Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Masdar city begins to take shape

The high technological and energy efficient city of Masdar has opened the first section (see pictures here). 28th of November 10 pod cars (link to and see video from Masdar here) started to run from the parking house to the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology. City would when its finished host 45 000 inhabitans and another 45 000 commuters. It was planned to be finished in 2016 but plans are delayed.

In Arabian Desert, a Sustainable City Rises writes New York Times
"Still, one wonders, despite the technical brilliance and the sensitivity to local norms, how a project like Masdar can ever attain the richness and texture of a real city. Eventually, a light-rail system will connect it to Abu Dhabi, and street life will undoubtedly get livelier as the daytime population grows to a projected 90,000. (Although construction on a second, larger phase has already begun, the government-run developer, the Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company, refuses to give a completion date for the city, saying only that it will grow at its own pace.)
We are exited to see what will comes from this. As I earlier mentioned, in the post A very beautiful place to live, it may not be that easy to create a sustainable city, if considering social and economical sustanability and not only the ecological part.

More updated news from Masdar can be read at and more about the plans at

Monday, December 13, 2010

Consensus Design

No 'ecological' places for people will be sustainable unless people want to live there, want to maintain them, imprint them with care. We tend to care for things to which we feel connected, and not for once where we don't. The more levels of connection, the deeper is our relationship[..] Beauty cannot be built on disrespect- that's what makes for ugliness[..] The better buildings are matched to people and place, the better they will be care for [..] It is this relationship focus that is essential to any really sustainable building

-Christopher Day with Rosie Parnell (2003), Consensus Design- Socially inclusive process, p 32-33

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Changing paradigms

The animated version missed some important cores from the lesson with Ken Robinson. I think they were very interesting and I post them here:

  • The genius level of divergent thinking of 1500 kindergarten kids was 98 %, when they re-tested them again years 5 later, then it was 32%, and again 5 years later; 10%. They also tested two hundred thousand adults. Their result was 2 %. This shows interesting things. One is that we all has this capacity. And a lot of things happens with these kids when they grow up, a lot; one things is that they become educated.

  • Human organisations are not like mechanisms... Human organisations are much more like organisms. They dependent upon feelings, and relationship, motivation, value, self-value and a sense of identity of the community. You know the way you work in an organisation is deeply effected of your feeling for it.

  • Not far from Las Vegas, is Death Valley, the hottest place in America. In the winter of 2004 it rained. And the spring 2005 it was a phenomen, the whole floor in Death Valley was coted by spring flowers. What it demonstrate was that Death Valley wasn't dead. It was asleep. Right beneath the surface were there seeds of growth, waiting for conditions. And I beleive it is exacly the same way with human beings. If we create the right conditions in our schools, if create the right insentives, if we value each learner, for them self and properly. Growth will happen.

  • Changing Paradigms is to go from a industrial way of look at education to see it more organic.

          Industrial                       >  Organic
  • Utility    >   to be    >  Vitality
  • Linearity      >   to be    >   Creativly
  • Conformity      >   to be    >   Diversity
  • Standardisation      >   to be    >   Customization

Interested to see the real lecture? See it here at PSA, Ken Robinson- Changing Paradigms.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Changing civilisation

Jeremy Rifkin  -The Empathic Civilisation

Sir Ken Robinson - Changing Education Paradigms

A lot more to see at RSA
"For over 250 years the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) has been a cradle of enlightenment thinking and a force for social progress. Our approach is multi-disciplinary, politically independent and combines cutting edge research and policy development with practical action. From their homepage RSA.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Role Play an Environmental Conflict

Tips from the book Environmental communication and the public sphere, Robert Cox, 2006. And same chapter about conflict resolution through collaboration and consensus;

"What do environmentalist believe we have in common with the Yellow Ribbon Coalitation? We believe that we are all honest people who want to continue our way of life. We believe that we all love the area in which we live. We believe that we all enjoy beautiful views, hunting and fishing and living in a rural area. We believe that we are being misled by the Forest Service and by large timber, which controls the Forest Service, into believing that we are enemies when we are not. (quoted in Wondolleck & Yaffee, 2000, Making collaboration works: Lessons from innovation in natural resource management, pp, 71-72)

Move people to build a better world?

At Pulau Gaya, an Island outside Kota Kinabalu, Borneo the Kampung Lok Urai people lives. The island is protected and the people with a population of 6000- 8000 lives in stilt houses along the beaches (see more pictures close here at Evan Hwong's page).

The area has no sanitation and the crime level is high. The people have to drive 10 minutes by boat to sell and buy things in the city.

In another neighborhood we have to deal with the other side of the coin. Here is some picture of a so-called "good neighborhood" in US.


Alameda, San Francisco Bay Area. Suburban sprawl, but compare it to the picture below.

Same map scale as above, Springfield outside Washington DC. An area for around 1000? We can count the houses. High way to the right.


