material," showcases how materials play a role in this philosophy - which travelled with the Alberses to BMC. A new, modern approach offered the promise of reconnecting with not only the things we use and surround ourselves with, but with our own humanity.⠀

BAUHAUS 100 and Materials, Sounds + Black Mountain College come together to tell the story of how modern approaches to design, art and craft reconnected us with the materials our world is made of. This philosophy has inspired artists and craftspeople to continue investigating the potential of these materials. We look forward to opening these two exhibition next Friday, June 7th and hope you'll join us for opening weekend (more info through the link in our bio). [http://www.blackmountaincollege.org/material-sound/ ]"

Image: Student Bill Reed's hands at the loom, Black Mountain College, ca. 1938–42. Photograph by Claude Stoller. @albers_foundation"
annilbers  craft  making  slow  small  process  bmc  blackmountaincollege  materials  manufacturing  modernism  consumerism  bauhuas  design  art  artmaking 
june 2019 by robertogreco
Laurel Schwulst, "Blogging in Motion" - YouTube
"This video was originally published as part of peer-to-peer-web.com's NYC lecture series on Saturday, May 26, 2018 at the at the School for Poetic Computation.

It has been posted here for ease of access.

You can find many other great talks on the site:
https://peer-to-peer-web.com

And specifically more from the NYC series:
https://peer-to-peer-web.com/nyc "

[See also:
https://www.are.na/laurel-schwulst/blogging-in-motion ]
laurelschwulst  2019  decentralization  p2p  web  webdesign  blogging  movement  travel  listening  attention  self-reflection  howwewrite  writing  walking  nyc  beakerbrowser  creativity  pokemon  pokemonmoon  online  offline  internet  decentralizedweb  dat  p2ppublishing  p2pweb  distributed  webdev  stillness  infooverload  ubiquitous  computing  internetofthings  casygollan  calm  calmtechnology  zoominginandout  electricity  technology  copying  slow  small  johnseelybrown  markweiser  xeroxparc  sharing  oulipo  constraints  reflection  play  ritual  artleisure  leisurearts  leisure  blogs  trains  kylemock  correspondence  caseygollan  apatternlanguage  intimacy  dweb 
may 2019 by robertogreco
Pico Iyer Reflects on a Quarter-Century of Life in Japan - The New York Times
"In Japan, he notes, people accommodate themselves to small spaces, and so he and Hiroko have for a quarter-century. The transposition from a bustling office tower in Manhattan to a suburb of “the sleepy old city” of Nara has felt to him “as if I’ve walked out of a cluttered warehouse into a simple bare room with a scroll on the wall, everything so singular that emotion is brought to a pitch.” All this is part of what Iyer sees as an aesthetic of enhancement through subtraction, “the Japanese art of taking more and more away to charge the few things that remain.”

The book attempts a similar paring down, composed as it is of brief ruminations, notations, vignettes, descriptions. What holds everything together, besides Iyer’s elegantly smooth prose style and gift for detailed observation, is a circling around the theme of autumn in Japan and this autumnal period in his life. Self-described as having a restless “‘birdlike’ traveler’s temperament,” he spends half the year tending to his aging mother in California or reporting on subjects like “the warlords of Mogadishu,” but tries to get back to Japan each fall. This season teaches him the lesson of impermanence, the inevitability of decay, and “how to hold on to the things we love even though we know that we and they are dying.” Not much plot to speak of here: We watch Iyer going through his daily rounds, dropping in on his Ping-Pong club, visiting his mother-in-law in her nursing home, recalling scenes from the past. His wife, questioning him apprehensively, says, “Like Ozu movie? … Your book, nothing happening?” “Not exactly nothing,” he replies. “It’s in the spaces where nothing is happening that one has to make a life.” And indeed, he references Ozu films numerous times, particularly the way that cinematic master will cycle through the seasons as a metaphor for the changelessness of the nonhuman world within stories of human change and suffering. Of course, it’s harder to pull off on the page, without sublime actors like Chishu Ryu and Setsuko Hara to embody the effect.

Iyer’s wife makes for a marvelous presence, zooming away on her motorbike to her job in a boutique, cleaning the house briskly like a tornado or dashing off to honor dead ancestors at shrines and grave sites. Hiroko is the book’s motor, and Iyer is in awe of her energy, even as he says, a bit condescendingly: “It’s one of the qualities I most admire in her: She doesn’t stop to think” and “I have a wife who reminds me with every gesture that the only impulses to trust are the ones that arise without thought.” Hiroko strikes me as more quick-witted than thoughtless, but perhaps Iyer is aspiring, on her behalf, to the Buddhist ideal of the blank mind.

His own self-portrait is dimmer. He comes across as a modest, kind, gentle man, somewhat colorless, as though trying to practice spiritual erasure of the ego. He had moved to Japan “to learn how best to dissolve a sense of self within something larger and less temporary” — an admirable pursuit, though problematic for autobiographical writers. He admits he finds “belief” in general difficult, and says he doesn’t consider himself a Buddhist, but treats with fascinated respect his wife’s conviction that spirits and ghosts exist. He’s a big proponent of his own ignorance, saying he doesn’t choose to learn more than a smattering of Japanese because he needs mystery and “a sense of open space in life, something to offset the sense of the familiar.”

In a way, his attraction to Japan can be seen as an attempt to hold onto its exotic, eternal appeal — to his partly idealized picture of what the East has to offer a Western man in the way of healing. “Autumn Light” isn’t the book to turn to for an account of the political, social and economic problems of today’s Japan. Now in his 60s, Iyer feels free to communicate his tentative revelations about life. There’s much wisdom in what he says, though some of it comes close to platitude. But then, perhaps it’s the nature of hard-earned wisdom to sound like something we’ve heard many times before."
2019  picoiyer  japan  autumn  seasons  fall  impermanence  small  japanese  language  familiarity  ozu  buddhism  spirits  ignorance  familiar  subtraction 
april 2019 by robertogreco
Ocean Vuong on being generous in your work [The Creative Independent]
"I find a home in feeling. I feel at home in feeling. When I collaborate or talk with my friends, the place doesn’t matter. We could be on Mars and it would feel like home, because I feel free. I can be myself. I can be uber-queer, uber-strange, and we can be uber-curious with one another. That’s comforting. Perhaps it’s even harder to protect a home that doesn’t exist in a physical space, because we have to continually tend to this abstract feeling: “How do I create the parameters in which I am safe enough to be free amongst my peers?”

My whole artistic life has been in New York City—the past 11 years—and I learned that one has to work. Competition is a patriarchal structure that privileges conquest. The most pivotal thing for me as an artist was to be able to say “no” to those structures in order to say “yes” to the structures I want to create. That’s why it’s so scary."



"Take the long way home, if you can."



"Competition, prizes and awards are part of a patriarchal construct that destroys love and creativity by creating and protecting a singular hierarchical commodification of quality that does not, ever, represent the myriad successful expressions of art and art making. If you must use that construct, you use it the way one uses public transport. Get on, then get off at your stop and find your people. Don’t live on the bus, and most importantly, don’t get trapped on it."



"The agency for joy is safety—and vice versa. It is not a place, but a feeling. But you can see it, even in the dark."
oceanvuong  competition  prizes  awards  patriarchy  hierarchy  love  creativity  art  poetry  conquest  2019  commodification  canon  capitalism  neoliberalism  freedom  artmaking  making  privilege  joy  safety  slow  small  meaning  purpose  beauty  relationships  identity  expression  home  comfort  collaboration 
april 2019 by robertogreco
Project MUSE - On Nonscalability: The Living World Is Not Amenable to Precision-Nested Scales
"Because computers zoom across magnifications, it is easy to conclude that both knowledge and things exist by nature in precision-nested scales. The technical term is “scalable,” the ability to expand without distorting the framework. But it takes hard work to make knowledge and things scalable, and this article shows that ignoring nonscalable effects is a bad idea. People stumbled on scalable projects through the same historical contingencies that such projects set out to deny. They cobbled together ways to make things and data self-contained and static, and thus amenable to expansion. In European New World plantations, the natives were wiped out; coerced and alienated plants and workers came to substitute for them. Profits were made because extermination and slavery could be discounted from the books. Such historically indeterminate encounters formed models for later projects of scalability. This essay explores scalability projects from the perspective of an emergent “nonscalability theory” that pays attention to the mounting pile of ruins that scalability leaves behind. The article concludes that, if the world is still diverse and dynamic, it is because scalability never fulfills its own promises."



"How is scalability created? It is not a necessary feature of the world. People stumbled on scalable projects through historical contingencies. They cobbled together ways to make raw materials (for both goods and knowledge) selfcontained and static, and thus amenable to expansion. In European sugarcane plantations, the natives were wiped out; exotic, coerced, and alienated plants and workers came to substitute for them. Profits were made because the general mess of extermination and slavery could be discounted from the books. Such historically indeterminate encounters formed models for later projects of scalability.

Do we live in a world of scalable nonsocial landscape elements—nonsoels? Yes and no. The great “progress” projects of the last several centuries have built on the legacy of the colonial plantation to make scalability work in business, government, and technology. But scalability has never been complete. In recent years, changes in global capitalism have challenged the assumption of scalability for labor and natural-resource management, and at least some theorists in the social sciences have pointed out the malevolent hegemony of precision. Meanwhile, critics of scalability have raised distress signals about the fate of biological and cultural diversity on earth. It is an important time to develop nonscalability theory as a way to reconceptualize the world—and perhaps rebuild it."

[PDF here: http://www.lasisummerschool.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/Tsing-2012-On-nonscalability.pdf ]

[via:
"I can’t say enough how good Anna Tsing’s essay on nonscalabilty is. “On Nonscalability: The Living World Is Not Amenable to Precision-Nested Scales.” Common Knowledge 18, no. 3 (September 19, 2012): 505–24. https://muse.jhu.edu/article/485828/pdf "
https://twitter.com/samplereality/status/1098610615969562626

"Scalability is the enemy of difference. (Page 507)

via:
"On Nonscalability: The Living World Is Not Amenable to Precision-Nested Scales by Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing"
https://twitter.com/dantaeyoung/status/1108070233670123521 ]

[See also:
"“On Nonscalability” of teaching and learning"
https://www.jonbecker.net/on-nonscalability-of-teaching-and-learning/
annalowenhaupttsing  scale  scalability  slow  small  2012  difference  diversity  capitalism  knowledge  expansion  growth  degrowth  culture  technology  progress  labor  work  biology  humanism  humanity  sustainability  environment  sugar  teaching  learning  howweteach  howwelearn  unschooling  deschooling  antigrowth 
april 2019 by robertogreco
Opinion | The Good-Enough Life - The New York Times
"Ideals of greatness cut across the American political spectrum. Supporters of Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society” and believers in Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again,” for instance, may find themselves at odds, but their differences lie in the vision of what constitutes greatness, not whether greatness itself is a worthy goal. In both cases — and in most any iteration of America’s idea of itself — it is.

The desire for greatness also unites the diverse philosophical camps of Western ethics. Aristotle called for practicing the highest virtue. Kant believed in an ethical rule so stringent not even he thought it was achievable by mortals. Bentham’s utilitarianism is about maximizing happiness. Marx sought the great world for all. Modern-day libertarians will stop at nothing to increase personal freedom and profit. These differences surely matter, but while the definition of greatness changes, greatness itself is sought by each in his own way.

Swimming against the tide of greatness is a counter-history of ethics embodied by schools of thought as diverse as Buddhism, Romanticism and psychoanalysis. It is by borrowing from D.W. Winnicott, an important figure in the development of psychoanalysis, that we get perhaps the best name for this other ethics: “the good-enough life.” In his book “Playing and Reality,” Winnicott wrote about what he called “the good-enough mother.” This mother is good enough not in the sense that she is adequate or average, but that she manages a difficult task: initiating the infant into a world in which he or she will feel both cared for and ready to deal with life’s endless frustrations. To fully become good enough is to grow up into a world that is itself good enough, that is as full of care and love as it is suffering and frustration.

From Buddhism and Romanticism we can get a fuller picture of what such a good enough world could be like. Buddhism offers a criticism of the caste system and the idea that some people have to live lives of servitude in order to ensure the greatness of others. It posits instead the idea of the “middle path,” a life that is neither excessively materialistic nor too ascetic. And some Buddhist thinkers, such as the 6th-century Persian-Chinese monk Jizang, even insist that this middle life, this good enough life, is the birthright of not only all humans, but also all of nature as well. In this radical vision of the good enough life, our task is not to make the perfect human society, but rather a good enough world in which each of us has sufficient (but never too many) resources to handle our encounters with the inevitable sufferings of a world full of chance and complexity.

The Romantic poets and philosophers extend this vision of good-enoughness to embrace what they would call “the ordinary” or “the everyday.” This does not refer to the everyday annoyances or anxieties we experience, but the fact that within what is most ordinary, most basic and most familiar, we might find a delight unimaginable if we find meaning only in greatness. The antiheroic sentiment is well expressed by George Eliot at the end of her novel “Middlemarch”: “that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.” And its legacy is attested to in the poem “Famous” by Naomi Shihab Nye: “I want to be famous to shuffling men / who smile while crossing streets, / sticky children in grocery lines, / famous as the one who smiled back.”

Being good enough is not easy. It takes a tremendous amount of work to smile purely while waiting, exhausted, in a grocery line. Or to be good enough to loved ones to both support them and allow them to experience frustration. And it remains to be seen if we as a society can establish a good-enough relation to one another, where individuals and nations do not strive for their unique greatness, but rather work together to create the conditions of decency necessary for all.

Achieving this will also require us to develop a good enough relation to our natural world, one in which we recognize both the abundance and the limitations of the planet we share with infinite other life forms, each seeking its own path toward good-enoughness. If we do manage any of these things, it will not be because we have achieved greatness, but because we have recognized that none of them are achievable until greatness itself is forgotten."
ordinary  everyday  small  slow  2019  avramalpert  greatness  philosophy  buddhism  naomishihabnye  georgeeliot  interconnected  individualism  goodenough  virtue  ethics  romanticism  psychoanalysis  dwwinnicott  care  caring  love  life  living  classideas 
march 2019 by robertogreco
Liberation Under Siege | Liberación Bajo Asedio on Vimeo
"Following the triumph of the Cuban Revolution, which successfully fended off imperial aggression by the United States, the United States imposed an economic trade blockade as punishment, which has continued to be in place for the past 60 years. The US has undertaken repeated attempts to plunder the Cuban people through genocidal measures, which has been met with the staunch resilience of the Cuban people, who continue to have faith and confidence in the socialist principles of the Revolution, despite the blockade materially impacting their everyday lives.

“Liberation Under Siege” examines the material conditions cultivated by the destructive blockade through the experiences and stories of everyday Cubans, and reclaim the imperialist narrative pushed by the United States through billions of dollars.

Filmed, Directed, and Edited by:

Priya Prabhakar
Reva Kreeger
Sabrina Meléndez"
cuba  2019  excess  us  foreignpolicy  interviews  education  healthcare  medicine  socialism  food  highereducation  highered  politics  blockade  embargo  poverty  equality  economics  race  gender  sexuality  priyaprabhakar  revakreeger  sabrinameléndez  video  small  slow  consumerism  materialism  capitalism  less  environment  values  success  health  imperialism  media  propaganda  resourcefulness  trade 
march 2019 by robertogreco
Pascal’s Climate – Popula
"For a decade or more there has been a cottage industry in telling people that individual action is meaningless in the face of the overwhelming force of climate change. Plane rides don’t matter, eating meat doesn’t matter; 100 companies are causing 71% of the emissions and it is they who are the problem; only governments acting in concert have the remotest chance of arresting the disaster. And so on.

One of the most influential of these arguments, with 328,677 shares at the time of writing, is a much-quoted 2017 Guardian piece by Martin Lukacs, who wrote, “Stop obsessing with how personally green you live–and start collectively taking on corporate power.”

“While we busy ourselves greening our personal lives,” he added, “fossil fuel corporations are rendering these efforts irrelevant. The breakdown of carbon emissions since 1988? A hundred companies alone are responsible for an astonishing 71%. You tinker with those pens or that panel; they go on torching the planet.”

While I sympathize with Lukacs’s desire to rein in the energy oligarchs, he and other anti-individualists, like Eric Levitz in last week’s Intelligencer, are dead wrong that individual action doesn’t count.

The 71% of emissions that 100 companies are responsible for are producing?? They are mainly the result of extracting and refining fossil fuels that individuals are using for flying and driving and importing bottled water from glaciers and plastic bird feeders from China. Economic questions of supply and demand are far more salient to the matter of emissions than is any aspect of political will.

Human activity is interconnected. When the breakneck demand for these things ends–as indeed it must and will, either in time, or too late–there will no longer be a market for what the energy oligarchs are selling. From a purely logical economic perspective, it’s the only real way to stop them.

Let’s have a look at this remark of Lukacs’s again.

“Collectively taking on corporate power” is just exactly what will happen when millions of individuals stop flying on airplanes, which, again, is a thing that has to happen in order for the planet to survive. Whether through a global individual cap and trade program or simply because individual people collectively realize, together, that they are dooming the Earth and had better drive to their next holiday, is entirely immaterial. Though even a casual witness to the abject stupidity of the world’s politicians must surely suspect that the latter course has better chances.

In any case, the bigger problem with the anti-individualist stance to taking collective action is an even simpler one. There is no way to achieve collective action without individual action. Collective action doesn’t fall off a tree, it is made up of countless individual acts that turn into conversations, writings, meetings, plans. Individual actions are the only material from which collective action can be made, and to suggest that individuals are helpless and somehow just don’t matter now, in the current emergency, at a time of rising confusion, anger, hopelessness and dread, is nothing short of enraging.

[image: The most effective individual steps to tackle climate change
https://phys.org/news/2017-07-effective-individual-tackle-climate-discussed.html ]

In the Intelligencer, Levitz writes: “With climate change, the pointlessness of individual action is especially acute. If you accept the scientific consensus on warming, then you know your personal carbon footprint is a drop in the rising sea. So, why on earth would you feel compelled to lower your quality of life for the sake of cutting carbon emissions by a wholly negligible amount?”

What even?

Why would you even consider dialing back your own special role in destroying the planet? Why not go vacation in Tulum, while you’re at it, why not go befoul The Beach, you saw it in a movie?

It is high time for an end to the nihilist bullshit that is telling the public it doesn’t matter whether or not they eat meat or fly in airplanes. It does. Not least because even a small chance to contribute to a better possible future gives life and work meaning and value—conceivably, maybe, even more value than just obediently swallowing down your consumerist “quality of life,” spoon-fed to you by the loving algorithms of the surveillance state.

A less lemming-like, suicidal, self-loathing, murderous society would just plain say the obvious: every decision matters, in a time of crisis. Individual, collective, political, business: human life is a single gigantic machine of endless complexity, working every second on innumerable levels, and every iota of the machine involves a responsibility to society and to the future.

So if the planet is to survive the effects of human stupidity and shortsightedness—which question, admittedly, does incline the rational mind to pessimism, but still—and if every single decision counts: Why not take the Pascal’s Wager position? Why not act as if success, as if a good surprise, were possible?

In the Oxford philosophical journal The Monist of July 2011 (Vol. 94, No. 3, “Morality and Climate Change”) Avram Hiller’s (really excellent) article “Climate Change and Individual Responsibility” [JSTOR] applied a philosophical and moral lens to these questions. Hiller gives five conjectures “as to why people erroneously do not believe that individual actions have much or any effects” on climate change. They include the “Nero’s Fiddle” effect, which is like “it’s too late, fuck it, it doesn’t matter what I do”; psychic numbing, or failing to reason properly because too freaked out; limited capacity for valuing, or, “I’m too small to matter at all,” and fallacy of double-division, which is kind of like, “I can get away with putting just one straw on the camel’s back; if anything goes wrong it’s not because of me.” But really the first conjecture he gives is the best one.
Selfishness and denial. “In fact, we do in some way understand that individual actions are significant, but are also aware that if we countenance this fact and wish to remain moral, our whole lives must change. So we subconsciously let ourselves believe that small individual actions in fact make no significant difference.”
"
mariabustillos  martinlukacs  sustainability  individuals  collectivism  ericlevitz  nihilism  economics  politics  collectiveaction  individualaction  carbonfootprint  globalwarming  responsibility  society  selfishness  small  local  hyperlocal  energy  canon 
march 2019 by robertogreco
On making work in new surroundings Visual artist Cory Arcangel discusses leaving NYC and moving to Norway, the change in process and perspective that results from having a child, and how he will always be just a media artist from Buffalo.
"Yes. It’s like everything else. It`s always worse before you jump. It’s been liberating to let things go, especially all the things that I’m not really good at. And the Scandinavians are such chill people. They’re very talented, and really understated.

It’s the opposite of New York in a way. In New York, there’s a focus on money or success. It’s what a lot of culture is built on, and all arrows are pointing in those directions. In Norway, and in Scandinavia as a whole, everything is built for family life."
norway  nyc  money  priorities  coryarcangel  2019  family  slow  small  scandinavia  success  culture  society 
february 2019 by robertogreco
An Essay by Miho Nonaka | Kenyon Review Online
[So good. There's really no good way to quote this one, so here are just a few sections.]

"Heavenly Worm

Mrs. Itō, our fourth-grade teacher, drew a new kanji character on the board: 蚕. “Worm from heaven,” she announced, “as you can see.” Heaven splits open like a curtain (天) and inside it dwells the worm (虫). For each student, she took out five worms from her basket and put them in a small paper box to take home. Having just hatched from their eggs, these worms were still covered in little black hairs. That’s why at this stage they are called kego (hairy baby), Mrs. Itō told us. To feed these dark babies, julienne your mulberry leaves first."



"Platinum Boy, 2006

After decades of research, Japanese silkworm breeders discovered a reliable method of hatching exclusively male silkworms. Female silkworms eat more, sleep more, take up more space, and are measurably less efficient in transforming mulberry leaves into silk. The verdict was clear: female silkworms are inferior for silk production.

Silk spinners and kimono weavers are unanimous in their praise of male silk: their thread is consistently finer, sturdier, glossier, whiter, and their cocoons are easier to harvest when boiled.

The birth site of Platinum Boy is literally black and white. When you look at a piece of paper where silkworm eggs are laid, white eggs are the empty shells from which male larvae have already hatched. They will thrive on the diet of tender mulberry shoot which, combined with their spit, will eventually turn into raw silk, translucent like frosted glass. The dark eggs contain female larvae that will never hatch and only keep darkening."



"Ten Thousand Leaves I

Compiled in the mideighth century, Man’yōshū (Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves) is the oldest Japanese anthology: more than forty-five hundred poems in twenty books. In the sweltering heat of the attic, I wasn’t looking for any particular motif when I happened on poem No. 2495, composed by Kakinomoto no Hitomaro, a low rank courtier and one of the “Saints of Japanese Poetry”:
like my mother’s
silkworms confined
inside cocoons,
how can I see my love
who lives secluded at home?

Poem No. 2991 is almost the same poem by another poet, simply tagged “unknown”:
like my mother’s
silkworms confined
inside cocoons,
sadness clouds my heart
when I cannot see her

The motif of a silk cocoon as the inaccessible, lyrical interior goes back to the dawn of Japanese poetics. The cocoon encases the image of the beloved, the poet’s longing that keeps building inside, and in my poem it holds the mother as a mythical seamstress, stitching blue in each wrist of her unborn daughter."



"職人 I

I used to blame my grandmother on my father’s side, who was described to me as fierce, frantic, funny, a destructive visionary and unsuccessful business entrepreneur during the critical times of the Second World War. When I felt defeated by the radical pull of my own emotion, I would attach them to the face of the woman I had never met in person, only in a fading picture where she stands next to my young father without glasses, still a student with surprisingly gentle eyes.

My father recently told me during one of our late-night international calls from Tokyo: “Your grandfathers were both shokunin (craftsman), remember? It’s in your DNA, too.” His father had come from a large family of silk farmers. After he left home, adopting the newly introduced Singer sewing machines, he began manufacturing Japanese cloven-toed socks, the traditional kind that used to be hand-sewn, and during the war, he took the assignment to sew parachutes for the Imperial Japanese Army Air Force. While he worked under dimmed light, my young father put up his primitive drawing of warplanes on the wall, covered in fine grains of sand."



"Small Things

They say (I love the convenience, but who are “they”?) that attention to detail is a characteristic of the Japanese. I am drawn to small things: tadpoles, silica beads, star sands in a vial, a notebook the size of a thumbnail, fish scales, a nativity scene inside half a walnut shell. I am terribly myopic like my father, and I like things that are near. Large things loom over and terrify: airports, Costco, churches in Texas, the Tokyo Skytree, Mount Rushmore (those granite faces I once believed had surfaced in response to the historic atomic bombing), and that elusive word “global.”"



"Komako

It didn’t occur to me until I tried translating a few passages from Snow Country that the young geisha’s name Komako (駒子) means Pony Child. What inspired the author Kawabata to portray his heroine as a woman of equine grace? We don’t know her family name. On the other hand, we don’t know the first name of Shimamura, who is referred to only by his last name.

I imagine if your family name is a gate to the house, your first name must be its interior. In the days when the first book of Man’yōshū was composed, asking a maiden’s first name was synonymous with proposing to her. Knowing it meant possessing the person.

Komako’s body is translucent like a silkworm, and an unearthly room encloses her fruitless passion like a white cocoon. While writing Snow Country, Kawabata says he distanced himself from Shimamura, who serves merely as a foil to Komako. “As an author, I entered deep inside the character of Komako, but casually turned my back to Shimamura,” he writes in the afterward. “Especially in terms of emotion—Komako’s sadness is nothing other than my own sadness. . . .” And so it is; his heart has become subsumed into her heart."



"Body

I find it impossible to talk about the body (mine and everyone else’s) without sounding embarrassed or oddly distant. I don’t mean to self-deprecate, but it has been almost too fashionable, too charged a topic for me to feel safe around. (A cowardly thing to say—the truth is, no one is safe.)

I won’t pretend my body is a plain blockhouse, or a slab of flesh aching with desire or lack thereof. Who could have taught me to stay at home in my own body all the while I traveled from one country to another, turning from the spontaneous, if careless, music of my mother tongue to the cautious economy of English, reaching out, in the hope of actually reaching and being reached?

For the subjects most critical to me, I find no teachers. Perhaps there is not enough demand? I believe I am badly behind everyone and that I missed an opportunity to ask questions long ago. People my age in this country sound fluent in the body, discussing it with just the right amount of sarcasm and laughter without revealing much, like they have been on intimate terms with it since they learned to speak. I suppose I should have listened to the body harder, without ulterior motives."
mihononaka  silk  essays  canon  howwewrite  2017  silkworms  multispecies  japan  japanese  language  gender  via:ayjay  poetry  writing  fabric  textiles  srg  glvo  insects  history  cocoons  craft  translation  languages  childhood  change  materials  process  form  details  weaving  texture  morethanhuman  shinto  bodies  body  small  slow 
february 2019 by robertogreco
INCITE » Anti-100 Years of Cinema Manifesto, by Jonas Mekas
"As you well know it was God who created this Earth and everything on it. And he thought it was all great. All painters and poets and musicians sang and celebrated the creation and that was all OK. But not for real. Something was missing. So about 100 years ago God decided to create the motion picture camera. And he did so. And then he created a filmmaker and said, “Now here is an instrument called the motion picture camera. Go and film and celebrate the beauty of the creation and the dreams of human spirit, and have fun with it.”

But the devil did not like that. So he placed a money bag in front of the camera and said to the filmmakers, ‘Why do you want to celebrate the beauty of the world and the spirit of it if you can make money with this instrument?” And, believe it or not, all the filmmakers ran after the money bag. The Lord realized he had made a mistake. So, some 25 years later, to correct his mistake, God created independent avant-garde filmmakers and said, “Here is the camera. Take it and go into the world and sing the beauty of all creation, and have fun with it. But you will have a difficult time doing it, and you will never make any money with this instrument.”

Thus spoke the Lord to Viking Eggeling, Germaine Dulac, Jean Epstein, Fernand Leger, Dmitri Kirsanoff, Marcel Duchamp, Hans Richter, Luis Bunuel, Man Ray, Cavalcanti, Jean Cocteau, and Maya Deren, and Sidney Peterson, and Kenneth Anger, Gregory Markopoulos, Stan Brakhage, Marie Menken, Bruce Baillie, Francis Lee, Harry Smith and Jack Smith and Ken Jacobs, Ernie Gehr, Ron Rice, Michael Snow, Joseph Cornell, Peter Kubelka, Hollis Frampton and Barbara Rubin, Paul Sharits, Robert Beavers, Christopher McLaine, and Kurt Kren, Robert Breer, Dore O, Isidore Isou, Antonio De Bernardi, Maurice Lemaitre, and Bruce Conner, and Klaus Wyborny, Boris Lehman, Bruce Elder, Taka Iimura, Abigail Child, Andrew Noren and too many others. Many others all over the world. And they took their Bolexs and their little 8mm and Super 8 cameras and began filming the beauty of this world, and the complex adventures of the human spirit, and they're having great fun doing it. And the films bring no money and do not do what's called useful.

And the museums all over the world are celebrating the one-hundredth anniversary of cinema, costing them millions of dollars the cinema makes, all going gaga about their Hollywoods. But there is no mention of the avant-garde or the independents of our cinema.

I have seen the brochures, the programs of the museums and archives and cinematheques around the world. But these say, “we don't care about your cinema.” In the times of bigness, spectaculars, one hundred million dollar movie productions, I want to speak for the small, invisible acts of human spirit: so subtle, so small, that they die when brought out under the Klieg lights. I want to celebrate the small forms of cinema: the lyrical form, the poem, the watercolor, etude, sketch, portrait, arabesque, and bagatelle, and little 8mm songs. In the times when everybody wants to succeed and sell, I want to celebrate those who embrace social and daily failure to pursue the invisible, the personal things that bring no money and no bread and make no contemporary history, art history or any other history. I am for art which we do for each other, as friends.

I am standing in the middle of the information highway and laughing, because a butterfly on a little flower somewhere in China just fluttered its wings, and I know that the entire history, culture will drastically change because of that fluttering. A Super 8mm camera just made a little soft buzz somewhere, somewhere on the lower east side of New York, and the world will never be the same.

The real history of cinema is invisible history: history of friends getting together, doing the thing they love. For us, the cinema is beginning with every new buzz of the projector, with every new buzz of our cameras. With every new buzz of our cameras, our hearts jump forward my friends."
manifestos  jonasmekas  1996  cinema  film  filmmaking  archives  museums  small 
january 2019 by robertogreco
On Hayden Carruth: A Friendship in Poetry | Academy of American Poets
"everything worthy is fragile and under threat, is prey to time and invisible to power, and yet affection keeps the accounting in the black. Worthy things, invested with affection, pass into “the now / which is eternal.” I don’t know how this can be… And yet I believe that it is so"

[via: https://www.instagram.com/p/BrA1Of-A34l/ ]
wendellberry  fragility  haydencarruth  2008  power  time  worthiness  affection  now  slow  small 
december 2018 by robertogreco
One Hour One Life
"a multiplayer survival game of parenting and civilization building by Jason Rohrer"



"This game is about playing one small part in a much larger story. You only live an hour, but time and space in this game is infinite. You can only do so much in one lifetime, but the tech tree in this game will take hundreds of generations to fully explore. This game is also about family trees. Having a mother who takes care of you as a baby, and hopefully taking care of a baby yourself later in life. And your mother is another player. And your baby is another player. Building something to use in your lifetime, but inevitably realizing that, in the end, what you build is not for YOU, but for your children and all the countless others that will come after you. Proudly using your grandfather's ax, and then passing it on to your own grandchild as the end of your life nears. And looking at each life as a unique story. I was this kid born in this situation, but I eventually grew up. I built a bakery near the wheat fields. Over time, I watched my grandparents and parents grow old and die. I had some kids of my own along the way, but they are grown now... and look at my character now! She's an old woman. What a life passed by in this little hour of mine. After I die, this life will be over and gone forever. I can be born again, but I can never live this unique story again. Everything's changing. I'll be born as a different person in a different place and different time, with another unique story to experience in the next hour..."



"The thinking behind One Hour One Life [a YouTube playlist]

"How to Deal With A Crisis of Meaning" (The School of Life)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nu8d3iW2yxM

"Bonsai: the Endless Ritual | Extraordinary Rituals | Earth Unplugged"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PEGevD5jd64

"Power of the Market - The Pencil"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R5Gppi-O3a8

"Primitive Technology: Forge Blower"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VVV4xeWBIxE

"The Game Design Challenge 2011: Bigger Than Jesus Panel at GDC 2011"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UAG6XzGah8Q

"Last Day Dream"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZWlbZO92ZyA

"334 Time Life - Rock A Bye Baby - 1976"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=63fBJPFPCbs "
games  gaming  videogames  jasonrohrer  civilization  parenting  philosophy  gamedesign  small  change  purpose  meaningoflife  meaning  generations  srg  edg 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Black Mountain College: "The Grass-Roots of Democracy" - Open Source with Christopher Lydon
"Our guest, the literary historian Louis Menand, explains that B.M.C. was a philosophical experiment intent on putting the progressive philosopher John Dewey‘s ideas to work in higher education. The college curriculum was unbelievably permissive — but it did ask that students undertake their own formation as citizens of the world by means of creative expression, and hard work, in a community of likeminded people.

The college may not have lived up to its utopian self-image — the scene was frequently riven by interpersonal conflict — but it did serve as a stage-set to some of modern culture’s most interesting personalities and partnerships."
bmc  blackmountaincollege  rutherickson  louismenand  teddreier  theodoredreier  sebastiansmee  taylordavis  williamdavis  2016  robertcreeley  jacoblawrence  josefalbers  robertrauschenberg  annialbers  davidtudor  franzkline  mercecunningham  johncage  charlesolson  buckminsterfuller  johndewey  democracy  art  music  film  poetry  cytwombly  bauhaus  experientiallearning  howwelearn  education  johnandrewrice  unschooling  deschooling  schools  schooling  learning  howelearn  howweteach  pedagogy  christopherlydon  abstractexpressionism  popart  jacksonpollock  arthistory  history  arts  purpose  lcproject  openstudioproject  leapbeforeyoulook  canon  discovery  conflict  artists  happenings  openness  rural  community  highered  highereducation  curriculum  willemdekooning  small  control  conversation  interdisciplinary  transdisciplinary  mitmedialab  medialab  chaos  utopia  dicklyons  artschools  davidbowie  experimentation  exploration  humanity  humanism  humility  politics 
october 2018 by robertogreco
Paolo Pedercini 🌹 on Twitter: "An anti-battle royale / walking simulator in which you start with a group of friends in a small area and, as the circle expands, you gradually lose touch with them, too busy accumulating stuff and piecing together fragmen
"An anti-battle royale / walking simulator in which you start with a group of friends in a small area and, as the circle expands, you gradually lose touch with them, too busy accumulating stuff and piecing together fragments of a story that doesn't make any sense"
paolopedercini  scale  small  walking  understanding  2018  accumulation  socialmedia  networks  networking 
september 2018 by robertogreco
Why the return of Animal Crossing feels so good - Polygon
"THE POWER OF NICE

A seemingly-unrelated selection of shows and movies in the past few years have each gained their fair share of critical acclaim, popularity and financial success, all linked by one common trait: They’re unrelentingly nice.

The Paddington movies have both found massive critical and box office success, all while essentially being feature-length commercials about the virtues of being polite and kind. Paddington 2 is currently the highest-rated Rotten Tomatoes movie of all time, usurping Toy Story 2’s record of the most consecutive certified Fresh ratings from reviewers. The total number of tracked positive reviews for Paddington 2 is 205, compared to zero negative reviews, for those counting at home.

Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, a heartfelt and straightforward documentary about the life and work of Mister Rogers, is now the highest-grossing biographical documentary of all time.

[embed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FhwktRDG_aQ ]

But this trend (can I call it “nicecore?”) isn’t just limited to theatres.

On the small screen, NBC’s Making It, which may be the first craft-based reality competition show I’ve ever seen, pulled in millions of viewers over its six-week summer run and was just greenlit for a second season. And on Netflix, there is the runaway success story of the Queer Eye reboot, which, on top of effortlessly conveying a message of positivity, kindness and betterment through self-care, also won three Emmys this year. It was nominated for four.

The trend of Nice Media seems to be the sun-filled, hopeful answer to the negativity and division offered nearly everywhere else. No single video game series encapsulates that sense of safe, intentional and welcoming niceness like Animal Crossing, and it has been doing it for almost 20 years.

BELLS AND WHISTLES

There is no game quite like Animal Crossing, which makes it hard to properly explain and even harder to recommend. Most people won’t share your enthusiasm when you sit them down and tell them that the minute-to-minute gameplay mostly involves harvesting fruit, paying off personal debt to an enterprising raccoon, and delaying your Saturday night plans to make sure you can watch a dog play guitar.

But at its core, Animal Crossing is about living in a small town composed entirely of anthropomorphic animals. Sometimes you’re a villager, and sometimes you’re the mayor. What you do from there is up to you.

It shares the general God’s-eye-view life simulator vibe of The Sims, but it’s way less interested in letting you micromanage a neighborhood of people. Instead, it gives you direct (but decidedly less omnipotent) control over a single villager’s life.

[embed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rJ6eGtsgbfM ]

While it can be just as surprisingly addictive and compelling as farming games like Harvest Moon, Story of Seasons and Stardew Valley, the looming threat of bankruptcy is the driving force of those games, compelling every player in the same direction of a more profitable farm. Meanwhile, Animal Crossing is happy to let your debt remain unpaid forever, and your villager has no discernible job or occupation. At least until New Leaf shoved you into the world of municipal governance.

The only real goal in these games is to pass the time in the best way you see fit; the endgame is to be happy. Along the way, like most fans of the series, you’ll likely find yourself having your own moments of emotional connection with the game. Everyone ends up with their own personal Animal Crossing moments, and those personal stories are a huge reason why people love the games as much as they do.

Feel free to share your own stories in the comments. I’m going to start with some of my own.

SMALL TOWN STORIES

My time with Animal Crossing goes all the way back to the GameCube original, a game that announced its humble intention to take over my life right on the front cover. The game’s save files were so large that they required an entire 59-block memory card’s worth of space, so that initial release came bundled with its own memory card as a gesture of practical kindness.

That memory card would soon hold a world that I relied on in a very direct way.

I went through a months-long depressive episode near the tail end of my sophomore year of high school, thanks to a mixture of hormones and early-era cyberbullying. I did all my schoolwork remotely, and spent my days either visiting a child psychologist or playing the GameCube. I would send letters to my villagers (specifically Rasher, Pierce and Goldie) about how sad, lonely and suicidal I was feeling.

They would send me carpets and shirts in return; that’s just what Animal Crossing villagers do. And it helped, especially since they would remember if I didn’t visit them for a few days. The game would tell me, specifically, how many days it had been since I had last interacted with it. It kept me accountable, made me feel needed and got me through a difficult (but all-too-common) part of my teenage years.

While reminders to come back to games are now common in the age of mobile gaming, Animal Crossing never felt like a nag. It was a relationship that gave as much as it asked me to give, and it held me accountable when even playing a game felt like it would be too much.

This trend would continue throughout my life, with major emotional moments supported and enhanced by my time in a virtual village. Animal Crossing: Wild World was there when I was dealing with constant insomnia-inducing stress nightmares during my time in university, with soothing music and absolutely no judgment about my sleep patterns.

[embed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ITM1vFiV6U ]

My New Leaf town was a monument to the people I loved at the time: fruit trees from a visiting friend, rare Nintendo-specific items from my brother, and clothing and letters from my partner at the time. The town was also essentially abandoned during our breakup, left for Isabelle (the player’s Deputy Mayor and the newest addition to the Smash Bros. Ultimate roster) to run during my years-long absence.

I logged back in when the game updated two years ago. And although Isabelle remembered the exact number of days I had been gone, the damage wasn’t beyond repair. My house was filled with roaches, but they could be cleared out within a few minutes. The once-pristine fields of Fürville had become overgrown with weeds, but a helpful sloth would cheer you on as you removed them or, for a small fee, get rid of them all for you overnight. Friends would move away, but they’d always send a goodbye letter, and new villagers would be eager to greet you and start virtual relationships.

There is no way to win in Animal Crossing, but that also means there’s no way to lose. Life in your village goes on without you, but it always welcomes you back.

A PLACE TO CALL YOUR OWN

The most valuable currency in Animal Crossing is time. An hour in the game is the same as an hour outside of it, so the game marches to the beat of your own life. At the same time, there is no real way to grind out progress in these titles, because they’re about patience; in fact, they seem to actively punish players who try to rush.

You cannot make a tree grow faster, but you’re liable to destroy your flower gardens or wear grass down into dirt paths by running through your town instead of walking.

You can have all the bells in the world, but you’re limited by the rotating daily stock at each of of the shops. You can catch bugs, go fishing and dig for fossils for hours each day, but you’ll still have to live through four real-world seasons to see them all. The game has its own pace, and you have to give into it if you want to get everything it has to offer. Few games are as capable of slowing us down, a trait that is sorely needed when everything else seems to be speeding up.

All of this — the emphasis on patience, the freeform approach to player agency, the overwhelming sense of forgiveness and kindness that stretches from the game’s systems to its text — combines to make a game that is, above all else, nice. And this commitment to niceness makes it an oasis of positivity in an increasingly reactionary and fragmented media landscape.

[embed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kEJXS0MiKOA ]

Won’t You Be My Neighbor? transports you to a reality of kind actions and good deeds — for 93 minutes. The entire run of Queer Eye currently consists of 16 episodes and one special; you could charitably watch the whole thing in a weekend (if not an afternoon). Making It is only six episodes long, and won’t return for another year. This gathering wave of nicecore media is truly a gift, but it’s finite and fleeting — a few welcome drops of clear, cool water in an overwhelmingly murky bucket.

But the most powerful thing Animal Crossing offers us is an experience that doesn’t end after an hour or a season, but stays with us for as long as we need it. Because what we remember about these games are how they made us feel, and the stories they left us with long after we left our villages behind. They made us part of a community, and that community felt welcoming and generous.

Most games are power fantasies, and the easiest kind of power to convey is violence. They’re all about enforcing your will on the world through straightforward, goal-oriented action. And that’s enjoyable, without a doubt. But Animal Crossing offers a different sort of power fantasy: a world where you have unlimited kindness to spare, and you’re never punished for it. That doesn’t happen in real life; even Mr. Rogers’ funeral was picketed.

If nicecore is the natural artistic reaction to the state of the world, then it’s all too fitting that Animal Crossing should return and claim its throne (or, more likely, its comfortably weathered armchair) as the nicest franchise in gaming history.

It has been sorely missed."
2018  animalcrossing  nintendo  games  gaming  videogames  nicecore  niceness  fredrogers  mrrogers  mikescholars  paddington  paddingtonbear  small  slow  time  care  caring  power  violence  patience  agency  kindness  forgiveness  pace  play  presence  friendship 
september 2018 by robertogreco
Coming Home: Returning to a Pedagogy of Small – Here to there
"But in this telling of the story, I am the learner. I wanted to thank them, because in that small time and place together they taught me something, or perhaps retaught me something that I already should know: hope is easily restored if we stop chasing a better future and instead notice what just is already. This is a small story of what the pedagogy of small might be. I could perhaps seek to explain how the technologies of domination and self were at play, but that would be both hard work and nonsense; this is a pedagogical story rather than a technological one. What I did was notice. On a different day, when not contrasted by the XPRIZE man, I might have completely missed this story; that would have been my loss. By noticing, I as rewarded with a reminder of just how easily the ideas of large-scale technologies can be replaced with the small, human scale. The XPRIZE man got off the training and there they were ready to take his place. What if we already have all the alternatives that we seek, we just need to notice them and cherish them? I will have more to say about the pedagogy of small. The journey of this homecoming has just begun, a journey back to the people, places and ideas that I love most of all, a journey that is and will happily be intricately connected with a pedagogy of small."
tanyadorey-elias  small  slow  pedagogy  2018  xprize  audreywatters  education  learning  policy  technology  edtech  presence  cv  scale  scaling  canon  noticing  human  howwelearn  unschooling  deschooling 
august 2018 by robertogreco
Max Kreminski 🌱 on Twitter: "calling it now: the next successful social media site will be a MUD with gardening instead of combat mechanics people want to be in a place that they personally (alongside their friends) can exert effort to make better, eve
"calling it now: the next successful social media site will be a MUD with gardening instead of combat mechanics

people want to be in a place that they personally (alongside their friends) can exert effort to make better, even if only in small ways

we’re all tired of living in the virtual equivalent of shopping malls – common spaces we’re not allowed to shape to our own needs

we need shared virtual spaces that we can take care of as a way of taking care of each other

don’t know why it took me so long to realize this, or why it’s suddenly so clear now. maybe my gardening games stuff was always headed in this direction from the very beginning, & I just hadn’t made all the connections yet

current social media platforms have the mechanics all wrong.

y’know how people are always posting hot takes on here? it’s bc we have a psychological need for *mutual presence* with other people & if you’re not posting stuff there’s no way for others to acknowledge your existence

so there’s a constant pressure to be *saying things* – ideally things that provoke some sort of reaction – just to be reassured (by likes, RTs, replies, etc) that yes, you still exist as a social entity, & yes, other people also still exist

MMOs “work” because shared activity directed toward a common goal creates a sense of mutual presence without you having to *say* stuff all the time.

gardening, decorating etc (when implemented correctly) are activities of this type at which you also can’t meaningfully fail

in conclusion, we need a social media platform that lets you sit next to someone on a bench in the park & feed some goddamn birds"

[via: https://are.na/block/2571964 ]
maxkreminski  2018  gardening  animalcrossing  socialmedia  small  participation  participatory  virtual  being  presence  mmo  work  sharing  gaming  games  videogames  community  ethics 
august 2018 by robertogreco
Letters of Note: Ladies & Gentlemen of A.D. 2088
"The sort of leaders we need now are not those who promise ultimate victory over Nature through perseverance in living as we do right now, but those with the courage and intelligence to present to the world what appears to be Nature's stern but reasonable surrender terms:

1. Reduce and stabilize your population.
2. Stop poisoning the air, the water, and the topsoil.
3. Stop preparing for war and start dealing with your real problems.
4. Teach your kids, and yourselves, too, while you're at it, how to inhabit a small planet without helping to kill it.
5. Stop thinking science can fix anything if you give it a trillion dollars.
6. Stop thinking your grandchildren will be OK no matter how wasteful or destructive you may be, since they can go to a nice new planet on a spaceship. That is really mean, and stupid.
7. And so on. Or else."

[via http://www.openculture.com/2016/07/in-1988-kurt-vonnegut-gives-seven-pieces-advice-to-people-living-in-2088.html
via https://kottke.org/18/07/seven-bits-of-advice-from-kurt-vonnegut-to-people-living-100-years-in-the-future ]
vonnegut  advice  future  environment  sustainability  selfishness  goodancestors  1988  2088  nature  planetearth  spaceshipearth  ecosystems  war  small  slow  waste  wastefulness  escapism  technosolutionism 
july 2018 by robertogreco
Social media moderators should look to the oldest digital communities for tips about caring — Quartz
"Back when women only made up a tenth of the online population, Echo’s user base was 40% female. On its website, a banner read: “Echo has the highest population of women in cyberspace. And none of them will give you the time of day.” Stacy made Echo membership free for women for an entire year. She created private spaces on Echo where women could talk amongst themselves and report instances of harassment. She spoke to women’s groups about the internet, and she taught Unix courses out of her apartment so that a lack of technical knowledge would not limit new users to the experience of computer-mediated communication.

In short, Stacy achieved near gender parity on an almost entirely male-dominated internet because she cared enough to make it so.

For many in tech, caring means caring about: investing, without immediate promise of remuneration, in the pursuit of building something “insanely great,” as Steve Jobs once said. It means risking stability and sanity in order to change the world.

But what Stacy’s legacy represents is caring of another sort: not only caring about but caring for. It is this second type of caring that has been lost in our age of big social.

Moderators are a key part of this relationship. Stacy was a founder-moderator: a combination of tech support and sheriff who thought deeply about decisions affecting the lives of her users. She baked these values into the community: Every conversation on Echo was moderated by both a male and a female “host,” who were users who, in exchange for waived subscription fees, set the tone of discussion and watched for abuse.

In The Virtual Community: Homesteading on the Electronic Frontier, an early book about online community, Howard Rheingold documents such hosts all over the early internet, from a French BBS whose paid “animateurs” were culled from its most active users to the hosts on Echo’s West Coast counterpart, The WELL. “Hosts are the people,” he wrote, who “welcome newcomers, introduce people to one another, clean up after the guests, provoke discussion, and break up fights if necessary.” Like any party host, it was their own home they safeguarded.

Today the role of moderators has changed. Rather than deputized members of our own community, they are a precarious workforce on the front lines of digital trauma. The raw feed of flagged Facebook content is unimaginable to the average user: a parade of violence, pornography, and hate speech. According to a recent Bloomberg article, YouTube moderators are encouraged to work only a few hours at a time, and have access to on-call psychiatry. Contract workers in India and the Philippines work far removed from the content they moderate, struggling to apply global guidelines to a multiplicity of cultural contexts.

No matter where you’re located, it’s not easy to be a moderator. The details of such practices are “routinely hidden from public view, siloed within companies and treated as trade secrets,” as Catherine Buni and Soraya Chemaly note in a 2016 study of moderation for The Verge. They’re one of Silicon Valley’s many hidden workforces: Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter thrive on the invisibility of such labor, which makes users feel safe enough to continue engaging—and sharing personal data—with the platform. To sell happy places online, we are outsourcing the unhappiness to other people.

How did we stop caring about the communities we created? This is partially a question of scale. With mass adoption comes the mass visibility of brutality, and the offshore workers and low-wage contract laborers who moderate the major social media platforms cycle out quickly, traumatized by visions of beheadings and sexual violence. But it’s also a design choice, engineered to make us care about social platforms by concealing from us those who care after them. Put simply, we have fractured care.

The major platforms’ solution to the problem of scale has been to employ contract workers to enforce moderation guidelines. But what if we took the opposite approach and treated scale itself as the issue? This raises new questions: What is the largest number of people a platform can adequately care for? Can that number really be in the billions? What is the ideal size for a community?

Perhaps big social was never the right outcome for this wild experiment we call the internet. Perhaps we’d be happier with constellations of smaller, regional, and interest-specific communities; communities whose stakeholders are the users themselves, and whose moderators and decision-makers aren’t rendered opaque through distance and centralized authority. Perhaps social life doesn’t scale. Perhaps the future looks very much like the past. More like Echo.

Instead of expanding forever outward, we could instead empower groups of people with the tools to build their own communities. We have a long history of regional Community Networks and FreeNets to learn from. A generation of young programmers and designers are already proposing alternatives to the most baked-in protocols and conventions of the web: the Beaker Browser, a model for a new decentralized, peer-to-peer web, built on a protocol called Dat, or the zero-noise, all-signal community of Are.na, a collaborative social platform for thinkers and creatives. Failing those, a home-brew world of BBS—Echo included—exists still, for those ready to brave millennial-proof windows of pure text.

* * *

There is nothing inevitable about the future of social media—or, indeed, the web itself. Like any human project, it’s only the culmination of choices, some made decades ago. The internet was built as a resource-sharing network for computer scientists; the web, as a way for nuclear physicists to compare notes. That either have evolved beyond these applications is entirely due to the creative adaptations of users. Being entrenched in the medium, they have always had a knack for developing social commons out of even the most opaque screen-based places.

The utopian idealism of the first generation online influenced a popular conception of the internet as a community technology. Our beleaguered social media platforms have grafted themselves onto this assumption, blinding us to their true natures: They are consumption engines, hybridizing community and commerce by selling communities to advertisers (and aspiring political regimes).

It would serve us to consider alternatives to such a limited vision of community life online. For original tech pioneers such as Stacy, success was never about a successful exit, but rather the sustained, long-term guardianship of a community of users. Now more than ever, they should be regarded as the greatest resource in the world."
communication  culture  bbs  2018  claireevans  gender  internet  online  web  history  moderation  care  caring  scale  scalability  small  slow  size  siliconvalley  socialmedia  community  communities  technology  groupsize  advertising  are.na 
june 2018 by robertogreco
Thread by @ecomentario: "p.31 ecoed.wikispaces.com/file/view/C.+A… ecoed.wikispaces.com/file/view/C.+A… p.49 ecoed.wikispaces.com/file/view/C.+A… ecoed.wikispaces.co […]"
[on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ecomentario/status/1007269183317512192 ]

[many of the captures come from: "From A Pedagogy for Liberation to Liberation from Pedagogy" by Gustavo Esteva, Madhu S. Prakash, and Dana L. Stuchul, which is no longer available online as a standalone PDF (thus the UTexas broken link), but is inside the following document, also linked to in the thread.]

[“Rethinking Freire: Globalization and the Environmental Crisis" edited by C.A.Bowers and Frédérique Apffel-Marglin
https://ecoed.wikispaces.com/file/view/C.+A.+Bowers,+Frdrique+Apffel-Marglin,+Frederique+Apffel-Marglin,+Chet+A.+Bowers+Re-Thinking+Freire+Globalization+and+the+Environmental+Crisis+Sociocultural,+Political,+and+Historical+Studies+in+Educatio+2004.pdf ]
isabelrodíguez  paulofreire  ivanillich  wendellberry  subcomandantemarcos  gandhi  2018  gustavoesteva  madhuprakash  danastuchul  deschooling  colonialism  future  environment  sustainability  cabowers  frédériqueapffel-marglin  education  campesinos  bolivia  perú  pedagogyoftheoppressed  globalization  marinaarratia  power  authority  hierarchy  horizontality  socialjustice  justice  economics  society  community  cooperation  collaboration  politics  progress  growth  rural  urban  altruism  oppression  participation  marginality  marginalization  karlmarx  socialism  autonomy  local  slow  small  capitalism  consumerism  life  living  well-being  consumption  production  productivity  gustavoterán  indigeneity  work  labor  knowledge  experience  culture  joannamacy  spirituality  buddhism  entanglement  interdependence  interbeing  interexistence  philosophy  being  individualism  chiefseattle  lutherstandingbear  johngrim  ethics  morethanhuman  multispecies  humans  human  posthumnism  transhumanism  competition  marxism  liberation  simplicity  poverty  civilization  greed  p 
june 2018 by robertogreco
degrowth.info | Web portal on degrowth
"Welcome to the German degrowth web portal. Here, you find information around degrowth. Like answers to the question “What is degrowth?”, news on current projects as well as information about the international Conferences on Degrowth for Ecological Sustainability and Social Equity. The web portal is further home to the degrowth media library with audio, video and text materials, an international blog, as well as a calendar of events."
degrowth  small  slow  sustainability  postcapitalism  socialequity  equity 
june 2018 by robertogreco
Survival of the Kindest: Dacher Keltner Reveals the New Rules of Power
"When Pixar was dreaming up the idea for Inside Out, a film that would explore the roiling emotions inside the head of a young girl, they needed guidance from an expert. So they called Dacher Keltner.

Dacher is a psychologist at UC Berkeley who has dedicated his career to understanding how human emotion shapes the way we interact with the world, how we properly manage difficult or stressful situations, and ultimately, how we treat one another.

In fact, he refers to emotions as the “language of social living.” The more fluent we are in this language, the happier and more meaningful our lives can be.

We tackle a wide variety of topics in this conversation that I think you’ll really enjoy.

You’ll learn:

• The three main drivers that determine your personal happiness and life satisfaction
• Simple things you can do everyday to jumpstart the “feel good” reward center of your brain
• The principle of “jen” and how we can use “high-jen behaviors” to bootstrap our own happiness
• How to have more positive influence in our homes, at work and in our communities.
• How to teach your kids to be more kind and empathetic in an increasingly self-centered world
• What you can do to stay grounded and humble if you are in a position of power or authority
• How to catch our own biases when we’re overly critical of another’s ideas (or overconfident in our own)

And much more. We could have spent an hour discussing any one of these points alone, but there was so much I wanted to cover. I’m certain you’ll find this episode well worth your time."
compassion  kindness  happiness  dacherkeltner  power  charlesdarwin  evolution  psychology  culture  society  history  race  racism  behavior  satisfaction  individualism  humility  authority  humans  humanism  morality  morals  multispecies  morethanhuman  objects  wisdom  knowledge  heidegger  ideas  science  socialdarwinism  class  naturalselection  egalitarianism  abolitionism  care  caring  art  vulnerability  artists  scientists  context  replicability  research  socialsciences  2018  statistics  replication  metaanalysis  socialcontext  social  borntobegood  change  human  emotions  violence  evolutionarypsychology  slvery  rape  stevenpinker  torture  christopherboehm  hunter-gatherers  gender  weapons  democracy  machiavelli  feminism  prisons  mentalillness  drugs  prisonindustrialcomplex  progress  politics  1990s  collaboration  canon  horizontality  hierarchy  small  civilization  cities  urban  urbanism  tribes  religion  dogma  polygamy  slavery  pigeons  archaeology  inequality  nomads  nomadism  anarchism  anarchy  agriculture  literacy  ruleoflaw  humanrights  governance  government  hannah 
march 2018 by robertogreco
a rat is killed, a man broken, a horse splashes | sara hendren
"Take small steps. In an experimental approach to social change, presume that we cannot know the consequences of our interventions in advance. Given this postulate of ignorance, prefer wherever possible to take a small step, stand back, observe, and then plan the next small move. As the biologist J. B. S. Haldane metaphorically described the advantages of smallness: “You can drop a mouse down a thousand-yard mineshaft; and on arriving at the bottom, it gets a slight shock and walks away. A rat is killed, a man broken, a horse splashes.”

Favor reversibility. Prefer interventions that can easily be undone if they turn out to be mistakes. Irreversible interventions have irreversible consequences. Interventions into ecosystems require particular care in this respect, given our ignorance about how they interact. Aldo Leopold captured the spirit of caution required: “The first rule of intelligent tinkering is to keep all the parts.”

Plan on surprises. Choose plans that allow the largest accommodation to the unforeseen. In agricultural schemes this may mean choosing and preparing land so that it can grow any of several crops. In planning housing, it would mean “designing in” flexibility for accommodating changes in family structures or living styles. In a factory it may mean selecting a location, layout, or piece of machinery that allows for new processes, materials, or product lines down the road.

Plan on human inventiveness. Always plan under the assumption that those who become involved in the project later will have or will develop the experience and insight to improve on the design."
2018  sarahendren  seeinglikeastate  jamescscott  urbanplanning  socialservices  government  everyday  maps  mapping  legibility  highmodernism  socialengineering  reversibility  small  slow  humanism  humans  ecosystems  markets  community  cooperation  scale  scalability  taylorism 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Unschooling as a Journey of Self Discovery | Growing Minds
"Here’s some food for thought, the institutions that are most alike in our society are schools and jail. The strictly adhered to timetables, uniforms and all manner of rules and regulations that are designed to turn human beings into numbers on a piece of paper. I used to be one of those numbers. Hi, my name is Scout, I’m a seventeen-year-old vegetarian with a music addiction and a soft spot for zombies.

I went to Durban Girls College, considered one of the best private schools in South Africa, not to mention one of the most competitive and I couldn’t have been more miserable. I could never keep up with the work load and the teachers didn’t make me feel safe enough to ask for help. If you asked too many questions you were either wasting their time or you hadn’t been paying attention. My marks were always terrible and I saw them as a reflection of my self-worth. I didn’t fit the system. After six grades, two visits to an occupational therapist and about a thousand anxiety attacks, my mom decided to teach me and my brother from home. We didn’t use a curriculum and we had no set “lessons” but I learned more in those first few weeks of being deschooled than I did in the entirety of my main stream school career. I developed an appetite for learning. Without the constant pressure of trying to keep up with everyone else I found my own rhythm, no longer was I forced to memorize information and give text book answers, I could have an opinion.

Naturally everyone we knew thought that my mom was crazy. She was depriving us of a “good” education. What is a good education? And is it worth sacrificing your happiness for? I guess they all figured that my brother and I would end up on the street or at least our IQ levels would drop dramatically. Well it’s been six years since I started my learning journey, the road so far? I’m an avid reader and read everything from Austen to King. Creating is my passion whether its spending hours in the kitchen baking up a storm or sitting at my piano composing the day way and I have finished my second year as a part time student of a fine art, animation and design school that I got a scholarship to without a matric certificate, IBE or any other piece of paper that we allow to define our abilities. I take pictures, I go out with my friends, I attend a drama class every Thursday and have developed a unicorn obsession. Some days I don’t get out of bed till ten and that’s okay, everyday can be whatever I want it to be. Every day I learn something new, no matter how small.


I’m no Einstein and I have no magic tricks up my sleeve but I have had the opportunity to just be without measuring myself by the standards institutions set. I have no doubt in my mind that I would not be the person I am today if I had stayed in school, being unschooled has taught me about who I am, who I want to be in the world and that when we don’t limit ourselves anything is possible."
unschooling  learning  education  schools  schooling  anxiety  howwelearn  testing  learnign  southafrica  2017  identity  slow  small 
january 2018 by robertogreco
The Rib
"The Rib publishes commentary and criticism in the form of reviews, editorials, interviews, and essays that connects artists, spaces, curators, and advocates throughout the United States.

Smaller cities foster dynamic art making that demands a comprehensive critical platform in order for artists and their advocates to freely exchange ideas and opportunities. The Rib is founded on the belief that critical coverage leads to dialogue, dialogue leads to a strong network, and connectivity leads to greater social and economic viability. Like a physical rib--a small but essential bone within a network of other to protect a pulsing organ-- The Rib continuously expands and contracts to facilitate a flow of dialogue and critique in order to collapse boundaries between communities and audiences. To that end, we seek to connect, collaborate with, and safeguard organs of art making on the American periphery.

Corey Oberlander > Managing Editor
Leah Triplett Harrington > Editor
Lindsey Stapleton > Creative Director

We are interested in hearing from anyone and everyone. Please send a note to rib@the_rib.net with any thoughts you have. To submit work, writing or a concept to us, please go to our submissions page."
art  cities  small  coreyoberlander  leahtriplettharrington  lindseystapleton  museums  curation  us 
december 2017 by robertogreco
Structure | The New Yorker
"He wrote Structur. He wrote Alpha. He wrote mini-macros galore. Structur lacked an “e” because, in those days, in the Kedit directory eight letters was the maximum he could use in naming a file. In one form or another, some of these things have come along since, but this was 1984 and the future stopped there. Howard, who died in 2005, was the polar opposite of Bill Gates—in outlook as well as income. Howard thought the computer should be adapted to the individual and not the other way around. One size fits one. The programs he wrote for me were molded like clay to my requirements—an appealing approach to anything called an editor."

[via: "Software written for an audience of one: I love John McPhee's meditation here -- https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2013/01/14/structure "
https://twitter.com/pomeranian99/status/935221709698949121 ]
customization  software  johnmcphee  howardstrauss  2013  small  audience  bespoke  individualization  personalization  audiencesofone 
november 2017 by robertogreco
EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE OK by alienmelon
"It is a collection of life experiences, commentary on struggle, and oddly enough my own version of a power-fantasy. I have come to think that we have a backward idea of power, and perception of strength. We always have, and I think this is a byproduct of a historically patriarchal system. From religion, to politics, to economics, power is viewed as how many people you can subjugate. Respect is how many people fear you because of your power. How you can get what you want at the expense of others, how you are the biggest dog in the dog-eat-dog world that we have created for ourselves...

Our popular entertainment has always drawn from this point of view. It's simply fact. You use your power to hurt your enemies and eliminate them.

We don't really have a concept, in our culture, or discussion about alternative views of power from a survivor's standpoint. How is it like for survivors? Are people that live with trauma strong? Are people with mental disorders, or PTSD strong? Why is suicide seen as selfish and weak, when the person that lived with it got as far as they did? We don't popularly view survivors, victims, traumas, etc, as strength. It is a weakness, and I don't like that. I think this is because we have created a culture where we cannot really ever move past pain. We don't teach people how to heal, to overcome, or be powerful. We teach people to be perpetual survivors. We live with pain, but no way of transcending it. I think a lot of this can be credited to how we view "strength". I don't think the icon, epitome, of strength should be how many people you can hurt, conquer, overcome, but how much of this abuse you can overcome. How long you can live with what happened to you. How strong you are for being here. How powerful you are for being strong because you have no other option but to be strong.
Surviving is one thing, but living with it is an entirely different fight, and I think this is where examples of real strength are.

If approached from this point of view then it is an obvious conclusion that you should be celebrated simply for being here.

You are normal for your imperfections, and the way you cope. You are the hero in the story of your life, and you have every right to be proud.

These are a collection of very abstract life experiences, things I felt while going through hard times, and how I felt, or moved on, afterward.

A lot of it is presented via humor, or creates ridiculous circumstances, because I feel like life is ridiculous. It's one damn thing after the other and after a while there's nothing left to do but laugh at it. Humor is what helps take the edge off, perhaps even create a platform for transcendence. Either way, it has been cathartic."
games  gaming  videogames  seriousgames  power  subjugation  bing  life  everyday  small  smallness  living  imperfections  presence 
november 2017 by robertogreco
Drew Dudley: Everyday leadership | TED Talk | TED.com
"We have all changed someone's life -- usually without even realizing it. In this funny talk, Drew Dudley calls on all of us to celebrate leadership as the everyday act of improving each other's lives."
small  everyday  leadership  2010  drewdudley  slow 
november 2017 by robertogreco
Lingua Franca - February 2001 | Cover Story: The Ex-Cons
"The only thing that arouses Luttwak's ire more than untrammeled capitalism is its elite enthusiasts—the intellectuals, politicians, policy makers, and businessmen who claim that "just because the market is always more efficient, the market should always rule." Alan Greenspan earns Luttwak's special contempt: "Alan Greenspan is a Spencerian. That makes him an economic fascist." Spencerians like Greenspan believe that "the harshest economic pressures" will "stimulate some people to...economically heroic deeds. They will become great entrepreneurs or whatever else, and as for the ones who fail, let them fail." Luttwak's other b'te noire is "Chainsaw Al" Dunlap, the peripatetic CEO who reaps unimaginable returns for corporate shareholders by firing substantial numbers of employees from companies. "Chainsaw does it," says Luttwak, referring to Dunlap's downsizing measures, "because he's simpleminded, harsh, and cruel." It's just "economic sadism." Against Greenspan and Dunlap, Luttwak affirms, "I believe that one ought to have only as much market efficiency as one needs, because everything that we value in human life is within the realm of inefficiency—love, family, attachment, community, culture, old habits, comfortable old shoes.""



"Although Luttwak writes in his 1999 book Turbo-Capitalism, "I deeply believe...in the virtues of capitalism," his opposition to the spread of market values is so acute that it puts him on the far end of today's political spectrum—a position that Luttwak congenitally enjoys. "Edward is a very perverse guy, intellectually and in many other ways," says former Commentary editor Norman Podhoretz, one of Luttwak's early champions during the 1970s. "He's a contrarian. He enjoys confounding expectations. But I frankly don't even know how serious he is in this latest incarnation." Luttwak insists that he is quite serious. He calls for socialized medicine. He advocates a strong welfare state, claiming, "If I had my druthers, I would prohibit any form of domestic charity." Charity is a "cop-out," he says: It takes dignity away from the poor."

[via: https://twitter.com/jonathanshainin/status/907983419413381120
via: https://twitter.com/camerontw/status/908176042182950914 ]

[from the responses to the tweet above:

"reminds me of kurt vonnegut on buying an envelope"
https://twitter.com/okay_dc/status/907991703184912386

"[When Vonnegut tells his wife he's going out to buy an envelope] Oh, she says, well, you're not a poor man. You know, why don't you go online and buy a hundred envelopes and put them in the closet? And so I pretend not to hear her. And go out to get an envelope because I'm going to have a hell of a good time in the process of buying one envelope. I meet a lot of people. And, see some great looking babes. And a fire engine goes by. And I give them the thumbs up. And, and ask a woman what kind of dog that is. And, and I don't know. The moral of the story is, is we're here on Earth to fart around. And, of course, the computers will do us out of that. And, what the computer people don't realize, or they don't care, is we're dancing animals. You know, we love to move around. And, we're not supposed to dance at all anymore."

http://blog.garrytan.com/kurt-vonnegut-goes-to-buy-an-envelope-profund
https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9299135 ]

[also from the responses:

"Excellent. Nicholas Carr http://www.roughtype.com/?p=4708 "
https://twitter.com/BrianSJ3/status/908022365128462337

"Pichai doesn’t seem able to comprehend that the essence, and the joy, of parenting may actually lie in all the small, trivial gestures that parents make on behalf of or in concert with their kids — like picking out a song to play in the car. Intimacy is redefined as inefficiency."
http://www.roughtype.com/?p=4708 ]

[Cf: "The automated island"
http://crapfutures.tumblr.com/post/161539196134/the-automated-island

"In his frankly curmudgeonly but still insightful essay ‘Why I am Not Going to Buy a Computer’ (1987), Wendell Berry lays out his ‘standards for technological innovation’. There are nine points, and in the third point Berry states that the new device or system ‘should do work that is clearly and demonstrably better’ than the old one. This seems obvious and not too much to ask of a technology, but how well does the automated entrance at Ponta Gorda fulfill that claim?

Berry also has a point, the last in his list, about not replacing or disrupting ‘anything good that already exists’. This includes relationships between people. In other words, solve actual problems - rather than finding just any old place to put a piece of technology you want to sell. Even if the scanners at Ponta Gorda did work, how would eliminating the one human being who is employed to welcome visitors and answer questions improve the system? In Berry’s words, ‘what would be superseded would be not only something, but somebody’. The person who works there is a ‘good that already exists’, a human relationship that should be preserved, especially when her removal from a job would be bought at so little gain."]
2001  efficiency  capitalism  policy  politics  alangreenspan  edwardluttwak  freemarkets  humans  humanism  love  family  attachment  community  culture  canon  inefficiency  economics  slow  small  coreyrobin  charity  poverty  markets  welfarestate  dignity  normanpodhoretz  karlmarx  marxism  johngray  conservatism  thatcherism  ronaldreagan  elitism  kurtvonnegut  nicholascarr  parenting 
september 2017 by robertogreco
9 tools to navigate an 'uncertain future,' from new book, Whiplash - TechRepublic
[See also:

"Joi Ito’s 9 Principles of the Media Lab"
https://vimeo.com/99160925

"Joi Ito Co-Author of Whiplash: How To Survive Our Faster Future"
https://archive.org/details/Joi_Ito_Co-Author_of_Whiplash_-_How_To_Survive_Our_Faster_Future ]

""Humans are perpetually failing to grasp the significance of their own creations," write Joi Ito and Jeff Howe in Whiplash: How to Survive Our Faster Future. In the new title, released today, Ito, director of the MIT Media Lab, and Howe, a journalism professor at Northeastern University and Wired contributor, make the case that technology moves faster than our ability to understand it.

As technology quickly advances, it's important to separate inventions from use: Thomas Edison invented the phonograph, but it was Eldridge Reeves Johnson who brought it into homes and laid the groundwork for the modern recording industry. In the same way, we often don't know how modern technology—from the iPhone to the Oculus Rift—will truly be used after it is created. "What technology actually does, the real impact it will have on society, is often that which we least expect," write the authors.

Drawing from a series of case studies and research, the authors offer nine guidelines for living in our new, fast-paced world. The principles, writes Joi Ito, are often displayed on a screen at the MIT Media Lab's main meeting room.

1. Emergence over authority
According to the authors, the Internet is transforming our "basic attitude toward information," moving away from the opinions of the few and instead giving voice to the many. Emergence, they argue, is a principle that captures the power of a collective intelligence. Another piece here, the authors say, is reflected in the availability of free online education, with platforms such as edX, and communities like hackerspace that pave the way for skill-building and innovation.

2. Pull over push
Safecast, an open environmental data platform which emerged from Kickstarter funding, a strong network of donors, and citizen scientists, was an important public project that helped residents of Fukushima learn how radiation was spreading. The collaborative effort here, known as a "pull strategy," the authors argue, shows a new way of compiling resources for real-time events. "'Pull' draws resources from participants' networks as they need them, rather than stockpiling materials and information," write the authors. In terms of management, it can be a way to reduce spending and increase flexibility, they write. For the entrepreneur, it is "the difference between success and failure. As with emergence over authority, pull strategies exploit the reduced cost of innovation that new methods of communication, prototyping, fundraising and learning have made available."

3. Compasses over maps
This principle has "the greatest potential for misunderstanding," the authors write. But here's the idea: "A map implies detailed knowledge of the terrain, and the existence of an optimum route; the compass is a far more flexible tool and requires the user to employ creativity and autonomy in discovering his or her own path." This approach, the authors say, can offer a mental framework that allows for new discoveries. It's a bit like the "accidental invention" method Pagan Kennedy noticed when researching for her New York Times magazine column, "Who Made This?"

4. Risk over safety
As traditional means of manufacturing and communicating have slowed due to tech like 3D printing and the internet, "enabling more people to take risks on creating new products and businesses, the center of innovation shifts to the edges," write the authors. They spent time trying to find the reasons for the success of the Chinese city Shenzhen, one of the world's major manufacturing hubs for electronics. Its power, they found, lies in its "ecosystem," the authors write, which includes "experimentation, and a willingness to fail and start again from scratch."

5. Disobedience over compliance
Disobedience is, in part, woven into the DNA of the MIT Media Lab. Great inventions, the authors write, don't often happen when people are following the rules. Instead of thinking about breaking laws, the authors challenge us to think about "whether we should question them." Last July, to put this principle to the test, the MIT Media Lab hosted a conference called "Forbidden Research," which explored everything from robot sex to genetically modified organisms. It was a chance to move past the "acceptable" parameters of academic dialogue and bring rigorous dialogue to issues that will surely have an impact on humanity.

6. Practice over theory
"In a faster future, in which change has become a new constant, there is often a higher cost to waiting and planning than there is to doing and improvising," write the authors. We live in a world in which failure is an important, and sometimes essential, part of growth—but that can only happen when we get out there and start putting our ideas into action. The approach, the authors write, can apply to anything from software to manufacturing to synthetic biology.

7. Diversity over ability
Research shows that diverse groups, working together, are more successful than homogenous ones. And diversity has become a central piece in the philosophy of many schools, workplaces, and other institutions. "In an era in which your challenges are likely to feature maximum complexity...it's simply good management, which marks a striking departure from an age when diversity was presumed to come at the expense of ability," write the authors.

8. Resilience over strength
Large companies, the authors write, have, in the past, "hardened themselves against failure." But this approach is misguided. "Organizations resilient enough to successfully recover from failures also benefit from an immune-system effect," they write. The mistakes actually help systems build a way to prevent future damage. "There is no Fort Knox in a digital age," the authors write. "Everything that can be hacked will, at some point, be hacked."

9. Systems over objects
How can we build accurate weather forecasts in an age of climate change? Or trustworthy financial predictions amid political changes? These types of issues illustrate why it may be worth "reconstructing the sciences entirely," according to neuroscientist Ed Boyden, quoted in the book, who proposes we move from "interdisciplinary" to "omnidisciplinary" in solving complex problems. Boyden went on to win the Breakthrough Prize, awarded by Mark Zuckerberg and other tech giants, for his novel development of optogenetics, in which neurons can be controlled by shining a light."
joiito  future  emergence  authority  safecast  systems  systemsthinking  small  agility  agile  donellameadows  jayforrester  influence  risk  safety  disobedience  compliance  autonomy  reslilience  decentralization  openstudioproject  lcproject  sfsh  self-organization  practice  theory  arabspring  ruleoflaw  jeffhowe  networks  mitmedialab  collectivism  collectiveintelligence  compasses  institutions  invention  innovation  failure  scale  diversity  ability  heterogeneity  homogeneity  management  interdisciplinary  transdisciplinary  omnidisciplinary  complexity  internet  web  attention  edboyden  climatechange  medialab 
july 2017 by robertogreco
how to do nothing – Jenny Odell – Medium
[video: https://vimeo.com/232544904 ]

"What I would do there is nothing. I’d just sit there. And although I felt a bit guilty about how incongruous it seemed — beautiful garden versus terrifying world — it really did feel necessary, like a survival tactic. I found this necessity of doing nothing so perfectly articulated in a passage from Gilles Deleuze in Negotiations:
…we’re riddled with pointless talk, insane quantities of words and images. Stupidity’s never blind or mute. So it’s not a problem of getting people to express themselves but of providing little gaps of solitude and silence in which they might eventually find something to say. Repressive forces don’t stop people expressing themselves but rather force them to express themselves; what a relief to have nothing to say, the right to say nothing, because only then is there a chance of framing the rare, and ever rarer, thing that might be worth saying. (emphasis mine)

He wrote that in 1985, but the sentiment is something I think we can all identify with right now, almost to a degree that’s painful. The function of nothing here, of saying nothing, is that it’s a precursor to something, to having something to say. “Nothing” is neither a luxury nor a waste of time, but rather a necessary part of meaningful thought and speech."



"In The Bureau of Suspended Objects, a project I did while in residence at Recology SF (otherwise known as the dump), I spent three months photographing, cataloguing and researching the origins of 200 objects. I presented them as browsable archive in which people could scan the objects’ tags and learn about the manufacturing, material, and corporate histories of the objects.

One woman at the Recology opening was very confused and said, “Wait… so did you actually make anything? Or did you just put things on shelves?” (Yes, I just put things on shelves.)"



"That’s an intellectual reason for making nothing, but I think that in my cases, it’s something simpler than that. Yes, the BYTE images speak in interesting and inadvertent ways about some of the more sinister aspects of technology, but I also just really love them.

This love of one’s subject is something I’m provisionally calling the observational eros. The observational eros is an emotional fascination with one’s subject that is so strong it overpowers the desire to make anything new. It’s pretty well summed up in the introduction of Steinbeck’s Cannery Row, where he describes the patience and care involved in close observation of one’s specimens:
When you collect marine animals there are certain flat worms so delicate that they are almost impossible to capture whole, for they break and tatter under the touch. You must let them ooze and crawl of their own will onto a knife blade and then lift them gently into your bottle of sea water. And perhaps that might be the way to write this book — to open the page and let the stories crawl in by themselves.

The subject of observation is so precious and fragile that it risks breaking under even the weight of observation. As an artist, I fear the breaking and tattering of my specimens under my touch, and so with everything I’ve ever “made,” without even thinking about it, I’ve tried to keep a very light touch.

It may not surprise you to know, then, that my favorite movies tend to be documentaries, and that one of my favorite public art pieces was done by the documentary filmmaker, Eleanor Coppola. In 1973, she carried out a public art project called Windows, which materially speaking consisted only of a map with a list of locations in San Francisco.

The map reads, “Eleanor Coppola has designated a number of windows in all parts of San Francisco as visual landmarks. Her purpose in this project is to bring to the attention of the whole community, art that exists in its own context, where it is found, without being altered or removed to a gallery situation.” I like to consider this piece in contrast with how we normally experience public art, which is some giant steel thing that looks like it landed in a corporate plaza from outer space.

Coppola instead casts a subtle frame over the whole of the city itself as a work of art, a light but meaningful touch that recognizes art that exists where it already is."



"What amazed me about birdwatching was the way it changed the granularity of my perception, which was pretty “low res” to begin with. At first, I just noticed birdsong more. Of course it had been there all along, but now that I was paying attention to it, I realized that it was almost everywhere, all day, all the time. In particular I can’t imagine how I went most of my life so far without noticing scrub jays, which are incredibly loud and sound like this:

[video]

And then, one by one, I started learning other songs and being able to associate each of them with a bird, so that now when I walk into the the rose garden, I inadvertently acknowledge them in my head as though they were people: hi raven, robin, song sparrow, chickadee, goldfinch, towhee, hawk, nuthatch, and so on. The diversification (in my attention) of what was previously “bird sounds” into discrete sounds that carry meaning is something I can only compare to the moment that I realized that my mom spoke three languages, not two.

My mom has only ever spoken English to me, and for a very long time, I assumed that whenever my mom was speaking to another Filipino person, that she was speaking Tagalog. I didn’t really have a good reason for thinking this other than that I knew she did speak Tagalog and it sort of all sounded like Tagalog to me. But my mom was actually only sometimes speaking Tagalog, and other times speaking Ilonggo, which is a completely different language that is specific to where she’s from in the Philippines.

The languages are not the same, i.e. one is not simply a dialect of the other; in fact, the Philippines is full of language groups that, according to my mom, have so little in common that speakers would not be able to understand each other, and Tagalog is only one.

This type of embarrassing discovery, in which something you thought was one thing is actually two things, and each of those two things is actually ten things, seems not only naturally cumulative but also a simple function of the duration and quality of one’s attention. With effort, we can become attuned to things, able to pick up and then hopefully differentiate finer and finer frequencies each time.

What these moments of stopping to listen have in common with those labyrinthine spaces is that they all initially enact some kind of removal from the sphere of familiarity. Even if brief or momentary, they are retreats, and like longer retreats, they affect the way we see everyday life when we do come back to it."



"Even the labyrinths I mentioned, by their very shape, collect our attention into these small circular spaces. When Rebecca Solnit, in her book Wanderlust, wrote about walking in the labyrinth inside the Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, she said, “The circuit was so absorbing I lost sight of the people nearby and hardly heard the sound of the traffic and the bells for six o’clock.”

In the case of Deep Listening, although in theory it can be practiced anywhere at any time, it’s telling that there have also been Deep Listening retreats. And Turrell’s Sky Pesher not only removes the context from around the sky, but removes you from your surroundings (and in some ways, from the context of your life — given its underground, tomblike quality)."



"My dad said that leaving the confined context of a job made him understand himself not in relation to that world, but just to the world, and forever after that, things that happened at work only seemed like one small part of something much larger. It reminds me of how John Muir described himself not as a naturalist but as a “poetico-trampo-geologist-botanist and ornithologist-naturalist etc. etc.”, or of how Pauline Oliveros described herself in 1974: “Pauline Oliveros is a two legged human being, female, lesbian, musician, and composer among other things which contribute to her identity. She is herself and lives with her partner, along with assorted poultry, dogs, cats, rabbits and tropical hermit crabs.” Incidentally, this has encouraged me to maybe change my bio to: “Jenny Odell is an artist, professor, thinker, walker, sleeper, eater, and amateur birdnoticer.”

3. the precarity of nothing

There’s an obvious critique of all of this, and that’s that it comes from a place of privilege. I can go to the rose garden, or stare into trees all day, because I have a teaching job that only requires me to be somewhere two days a week, not to mention a whole set of other privileges. Part of the reason my dad could take that time off was that on some level, he had enough reason to think he could get another job. It’s possible to understand the practice of doing nothing solely as a self-indulgent luxury, the equivalent of taking a mental health day if you’re lucky enough to work at a place that has those.

But here I come back to Deleuze’s “right to say nothing,” and although we can definitely say that this right is variously accessible or even inaccessible for some, I believe that it is indeed a right. For example, the push for an 8-hour workday in 1886 called for “8 hours of work, 8 hours of rest, and 8 hours of what we will.” I’m struck by the quality of things that associated with the category “What we Will”: rest, thought, flowers, sunshine.

These are bodily, human things, and this bodily-ness is something I will come back to. When Samuel Gompers, who led the labor group that organized this particular iteration of the 8-hour movement, was asked, “What does labor want?” he responded, “It wants the earth and the fullness thereof.” And to me it seems significant that it’s not 8 hours of, say, “leisure” or “… [more]
jennyodell  idleness  nothing  art  eyeo2017  photoshop  specimens  care  richardprince  gillesdeleuze  recology  internetarchive  sanfrancisco  eleanorcoppola  2017  1973  maps  mapping  scottpolach  jamesturrell  architecture  design  structure  labyrinths  oakland  juliamorgan  chapelofthechimes  paulineoliveros  ucsd  1970s  deeplisening  listening  birds  birdwatching  birding  noticing  classideas  observation  perception  time  gracecathedral  deeplistening  johncage  gordonhempton  silence  maintenance  conviviality  technology  bodies  landscape  ordinary  everyday  cyclicality  cycles  1969  mierleladermanukeles  sensitivity  senses  multispecies  canon  productivity  presence  connectivity  conversation  audrelorde  gabriellemoss  fomo  nomo  nosmo  davidabram  becominganimal  animals  nature  ravens  corvids  crows  bluejays  pets  human-animalrelations  human-animalelationships  herons  dissent  rowe  caliressler  jodythompson  francoberardi  fiverr  popos  publicspace  blackmirror  anthonyantonellis  facebook  socialmedia  email  wpa  history  bayarea  crowdcontrol  mikedavis  cityofquartz  er 
july 2017 by robertogreco
The Snarling Girl | Hazlitt
"Oh really, she says. Now I matter? Wrong, motherfucker: I mattered before. (Also: Nope, can’t help you write a book, best of luck.)

She’s a little trigger-happy on the misanthropic rage, this snarling girl. She is often accused of “not living up to her potential.” She is neither inspired by nor impressed with prep school. The college admissions race leaves her cold. Her overbearing mother berates her about crappy grades and lack of ambition. (O-ho, the snarling girl says, you want to see lack of ambition? I’ll show you lack of ambition!) Where she is expected to go right, she makes a habit of veering left. She is not popular, not likely to succeed. Her salvation arrives (surely you saw this coming) in the form of books, movies, music. She obsessively follows the trail of breadcrumbs they leave behind. Here is a neat kind of power: she can be her own curator. She can find her way from one sustaining voice to another, sniffing out what’s true, what’s real. In her notebooks she copies out passages from novels, essays, poems, and songs. She Sharpies the especially resonant bits on her bedroom wall. This is how she learns to trust herself, no easy feat. These are epigraphs to the as yet unwritten book of her life, rehearsals for the senior page she is keen to assemble. These stories and lines and lyrics are companionship, proof that the universe is much, much bigger than her radioactive family and rich bitch west L.A. and Hebrew school and Zionist summer camp. Behold: She is not crazy! She is not alone! She is not a freak! Or, rather: she is crazy, she is alone, she is a freak, and she’ll keep glorious company with all of these other crazy, lonely, amazing freaks.

Look at her notebooks, all in a row. They live in my study, above shelves stacked with my books, galleys, audiobooks, foreign editions, literary journals, anthologies, Literary Death Match Champion medal, and piles of newspapers and magazines in which I’m celebrated as this amazing thing: a writer. A novelist. Legit. But witness, please, no coincidence, the notebooks live above that stuff. Spiral-bound, leather-bound, fabric-bound, black, pink, green, floral. This Notebook Belongs To: Elisa Albert, neatly printed in the earliest, 1992. Fake it ’til you make it, girl! The notebooks have seniority. Here is how she began to forge a system of belief and belonging, to say nothing of a career. Am I aggrandizing her? Probably. I am just so goddamn proud of her."



"Everything worthwhile is a sort of secret, not to be bought or sold, just rooted out painstakingly in whatever darkness you call home.

Here is what we know for sure: there is no end to want. Want is a vast universe within other vast universes. There is always more, and more again. There are prizes and grants and fellowships and lists and reviews and recognitions that elude us, mysterious invitations to take up residence at some castle in Italy. One can make a life out of focusing on what one does not have, but that’s no way to live. A seat at the table is plenty. (But is it a good seat? At which end of the table??? Alongside whom!?) A seat at the table means we are free to do our work, the end. Work! What a fantastic privilege."



"Some ambition is banal: Rich spouse. Thigh gap. Gold-buckle shoes. Quilted Chanel. Penthouse. Windowed office. Tony address. Notoriety. Ten thousand followers. A hundred thousand followers. Bestseller list. Editor-in-Chief. Face on billboard. A million dollars. A million followers. There are ways of working toward these things, clear examples of how it can be done. Programs, degrees, seminars, diets, schemes, connections, conferences. Hands to shake, ladders to climb. If you are smart, if you are savvy, who’s to stop you? Godspeed and good luck. I hope you get what you want, and when you do, I hope you aren’t disappointed.

Remember the famous curse? May you get absolutely everything you want.

Here’s what impresses me: Sangfroid. Good health. The ability to float softly with an iron core through Ashtanga primary series. Eye contact. Self-possession. Loyalty. Boundaries. Good posture. Moderation. Restraint. Laugh lines. Gardening. Activism. Originality. Kindness. Self-awareness. Simple food, prepared with love. Style. Hope. Lust. Grace. Aging. Humility. Nurturance. Learning from mistakes. Moving on. Letting go. Forms of practice, in other words. Constant, ongoing work. No endpoint in sight. Not goal-oriented, not gendered. Idiosyncratic and pretty much impossible to monetize.

I mean: What kind of person are you? What kind of craft have you honed? What is my experience of looking into your eyes, being around you? Are you at home in your body? Can you sit still? Do you make me laugh? Can you give and receive affection? Do you know yourself? How sophisticated is your sense of humor, how finely tuned your understanding of life’s absurdities? How thoughtfully do you interact with others? How honest are you with yourself? How do you deal with your various addictive tendencies? How do you face your darkness? How broad and deep is your perspective? How willing are you to be quiet? How do you care for yourself? How do you treat people you deem unimportant?

So you’re a CEO. So you made a million dollars. So your name is in the paper. So your face is in a magazine. So your song is on the radio. So your book is number one. You probably worked really hard; I salute you. So you got what you wanted and now you want something else. I mean, good, good, good, great, great, great. But if you have ever spent any time around seriously ambitious people, you know that they are very often some of the unhappiest crazies alive, forever rooting around for more, having a hard time with basics like breathing and eating and sleeping, forever trying to cover some hysterical imagined nakedness.

I get that my foremothers and sisters fought long and hard so that my relationship to ambition could be so … careless. I get that some foremothers and sisters might read me as ungrateful because I don’t want to fight their battles, because I don’t want to claw my way anywhere. My apologies, foremothers: I don’t want to fight. Oh, is there still sexism in the world? Sigh. Huh. Well. Knock me over with a feather. Now: how do I transplant the peonies to a sunnier spot so they yield more flowers next year or the year after? How do I conquer chapter three of this new novel? I’ve rewritten it and rewritten it for months. I need asana practice, and then I need to sit in meditation for a while. Then some laundry. And the vacuum cleaner needs a new filter. Then respond to some emails from an expectant woman for whom I’m serving as doula. And it’s actually my anniversary, so I’m gonna write my spouse a love letter. Then pick up the young’un from school. And I need to figure out what I’m making for dinner. Something with lentils, probably, and butter. Then text my friends a stupid photo and talk smack with them for a while.

Taking care of myself and my loved ones feels like meaningful work to me, see? I care about care. And I don’t care if I’m socialized to feel this way, because in point of fact I do feel this way. So! I am unavailable for striving today. I’m suuuuuper busy.

Yes, oppression is systemic, I get it, I feel it, I live it, I struggle, I do. Women are not equal, we’re not fairly represented, the pie charts are clear as day: nothing’s fair, nothing at all, it’s maddening, it’s saddening, it’s not at all gladdening. We all suffer private and public indignities (micro-aggressions, if you prefer) big and small. It’s one thing to pause and grapple with unfairness, but if we set up camp there, we can’t get anything done, can’t get to the root of the problem. So sure, great, go on and on about how women should help other women! Rah rah, put it on a T-shirt, sell it on Etsy. Great marketing, but what’s actually being accomplished? Who, specifically, is being helped? A collection of egos shouting ME ME ME is not artistically or intellectually productive or interesting.

“Real” work is often invisible, and maybe sort of sacred as such. The hollering and clamoring and status anxiety and PR two inches from our collective eyeballs all day? Not so much. So tell the gatekeepers to shove it, don’t play by their rules, and get back to work on whatever it is you hold dear. Nothing’s ever been fair. Nothing will ever be fair. But there is ever so much work to be done. Pretty please can I go back to my silly sweet secret sacred novel now? Bye. Take care."



"Here’s what bothers me about conventional ambition, the assumption that we all aspire to the top, the winner’s circle, the biggest brightest bestest, the blah blah blah, and that we will run around and around and around our little hamster wheels to get there: most of these goals are standardized. Cartoonish. Cliché. Beware anything standardized, that’s what I would teach my daughter. Health care, ambition, education, diet, culture: name it, and you will suffer endlessly from any attempt to go about it the same way as some projected Everyone Else. You cannot be standardized. You are a unique flower, daughter. Maybe the Ivy League will be wonderful for you; maybe it will crush your soul. If the former, I will mortgage the house to pay your way; if the latter, give that shit the finger and help me move these peonies, will you? You are not defined by such things, either way. Anyway, let us discuss what we want to whip up for dinner and take turns playing DJ while doing so.

“She can, though every face should scowl / And every windy quarter howl / Or every bellows burst, be happy still.” That was Yeats.

I mean, fuck ambition, that’s where this is going. I don’t buy the idea that acting like the oppressor is a liberation, personal ambition being, in essence, see above, patriarchal. And yeah, about recognition. What about when genius and/or hard work isn’t recognized? Because often it isn’t, and what do we make of that… [more]
elisaalbert  writing  belief  2017  literature  purpose  books  notebooks  care  caring  emotionallabor  whatmatters  feminism  audience  small  slow  ambition  standardization  mayaangelou  patriarchy  liberation  recognition  success  mastery  accomplishment  sideeffects  unintendedconsequences  striving  humility  winning 
april 2017 by robertogreco
Check This Box if You’re a Good Person - The New York Times
"HANOVER, N.H. — When I give college information sessions at high schools, I’m used to being swarmed by students. Usually, as soon as my lecture ends, they run up to hand me their résumés, fighting for my attention so that they can tell me about their internships or summer science programs.

But last spring, after I spoke at a New Jersey public school, I ran into an entirely different kind of student.

When the bell rang, I stuffed my leftover pamphlets into a bag and began to navigate the human tsunami that is a high school hallway at lunchtime.

Just before I reached the parking lot, someone tapped me on the shoulder.

“Excuse me, ma’am,” a student said, smiling through a set of braces. “You dropped a granola bar on the floor in the cafeteria. I chased you down since I thought you’d want your snack.” Before I could even thank him, he handed me the bar and dissolved into the sea of teenagers.

Working in undergraduate admissions at Dartmouth College has introduced me to many talented young people. I used to be the director of international admissions and am now working part time after having a baby. Every year I’d read over 2,000 college applications from students all over the world. The applicants are always intellectually curious and talented. They climb mountains, head extracurricular clubs and develop new technologies. They’re the next generation’s leaders. Their accomplishments stack up quickly.

The problem is that in a deluge of promising candidates, many remarkable students become indistinguishable from one another, at least on paper. It is incredibly difficult to choose whom to admit. Yet in the chaos of SAT scores, extracurriculars and recommendations, one quality is always irresistible in a candidate: kindness. It’s a trait that would be hard to pinpoint on applications even if colleges asked the right questions. Every so often, though, it can’t help shining through.

The most surprising indication of kindness I’ve ever come across in my admissions career came from a student who went to a large public school in New England. He was clearly bright, as evidenced by his class rank and teachers’ praise. He had a supportive recommendation from his college counselor and an impressive list of extracurriculars. Even with these qualifications, he might not have stood out. But one letter of recommendation caught my eye. It was from a school custodian.

Letters of recommendation are typically superfluous, written by people who the applicant thinks will impress a school. We regularly receive letters from former presidents, celebrities, trustee relatives and Olympic athletes. But they generally fail to provide us with another angle on who the student is, or could be as a member of our community.

This letter was different.

The custodian wrote that he was compelled to support this student’s candidacy because of his thoughtfulness. This young man was the only person in the school who knew the names of every member of the janitorial staff. He turned off lights in empty rooms, consistently thanked the hallway monitor each morning and tidied up after his peers even if nobody was watching. This student, the custodian wrote, had a refreshing respect for every person at the school, regardless of position, popularity or clout.

Over 15 years and 30,000 applications in my admissions career, I had never seen a recommendation from a school custodian. It gave us a window onto a student’s life in the moments when nothing “counted.” That student was admitted by unanimous vote of the admissions committee.

There are so many talented applicants and precious few spots. We know how painful this must be for students. As someone who was rejected by the school where I ended up as a director of admissions, I know firsthand how devastating the words “we regret to inform you” can be.

Until admissions committees figure out a way to effectively recognize the genuine but intangible personal qualities of applicants, we must rely on little things to make the difference. Sometimes an inappropriate email address is more telling than a personal essay. The way a student acts toward his parents on a campus tour can mean as much as a standardized test score. And, as I learned from that custodian, a sincere character evaluation from someone unexpected will mean more to us than any boilerplate recommendation from a former president or famous golfer.

Next year there might be a flood of custodian recommendations thanks to this essay. But if it means students will start paying as much attention to the people who clean their classrooms as they do to their principals and teachers, I’m happy to help start that trend.

Colleges should foster the growth of individuals who show promise not just in leadership and academics, but also in generosity of spirit. Since becoming a mom, I’ve also been looking at applications differently. I can’t help anticipating my son’s own dive into the college admissions frenzy 17 years from now.

Whether or not he even decides to go to college when the time is right, I want him to resemble a person thoughtful enough to return a granola bar, and gracious enough to respect every person in his community."
colleges  universities  admissions  kindness  sfsh  small  slow  2017  rebeccasabky  recommendations  edg  srg 
april 2017 by robertogreco
Not Leadership Material? Good. The World Needs Followers. - The New York Times
"The glorification of leadership skills, especially in college admissions, has emptied leadership of its meaning."



"In 1934, a young woman named Sara Pollard applied to Vassar College. In those days, parents were asked to fill out a questionnaire, and Sara’s father described her, truthfully, as “more a follower type than a leader.”

The school accepted Sara, explaining that it had enough leaders.

It’s hard to imagine this happening today. No father in his right mind (if the admissions office happened to ask him!) would admit that his child was a natural follower; few colleges would welcome one with open arms. Today we prize leadership skills above all, and nowhere more than in college admissions. As Penny Bach Evins, the head of St. Paul’s School for Girls, an independent school in Maryland, told me, “It seems as if higher ed is looking for alphas, but the doers and thinkers in our schools are not always in front leading.”

Harvard’s application informs students that its mission is “to educate our students to be citizens and citizen-leaders for society.” Yale’s website advises applicants that it seeks “the leaders of their generation”; on Princeton’s site, “leadership activities” are first among equals on a list of characteristics for would-be students to showcase. Even Wesleyan, known for its artistic culture, was found by one study to evaluate applicants based on leadership potential.

If college admissions offices show us whom and what we value, then we seem to think that the ideal society is composed of Type A’s. This is perhaps unsurprising, even if these examples come from highly competitive institutions. It’s part of the American DNA to celebrate those who rise above the crowd. And in recent decades, the meteoric path to leadership of youthful garage- and dorm-dwellers, from Steve Jobs to Mark Zuckerberg, has made king of the hill status seem possible for every 19-year-old. So now we have high school students vying to be president of as many clubs as they can. It’s no longer enough to be a member of the student council; now you have to run the school.

Yet a well-functioning student body — not to mention polity — also needs followers. It needs team players. And it needs those who go their own way.

It needs leaders who are called to service rather than to status.

Admissions officers will tell you that their quest for tomorrow’s leaders is based on a desire for positive impact, to make the world a better place. I think they mean what they say.

But many students I’ve spoken with read “leadership skills” as a code for authority and dominance and define leaders as those who “can order other people around.” And according to one prominent Ivy League professor, those students aren’t wrong; leadership, as defined by the admissions process, too often “seems to be restricted to political or business power.” She says admissions officers fail to define leadership as “making advances in solving mathematical problems” or “being the best poet of the century.”

Whatever the colleges’ intentions, the pressure to lead now defines and constricts our children’s adolescence. One young woman told me about her childhood as a happy and enthusiastic reader, student and cellist — until freshman year of high school, when “college applications loomed on the horizon, and suddenly, my every activity was held up against the holy grail of ‘leadership,’ ” she recalled. “And everyone knew,” she added, “that it was not the smart people, not the creative people, not the thoughtful people or decent human beings that scored the application letters and the scholarships, but the leaders. It seemed no activity or accomplishment meant squat unless it was somehow connected to leadership.”

This young woman tried to overhaul her personality so she would be selected for a prestigious leadership role as a “freshman mentor.” She made the cut, but was later kicked out of the program because she wasn’t outgoing enough. At the time, she was devastated. But it turned out that she’d been set free to discover her true calling, science. She started working after school with her genetics teacher, another behind-the-scenes soul. She published her first scientific paper when she was 18, and won the highest scholarship her university has to offer, majoring in biomedical engineering and cello.

Our elite schools overemphasize leadership partly because they’re preparing students for the corporate world, and they assume that this is what businesses need. But a discipline in organizational psychology, called “followership,” is gaining in popularity. Robert Kelley, a professor of management and organizational behavior, defined the term in a 1988 Harvard Business Review article, in which he listed the qualities of a good follower, including being committed to “a purpose, principle or person outside themselves” and being “courageous, honest and credible.” It’s an idea that the military has long taught.

Recently, other business thinkers have taken up this mantle. Some focus on the “romance of leadership” theory, which causes us to inaccurately attribute all of an organization’s success and failure to its leader, ignoring its legions of followers. Adam Grant, who has written several books on what drives people to succeed, says that the most frequent question he gets from readers is how to contribute when they’re not in charge but have a suggestion and want to be heard. “These are not questions asked by leaders,” he told me. “They’re fundamental questions of followership.”

Team players are also crucial. My sons are avid soccer players, so I spend a lot of time watching the “beautiful game.” The thing that makes it beautiful is not leadership, though an excellent coach is essential. Nor is it the swoosh of the ball in the goal, though winning is noisily celebrated. It is instead the intricate ballet of patterns and passes, of each player anticipating the other’s strengths and needs, each shining for the brief instant that he has the ball before passing it to a teammate or losing it to an opponent.

We also rely as a society, much more deeply than we realize, on the soloists who forge their own paths. We see those figures in all kinds of pursuits: in the sciences; in sports like tennis, track and figure skating; and in the arts. Art and science are about many things that make life worth living, but they are not, at their core, about leadership. Helen Vendler, a professor of English at Harvard, published an essay in which she encouraged the university to attract more artists and not expect them “to become leaders.” Some of those students will become leaders in the arts, she wrote — conducting an orchestra, working to reinstate the arts in schools — “but one can’t quite picture Baudelaire pursuing public service.”

Perhaps the biggest disservice done by the outsize glorification of “leadership skills” is to the practice of leadership itself — it hollows it out, it empties it of meaning. It attracts those who are motivated by the spotlight rather than by the ideas and people they serve. It teaches students to be a leader for the sake of being in charge, rather than in the name of a cause or idea they care about deeply. The difference between the two states of mind is profound. The latter belongs to transformative leaders like the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi; the former to — well, we’ve all seen examples of this kind of leadership lately.

If this seems idealistic, consider the status quo: students jockeying for leadership positions as résumé padders. “They all want to be president of 50 clubs,” a faculty adviser at a New Jersey school told me. “They don’t even know what they’re running for.”

It doesn’t have to be this way.

What if we said to college applicants that the qualities we’re looking for are not leadership skills, but excellence, passion and a desire to contribute beyond the self? This framework would encompass exceptional team captains and class presidents. But it wouldn’t make leadership the be-all and end-all.

What if we said to our would-be leaders, “Take this role only if you care desperately about the issue at hand”?

And what if we were honest with ourselves about what we value? If we’re looking for the students and citizens most likely to attain wealth and power, let’s admit it. Then we can have a frank debate about whether that is a good idea.

But if instead we seek a society of caring, creative and committed people, and leaders who feel called to service rather than to stature, then we need to do a better job of making that clear."
susancain  leadership  leaders  sfsh  followers  community  courage  honesty  purpose  2017  colleges  universities  admissions  canon  small  slow  helenvendler  arts  art  artists  followership  soccer  football  us  values  credibility  military  authority  power  dominance  ivyleague  admission  capitalism  politics  elitism  adamgrant  introverts  extroverts  allsorts  attention  edg  srg  care  caring  maintenance  futbol  sports 
april 2017 by robertogreco
Wildflower Montessori
"ABOUT

Wildflower is an innovative, open-source approach to Montessori learning. Its aim is to be an experiment in a new learning environment, blurring the boundaries between home-schooling and institutional schooling, between scientists and teachers, between schools and the neighborhoods around them. At the core of Wildflower are 9 principles that define the approach.

A growing number of shopfront Montessori lab schools have been started using the Wildflower approach. These schools are listed here.

ORIGINS

Wildflower Montessori is the labor of love of our founder, Sep Kamvar. Unable to find a school which combined Montessori education, an inclusive family environment, and a small, responsive school size, Sep was inspired to create his own. A professor and scientist, Sep sought the support of experienced Montessori leaders to design the school and to identify ways in which the long-history of experimentation and scientific practice in Montessori could be linked to his research. The outcome is a collaborative team of Montessori experts, scientists and designers working together to create a child-centered learning experience.

After the first Wildflower school was created in January of 2014, there was intense interest in the school and the approach. This interest led us to open-source the model and help other family groups and teacher-leaders to create new Wildflower schools. Each teacher-leader at each Wildflower school serves on the board of at least one other Wildflower school, creating a community of schools that are linked by both a shared philosophy and a network of shared relationships. However, each school is autonomous and independently run, with no operational involvement from Sep or MIT. Sep currently serves as an advisor to the Wildflower Foundation, a foundation that was set up to support teacher-leaders at Wildflower schools."



[9 Principles]

1. An Authentic Montessori Environment: providing a peaceful, mixed-age, child-directed environment.

In identifying Montessori as our guide for Wildflower schools, we were drawn to the unique combination of a few factors. The Montessori Method emphasizes the potential of the child, if served well, to change the world. We valued its intrinsic respect for that potential, its promotion of peaceful communities, and its specific pedagogical structures. As a model which prioritizes the development of the individual child, we value the balance of Montessori's scientific approach to children's development and its assertion that childhood is a unique period of growth to be protected at its own pace.

2. A Shopfront, Neighborhood-nested Design:</strong> committed to remaining small, teacher-led, integrated in the community, and responsive to the needs of children

Inspired by the work of Christopher Alexander, Wildflower schools are shopfront schools that consist of a single classroom, with the faculty both teaching in the classroom and administrating the school. By preserving a small scale, teachers are able to make decisions in their day-to-day teaching that respond to the intellectual needs of the children, and are able to make decisions on a school-wide basis that respond to their own vision and the contextual needs of the families. The shopfront model also allows these communities to seamlessly integrate into neighborhoods. Children are visible in the community as they walk to and from school, to their local playground or garden, and to civic spaces that would otherwise be on-site in a larger institution.

3. A Lab School: serving as a research setting dedicated to advancing the Montessori Method in the context of the modern world.

Each of the Wildflower schools serves as a lab school to help us better understand and advance the Montessori Method, and to help us propose empirically-supported design for new materials. We seek to integrate modern technologies in observation and documentation without changing the concrete, didactic nature of the classroom itself. We further seek to refine the development of Montessori-consistent apparatuses that prepare children for the cognitive patterns of modern fluencies.

4. A Seamless Learning Community: blurring the boundaries of home-schooling and institutional schooling by placing high priority on parent education and giving parents and integral role in the classroom.

Wildflower schools look for ways in which children's home, school, and community environments can offer more seamless experiences, reflecting consistent perspectives on children's development and engaging them as authentic contributors in each setting. We believe that parents and families offer a knowledge about children which is equally important to the professional preparation of teachers, and seek opportunities for parent-knowledge to inform classroom practice and teacher-knowledge to inform the home.

5. An Artist-in-residence: bringing richness to the learning environment by giving the children opportunities to observe and interact with adults doing day-to-day creative work.

Because we believe that children learn best in environments that model lifelong learning and creativity, each Wildflower school engages an artist-in-residence. Each school offers their artist studio space in a place accessible to the children, where the children can see them doing the work of their lives. In exchange, artists offer their work back to the classroom weekly, teaching children about their craft and helping children to develop their own skills. Through the artists-in-residence program, we seek to increase the awareness of the inner lives of children available to artists of all kinds and to protect children's understanding that learning and creating can happen throughout their lives and beyond their formal school experiences.

6. A spirit of generosity: Reflecting a spirit of generosity to all stakeholders, to children, to parents, to those in need, and to the local community.

Often, schools are seen as a service relationship, with parents as customers, teachers as service-providers, and children as recipients of the service, to be filled with information and assessed. We see it differently -- we see that each constituency brings their special gift to one another. We see the teachers bring the gift of their love and skillfulness to the children and the parents, the parents bring the gift of nurturing and advancing the teachers in their practice and growth as teachers and leaders, and the children bring the gift of helping all of us see in a new way.&nbsp; Importantly, this spirit of gift extends beyond the walls of the school: each school seeks to bring their gifts to the broader community, by being involved in the local community, by making educational opportunities that are free to the public, and by reserving slots in our schools for those in need.

7. An Attention to Nature: emphasizing the nonseparation between nature and human nature through a unique living-classroom design and extensive time in nature.

It is both a contemporary imperative and an essential quality of our design that we think proactively about the impact of our work on the environment around us. By limiting the footprint of each school to a storefront, we necessarily limit the availability of private, outdoor space. Instead, we design the interior of the school to allow children to learn to care for their living environment and to surround them with abundant plant life. We site schools near to public play spaces and work with city partners to design sustainable urban gardens for which the school and neighborhood community can care. We carefully consider the materials used in the classroom and choose sustainable, nontoxic and earth-friendly options. Finally, we maintain nutritional standards that are earth-conscious and protect natural, healthful diets for children.

8. A Role in Shaping the Neighborhood: working with the community to improve local parks, streets, and establishments to create an urban environment that is healthier for children.

Wildflower schools should change the way their immediate communities function and, as a part of a larger network, change the nature of their entire cities. The integration of children and families into the daily fabric of the neighborhood, we believe, will influence the lives of other neighbors, the questions asked in other educational settings, and the priorities of policymakers. We implement, then, structures that make our work transparent to their communities and expand who we define as "stakeholders" to include more than just the families we serve. From opportunities for passers-by to stop and observe the classrooms to the presence of children in local eateries, from the public gardens we create and tend, to the regular, open information sessions to inform our community about our work, we judge our approach not only by its influence on enrolled children and their families but on the city beyond our rolls.

9. An Open-source Design and Decentralized Network: advancing an ecosystem of independent Wildflower schools that mutually support one another.

Finally, we recognize that issues of scale -- including increased centralized decision-making, larger administrative bureaucracies and operational overhead -- decrease the autonomy available to individual classrooms. At the same time, we value the practical benefits of a community of learners and professionals working together, and the economic efficiencies that can arise from shared resources. To balance those concerns, each school sees itself as a node in a network, maintaining autonomy in school-level decision-making while able to access the resources of the network when those resources are useful and compelling to the school. Reciprocally, each school also sees itself not only as responsible for its own operations, but as responsible for helping other schools in the network, and for helping other interested family groups to start their own Wildflower schools."
schools  education  small  microschools  montessori  via:aimee  opensource  homeschool  christopheralexander  labschools  networks  community  art  generosity  urban  cities  lcproject  sfsh  openstudioproject  decentralization  sepkamvar 
march 2017 by robertogreco
The Smell of Gold: On the Yuba River – Boom California
"When I was a kid, summer’s first swim began with my nose skimming the water’s surface in an effort to rediscover that familiar scent of river, rock, dragonfly—whatever it was that brewed Gold Country smell. My father, for whom “odors” were of paramount importance, a gateway to memory and feelings, taught me to register the smells of Highway 49. He would hang his head out the car window, shouting into hot wind, “Can you smell it?” For a New Jersey transplant by way of Greenwich Village and Berkeley, California was a land of Lotus Eaters. He never could get over the place and the smell of (what was it?) witch hazel, cedar, manzanita—it drove him wild.

Yes, I could smell it, though we could never name the intoxicating elixir of plants, animals, and dirt, for we were East Coast in origin, summer visitors and hedonists, not scientists. We would leave the diagnostics to people like Gary Snyder who lived year round on the ridge and actually studied the super biodiversity of California in general and this watershed in particular. My father was a romantic and so to smell and to feel, void of precise nomenclature, were enough—were everything."



"In 1972, people were doing this sort of thing. We weren’t the only people who had copies of Whole Earth Catalogue and Shelter magazine, which reprinted today can be found on any earthy boutique shelf in Nevada City. Perhaps sparked by his particular desires to escape the harangue of Berkeley politics and soothe his marriage, he was fueled too by the larger Californian and American consciousness to get back to the land—or get back to something. As a kid, I saw this idea on the cover of The Band album, in a group of musicians who looked as if they had crawled out of a mine shaft in patina leather. What were they digging for? I saw it in the films like Easy Rider and Sam Peckinpah’s The Ballad of Cable Hogue—individuals leaving home, setting up watering holes in the middle of the desert, always with dirt-encrusted beards. I heard it in Joni Mitchell’s directive to “get back to the Garden.” And so the Gold Country, like places of the imagination across time, became an El Dorado for those traveling from something to something, and ultimately looking for a return to Eden, even as they looked forward to the precipice of enterprise and fortune."



"Perhaps some who come to the Gold Country today to live share that dream of living off the land, escaping the rat race, and absorbing the wisdom of the river like Siddhartha. But people have always come here to make money mining gold, logging trees, and now growing pot. And so the question arises: What is California dreaming? Are these pursuits a means to an end? Is gold still and always the dream? Or, is the work itself the dream: the mining, the logging, the growing? Just months ago, the parcel belonging to the Republican uncle was sold to an investor who employs a property manager and farmer. The wooden fence that once corralled a horse is now six feet tall and possibly electrical. We met the hired farmer—a county native—yesterday, the nicest guy who’s traveled the world only to come home. I wonder if his California dream is growing marijuana for somebody else or if he is still searching."



"California dreams are so close to California schemes it is often difficult to tell which is which."



"But Malakoff Diggins was just another place, leaving me to wonder what we Californians make of our own history. Perhaps our history is too recent, too dredged in profit rather than ideals to have warranted in the 1970s, a mere 125 years from the Gold Rush, a cordon rope, a plaque, or tour guide with a badge. Perhaps California, like a child, did not have the perspective that comes with a more critical contextual awareness to take itself seriously enough to see itself as a historical subject.

So too, it has taken me a good chunk of my life to inaccurately, incompletely define the smell of this country, partly because of my own ignorance but also because the smell of the Gold Country isn’t only about plants and animals; it’s about the residue of the human endeavor that is palpable in the great piles of mossy boulders that Chinese miners pulled from the Yuba River that now sit on the roadside without ceremony or documentation. The smell is edible apple trees in the orchard, planted an unknowable number of years before my family bought the land, and which survive without irrigation or pruning. The smell is audible in the hush of rapids, momentarily drowned out by the motorcycle shifting into high gear on Highway 49. I suspect every California region from the county of Jefferson to the Imperial Valley provides a synesthesia of evidence to classify particular landscapes, histories, and endeavors, but I wonder if this Gold Country smell isn’t somehow more potent than it is in other areas. I wonder if the heart-cleaving beauty of the area coupled with a desperate drive to unearth a living hasn’t made love of this place more hard won. If California is, in the words of Wallace Stegner, “like the rest of America, only more so,” then perhaps the Gold Country is like the rest of California only more so—the unofficial capital of what the state is about—the always changing dreams, which following complicated labor, birth the next reality.

But odor is not a competition. California doesn’t need to compete with itself to define its character. The state is too diverse to characteristically identify with science or fiction; likewise, it remains impossible to name the smell of the Gold Country. So, I am not surprised when I ask my son as we sit on the rock what he thinks he smells and he says he doesn’t know. I instantly flash on a Gary Snyder poem that intimidated me with his authoritative chronology of the Malakoff Diggins area, citing millions and millions of years of evolution. That poem, “What Happened Here Before,” is one that still appeals to me for its allegiance to defining place using the names of plants and animals while imagining the erstwhile lives of miners, Indians, tax assessors, and a prophetic blue jay who screeches in response to the question of who we are: “We shall see / Who knows / How to be.”"
california  history  caitlinmohan  2017  senses  small  wallacestegner  goldrush  malakoffdiggins  marijuana  goldcountry  garysnyder 
february 2017 by robertogreco
A California tale: The one-room schoolhouse Capitol Weekly | Capitol Weekly | Capitol Weekly: The Newspaper of California State Government and Politics.
"The 112-year-old schoolhouse with the old-fashioned bell looks like it should be a historical museum. But it’s a working K-8 public school with only 10 students.

Washington School, about 20 miles east of Nevada City in the Sierra foothills, is one of a handful of one-room schools scattered scattered across rural California. The state Department of Education does not keep records on how many of these schools there are, said information officer Charlene Cheng, adding that the decision to keep them going is made at a local level rather than at the state.

Washington School is part of the Twin Ridges Elementary School District, which has a total enrollment of about 100. According to a 2011 report from the California Legislative Analyst’s Office, about 40 percent of public school districts in the state are “small” (serving fewer than 1,000 students) and about 10 percent are “very small” (serving fewer than 100 students).

A century ago there were more than 200,000 one-room schoolhouses in the United States, a number that dwindled to 335 by 2006, according to data from the National Center for Education Statistics. “Only about a dozen now operate in California,” noted a 2010 article on the California Teachers Association’s web site.

With a population of less than 200, Washington is located on the banks of the Yuba River and is a favorite spot for camping and driving off-road vehicles. It has a hotel and a couple of campgrounds but no cell phone service or grocery store.

Rebecca Kozloski, a parent with two children at Washington School, said she loves the campus because of the individual attention her kids get. One of her children has special needs and was struggling at bigger schools. He is thriving at Washington.

“There’s great accountability between teachers and students and students don’t fall through the cracks like they might at a bigger school,” she said.

One teacher and aid work at the school, giving an enviable teacher-student ratio of 1-5. Kozloski likes that her children get to work with the same faculty members year after year.

She also appreciates the close relationship her family has with the other school families. “We all know each other very well,” she said.

There are similar close relationships at Comptche School, a 14-student K-3 campus, in Mendocino County. “I think I really get to know (the students) and understand their strengths and weaknesses,” said the teacher Kathy Jackson, who works at the school with two aids. “I can give a lot of help. I can see immediately who is not getting something.”

She also likes seeing the older children mix with the younger children. It’s fun to watch the third graders helping the kindergarteners or joining with the younger kids for a game of dress-up, Jackson said.

Teaching is also more interesting because she doesn’t just cover the same grade’s curriculum year after year.

Located about 17 miles southeast of Fort Bragg, Comptche has about 160 residents. Jackson said the community wanted to keep a school in town for the younger kids so they wouldn’t have to send them on a half-hour bus ride to the next closest public school.

Both Comptche and Washington schools are important parts of their community. At Washington School, many residents – not just relatives of the children – turn out for school plays and annual celebrations like the Halloween parade, Kozloski said.

Barry Avers, who attended the school in the 1960s and whose grandparents attended the school, said the campus is a major community meeting place. He enjoyed the close-knit feeling of the school too. “The biggest enrollment when I was there I think was about 21 kids,” he said. “The majority of it was from three different families.”

Educating students in this way comes at a cost, though. James Berardi, superintendent of Twin Ridges Elementary School District which includes Washington School, estimates it costs about $15,000 to educate each student as compared to $7,500 statewide.

The school narrowly avoided closure this year after community members rallied to keep it. Last year, the Twin Ridges Elementary School District Board voted to close the school to save an estimated $150,000-$200,000 of its $1.2-$1.4 million budget. But a few months later, the board reversed its decision after learning that the district might not save that much after all because Twin Ridges might have to pay money to another district that would take the Washington students.

Berardi said the district has been operating at a deficit for many years and spends 25 percent more than it takes in. The school is safe for now but that could change.

“I have empathy, I feel for the town,” he said. “But I have a budget to live within.”"
california  history  school  education  small  oneroomschoolhouses  sfsh  2017 
february 2017 by robertogreco
Freedom and Beyond — John Holt GWS
"Even if what I have said about growth were not true, or even if we were as ignorant and unconcerned about the environmental costs of growth as we were twenty years ago, it would still be true that the kind of growth we have known for a generation and more, and most of this under national governments committed to the idea of fighting poverty through growth, has done very little to change the shape of the job pyramid. For all our trillion dollar a year GNP, we have not done away with unemployment, or increased very much the number of good jobs, jobs that people are glad to do. For most people in our society work is drudgery, what you have to do to live, perhaps a punishment for not having been smarter or done better in school. If this has been so little changed by the last generation of growth, there is little reason to suppose that it will be changed much by the next.

This brings me back to the point I made earlier, that as long as the overall shape of the job pyramid is not changed, as long as the numbers of good, fair, and bad jobs remains about what they are, any poor person who moves up to a better job is going to move up at someone else's expense. He may make it. But that someone else is almost certain to be someone only slightly less poor than he is. When we try to apply on a large scale what works on a small, if we try, through schooling or otherwise, to move large numbers of people from the lowest job boxes up into higher ones, the result is to put poor people and working-class or lower-middle-class people in competition for jobs that are scarce and good jobs that are scarcer yet. This makes them each others' rivals and enemies, and prevents them from forging the kinds of political alliances that would make real large-scale change possible. It is grimly ironical and even tragic that our minority group poor should be most feared and hated by the very people whose friendship and support they must have if they are ever to make any real improvement in their lives. And it's a great for the rich when they can make the poor think their true and worst enemies are those who are even poorer…"
johnholt  poverty  inequality  capitalism  1972  society  books  unemployment  employment  work  competition  small  growth 
january 2017 by robertogreco
The Future of Cities – Medium
[video (embedded): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xOOWk5yCMMs ]

"Organic Filmmaking and City Re-Imagining

What does “the future of cities” mean? To much of the developing world, it might be as simple as aspiring to having your own toilet, rather than sharing one with over 100 people. To a family in Detroit, it could mean having non-toxic drinking water. For planners and mayors, it’s about a lot of things — sustainability, economy, inclusivity, and resilience. Most of us can hope we can spend a little less time on our commutes to work and a little more time with our families. For a rich white dude up in a 50th floor penthouse, “the future of cities” might mean zipping around in a flying car while a robot jerks you off and a drone delivers your pizza. For many companies, the future of cities is simply about business and money, presented to us as buzzwords like “smart city” and “the city of tomorrow.”

I started shooting the “The Future of a Cities” as a collaboration with the The Nantucket Project, but it really took shape when hundreds of people around the world responded to a scrappy video I made asking for help.

Folks of all ages, from over 75 countries, volunteered their time, thoughts, work, and footage so that I could expand the scope of the piece and connect with more people in more cities. This strategy saved me time and money, but it also clarified the video’s purpose, which inspired me to put more energy into the project in order to get it right. I was reading Jan Gehl, Jane Jacobs, Edward Glaeser, etc. and getting excited about their ideas — after seeing what mattered to the people I met in person and watching contributions from those I didn’t, the video gained focus and perspective.

If I hired a production services outfit to help me film Mumbai, it would actually be a point of professional pride for the employees to deliver the Mumbai they think I want to see. If some young filmmakers offer to show me around their city and shoot with me for a day, we’re operating on another level, and a very different portrait of a city emerges. In the first scenario, my local collaborators get paid and I do my best to squeeze as much work out of the time period paid for as possible. In the second, the crew accepts more responsibility but gains ownership, hopefully leaving the experience feeling more empowered.

Architect and former mayor of Curitiba Jaime Lerner famously said “if you want creativity, take a zero off your budget. If you want sustainability, take off two zeros.” It’s been my experience that this sustainability often goes hand-in-hand with humanity, and part of what I love about working with less resources and money is that it forces you to treat people like human beings. Asking someone to work with less support or equipment, or to contribute more time for less money, requires a mutual understanding between two people. If each person can empathize for the other, it’s been my experience that we’ll feel it in the work — both in the process and on screen.

Organic filmmaking requires you to keep your crew small and your footprint light. You start filming with one idea in mind, but the idea changes each day as elements you could never have anticipated inform the bigger picture. You make adjustments and pursue new storylines. You edit a few scenes, see what’s working and what’s not, then write new scenes. Shoot those, cut them in, then go back and write more. Each part of the process talks to the other. The movie teaches itself to be a better movie. Because organic is complicated, it can be tricky to defend and difficult to scale up, but because it’s cheap and low-resource, it’s easier to experiment. Learning about the self-organizing, living cities that I did on this project informed how we made the video. And looking at poorly planned urban projects reminded me of the broken yet prevailing model for making independent film in the U.S., where so many films are bound to fail — often in a way a filmmaker doesn’t recover from — before they even begin.

Jane Jacobs said that “cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.” I’ve worked on videos for companies, for the guy in the penthouse, for nobody in particular, in the developing world, with rich people and poor people, for me, for my friends, and for artists. I’m so thankful for everybody who allowed me to make this film the way we did, and I hope the parallels between filmmaking and city building — where the stakes are so much higher — aren’t lost on anyone trying to make their city a better place. We should all be involved. The most sustainable future is a future that includes us all.

“The Future of Cities” Reading List

(There’s a longer list I discovered recently from Planetizen HERE but these are the ones I got into on this project — I’m excited to read many more)

The Death and Life of American Cities by Jane Jacobs
The Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier, and Happier by Edward Glaeser
Cities for People and Life Between Buildings by Jan Gehl
The Well-Tempered City: What Modern Science, Ancient Civilizations, and Human Nature Teach Us About the Future of Urban Life by Jonathan Rose(just came out — incredible)
Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time by Jeff Speck
The City of Tomorrow: Sensors, Networks, Hackers, and the Future of Urban Life by Carlo Ratti and Matthew Claudel
Happy City: Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design by Charles Montgomery
Dream Cities: Seven Urban Ideas That Shape the World by Wade Graham
Connectography: Mapping The Future of Global Civilization by Parag Khanna
Delirious New York by Rem Koolhaas
Low Life and The Other Paris by Luc Sante
A History of Future Cities by Daniel Brook
Streetfight: Handbook for the Urban Revolution by Janette Sadik-Khan and Seth Solomonow
Tactical Urbanism: Short-term Action for Long-Term Change by Mike Lydon & Anthony Garcia
Living In The Endless City, edited by Ricky Burdett and Deyan Sudjic

“The Future of Cities” Select Interviewees:
David Hertz & Sky Source
Vicky Chan & Avoid Obvious Architects
Carlo Ratti: Director, MIT Senseable City Lab Founding Partner, Carlo Ratti Associati
Edward Glaeser: Fred and Eleanor Glimp Professor of Economics, Harvard University Author of The Triumph of the City
Helle Søholt: Founding Parner & CEO, Gehl Architects
Ricky Burdett: Director, LSE Cities/Urban Age
Lauren Lockwood, Chief Digital Officer, City of Boston
Pablo Viejo: Smart Cities Expert & CTO V&V Innovations, Singapore
Matias Echanove & Urbz, Mumbai
Janette Sadik-Khan: Author, Advisor, & Former NYC DOT Commissioner
Abess Makki: CEO, City Insight
Dr. Parag Khanna: Author of Connectography
Stan Gale: CEO of Gale International, Developer of Songdo IBD
Dr. Jockin Arputham: President, Slum Dwellers International
Morton Kabell: Mayor for Technical & Environmental Affairs, Copenhagen
cities  urban  urbanplanning  urbanism  bikes  biking  cars  singapore  nyc  losangeles  janejacobs  jangehl  edwardglaeser  mumbai  tokyo  regulation  jaimelerner  curitiba  nantucketproject  carloratti  vickchan  davidhertz  hellesøholt  rickyburdett  laurenlockwood  pabloviejo  matiasechanove  urbz  janettesadik-khan  abessmakki  paragkhanna  stangale  jockinarputham  slumdwellersinternational  slums  mortonkabell  urbanization  future  planning  oscarboyson  mikelydon  anthonygarcia  danielbrook  lucsante  remkoolhaas  dayansudjic  rickyburdettsethsolomonow  wadegraham  charlesmontgomery  matthewclaudeljeffspeck  jonathanrose  transportation  publictransit  transit  housing  construction  development  local  small  grassroots  technology  internet  web  online  communications  infrastructure  services  copenhagen  sidewalks  pedestrians  sharing  filmmaking  film  video  taipei  seoul  santiago  aukland  songdo  sydney  london  nairobi  venice  shenzhen  2016  sustainability  environment  population  detroit  making  manufacturing  buildings  economics  commutes  commuting 
december 2016 by robertogreco
The Alternative Art School Fair Radio | Clocktower
"The Alternative Art School Fair at Pioneer Works presents an introduction to alternative art schools from around the US and the world, November 19-20, 2016. The entire event, including workshops, discussions, and keynote presentations by Carol Becker, Luis Camnitzer, Craig Wilkins and Dorothea Rockburne, will be streamed live and archived on clocktower.org.

See the radio schedule below to plan your listening party. The live listening link can be found HERE.

Art education is a reflection of social and cultural evolution; it engages with structures of meaning-making and considers different frameworks for experience. The impetus to create an alternative art school is rooted not only in a desire to create “better” art, but to create the conditions for greater freedom of expression. Often run as free, artist-run initiatives, the values and visions of alternative art schools vary widely in methodology, mission and governance. But even when they are relatively small in scale they provide vital models of cultural critique and experimentation.

Listening Schedule:
November 19
Keynote panel -- 12:00-1:30PM
Carol Becker
Luis Camnitzer
Dorothea Rockburne
Victoria Sobel
Interviewer/Moderator: Catherine Despont

How can alternative systems impact traditional arts education? -- 2-3:30PM
Ox-Bow
Daniel Bozhkov
School of the Future
Interviewer/Moderator: Regine Basha

Art and Democracy -- 3:45-5:15PM
UNIDEE
The Black Mountain School
UOIEA (Anna Craycroft)
Interviewer/Moderator: Provisions Library

Self-Governance as Pedagogy: Of Other Spaces -- 5:30-7:30PM
Art and Law Program
Interviewer/Moderator: Associate Director Lauren van Haaften-Schick
Art & Law Program Fellows: Abram Coetsee & Alex Strada (Fall 2016), Damien Davis (Spring 2016)

November 20
Keynote -- 12:00-1:30PM
Dr. Craig L. Wilkins, PhD, RA

Hybrid Practice -- 2:00-3:30PM
SFPC
Zz School of Print Media
Southland Institute
Interviewer/Moderator: Archeworks

Responsive Programming: A Conversation Between The Ventriloquist Summerschool and Sheila Levrant de Bretteville -- 3:45-5:15PM
The Ventriloquist Summerschool
Sheila Levrant de Bretteville

(Re)incorporating Art in Everyday Life -- 5:30-7:00PM
Chad Laird (Sunview Luncheonette)
Tal Beery (School of Apocalypse)
Tatfoo Tan (NERTM)
Moderator/Interviewer: Grizedale Arts"
tolisten  education  altgdp  openstudioproject  lcproject  sfsh  schools  artschools  2016  radio  art  pioneerworks  alternative  diy  small  democracy  local  play  self-directed  self-directedlearning  unschooling  deschooling  architecture  nyc  brooklyn  chicago  uk  guatemala  london  egypt  puertorico  sanjuan  northcarolina  portonovo  benin  statenisland  design  michigan  saugatuck  curriculum  pedagogy  learning  howelearn  organizations  cooperatives  publishing  networks  fairfax  virginia  losangeles  oslo  accrá  edinburgh  making  craft  mexicocity  mexicodf  df  mexico  noray  stavanger  paris  france  brussels  mutlidisciplinary  interdisciplinary  transdisciplinary  kansascity  missouri  seoul  biella  italia  italy  systemsthinking  socialjustice  independence  carolbecker  victoriasobel  reginebasha  transart  marywallingblackburn  craigwilkins  sheilalevrantdebretteville  michaelnewton  shannonharvey  hragvartanian  crossdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  communication  technology  socialnetworks  artschool 
december 2016 by robertogreco
Leopold Kohr - Breakdown of Nations
"As the physicists of our time have tried to elaborate an integrated single theory, capable of explaining not only some but all phenomena of the physical universe, so I have tried on a different plane to develop a single theory through which not only some but all phenomena of the social universe can be reduced to a common denominator. The result is a new and unified political philosophy centering on the theory of size. It suggests that there seems only one cause behind all forms of social misery: bigness...

There seems to be only one cause behind all forms of social misery: bigness. Oversimplified as this may seem, we shall find the idea more easily acceptable if we consider that bigness, or oversize, is really much more than just a social problem. It appears to be the one and only problem permeating all creation. Whenever something is wrong, something is too big.  And if the body of a people becomes diseased with the fever of aggression, brutality, collectivism, or massive idiocy, it is not because it has fallen victim to bad leadership or mental derangement. It is because human beings, so charming as individuals or in small aggregations have been welded onto overconcentrated social units. That is when they begin to slide into uncontrollable catastrophe. For social problems, to paraphrase the population doctrine of Thomas Malthus, have the unfortunate tendency to grow at a geometric ratio with the growth of the organism of which they are part, while the ability of man to cope with them, if it can be extended at all, grows only at an arithmetic ratio. Which means that, if a society grows beyond its optimum size, its problems must eventually outrun the growth of those human faculties which are necessary for dealing with them.

Hence it is always bigness, and only bigness, which is the problem of existence. The problem is not to grow but to stop growing; the answer: not union but division. 

"A small-state world would not only solve the problems of social brutality and war; it would solve the problems of oppression and tyranny. It would solve all problems arising from power.""
small  smallness  growth  bigness  leopoldkohr  division  union  breakdonofnations  thomsmalthus  society  leadership  power  aggression  brutality  collectivism  humanism  humanity  economics  bioregionalism 
december 2016 by robertogreco
Alternative Art School Fair | Pioneer Works
[See also: The Alternative Art School Fair Radio
http://clocktower.org/series/the-alternative-art-school-fair-radio ]

"The Alternative Art School Fair
November 19-20, 2016

The Alternative Art School Fair presents an introduction to alternative art schools from around the US and the world.

Art education is a reflection of social and cultural evolution; it engages with structures of meaning-making and considers different frameworks for experience. The impetus to create an alternative art school is rooted not only in a desire to create “better” art, but to create the conditions for greater freedom of expression. Often run as free, artist-run initiatives, the values and visions of alternative art schools vary widely in methodology, mission and governance. But even when they are relatively small in scale they provide vital models of cultural critique and experimentation.

The Alternative Art School Fair event, including workshops, discussions, and keynote presentations by Carol Becker, Luis Camnitzer, Craig Wilkins and Dorothea Rockburne, will be streamed live and archived by Clocktower Productions on clocktower.org.

Media Sponsor:
Hyperallergic

Participating Schools

AAPG – Alternative Art Program Guatemala • AltMFA • Anhoek School • Archeworks • Arts Letters & Numbers • ASCII Project • Beta-Local • Black Mountain School • Brooklyn Institute for Social Research • Center for Art Analysis • COLLABOR • école de Hogbonu • Enroll Yourself • Free School of Architecture • Islington Mill Art Academy • Grizedale Arts • Ox-Bow School of Art and Artists' Residency • NERTM - New Earth Resiliency Training Module • Nomad/9 • Pioneer Works • School of Apocalypse • School of Critical Engagement - SoCE • School of the Future • School for Poetic Computation • SOMA • Sommerskolen • Spring Sessions • Sunview Luncheonette • The Art & Law Program • The Black School • The Other MA - TOMA • The Public School • The School of Making Thinking • The Southland Institute • The Ventriloquist Summerschool • The Zz School of Print Media • Thinker Space • Transart Institute • Uncertainty School • UNIDEE - University of Ideas • Utopia School

Presses, Libraries, Resources

Arthur Fournier Fine and Rare • Booklyn • Brooklyn Art Library • Common Field • Inventory Press • OSSAI - Open Source and Space Administration Institute for Alternative Research • Provisions Library • Sketchbook • Project Zone Books

Saturday Schedule … [with session descriptions]

Sunday Schedule … [with session descriptions]

Schools [and a few other things, as noted, website links to descriptions, and to each school’s site if there is one]

AltMFA
London, United Kingdom

Alternative Art College
United Kingdom

Alternative Art Program
Guatemala

Anhoek School
Brooklyn, New York, USA

Antiuniversity Now
London, United Kingdom

Archeworks
Chicago, Illinois, USA

Arts Letters & Numbers
New York, USA

ASCII Project
Mohansein Giza, Egypt

Beta-Local
San Juan, Puerto Rico

Black Mountain School
Black Mountain, North Carolina, USA

GALLERY
Booklyn
Brooklyn, New York, USA

LIBRARY
Brooklyn Art Library
Brooklyn, New York, USA

SCHOOL
Brooklyn Institute for Social Research
Brooklyn, NY, USA

NETWORK
Common Field
National

école de Hogbonu
Porto Novo, Bénin

Enrol Yourself
London, United Kingdom

BOOKSTORE
Fournier Fine & Rare
Brooklyn, New York, USA

Grizedale Arts
Coniston, Lake District, UK

PRESS
Inventory Press
New York, New York, USA

New Earth Resiliency Training Module [NERTM]
Staten Island, NY, USA

Nomad/9 MFA
Hartford, Connecticut, USA

RESOURCE
Open Source and Space Administration Institute for Alternative Research [OSSAI]
nomadic

Ox-Bow School of Art and Artists’ Residency
Saugatuck, Michigan, USA

Pioneer Works
Brooklyn, New York, USA

LIBRARY
Provisions Library
Fairfax, Virginia, USA

Ricean School of Dance
Hydra Island, Greece

School of Apocalypse
Brooklyn, New York, USA

School of Critical Engagement [SoCE]
Los Angeles / Oslo / Accra

School of the Future
Brooklyn, New York, USA

School for Poetic Computation
New York, NY, USA

Shift/Work
Edinburgh, Scotland

Spring Sessions
Amman, Jordan

SOMA
Mexico City, Mexico

Sommerskolen
Stavanger, Norway

Southland Institute
Los Angeles, California, USA

Sunview Luncheonette
Brooklyn, New York, USA

The Art & Law Program
New York, New York, USA

The Black School
Brooklyn, New York, USA

The Cheapest University
Paris, France

The Free School of Architecture
Los Angeles, California, USA

The Public School
Brussels, New York City, Los Angeles, and elsewhere

The School of Making Thinking
Brooklyn, New York, USA

The School of the Damned
London, United Kingdom

The Ventriloquist Summerschool
Oslo, Norway

The Zz School of Print Media
Kansas City, Missouri, USA

ThinkerSpace
Brussels, New York City, Los Angeles, and elsewhere

TOMA
Southend-on-Sea, United Kingdom

Transart Institute
Berlin, Germany, and New York, New York, USA

Uncertainty School
Seoul, New York, International

UNIDEE-University Of Ideas
Biella, Italy

Union of Initiatives for Educational Assembly (UOIEA)
Sites vary

PRESS
Zone Books
Brooklyn, NY, USA"
altgdp  art  artschools  pioneerworks  2016  alternative  diy  lcproject  openstudioproject  sfsh  small  democracy  local  play  self-directed  self-directedlearning  unschooling  deschooling  architecture  nyc  brooklyn  chicago  uk  guatemala  london  egypt  puertorico  sanjuan  northcarolina  portonovo  benin  statenisland  design  michigan  saugatuck  curriculum  pedagogy  learning  howelearn  organizations  cooperatives  publishing  networks  fairfax  virginia  losangeles  oslo  accrá  edinburgh  making  craft  mexicocity  mexicodf  df  mexico  noray  stavanger  paris  france  brussels  mutlidisciplinary  interdisciplinary  transdisciplinary  kansascity  missouri  seoul  biella  italia  italy  systemsthinking  socialjustice  independence  carolbecker  victoriasobel  reginebasha  transart  marywallingblackburn  craigwilkins  sheilalevrantdebretteville  michaelnewton  shannonharvey  hragvartanian  crossdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  communication  technology  socialnetworks  artschool 
december 2016 by robertogreco
BLUE architecture studio sandwiches home for six in hutong
"despite the challenging L-shaped site and compact location, beijing-based firm B.L.U.E architecture studio has managed to sandwich a functional, comfortable home for a family of six in-between an existing hutong wall and two-storey building. located in a hutong neighborhood in the historical center of beijing, the project addresses the small 43 sqm layout with a response that maximizes storage, space-saving methods, light and height to create an illusion of a more spacious living area."
homes  housing  small  architecture  design  2016  b.l.u.earchitecturestudio  beijing 
november 2016 by robertogreco
Are You Being Served? → Summit_afterlife.md
"A few months after “Are You Being Served?“ some of us met up in the Feminist Server Summit at Art Meets Radical Openness (AMRO <http://radical-openness.org>), ESC in Graz. The theme of this edition, Autonomy (im)possible sparked discussions on relationality, dependency and what that would mean for an (imaginary) Feminist Server. The following embryonic manifesto was written in response to these discussions.
A feminist server…

* Is a situated technology. She has a sense of context and considers herself to be part of an ecology of practices
* Is run for and by a community that cares enough for her in order to make her exist
* Builds on the materiality of software, hardware and the bodies gathered around it
* Opens herself to expose processes, tools, sources, habits, patterns
* Does not strive for seamlessness. Talk of transparency too often signals that something is being made invisible
* Avoids efficiency, ease-of-use, scalability and immediacy because they can be traps
* Knows that networking is actually an awkward, promiscuous and parasitic practice
* Is autonomous in the sense that she decides for her own dependencies
* Radically questions the conditions for serving and service; experiments with changing client-server relations where she can
* Treats network technology as part of a social reality
* Wants networks to be mutable and read-write accessible
* Does not confuse safety with security
* Takes the risk of exposing her insecurity
* Tries hard not to apologize when she is sometimes not available


Another version will be developed and presented at The Ministry of Hacking (ESC, Graz) <http://esc.mur.at/de/projekt/ministry-hacking>. You are welcome to contribute to this text through comments, rewriting, additions or erasure: <http://note.pad.constantvzw.org/public_pad/feministserver>."
via:caseygollan  feminism  servers  technology  ecology  community  software  hardware  materiality  efficiency  scalability  slow  small  immediacy  networking  autonomy  security  safety  readwrite  service  manifestos  context  sfsh  care  caring  transparency  open  openness 
november 2016 by robertogreco
The Kalman Family's Language of Looking
"“Anything becomes interesting if you look at it long enough,” Gustave Flaubert wrote in a letter. This is something I keep in mind when looking at visual art: there is usually a story for the eye to find, some detail to latch onto. But when in the company of Maira and Alex Kalman, I am reminded that this truly does extend to most “anything.”

Maira Kalman is a New York–based illustrator, while Alex, her son, is the co-founder of Mmuseumm, a former elevator shaft in Tribeca that he and two friends transformed into an exhibition space. This month, Mmuseumm launched its fourth season with a second space, Mmuseumm 2, a storefront window nearby where Maira has re-created the closet of her mother, Sara Berman.

Kalman, an author and illustrator for The New Yorker, New York Times, and Departures Magazine, is known for picking up on the unnoticed, overlooked particulars of daily existence — in her telling of the life of Thomas Jefferson, for instance, we learn that the author of the Declaration of Independence “slept slightly sitting up” and that his favorite vegetable was peas. There is a rambling quality to her stories; we feel we are with her while she freely discovers her subjects, which vary from fashion shows to yoga retreats to artist studios.

“For me, the digressive moment is the moment,” she once told the interviewer Paul Holdengräber. It’s why Kalman loves walking — because you can stop thinking and just look and be. Walking, for her, is an exercise in keeping an open mind, in letting her surroundings catch her by surprise.

It’s only suitable, then, that one stumbles upon Kalman’s installation of her mother’s closet by walking down a quiet alley. Behind a pane of glass, neatly folded white linens and shirts and stacks of rosy underwear sit on white shelves — “Sara, who came from Belarus, only wore white,” says the British voice of the audio guide. “I always say she was emulating the empress Josephine,” Kalman said to me of her mother’s fashion choices. “But that is not true. We never talked about it … In some instinctual way she was clarifying the world.”

There’s a glass jar filled with identical gray buttons, a bottle of Chanel No. 19, a box of recipes (for roasts, blintzes, schnitzel, and “some unfortunate forays into Americana,” Maira confessed), and a cheese grater for making potato pancakes. The chain for the light dangles playfully from the ceiling with a fluffy red ball of yarn to pull on. While growing up, “the closet was a masterpiece of modern art in our eyes,” said Alex. The closet has been reproduced almost identically, though on a slightly smaller scale, and with a few substitutes — “it’s like the vertebrae at the Natural History Museum, only here we have a bra and a pair of socks,” he explained. Indeed, ever since Sara Berman died, Maira has envisioned her mother’s closet as a kind of museum, hoping that one day it would become “a big attraction for people worldwide.”

Sara Berman’s luminous closet gives us pause. There is a sense of calm and purpose in those sheets and sweaters that were daily and meticulously folded. (“Some families go bowling together. We ironed and folded and sorted and stacked with joy,” said Maira.) Everything, from the pair of reading glasses to the stray piece of checkered ribbon, takes on an anthropomorphic quality; the shoes themselves become portraits: there are six pairs of them, lined up neatly, all with pointed ends and some with their laces undone. Varying in grays, browns, and creams, the shoes are sharp and delicate, playful and smart — much as I imagine Sara Berman to have been.

“Everyone grows up with a language in their home. Ours was looking,” said Alex. Just as Maira asks us to contemplate a closet, usually thought of as a repository behind closed doors, Alex draws our attention to objects that would’ve generally escaped us, like coffee cup lids, vomit bags, gas masks, and eggs (that will, in fact, hatch). He describes the objects in Mmuseumm, on display behind glass vitrines like scientific specimens, as “meaningless and potentially meaningful.” Some come from Mmuseumm’s permanent collection, like a gold $100 bill and a rubber chicken wing, but the majority traveled from collections around the world. For instance, the cornflake index — a personal collection of cornflakes organized by shape, color, and texture — arrived from England “packaged like the queen’s jewels.” The way Alex sees it, these objects should be cared for like artworks. And yet, when Mmuseumm runs its call for submissions each season, it welcomes proposals from anyone around the world on one condition: that it not include “art.”

The winning collections, Alex explains, are those whose contents are “not obvious” — you wouldn’t think to stop to look at a rusty nail (one of many in a doctor’s collection of objects he has removed from people’s bodies) in the same way you would stop before a painting. “It is never ironic,” he made clear. “It’s sincere.” Like Maira, Alex is drawn to “the vernacular” because it communicates something “incredibly intimate and human.”

In other museums, the assumption is that you won’t fully appreciate an object unless you have the historical background. Here, there is no background necessary, except perhaps a sense of humor and some compassion. It was from “my beautiful mother,” an oft-repeated phrase, that Maira learned that knowledge isn’t really what matters. “What you have to have is curiosity.” Growing up, Maira was never “tested” on her knowledge or asked to “perform.” In fact, she says with some pride, “facts were banished from our home.”

In following their curiosity, the Kalmans have observed their surroundings indiscriminately, capturing pieces of our lives that we generally don’t think are worth our time or contemplation. The Kalman language of “looking” requires patience and dedication — as does looking at visual art. Responding to art, really engaging with it, involves actively journeying through it with no purpose. It is a rare moment when I give myself that wandering freedom and time. The Kalmans, in seemingly assuming this attitude wherever they look, remind me of what the artist Paulo Bruscky once said in an interview:
For me, art is a form of seeing and not of doing. It might seem utopian, but the day will arrive when the artist will no longer be necessary. The artist makes things only because people don’t know how to see for themselves. Someday … people will begin learning how to see art in everything …. because art is present everywhere — the artist merely captures and displays it.

I don’t totally buy Bruscky’s conclusion, but he has a point when he suggests that the artist’s sources of inspiration surround us all. Though Alex doesn’t acquire art for Mmuseumm, the works in his museum are just as artful. In some ways, what Mmuseumm is encouraging us to do — to look for the art around us — is a greater task than that of your regular one."
mmuseumm  museums  mairakalman  alexkalman  2015  looking  seeing  noticing  paulobruscky  saraberman  walking  small  tiny 
november 2016 by robertogreco
Maira Kalman’s Bohemian Bliss Above a Bakery - WSJ
"The illustrator and writer recalls her artist husband, Tibor, and their first Greenwich Village apartment"



"Artist Maira Kalman, 65, is the author and illustrator of 24 books, including “My Favorite Things” (Harper Design) and “Ah-Ha to Zig” (Rizzoli), both based on a December exhibit she is curating for New York’s Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. She spoke with Marc Myers.

The apartment I shared with my late husband, Tibor, between 1976 and 1982, wasn’t pretty but we were happy. We both came of age in that fifth-floor tenement walk-up at 29 Cornelia St. in New York’s Greenwich Village. I was just beginning to illustrate and Tibor was starting M & Co., his graphic-design firm. We didn’t need much.

The railroad apartment had three rooms, one after the next. What we lacked in space and fancy furnishings was more than made up for by fun and love. Back then the neighborhood was still home to three generations of Italian families and poor artists. Our rent was $125 a month, and everything was possible in our lives and careers.

Tibor and I met in 1968 while attending New York University. Throughout the early 1970s we would break up and get back together, so we lived in a series of places before settling down. When you entered our Cornelia Street apartment, you were standing in our living room. Then you passed into the kitchen—the center room with a rough concrete trough of a bathtub that had a wooden cover when it wasn’t in use. The third room was a small bedroom that faced the back of A. Zito & Sons bakery. In the morning, the smell of bread baking filled the room.

Tibor and I were both strangely content. Even climbing five flights with groceries or with the laundry was part of the experience. We just thought, here we are, we’re together and in love, and isn’t that great.

Our decorating style was no style at all. Our furnishings were hand-me-downs or things we had found on the street. One piece was a beautiful armchair that we had reupholstered. I still have it. I don’t know why someone chucked it out, but that’s New York.

In the kitchen, we had a ’50s dining table. My studio wasn’t set up yet, so I drew at the kitchen table. I’d draw everywhere, from the park to cafes.

One day, when Tibor was at work, I decided I hated our horrible brown wall-to-wall carpeting. I ripped it up halfway before I became exhausted. When Tibor came home I told him the carpet had to go. He ripped out the other half without a word of complaint. Then I painted the wood floor in the living room butter yellow—the walls were already white—and I instantly felt lighter. That’s what’s interesting about changing layers of your living space. How you feel changes, too.

Eventually Tibor and I wanted more space, so we built a loft bed in the bedroom. It had lots of heavy, raw wood and looked rather dreadful. It was a hippie time, so you have to forgive us. At one point we also upgraded the kitchen by ripping out the tub and putting in a shower.

We were always putting up and taking down art from the walls. One night we hung an onion ring on a nail high up on the kitchen wall. I don’t remember why. I was from Israel and Tibor was from Hungary, so we were always fascinated by vernacular. Fast food was part of the American scene—diners, coffee shops and hamburger stands. All of that Americana was joyful and optimistic and funny to us. That was the beginning of our onion-ring collection. The onion rings we installed never deteriorated, which was amazing. We had dozens of them, and some we framed and gave to friends.

When I think back to our apartment now, I think of it as empty—just shapes of rooms and light. What I do remember vividly is that the space was filled with friendship and love and a never-ending curiosity about everything.

Tibor and I married in 1981, and the following year we moved to a one-bedroom apartment on 12th Street when I became pregnant with our daughter, Lulu. We soon bought the place. A few years later, Tibor and I had a son named Alex, at which point we also bought the apartment next door. Tibor died in 1999, and I still live here.

I’m about to have my apartment repainted white, as always, but I fear it’s going to be a daunting task. There are too many whites to choose from."
mairakalman  tiborkalman  love  life  living  homes  2014  experience  cv  small  fun  making  white  onionrings  vernacular  nyc 
november 2016 by robertogreco
Green Glossary: A for Artisanal | Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
"Artisanal work is a practice that relies on hand skills to produce distinctive objects on a small scale, outside the industrial system. Promoting artisanal production by working with skillful artisans and prioritizing the handmade is a good alternative to the “$5 t-shirt” industry that is responsible for alarming overproduction and waste. Since the 1960s, drastic changes have affected the fashion industry, shifting from small made-to-order and artisanal runs to globalized and highly industrialized collections in order to reach lower prices, sell more, and make more profit. This phenomenon has led to a severe loss of value and quality of garments. Quality of craftsmanship is a key component to ensure the lasting value and durability of our clothes. “Slow Fashion” takes its inspiration from the concept of “Slow Food,” a movement started in Italy by Carlo Petrini in the late 1980s that encouraged a sustainable agriculture with slower production schedules, fair wages for the farmers and lower carbon footprints. American fashion brands such as dosa by Christina Kim, one of the three designers presented in SCRAPS: Fashion, Textiles and Creative Reuse, Alabama Chanin, a label founded by Natalie Chanin, and Study NY directed by New-York-based designer Tara Saint James, all embrace a similar way of designing and producing clothing.

Christina Kim has indexed a variety of artisanal techniques, textiles, people, and organizations and has shared this list on dosa’s website in the form of a beautifully illustrated glossary. Each entry includes a picture, a short description, indication of geographical origin, and tells how it entered the company’s history. This approach not only provides better quality and longevity to the garments, but it also changes the dynamics between designers, makers, and users and raises awareness of the craft of clothes-making."
clothes  artisanal  design  glvo  textiles  small  slow  fabrics  slowfashion  carlopetrini  christinakim  creativereuse  reuse  longevity  quality  nataliechanin  alabamachanin  scraps  magalianberthon  cooper-hewitt 
september 2016 by robertogreco
Orhan Pamuk’s manifesto for museums
[via: http://jarrettfuller.tumblr.com/post/147070033957/a-manifesto-for-museums ]

"Pamuk said: "All museums are genuine treasures of humankind, but I am against these precious and monumental institutions being used as models for the institutions to come. Museums should explore and uncover the population as a whole and the humanity of the new and modern man that emerges from the growing economies of non-Western countries. I address this manifesto in particular to Asian museums that are experiencing an unprecedented period of growth.

The aim of the great state-sponsored museums is to represent a state and that is neither a good nor innocent aim. Here are my proposals for a new museum, some themes on which we must reflect now more than ever.

The great national museums like the Louvre and the Hermitage assumed the form of tourist institutions with the opening of royal and imperial palaces to the public. These same institutions, today national symbols, present the narrative of nation, History with a capital H, as much more important than the histories of individuals. This is a shame, since individual histories lend themselves much better to portraying the depths of our humanity.

The second reflection I want to introduce is that the transitions from palaces to national museums and from the epic to the novel are parallel processes. The epic is like a palace: it speaks of the heroic gestures of the kings that inhabited them. National museums should be like novels, but this is not the case.

Three: we do not need more museums that attempt to construct a historical narrative of our society and community as a narrative of faction, nation and state. We all know that ordinary and everyday stories are richer, more human and above all more joyful.

Four: demonstrating the richness of Chinese, Indian, Mexican, Iranian or Turkish history and culture is out of the question. It must surely be done, and it is not difficult to do. The true challenge is to use museums to tell with the same brilliance, power and depth the stories of the human beings living in these countries.

Five: the measure of success of a museum should not be its ability to represent a state, a nation, a society or a particular history. It should rather be its capacity to reveal the humanity of individuals. We must judge museums on that criterion.

Six: it is imperative that museums become smaller, more orientated towards the individual and more economical. This is the only way that they can ever tell stories on a human scale. The great museums invite us to forget our humanity and to accept the state and its human masses. This is why there are millions, outside the West, who are frightened by museums. This is why museums are associated with governments.

Seven: the aim of museums present and future must not be to represent the state but to recreate the world of individual human beings, the same human beings who have suffered under tyrannical oppression for hundreds of years.

Eight: the resources channelled into the great monumental and symbolic museums should be redirected to small museums that tell the stories of individuals. These resources should also be used to support and encourage people to transform their small houses and small stories into places of narrative.

Nine: if objects are not uprooted from their contexts and streets but situated with care in their natural places, they can have a way of independently telling their own stories. We need modest museums that can honour the streets, houses and shops around them and transform them into moments of their narrative.

In brief, the future of museums begins at home. The situation is very simple: we are used to having epics but what we need is novels. In museums we are used to representation, but what we need is expression. We are used to having monuments, but what we need is houses.

In museums we have History, but what we need is stories. In museums we have nations, but what we need is people. We had groups and factions in museums, but what we need is individuals. We had great and costly museums and will continue to have yet more, especially in Asia, where government money is funding these museums. Yet what we need are small and economical museums that address our humanity.""

[also here: http://en.masumiyetmuzesi.org/page/a-modest-manifesto-for-museums ]
orhanpamuk  museums  museumdesign  small  accessibility  2016 
july 2016 by robertogreco
A theory of nonscalability | A Working Library
"Tsing on scalability:
Progress itself has often been defined by its ability to make projects expand without changing their framing assumptions. This quality is “scalability.” The term is a bit confusing, because it could be interpreted to mean “able to be discussed in terms of scale.” Both scalable and nonscalable projects, however, can be discussed in relation to scale. When Ferdand Braudel explained history’s “long durée” or Niels Bohr showed us the quantum atom, these were not projects of scalability, although they each revolutionized thinking about scale. Scalability, in contrast, is the ability of a project to change scales smoothly without any change in project frames. A scalable business, for example, does not change its organization as it expands. This is possible only if business relations are not transformative, changing the business as new relations are added. Similarly, a scalable research project admits only data that already fit the research frame. Scalability requires that project elements be oblivious to indeterminacies of encounter; that’s how they allow smooth expansion. Thus, too, scalability banishes meaningful diversity, that is, diversity that might change things.

(Emphasis mine.) I think about scalability and diversity in my work-life quite a bit: the tech and media industries have explicitly acknowledged the need for diversity (while so far only making token steps towards achieving it). But there’s often a notion that diversifying an organization will not require changes to that organization’s culture: the concept of “culture fit” presumes someone can neatly fit into the existing culture, as opposed to challenging it or expanding it—or even razing it. That tech (and, increasingly, media—and oh, that boundary is nothing if not fluid) also speaks of scalability in religious terms puts Tsing’s contention here in an even more interesting light. Scalability is expressed not only in the external artifacts of an organization—the software, the servers, the business model—but also the people who work for it and the people who interact with it as customers, clients, and, increasingly, inconstant laborers. That latter category—the Uber drivers, TaskRabbits, and Postmates—seems especially relevant to notions of scalability. Uber can scale, but the single parent who works as a driver and can’t predict what they’ll make from week to week cannot.

Tsing continues:
Scalability is not an ordinary feature of nature. Making projects scalable takes a lot of work. Even after that work, there will still be interactions between scalable and nonscalable project elements. Yet, despite the contributions of thinkers like Braudel and Bohr, the connection between scaling up and the advancement of humanity has been so strong that scalable elements receive the lion’s share of attention. The nonscalable becomes an impediment. It’s time to turn attention to the nonscalable, not only as objects for description but also as incitements to theory.

A theory of nonscalability might begin in the work it takes to create scalability—and the messes it makes. One vantage point might be that early and influential icon for this work: the European colonial plantation. In their sixteenth- and seventeenth-century sugarcane plantations in Brazil, for example, Portuguese planters stumbled on a formula for smooth expansion. They crafted self-contained, interchangeable project elements, as follows: exterminate local people and plants; prepare now-empty, unclaimed land; and bring in exotic and isolated labor and crops for production. This landscape model of scalability became an inspiration for later industrialization and modernization.

There’s the savage bit again: scalability often swamps all other considerations. If you define scalability as the solitary success metric, then you are bound to ignore—or violently overcome—all other measures. So another place to begin to build a theory of nonscalability might be to ask by what other metrics we should measure progress. Scalability cannot be our only aim."
mandybrown  leadership  management  scalability  hiring  scale  2016  annalowenhaupttsing  nonscalability  diversity  small  business  annatsing 
july 2016 by robertogreco
A manifesto for museums | Blog—Jarrett Fuller
"I’m about halfway through an internship at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City and find myself thinking a lot about the role of museums, their futures, and the economics of art institutions. Orhan Pamuk, the Nobel Prize-winning Turkish author and founder of the Museum of Innocence in Istanbul, gave the keynote address at the International Council of Museums this year where he outlined his manifesto of sorts on how museums should function.

The entire thing is worth a read, but I was especially interested in his thoughts on scale:
It is imperative that museums become smaller, more orientated towards the individual and more economical. This is the only way that they can ever tell stories on a human scale. The great museums invite us to forget our humanity and to accept the state and its human masses. This is why there are millions, outside the West, who are frightened by museums. This is why museums are associated with governments.

I’m reminded of David Joselit’s essay In Praise of Small (here’s a PDF of the essay [http://commonpracticeny.org/assets/CPNY_NearContact_2016.pdf ]) that also argues for and encourages small organizations and institutions, subverting the common phrase, that bigger is better:
Here then are the offcial assumptions with regard to the question of scale and the public good: BIG (capitalization of finance or audience) = PUBLIC. SMALL (capitalization of finance or audience) = ELITIST. But in fact this equation inverts the actual situation. It is the “public” (too big to fail) that disproportionately benefits elites, whereas it is the “elitist” (too small to survive) that serves communities in ways that other, larger organizations cannot. Might this ideological inversion be just as insidious and frightening as it sounds? Is it possible that artists in New York City are not only supposed to decorate the salons of hedge fund managers—and thus be implicated in financial elitism—while also taking the rap for intellectual elitism through their lively participation in specialized art discourse?

The term critique is tossed around as though it were a grenade with its needle pulled. But where does “critique” inhere? In my view, it is generally ineffectual in individual works of art, whose transgression can be easily neutralized in the halls of BIG. No, our political challenge is to maintain alternate forms of public space for exhibition and debate. To do so, we must exit the ethos of “Too big to fail.”

I’ve been thinking about Joselit’s essay a lot, recently rereading it as part of the Triple Canopy Publication Intensive I took part in earlier this summer. While I learned a lot during my two weeks at Triple Canopy, one thing I keep coming back to is are the benifits of staying small. Of how when an institution grows and gains power and size, there are all sorts of political, economic, and public considerations than must be accounted for. There is, of course, nothing wrong with that—I’m seeing the Whitney navigate that each day with a stunning grace—but like Joselit proposes, bigger isn’t always better, and at each scale there are a new set of tradeoffs."
museums  small  jarrettfuller  2016  orhanpamuk  organizations  institutions  sfsh  publicspace  davidjoselit  elitism  triplecanopy  scale  scalability  power  size  whitneymuseum  nyc  manifestos  huamn  humans  toobigtofail 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Human scale technology — Medium
[video now here: https://vimeo.com/180044030

"Human-Scale – Beyond user-centered design, we need to create systems that are explicitly and deliberately built to be humane. What does this mean, and is it in conflict with existing corporate structures?"]

"To me, the idea of human scale is critical. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that every idea must scale. That thinking is distracting, closes us off from great opportunities, and invites unnecessary complexity.

Turn down the amplifier a little bit. Stay small. Allow for human correction and adjustment. Build for your community, not the whole world.

At this scale, everybody counts. Plus, we get a few other benefits.

Small is simpler. This is good from a pure engineering and design perspective. We strive for simplicity in the structures we build.

Even better, though, small things are more accessible.

You don’t need a full team of fancy Google engineers to build something small. You can be new to programming, or a hobbyist. You don’t have to be born in the right place at the right time to the right parents.

Simpler systems are easier to create, deploy, and maintain.

More people can be the creators and tinkerers, and not just the users.

If you make it small, it’s also cheap to run. You can build a service that supports thousands of people on a $5/month server, or a Raspberry Pi.

So cheap, most likely, that you don’t have to charge anybody for it. With the right architecture, you can run community-size services for less than $10/month, total.

And if this works, we can tackle the issue of incentives.

Not to get all Ben Franklin on you, but if you don’t spend money, you don’t have to make money.

If complexity drops, and cost drops, the community can now build its own systems. Incentives align.

So, it really comes down to this:

Do it yourself. Strip it down. Keep control. Make it for your community. Don’t do it for the money.

And this is where I start to understand what my friend Rebecca Gates means when she says that technologists and designers have a lot to learn from punk and indie rock.

Leave the expensive, large scale, commercial arena rock to Facebook, Google, and Twitter.

We can be The Ramones.

And Bad Brains.

We can press our own records, and run our own labels.

We can make our own spaces based on our own values.

And remember that computing used to be pretty punk rock.

This is the first public computerized bulletin board system, which was set up in a record store in Berkeley in 1973.

In 1974, the year the Ramones formed, Ted Nelson wrote the first book about the personal computer.

It contained perhaps my favorite opening line of any piece of literature: “Any nitwit can understand computers, and many do.”

It was basically a giant zine.

We can reclaim autonomy and agency with the incredible tools we have at hand–we just need to approach it differently."
scale  small  accessibility  simplicity  slow  sfsh  lcproject  openstudioproject  punk  design  web  online  community  theramones  badbrains  scrappiness  diy  values  eyeo  eyeo2016  jessekriss  intimate  safe  groupsize  humans  humanism  humanscale  paulgoodman  efschumacher  ursulafranklin  incentives 
june 2016 by robertogreco
Why Viggo Mortensen Is Off the Grid
"And so we drive. Or, rather, he drives. For the next eight hours, for about 250 miles, up to and around Watertown, through the Adirondacks and not quite to Canada—though he does ask if I brought my passport—with periodic stops at diners and waterfalls, lakes and trout ponds, his mother's grave and finally his father's farmhouse. Viggo loves to drive. Sometimes he drives cross-country, just for the hell of it. And yet he has rented a Ford Fusion. "They always do this thing where they try to upgrade me to some fancy fucking car." But he doesn't want a fancy fucking car. At times, he spontaneously pulls over to the side of the road for a good five or ten minutes to finish a train of thought—about life or death or demons or fears or his favorite soccer team in Argentina, San Lorenzo. About the time in the wilds of New Zealand when he skinned, cooked, and ate his own roadkill. ("It was there.") About how much he loves the militant Chomskyite he plays in Captain Fantastic, a father of six who decides to raise his kids in the isolated wilderness of the Pacific Northwest. We could've gone straight to Watertown and stayed there, and we could've gotten there a hell of a lot faster, but Mortensen, his two hands resting gently on the bottom of the steering wheel, doesn't like to drive too fast. He doesn't want to miss a thing."



"Then he did something truly bizarre by Hollywood standards. He had the world by the balls, with his pick of roles—big studio stuff, Clooney kind of stuff, paycheck stuff. He turned all of it down, choosing instead to do what he wanted to do, little of which was lucrative. "I mean, how much fucking money do you need?" he asks. He used some of his Lord of the Rings loot to start a publishing company—yes, a publishing company; it's called Perceval Press, after one of King Arthur's Knights of the Round Table—that would publish poets and other writers who might not otherwise get a book deal, and do so without having them "compromise." He could also afford to spend time on his other interests—writing poetry, taking photographs, painting."

[via: https://submittedforyourperusal.com/2016/05/26/highlights-from-esquires-viggo-mortensen-profile/ ]
viggomortensen  2016  humility  slow  small  driving  life  living  money 
may 2016 by robertogreco
From A Pedagogy for Liberation to Liberation from Pedagogy [.pdf]
Gustavo Esteva
Madhu S. Prakash
Dana L. Stuchul

"At the end of his life, Freire wrote a short book, Pedagogía de la autonomía. (Freire, 1997) In it, he offers a meditation on his life and work, while returning to his most important themes. Freire reminds us that his education, his pedagogy, is pointedly and purposively ideological and interventionist. It requires mediators. Here again, it addresses those mediators: a final call to involve them in the crusade.
The leitmotiv of the book, the thread woven through every page as it occurred everyday in the life of Freire, is the affirmation of the universal ethic of the human being --- universal love as an ontological vocation. He recognizes its historical character. And he reminds us that it is not any ethic: it is the ethic of human solidarity. (Freire, 1996, p.124) Freire promotes a policy of human development, privileging men and humans, rather than profit. (Freire, 1996, p.125) He proclaims solidarity as a historical commitment of men and women, as one of the forms of struggle capable of promoting and instilling the universal ethic of the human being. (Freire, 1997, p.13)

Similar to liberation theology (an option for the poor) courageously adopted by an important sector of the Catholic Church in Latin America, Freire finds a foundation and a destiny for his theory and practice in the ideal of solidarity. Solidarity expresses an historical commitment based on a universal ethics. Solidarity legitimizes intervention in the lives of others in order to conscienticize them. Derived from charity, caritas, the Greek and Latin word for love, and motivated by care, by benevolence, by love for the other, conscientization becomes a universal, ethical imperative.

Certainly, Freire was fully aware of the nature of modern aid; of what he called false generosity. He identified clearly the disabling and damaging impact of all kinds of such aid. Yet, for all of his clarity and awareness, he is unable to focus his critique on service: particularly that service provided by service professionals. Freire's specific blindness is an inability to identify the false premises and dubious interventions --- in the name of care --- of one specific class of service professionals: educators.

In its modern institutional form, qua service, care is the mask of love. This mask is not a false face. The modernized service-provider believes in his care and love, perhaps more than even the serviced. The mask is the face. (McKnight, 1977, p.73) Yet, the mask of care and love obscure the economic nature of service, the economic interests behind it. Even worse, this mask hides the disabling nature of service professions, like education.

All of the caring, disabling professions are based on the assumption or presupposition of a lack, a deficiency, a need, that the professional service can best satisfy. The very modern creation of the needy man, a product of economic society, of capitalism, and the very mechanism through which needs are systematically produced in the economic society, are hidden behind the idea of service. Once the need is identified, the necessity of service becomes evident. It is a mechanism analogous to the one used by an expert to transmogrify a situation into a "problem" whose solution --- usually including his own services --- he proposes.

In this way, Freire constructed the human need for the conscience he conceived. In attributing such need to his oppressed, he also constructed the process to satisfy it: conscientization. Thus, the process reifies the need and the outcome: only conscientization can address the need for an improved conscience and consciousness and only education can deliver conscientization. This educational servicing of the oppressed, however, is masked: as care, love, vocation, historical commitment, as an expression of Freire's universal ethic of solidarity. Freire's blindness is his inability to perceive the disabling effect of his various activities or strategies of conscientization. He seems unaware that the business of modern society is service and that social service in modern society is business. (McKnight, 1997, p.69) Today, economic powers like the USA pride themselves in being post-industrial: that is, the replacement of smoke stacks and sweatshops moved to the South, with an economy retooled for global supremacy in providing service. With ever increasing needs, satisfaction of these needs requires more service resulting in unlimited economic growth.

Freire was also unaware that solidarity, both the word and the idea, are today the new mask of aid and development, of care and love. For example, in the 1990s, the neoliberal government of Mexican president Carlos Salinas used a good portion of the funds obtained through privatization to implement the Programa Nacional de Solidaridad. The program was celebrated by the World Bank as the best social program in the world. It is now well documented that, like all other wars against poverty, it was basically a war waged against the poor, widening and deepening the condition it was supposed to cure, a condition that, in the first place, was aggravated by the policies associated with the neoliberal credo.

Freire could not perceive the corruption of love through caring, through service. Furthermore, he was unable to perceive that the very foundation of his own notion of universal, globalized love, God's love for his children through Christ, is also a corruption of Christianity. (Cayley, 2000)

Freire was particularly unable to perceive the impact of the corruption which occurs when the oppressed are transformed into the objects of service: as clients, beneficiaries, and customers. Having created a radical separation between his oppressed and their educators, Freire was unsuccessful in bringing them together, despite all his attempts to do so through his dialogue, his deep literacy --- key words for empowerment and participation. All these pedagogical and curricular tools of education prove themselves repeatedly to be counterproductive: they produce the opposite of what they pretend to create. Instead of liberation, they add to the lives of oppressed clients, more chains and more dependency on the pedagogy and curricula of the mediator.iii.

During the last several centuries, all kinds of agents have pretended to "liberate" pagans, savages, natives, the oppressed, the under-developed, the uneducated, under-educated, and the illiterate in the name of the Cross, civilization (i.e. Westernization), capitalism or socialism, human rights, democracy, a universal ethic, progress or any other banner of development. Every time the mediator conceptualizes the category or class of the oppressed in his/her own terms, with his/her own ideology, he is morally obligated to evangelize: to promote among them, for their own good, the kind of transformation he or she defines as liberation. Yet, a specific blindness seems to be the common denominator among these mediators: an awareness of their own oppression. In assuming that they have succeeded in reaching an advanced level or stage of awareness, conscience, or even liberation (at least in theory, in imagination, in dreams), and in assuming, even more, that what their oppressed lack is this specific notion or stage, they assume and legitimate their own role as liberators. Herein, they betray their intentions.

In response to colonization, Yvonne Dion-Buffalo and John Mohawk recently suggested that colonized peoples have three choices: 1) to become good subjects, accepting the premises of the modern West without much question, 2) to become bad subjects, always resisting the parameters of the colonizing world, or 3) to become non-subjects, acting and thinking in ways far removed from those of the modern West. (Quoted in Esteva and Prakash, 1998, p.45)"



"In his denunciation of the discrimination suffered by the illiterate, Freire does not see, smell, imagine or perceive the differential reality of the oral world. While aspiring to eliminate all these forms of discrimination from the planet, he takes for granted, without more critical consideration, that reading and writing are fundamental basic needs for all humans. And, he embraces the implications of such assumptions: that the illiterate person is not a full human being.

Freire's pedagogic method requires that literacy should be rooted in the socio- political context of the illiterate. He is convinced that in and through such a process, they would acquire a critical judgement about the society in which they suffer oppression. But he does not take into account any critical consideration of the oppressive and alienating character implicit in the tool itself, the alphabet. He can not bring his reflection and practice to the point in which it is possible, like with many other modern tools, to establish clear limits to the alphabet in order to create the conditions for the oppressed to critically use the alphabet instead of being used by it."



"IV. Resisting Love: The Case Against Education

Freire's central presupposition: that education is a universal good, part and parcel of the human condition, was never questioned, in spite of the fact that he was personally exposed, for a long time, to an alternative view. This seems to us at least strange, if not abhorrent.
Freire was explicitly interested in the oppressed. His entire life and work were presented as a vocation committed to assuming their view, their interests. Yet, he ignored the plain fact that for the oppressed, the social majorities of the world, education has become one of the most humiliating and disabling components of their oppression: perhaps, even the very worst.



"For clarifying the issues of this essay, we chose to reflect on the life, the work, and the teachings of Gandhi, Subcommandante Marcos and Wendell Berry. Purposely, we juxtapose them to exacerbate their radical and dramatic differences. Is it absurd to even place them under the umbrella of public and private virtues we dwell on as we … [more]
gustavoesteva  madhuprakash  danastuchul  liberation  pedagogy  pedagogyoftheoppressed  wendellberry  solidarity  care  love  caring  carlossalinas  neoliberalism  teaching  howweteach  education  conscientization  liberationtheology  charity  service  servicelearning  economics  oppression  capitalism  mediators  leadership  evangelization  yvonnedion-buffalo  johnmohawk  legibility  decolonization  colonialism  karlmarx  ivanillich  technology  literacy  illegibility  bankingeducation  oraltradition  plato  text  writing  memory  communication  justice  modernism  class  inequality  humility  zapatistas  comandantemarcos  parochialism  globalphilia  resistance  canon  gandhi  grassroots  hope  individuality  newness  sophistication  specialization  professionalization  dislocation  evolution  careerism  alienation  self-knowledge  schooling  schools  progress  power  victimization  slow  small 
may 2016 by robertogreco
the arete project | towards new programs on the Deep Springs model
[via: https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2015/07/16/women-only-summer-program-hopes-replicate-deep-springs-experience-women
https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2015/12/11/outer-coast-college-seeks-replicate-deep-springs-success ]

"The Arete Project offers innovative, affordable educational programs designed to prepare young people for lives of thoughtful leadership and service to humanity.

The Arete Seminar
The Arete Seminar is an eight-week long program for college-aged women held between June and August of each year. The 2016 program will run from June 20 - August 13, 2016.

Modeled on the educational philosophy of L.L. Nunn, the Arete Project features a small student body size, a rural, isolated community, and the three pillars of academics, labor and self-governance. Seminar participants also take on additional self-governance and service projects throughout the course of the year."



"The mission of the Arete Project is education towards its highest ends: the cultivation of wisdom, the living of a good life in thought and action, and selfless devotion to world and humanity.

Arete builds this education around three central pillars: rigorous engagement with the liberal arts, physical labor undertaken in service of the land and community, and student self-governance over each other and the organization as a whole.

Arete conducts its programs in a human context and on a human scale: in small, close-knit communities and rural, isolated settings; through meaningful relationships between students, faculty, and staff; and through demanding intellectual and physical work on which the community depends.

Arete regards its students as beneficiaries, rather than consumers, of their educations: tuition and administrative expenses are kept to a minimum, and no student is turned away for inability to pay.

Our purpose is to expand upon the educational models pioneered by L.L. Nunn in the early 1900s. Nunn’s organizations were designed to prepare servant leaders, and he structured his programs around three pillars: academics, labor, and self-governance. For the past two summers, the Arete Project has given college-aged women the unique opportunity to intensively engage in these areas during an 8-week summer program, which was held on an organic farm in Sebastopol, CA in 2014, and then, in 2015, on the campus of the Arthur Morgan School near Burnsville, NC. We are excited to announce that Arete will continue to call the Arthur Morgan School home for summer 2016.

What is arete?
The term arete designates the highest human potential, the “best that we can be.” The concept of arete dates back to ancient Greece, and is found throughout the writings of Homer, Plato, Aristotle, and their intellectual descendants. It is often translated as “virtue” or “excellence,” but encompasses much more—in various times and in various places, the term has been associated with bravery, cooperation, justice, loyalty, intelligence, compassion, diligence – while ultimately transcending them all. The Arete Project takes an expansive view of human excellence, balancing together the uniqueness of each student’s potential and the flourishing of the community in which they live.

The Arete Project provides an educational program for college-aged women that emphasizes democratic participation and leadership, sustainability, personal and communal responsibility, and intellectual excellence. It combines a top-tier liberal arts academic programming with a practical education in stewardship and citizenship, supported by the three pillars of academics, labor, and self-governance. All participants will be held to the ground rules: (a) isolation on campus, encouraging introspective and intensive engagement with the community and (b) a strict policy forbidding the use of drugs, tobacco, and alcohol. Apart from these foundational regulations – along with required engagement with the three pillars – the task of self-governance will see all participants active together in creating and maintaining their own polity."
srg  colleges  universities  deepspringscollege  llnunn  areteproject  small  liberalrts  land  community  rural  work  labor  physicallabor  self-governance 
april 2016 by robertogreco
David Whyte — The Conversational Nature of Reality | On Being
"“Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet / confinement of your aloneness / to learn / anything or anyone / that does not bring you alive / is too small for you.”

David Whyte is a poet and philosopher who believes in the power of a “beautiful question” amidst the drama of work as well as the drama of life — amidst the ways the two overlap, whether we want them to or not. He shared a deep friendship with the late Irish philosopher John O’Donohue. They were, David Whyte says, like “two bookends.” More recently, he’s written about the consolation, nourishment, and underlying meaning of everyday words."

[via Jack Cheng, who quotes Whyte:
http://us2.campaign-archive1.com/?u=2401e4db39bd66a5fbc59aa5f&id=af82d17ec8&e=26ec7d6332

"“The ability to ask beautiful questions, often in very unbeautiful moments, is one of the great disciplines of a human life.”

He continues, “A beautiful question starts to shape your identity as much by asking it as it does by having it answered. And you don’t have to do anything about it, you just have to keep asking, and before you know it, you will find yourself actually shaping a different life, meeting different people, finding conversations that are leading you in those directions that you wouldn’t even have seen before.”"]
questions  questionasking  davidwhyte  2016  johno'donohue  aloneness  learning  small  humanism  identity  askingquestions  onbeing 
april 2016 by robertogreco
Small Schools: The Edu-Reform Failure That Wasn't - Education Week
[paywalled, available in PDF here: http://www.holycross.edu/sites/default/files/files/education/jschneider/small_schools_commentary.pdf ]

"But were small schools really the problem? A decade later, we have fairly robust evidence suggesting otherwise. A 2014 study by the nonpartisan research organization MDRC, for instance, found that graduation rates in New York City improved by 9.5 percent at small schools, with effects across every student group—a tremendous increase that also led to higher college enrollments. Another study, by a team at Northwestern University's Institute for Policy Research, found similar increases in high school graduation rates in Chicago's public schools, despite the fact that small schools generally served a more disadvantaged population in the city.

As it turns out, small schools do exactly what you might expect. Smallness can create more opportunities for young people to be known, both by one another and by the adults in the building. The relative intimacy of small schools can foster trusting, caring, and attentive relationships. Deborah Meier, the godmother of the small-schools movement, consistently made this argument in the 1980s and 1990s when explaining the importance of size. As she put it in a 1989 op-ed essay, small schools offer young people better opportunities to learn forms of participation" necessary to becoming a member of a democratic society." But they are, at best, only one piece of a complex puzzle. And early proponents of small schools were clear about that. As Meier, who also writes an opinion blog for Education Week, prudently observed: "Small schools are not the answer, but without them none of the proposed answers stand a chance.""
small  slow  smallschools  education  educationreform  edreform  2016  via:lukeneff  jackschneider  deborahmeier  smallness  reform  schools  lcproject  openstudioproject  sfsh 
february 2016 by robertogreco
Super Opinionated Power Club 16 -- Live from Open Source Bridge
"Staff at corporations cede their individual autonomy and humanity while working and replace it with becoming a single transmitter in the consciousness of the corporation itself -- my contact could never make a decision, he could only take information and relay it inward. I have been a part of a couple of fairly large group neural networks (corporations) at this point, and seen how a pod grows wary at making decisions beyond an unspoken threshold, even if a few people in that particular group are pushing for something. The Company’s Best Interests hang over everything, even if it’s something that clearly harms everyone in the room (eg: corporate women’s groups who find themselves arguing against the company disclosing employee diversity statistics).

Corporations are not people but they are beings of a kind that use people as a distributed computing network. Each person is a point on the network, capable of very limited autonomous decision-making, with greater processing and decision-making power available deeper in the network with larger groups of people assembled. So, businesses as AI, ho-hum, this isn’t new.

I think and feel that there’s a number for any industry, and once you’re there, that’s it, that’s as many people as your company can have while the people in it are able to stay people while staying employees. I won’t pretend I know what it is for manufacturing, or really anything outside of the software sector, because I haven’t worked outside of corporate IT and computer software development. But once you get to the point where everybody at the company doesn’t know what everyone else at the company is doing...so, like, eight people, at least for me, I have to ask why you need to be bigger. Are you trying to defend yourself and save lives? Did you get called upon by your community to solve a Great Problem of Our Time? Or are you just helping an immortal citizen get a little richer and a little more famous?"

[via/see also: http://feeltrain.com/blog/hello-feel-train/ ]
courtneystanton  groupsize  2015  scale  humanism  growth  corporations  corporatism  size  small 
february 2016 by robertogreco
Feel Train
[http://feeltrain.com/blog/hello-feel-train/

"I am incredibly proud to announce that Courtney Stanton and I are starting a creative technology cooperative called Feel Train. We build tech that creates dynamic and nuanced interactions between humans and computers. We eschew meme generation and instead confront people with their own humanity by putting them face to face with the inhuman. And as of today we're available for hire.

So. We're a creative technology cooperative. I'll talk more about "creative technology" in a future essay, but right now I want to dive into the "cooperative" part. Feel Train is a worker-owned, cooperatively managed company.

A hard limit on scale
I've spent about a decade as a working professional. I've been at at half a dozen companies of various sizes, ranging from a three-person bootstrapped business to a multinational technology company with 5000 employees. I've been lucky: every company I've worked for has been a pretty good place to work overall.

I've experienced a bunch of different workplace cultures and organizational structures but I've never felt comfortable with any of them, which is why we're doing something a little bit different with this new business.

There are plenty of models out there for technical cooperatives, and we wanted to make sure we picked the right one for Feel Train. (For 101-level information on how a tech co-op might work, the Tech Co-op Network hosts an excellent free guide full of case studies.)

One thing that Courtney and I knew from the start in our very bones: Feel Train will never consist of more than 8 people.

This is a hard cap on the number of employees. With this limit in place, we no longer have to pick solutions that scale, because we literally cannot scale. We could have a different benefits or vacation package for every worker. That would be a logistical nightmare at most companies, but we'll never have to keep track of more than 8 packages.

Emotionally speaking, this does wonders for me. I've had plenty of entrepreneur friends over the years. Sometimes I would hear them swear up and down, "I love our company at this size. We're going to grow slowly and carefully." Then (ideally) success hits and it becomes very difficult to say no to the prospect of doing more, and doing so by growing faster than they'd ever planned.

All of a sudden, the company is bigger than they ever told themselves it would be. The work isn't fun like it used to be.

I'm not a better person than my friends. If (ideally) Feel Train is successful, then I know I would say yes to growing it beyond our intentions. With this limit in place, I'll never have to tempt myself.

Worker ownership
I believe that labor is the source of value, which means that in order to run a just company, ownership must belong to the workers and solely to the workers. The question becomes: who owns how much?

In production-based industries (factories, agriculture, etc) there are cooperative models where it's a simple matter of converting hourly labor to percent ownership. If Ayesha clocks twice as many hours as Bert, then Ayesha owns twice as much of the company as Bert.

But measuring labor is tricky in a creative industry. Why it's so tricky is a huge topic outside the scope of this article, but Courtney and I have given this a lot of thought and the best answer we have is: don't measure labor. No time tracking.

This means that, when it comes to ownership, we simply give it away. Ownership means equal say in every strategic decision the company makes: one worker, one vote. This solution absolutely does not scale. I couldn't imagine direct democracy working smoothly in an organization of even 20 people let alone 100 or 1,000. But it'll work for 8 people.

This also means that investment does not translate to ownership. Courtney and I are investing a pretty big chunk of our savings to get Feel Train started, but this doesn't give us any special rights. The next person to join Feel Train, whoever that is, will own one third of the company. My share of the company will dilute from one half to one third, as will Courtney's. Fortunately, we don't have to worry about too much dilution. I can guarantee you that if you join Feel Train you will never own less than one eighth of the company as long as you work here.

This is all just the beginning...
It's a good feeling to help start a company I can feel proud of deep, deep down in my Marxist bones. And these two core principles of worker ownership and non-scalability are just the foundation. Courtney has a ton of thoughts on the management of creative workers, and she'll talk about those in the future. If you're eager to hear more about all this, sign up for our monthly mailing list!"]

[See also: https://tinyletter.com/superopinionated/letters/super-opinionated-power-club-16-live-from-open-source-bridge ]
courtneystanton  dariuskazemi  bots  labor  technology  coding  feeltrain  humanism  cooperatives  groupsize  ownership  marxism  production  directdemocracy  organizations  growth  size  employment  lcproject  openstudioproject  scale  scalability  tcsnmy8  tcsnmy  small  slow  sfsh 
february 2016 by robertogreco
The Crowd, the Community, and Patronage | Harry Giles
"I like talking about patronage, though, and I like the idea of opening up what patronage can be. I like making it clear that art is not something that just happens, is not something that other people decide to make happen, but rather something that we all have a stake in making happen, and in making happen in more radical ways. For me, Patreon is a way of not asking single entities for patronage, but asking the crowd — or the community — for support. Like all crowdfunding, it’s a means of circumventing various power structures and barriers to survival, but unlike Kickstarter and most crowdfunding sites, the regular contribution makes it more about sustainable support, long-term income, and a relationship with the people who like what you do.

It’s also just about the only way I can think of to make the art I really want to make. Possibly because I grew up on the internet, making lots of things and giving them away feels natural to me. I don’t just want to make the art that sells, and I don’t just want to make the art that meets the targets of state funding bodies: I want to make the art that I believe in. And I don’t just want to make big monolithic state-of-the-world art projects (though sometimes they’re fun): I want to do little things, and silly things, and radical sparks, and awkward moments that drive a wedge into difficult politics. And I don’t want only the people who can afford it to be able to enjoy my art: I want everyone to be able to enjoy it, and then pay me if they like it. I think I’m good at making art like that. Maybe I want too much. Maybe that’s not the world we’re in together. But I’d like to try, and this seems like a good way of asking everyone if I can."
harrygiles  patronage  art  2014  via:tealtan  funding  making  internet  glvo  openstudioproject  lcproject  small  crowdfunding  income  relationships 
january 2016 by robertogreco
being an artist and parent in a city of riches? w/Tim Devin by a-small-lab
"Part of a series of 'art' conversations for summer art, not-school 2016 in and around Mairangi Bay Arts Centre - small-workshop.info/sans2016/

Tim Devin (www.timdevin.com/) is a Boston-based artist, librarian, parent and more. His work supports the need for information and feeling connected that are essential for people having a say in their communities and the world at large. This discussion starts from three points coming out of his project "How to be an Artist and a Parent?" - how to be a "good parent" and also do the other stuff you need to do, the question of what happens to a community life pressures slowly hinder people from being creative, and the fact that both Boston and Auckland are going through huge transformations right now.

Provided in collaboration with Mairangi Arts Centre, with support of Creative Communities Scheme"

[Shared on Twitter: "Listening…"
https://twitter.com/rogre/status/686288610660757504

"making some connections to friendships, community, and housing https://tinyletter.com/metafoundry/letters/metafoundry-54-nominative-determinism … + http://www.vox.com/2015/10/28/9622920/housing-adult-friendship … + http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2015/10/how-friendships-change-over-time-in-adulthood/411466/ "
https://twitter.com/rogre/status/686288881134649344 ]
parenting  art  chrisberthelsen  2016  timdevin  community  cities  neighborhoods  somerville  japan  newzealand  realestate  slow  local  politics  housing  zoning  urban  urbanism  activism  friendship  age  aging  education  unschooling  deschooling  aukland  labor  work  gentrification  development  children  creativity  cognitivesurpluss  lcproject  openstudioproject  small  rents  inequality  economics 
january 2016 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
The year of the splinter site » Nieman Journalism Lab
“Journalism shouldn’t live or die by the number of eyeballs or the number of shares it attracts. Focusing myopically on scale and continuing to optimize for the largest possible audience compels us to the lowest common denominator of editorial quality.”



"2016 will be the year of the splinter site.

To continue pushing forward and shape their future, media companies need to be constantly looking for new opportunities, new approaches, and new platforms. It’s partly how we’ll crack new markets.

A splinter site is an editorially independent venture, a media product built to stand on its own and designed for a specific audience. They will start modest and many will fail. Some may take on a life of their own, becoming sustainable in their own right, while others may be folded back into its parent. The splinter site is a way of increasing journalistic surface area. And despite the name, the word “site” is being used rather loosely here — a splinter site doesn’t necessarily mean it has to live on a website or be an entirely sectioned-off space. Some of these “splinter sites” will be entirely distributed, exist only in apps or social products.

News organizations will shift their focus away from trying to adapt the same content for different platforms. Instead, they’ll put their minds to creating entirely new editorial experiences — content designed for specific audiences, delivered through specific channels.

We’ve already seen a handful of media companies pursue this strategy to varying extents. The New York Times revealed a glossy new Cooking site and app. BuzzFeed expanded from entertainment and lifestyle coverage into serious journalism, longform and investigative reporting, releasing their news app this past July. We saw Vice launch Broadly, their female-centric channel, covering the multiplicity of women’s experiences through original reporting and documentary film.

We also see this splinter site approach in the portfolio of sites owned by Vox Media — Eater for food and restaurants, Racked for shopping and retail, Curbed for real estate, Vox for general news, Polygon for gaming, SB Nation for sports (which is itself a collection of individual blogs), The Verge for tech, culture and science, and Recode for tech. The Awl network, too, is a collection of sister sites — eponymous The Awl, Splitsider, The Billfold, and The Hairpin — each with their own unique tone, audience and sensibility.

As readers and distribution mechanisms continue to get more and more fragmented, the less it makes sense to contort and reshape one editorial approach for different groups. We’ve seen the seeds of specificity in the launch of new verticals and channels spun off from existing media companies, but 2016 will be the year news organizations fully embrace this construct.
Splinter sites serve an underlying trend: Publishing is converging on specificity. So much of content online today has been roped into this rat race for growth, competition for mass media metrics like clicks, pageviews, and shares. This has led us to a sterile, centralized web. By focusing on a particular, specific lens for content, journalists can create and deliver more meaningful stories. Journalism shouldn’t live or die by the number of eyeballs or the number of shares it attracts. Focusing myopically on scale and continuing to optimize for the largest possible audience compels us to the lowest common denominator of editorial quality.

But a splinter site is an opportunity to start from scratch. It frees a news organization from the weight and legacy of an existing name, and gives you the opportunity to think outside your CMS.

When you’re working within an existing brand, there’s a set of associations and preconceived notions you sometimes have to work against when trying to develop new audiences. You can be set up to fail because you’re fighting a deep-rooted notion that your publication — say, my idea of what The Washington Post is as a thing — is not for me.

But what about about sites that are built from the ground up for a specific type of reader? This invites a different type of relationship, one that’s more emotionally resonant and compelling, laying the groundwork for developing depth and habit with an audience. Consider BuzzFeed’s Cocoa Butter, a distributed project that “focuses on making fun stuff for and about brown folks.” Cocoa Butter exists in Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts, and is a station within Facebook Notify.

Splinter sites are a means of identifying new opportunities and adjacent problems with the potential to impact journalism in a big way. They can help inform future efforts and give better clarity about entering new markets.

In 2015, we saw a continuation of testing, experimentation and iteration in developing novel approaches to journalism. But next year, we’ll see more bold moves — new, edgy, experimental splinter sites from news organizations that that break the mold of our expectations and the status quo. They’ll help to chart territory that’s not just down the block from where we are as an industry today, but rather, will survey the broader landscape and see what’s up in an entirely new city."
katiezhu  scale  journalism  2015  news  media  spintersites  fragmentation  small  socialmedia  twitter  facebook  buzzfeed  instagram  experimentation  skunkworks  statusquo  sbnation  polygon  theawl  splitsider  thebillfold  thehairpin  audience  multiplicity  nytimes  pop-ups 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Wendell Berry on Climate Change: To Save the Future, Live in the Present by Wendell Berry — YES! Magazine
"What we must not do in our efforts of provision is to waste or permanently destroy anything of value. History informs us that the things we waste or destroy today may be needed on the morrow. This obviously prohibits the “creative destruction” of the industrialists and industrial economists, who think that evil is permissible today for the sake of greater good tomorrow. There is no rational argument for compromise with soil erosion or toxic pollution.

For me—and most people are like me in this respect—“climate change” is an issue of faith; I must either trust or distrust the scientific experts who predict the future of the climate. I know from my experience, from the memories of my elders, from certain features of my home landscape, from reading history, that over the last 150 years or so the weather has changed and is changing. I know without doubt that to change is the nature of weather.

Just so, I know from as many reasons that the alleged causes of climate change—waste and pollution—are wrong. The right thing to do today, as always, is to stop, or start stopping, our habit of wasting and poisoning the good and beautiful things of the world, which once were called “divine gifts” and now are called “natural resources.” I always suppose that experts may be wrong. But even if they are wrong about the alleged human causes of climate change, we have nothing to lose, and much to gain, by trusting them.

Even so, we are not dummies, and we can see that for all of us to stop, or start stopping, our waste and destruction today would be difficult. And so we chase our thoughts off into the morrow where we can resign ourselves to “the end of life as we know it” and come to rest, or start devising heroic methods and technologies for coping with a changed climate. The technologies will help, if not us, then the corporations that will sell them to us at a profit.

I have let the preceding paragraph rest for two days to see if I think it is fair. I think it is fair. As evidence, I will mention only that, while the theme of climate change grows ever more famous and fearful, land abuse is growing worse, noticed by almost nobody."



"It is true that changes in governmental policy, if the changes were made according to the right principles, would have to be rated as big solutions. Such big solutions surely would help, and a number of times I have tramped the streets to promote them, but just as surely they would fail if not accompanied by small solutions. And here we come to the reassuring difference between changes in policy and changes in principle. The needed policy changes, though addressed to present evils, wait upon the future, and so are presently nonexistent. But changes in principle can be made now, by so few as just one of us. Changes in principle, carried into practice, are necessarily small changes made at home by one of us or a few of us. Innumerable small solutions emerge as the changed principles are adapted to unique lives in unique small places. Such small solutions do not wait upon the future. Insofar as they are possible now, exist now, are actual and exemplary now, they give hope. Hope, I concede, is for the future. Our nature seems to require us to hope that our life and the world’s life will continue into the future. Even so, the future offers no validation of this hope. That validation is to be found only in the knowledge, the history, the good work, and the good examples that are now at hand.

There is in fact much at hand and in reach that is good, useful, encouraging, and full of promise, although we seem less and less inclined to attend to or value what is at hand. We are always ready to set aside our present life, even our present happiness, to peruse the menu of future exterminations. If the future is threatened by the present, which it undoubtedly is, then the present is more threatened, and often is annihilated, by the future. “Oh, oh, oh,” cry the funerary experts, looking ahead through their black veils. “Life as we know it soon will end. If the governments don’t stop us, we’re going to destroy the world. The time is coming when we will have to do something to save the world. The time is coming when it will be too late to save the world. Oh, oh, oh.” If that is the way our minds are afflicted, we and our world are dead already. The present is going by and we are not in it. Maybe when the present is past, we will enjoy sitting in dark rooms and looking at pictures of it, even as the present keeps arriving in our absence.

Or maybe we could give up saving the world and start to live savingly in it. If using less energy would be a good idea for the future, that is because it is a good idea. The government could enforce such a saving by rationing fuels, citing the many good reasons, as it did during World War II. If the government should do something so sensible, I would respect it much more than I do. But to wish for good sense from the government only displaces good sense into the future, where it is of no use to anybody and is soon overcome by prophesies of doom. On the contrary, so few as just one of us can save energy right now by self-control, careful thought, and remembering the lost virtue of frugality. Spending less, burning less, traveling less may be a relief. A cooler, slower life may make us happier, more present to ourselves, and to others who need us to be present. Because of such rewards, a large problem may be effectively addressed by the many small solutions that, after all, are necessary, no matter what the government might do. The government might even do the right thing at last by imitating the people."
slow  small  present  now  frugality  via:steelemaley  wendellberry  2015  climatechange  future  policy  government  nature  farming  environment  sustainability  goodness  futurism  predictions  provisions  landscape  history  past  humanity  christianity  agriculture 
october 2015 by robertogreco
The MASSIVE SMALL Compendium: Build a better urban society by Kelvin Campbell — Kickstarter
"In an increasingly complex and changing world, where global problems are felt locally, the systems we use to plan, design and build our towns and cities are doomed to failure. Governments alone cannot solve these problems. We believe there is another way and we can show you how. 

We are creating a concise body of collective knowledge designed to change our top-down systems: a book of lessons from the field; an online submissions platform to collect, develop and share knowledge; a visual framework for building action; and a manual of evolving ideas, tools and tactics both printed and later online. These help and inspire people and government to work together, allowing communities to shape their own environments and make towns and cities that work for us, not against us. We call it the MASSIVE SMALL Compendium."
small  hierarchy  horizontality  2015  government  grassroots  urban  urbanism  urbanplanning  civics 
october 2015 by robertogreco
Small groups and consultancy and coffee mornings ( 7 Oct., 2015, at Interconnected)
"One permanent pattern in our workshop culture:
Best design consultancy tip I know: Don't criticise without offering something better. Called the Ahtisaari Manoeuvre after an early client


Always have something on the table.

Another: Always use fat pens.

Another: It's important to have the right people in the room -- representing knowledge of technical possibilities, business needs, and market insights. But at the same time, the ideal number of people to have in the room is five or six. Any more than that, you can't continue a single conversation without it turning into a presentation.

Another: The one who understands the client's business best is the client."



"There are a couple of things I'm investigating:

1. That a small group is a powerful way of thinking, and of creating action. That repetition matters, and informality.

2. It might be possible to help with strategy without providing original thought or even active facilitation: To consult without consulting. The answers and even ways of working are inherent in the group itself.

My hunch is this: To answer a business's strategic questions, which will intrinsically involve changing that business, a more permanent solution than a visiting consultant might be to convene a small group, and spend time with it, chatting informally."




"Once a week we get together -- a half dozen students, often Durrell, whoever is teaching the course with him which was Stuart before and Oscar now, plus a special guest.

It's just for coffee somewhere or other, on Friday mornings, and we chat. It's super casual, sharing ideas and references, talking about the brief and design in general.

I'm curious about informality.

The lunchtimes at BERG, everyone around the table with such a broad range of skills and interests... and after Friday Demos - part of the weekly rhythm - the sparked conversations and the on-topic but off-topic sharing... this is where ideas happen too. Between projects but not outside them.

And I think informality as part of the design process is under-communicated, at least where I've been listening. So much work is done like that. The students are great at speaking about their work, sure. But mainly I'm interesting in how we induct someone into a worldview, quickly; how we explain ideas and then listen carefully for feedback, accepting ideas back -- all conversationally, without (and this is the purpose of the special guest) it turning into a seminar or a crit.

I think the best way to communicate this "lunch table" work informality is to rehearse it, to experience it. Which is what the coffee mornings are about.

I try to make sure everyone speaks, and I ask questions to see if I can encourage the removal of lazy abstraction -- words that get in the way of thinking about what's really going on. I'm a participant-observer.

Tbh I'm not sure what to call this. Visiting convener? It's not an official role.

I think (I hope!) everyone is getting something out of the experience, and everyone is becoming more their own kind of designer because of it, and meanwhile I get to explore and experience a small group. A roughly consistent membership, a roughly regular meeting time, an absence of purpose, or rather a purpose that the group is allowed to negotiate at a place within itself.

~

These RCA coffee mornings grew out of my experiment with hardware-ish coffee mornings, a semi-irregular meetup in London having a vague "making things" skew... Internet of Things, hardware startups, knitting, the future of manufacturing and distribution, a morning off work. That sort of thing. People chat, people bring prototypes. There's no single conversation, and only rarely do we do introductions. This invite to a meet in January also lists my principles:

• Space beats structure
• Informality wins
• Convening not chairing
• Bonfires not fireworks

I've been trying to build a street corner, a place to cultivate serendipity and thoughts. Not an event with speakers, there are already several really good ones."



"My setup was that I believed the answer to the issue would come from the group, that they knew more about their business than me.

Which was true. But I also observed that the purpose of the business had recently changed, and while it could be seen by the CEO that the current approach to this design problem wasn't satisfying, there was no way for the group to come together to think about it, and answer it together. Previously they had represented different strands of development within the startup. Now the company was moving to having a new, singular, measurable goal.

So I started seeing the convened discussions as rehearsing a new constellation of the team members and how they used one-another for thinking, and conscious and unconscious decision making. The group meetings would incubate a new way to think together. Do it enough, point out what works, and habits might form.

~

Consulting without consulting."



"I'm not entirely sure where to take these experiments. I'm learning a lot from various coffee mornings, so I'll carry on with those.

I had some conversations earlier in the year about whether it would be possible to act as a creative director, only via regular breakfast conversations, and helping the group self-direct. Dunno. Or maybe there's a way to build a new division in a company. Maybe what I'm actually talking about is board meetings -- I've been a trustee to Startup Weekend Europe for a couple of years, and the quarterly meetings are light touch. But they don't have this small group aspect, it might be that they haven't been as effective as they could be.

There might be something with the street corners and serendipity pattern... When I was doing that three month gig with the government earlier this year, it felt like the people in the civil service - as a whole - had all the knowledge and skills to take advantage of Internet of Things technologies, to deliver services faster and better. But often the knowledge and opportunities weren't meeting up. Maybe an in-person, regular space could help with that.

At a minimum, if I'm learning how to help companies and friends with startups in a useful way that doesn't involve delivering more darn Powerpoint for the meat grinder: Job done.

But perhaps what's happening is I'm teaching myself how to do something else entirely, and I haven't figured out what that is yet.

~

Some art. Some software."
mattwebb  small  groups  groupsize  2015  collaboration  consulting  vonnegut  kurtvonnegut  organization  howwewrite  writing  meaningmaking  patternrecognition  stevenjohnson  devonthink  groupdynamics  psychology  wilfredbion  dependency  pairing  serendipity  trickster  doublebinds  informality  informal  coffeemornings  meetings  crosspollination  conversation  facilitation  catalysts  scenius  experienceingroups 
october 2015 by robertogreco
The tragedy of Cooper Union | Fusion
"Annals of Incompetence: How one of America’s last free colleges screwed its students and betrayed its legacy"
cooperunion  2015  felixsalmon  mismanagement  freecooperunion  small  education  management  administration  growth  scale  highered  highereducation 
september 2015 by robertogreco
Children prefer simple pleasures to organised trips, research finds - Telegraph
"While parents shell out an average of £183 per child on day trips over the course of a six-week summer holiday, their children would be happier doing simple and free activities such as playing with friends or going for bike rides.

The findings are in a survey by the supermarket chain Sainsbury’s, which asked 1,500 children aged between 5 and 11 to rank their favourite summer-time activities in order of preference.

Playing in the park or in the garden was ranked as the top pastime. Mud pie-making, tree-climbing and feeding the ducks also came in the top ten.

The first activity that would cost children’s parents money was named as going to the cinema, which was the 12th most popular pastime and came after planting flowers and picking berries.

Psychologists said the survey proved that children enjoy simple outdoor pleasures more than organised trips, which often involve hours in the car. Meanwhile parents admitted they spend so much on activities because they feel guilty that their children might get bored.

Youngsters even said that they prefer flying kites and playing in a paddling pool to going to the zoo. Surprisingly, playing on a computer was ranked as one of the least favourite summer activities.

Dr Linda Papadopoulos, a child psychologist, said: “While parents are busy spending money on costly activities to ensure their kids have a good summer, children mostly value the simple pleasures that summer brings. In terms of pleasure per penny, it’s the everyday outdoor fun which takes little time or money to organise that far outweighs the more orchestrated expensive excursions.”

Almost half of the children said they preferred playing in familiar places such as the back garden or local park than places they have not been to before.

The supermarket also questioned 2,000 parents as part of its Kids’ Simple Pleasures Per Penny Index. Parents said that they book at least one day trip or paid-for excursion per week over the six-week summer holiday, spending an average of £183 per child per holiday.

A third of parents said that they organised weekly trips to make their lives easier over the holiday period.

Four in ten adults said they had increased their spending on holiday excursions compared with last year despite the economic downturn.

Despite spending so much on their children, seven in 10 parents admitted that their most cherished childhood memories involved playing with friends or having “simple” fun in the garden.
Dr Papadopoulos said: “Summer memories last us a lifetime and parents can learn a lot from what their children have told us in this study.”

A Sainsbury’s spokesman said: “The summer holidays can be particularly expensive, especially for families, but it doesn’t have to be a burden if we take the lead from our youngsters and reappraise the value of the simple everyday pleasures loved by all.”"
children  parenting  play  2012  boredom  entertainment  everyday  small  slow  childhood  memory  summer 
june 2015 by robertogreco
A sentimental education: inside the school that Tilda built | Film | The Guardian
"Late last year, Drumduan Upper School received its first government inspection. In an era of merciless performance targets and obsessive testing, any school administrator would naturally feel apprehensive. Drumduan’s head teacher, Krzysztof Zajaczkowski, a working-class son of Polish immigrants who has an instinctive distrust of authority, expected to be shut down. He had not forgotten his last school inspection, 10 years earlier, which he compares to a visit from the Gestapo, and he worried that Drumduan’s radical ideals – no exams, no tests, no hierarchies, no sitting at desks whenever possible – would count against the school.

That is not what happened: the inspectors sat in the classes and watched the students. And if you watch the students at Drumduan, you soon notice they are confident, articulate, highly motivated and respectful. These are, in fact, the words used by the inspectors in their subsequent report. You might even believe the students at Drumduan wanted to be there. The inspectors clearly felt so, but it was when they had retired to an office to confer that Krzysztof, a master of the spontaneous gesture, delivered the coup de grace. He sang to them.

Music is something of a hallmark at Drumduan, where children participate in regular workshops – often on instruments like a wheelie bin – and start each day singing in four-part harmonies. “We were rehearsing in another room, and I said: ‘This song is terrific, we have to show these inspectors,’” Krzysztof recalls. “So we burst into their office – they were a bit alarmed – and I said: ‘I’m sorry, we’ve just got to sing this song to you.’” The song was “Media Vita”, a medieval score of haunting beauty that reduced the inspectors to tears, according to Krzysztof. Bowled over by their praise – he is a man whose emotions are close to the surface – Krzysztof asked if he could give them a hug, probably a first for all of them.

I first heard about Drumduan from the actor Tilda Swinton, who cofounded the school in 2013 with Ian Sutherland McCook, a fellow parent at the Moray Steiner School, where their children were in the same class. The two sought to persuade the trustees there to take on the project of creating an upper school, as students at Moray Steiner must graduate at 14. When that failed, they decided to go it alone.

“There’s no grading, no testing at all,” Tilda had explained to me earlier. “My children are now 17, and they will go through this school without any tests at any time, so it’s incredibly art-based, practical learning. For example, they learn their science by building a Canadian canoe, or making a knife, or caramelising onions. And they’re all happy 17-year-olds. I can’t believe it – happy and inspired.”

It was this image of “happy and inspired students,” so foreign to the popular conception of school, that brought me to Drumduan. I wanted to see for myself this miracle of happy, boat-building, onion-caramelising teenagers. Tilda suggested I join them on a school trip to the tiny island of Colonsay (population: 120) where, deprived of their mobile phones, the students would be at the mercy of their own initiative. Some activities were planned, including a day studying the island’s protected black bee colony, but the week was left relatively unstructured. Tilda felt it was important for children to have the freedom to be bored. As the only award I ever won at school was for my services as secretary to the beekeeping club, I felt uniquely qualified to join the expedition."



"“We’re just doing a little chillaxing,” Tilda says one evening as everyone sits around eating wild garlic and nettle soup, the ingredients foraged earlier that day. Chillaxing is, in its way, the purpose of the trip – an opportunity for the students to find a measure of stillness. “We wanted Colonsay and Oronsay to be a settling of all that has happened, a distilling and digesting of the events and the hard work of the year,” Krzysztof explains.

This is the reason for the ban on new technologies and the emphasis on old – the group games, the sing-a-longs, the campfires. Tilda has brought a poem called “Happiness”, by the Gaelic-speaking poet, Meg Bateman. It describes two old friends, crofters “who after a brief murmured greeting, will stand wordlessly together, side by side, not facing each other, and look out on the land, whose ways and memories unite them.” The poem’s sentiment speaks to a hope and expectation that here, away from the mainland, the students will discover the power of silence, not in place of tumult and noise, but as a balance to it.

Of course for teenagers who have learned to make longbows, knives and canoes, a rocky, mossy, grassy island like this is paradise. There is a lot of room to run wild, and they do. Watching the lean, feral boys somersaulting off the dunes one evening, I imagine William Golding, somewhere, rubbing his hands in delight. But he based Lord of the Flies on Marlborough College, his alma mater, where children were bred and bullied to become the repressed defenders of Empire. The students of Drumduan are not they. On their first night in the backpackers’ lodge, overlooked by a giant bison’s head, they drink tea and sing “Media Vita”, while Tilda butters doorstop sandwiches for the next day. At night we listen to the corncrakes in the dark."



"We get to see the island’s famous bees on a rare, sunny day, with the island shimmering in the morning light. Andrew Abrahams is a local hero, having succeeded after many years in securing the Scottish government’s backing to have Colonsay and Oronsay declared a sanctuary for his beloved black bee, genetically pure and free of the Varroa mite. When the students hear him talk about the bee’s sad plight, the subsequent debate among them is lucid, smart and illuminating. They dissect capitalism and market economics; they talk about the challenge – and necessity – of creating altruistic societies, and occasionally they come up with a really great idea. Like creating a super bee, which Eliot, the impish daredevil of the group, is sure must already be under way in America. Tilda leans over later, and says: “Don’t you think the world would be a better place if we had a government of teenagers like these?”

Drumduan is still a very small school, just 17 students, so it doesn’t take long to develop an easy familiarity with everyone – which must also be characteristic of attending the school. (Students are encouraged to develop social lives outside.)

I’d suggested to Arran one afternoon that the conundrum with model enterprises like Drumduan was finding a way to grow them without diluting them, to which he shrugged and said, “Why grow them?” Abrahams had told us how bee colonies divide and separate when they get too big, the catalyst for swarms. “I don’t think these things can work worldwide,” Arran says."



"For eight hours they walk the island in the company of RSPB wardens, yet another lesson in the delicate equilibrium of the planet, and then Krzysztof sets them all a novel challenge: go and find a place, alone, no more than five paces in diameter, and stay there for an hour. An island on an island. Later, I call Angus in Forres, and ask: “How did you manage?” It was boring at first, he replies. “But you had to adjust to a different setting. You had to look at it in a different way.”

Imagine teenagers, taking an hour to be with themselves, no modern distractions, just the beat of their heart, the tick of their brain, the sweep of the sea. The students are asked not to talk about how they spend the hour, but I’m curious, and ask Angus to describe his time. He says he found a space on the sand, and set himself down to watch the waves. “At first, I thought, What am I doing here, but as I sat there, I started to think about lots of different things, like life, relationships, dreams that I’d had, family – I felt homesick at one point, I welled up a little bit, it was quite emotional.” When it was time to return to the group, he found it hard to believe that an hour could be so brief.

Rudolf Steiner, the Austrian founder of the Steiner schools movement, wrote: “To be free is to be capable of thinking one’s own thoughts – not the thoughts merely of the body, or of society, but thoughts generated by one’s deepest, most original, most essential and spiritual self, one’s individuality.”

We live in an age when people talk endlessly about individuality, but I wasn’t sure I’d ever seen it as clearly delineated as in the contrast between the students of Drumduan with those of more typical schools, like the one where Angus had been enrolled for so long. I remembered his mother’s observation that the pupils there, even on the coldest day, would remove their coats “two miles before getting to school” because someone had determined it wasn’t cool. “There’s so much of a horrible clique to what happens in mainstream education, whereas it’s a safe space at Drumduan to say, ‘I’m into this sport,’ or whatever, and it doesn’t matter that nobody else is doing it.”"
education  schools  lcproject  openstudioproject  waldorfschools  tildaswinton  scotland  2015  parenting  aaronhicklin  drumduanupperschool  krzysztofzajaczkowski  colonsay  tcsnmy  statism  anarchism  howwelearn  testing  standardizedtesting  cv  rudolfsteiner  individuality  individualism  technology  freedom  criticalthinking  howweteach  deschooling  unschooling  small  smallschools  intimacy  slow  iansutherlandmccook 
june 2015 by robertogreco
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