"the high speed rail project will conserve 1 million acres of environmental lands and cause 44% less land to be consumed. How does a train running down the middle of I-4 do all that? The answer is by "compact development" aka "smart growth", aka "New Urbanism", aka "Traditional Neighborhood Design", aka "Transit Oriented Development", aka "Livable Communities", aka "Sustainable Development." These are all names meaning the same thing: they are anti-suburban, high-density dwelling design concepts that are part of the UN's Agenda 21 and will make single family home ownership for our posterity unattainable. Cost is not the only factor with high speed rail. Statists are using these central planning schemes to combat "man-made climate change" and is a land grab to convert private lands to federal control. 

said the Chairman at the Tampa 912 Project. Read more about Tea party against Sustainable development and American Dream Coalitation.

Almost same map scale as above, Fittja, outside Stockholm, Sweden. A neigbourhood for 7500 people. Subway is located in the middle. Is it this they do not want to have?


More from the article at Mother Jones;

"If sustainable development is fully implemented, she says, "This basically will turn us into a Soviet state."
In the tea parties’ dystopian vision, the increased density favored by planners to allow for better mass transit become compulsory "human habitation zones." They warn of Americans being forcibly moved from their suburban dream homes into urban "hobbit homes" and required to give up their cars and instead—gasp!—take the bus to work.

Isn't it time to build cities where people want to live? Where it is as same good to live in a close-to-work apartment as in a close-to-nature suburban house? Because it is close to both work and nature.

Isn't it time to build cities where people can live, even if they are poor or rich? Where you can choose to have a small apartment or a big? Because both options are there.

Isn't it time to build cities which take care of sanitation, and car pollution? Where no-one needs to live in the shit? Because cities should be a good place to live.

You might also like to read:
Examples of cozy cities under 
Upon Equality
Französisches Viertel
Heart of the world

Friday, December 03, 2010

Ecology of architecture

So in architecture, as in music, it is not the sound of the note alone or the sum of the notes which creates music, but the experience of their interrelations; i.e., the perception of subsequent events while still being aware of those immediately preceding.
"Visual objects are not as static as we might carelessly think they are. Actually they have life. They have life because their existence are complementarily interrelated to and influenced by each other; because they are subject to transformation due to the transfusion between brightness and darkness, and because they are experienced by life." The above statement also reinforces the imprtance of not looking at objects in isolation for their own sake. The cuts must be seen as the most active parts of the environmnent which reveal those tensive and compulsive energies.

-From Architecture as environmental communication, 1984, Asghar Talaye Minai1, p. 175 . Quote ia referenced to the book Art, Science, and Architecture; Architecture as a dynamic process of structuring matter-energy in the spatio-temporal world, 1969, same author.

You might also be interesting in;
architecture as environmental communication
Upon architecture
Antimaterialism in the nature of architecture
What is an ecocity?
A whole new world view

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Safe daycare building

They solved the problem of burnt kindergartens in Alby, Stockholm, by building one all-metal. The grass is artificial turf and the outer courtyard is guarded by camera.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Cracks in your concrete? You need ‘BacillaFilla’

From the Press Release 12th of November 2010. Joint project instructor Dr Jennifer Hallinan explains:

“Around five per cent of all man-made carbon dioxide emissions are from the production of concrete, making it a significant contributor to global warming
A bacteria that can knit together cracks in concrete structures by producing a special ‘glue’ has been developed by a team of students at Newcastle University.

The genetically-modified microbe has been programmed to swim down fine cracks in the concrete. Once at the bottom it produces a mixture of calcium carbonate and a bacterial glue which combine with the filamentous bacterial cells to ‘knit’ the building back together.

On this blog, you might also like;
Wales captures carbon emissions
Delicious healthy "fishfarm"
Ecofriendly kitchen
Beetles and other small animals
Epigynes and male palps; views from the spiders
Ecosystem services- a lesson about

Personalized Energy | MIT

“On advice he received from Kurt Vonnegut: He told me, 'stop worrying about the planet dying. When you have a big organism and you become irritating to it, the immunological system just kicks in and kills the invading organism'. And he assured me that we have just become so irritating to the earth, she'll just kill us. Which makes me happier. It says that there is something much bigger than us, which we forget about the earth. And she is much more powerful than us. She'll get rid of us if we don't take care of her
Daniel Nocera

"Nocera’s goal is to make each home its own power station, with photovoltaic arrays on the roof feeding the catalytic reaction that splits water into hydrogen and oxygen. Some of these elements are still pricey or unreliable -- in particular, fuel cells and photovoltaics are troublesome -- yet he envisions villages in India and Africa not long from now purchasing one of his basic systems for $800. While Nocera acknowledges his critics, he views them as institution-bound naysayers: “I always say when the scientists stop fighting, then you’re screwed.”  MIT World

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Theme; Bridge the city!

A brige connects two residental houses in the area of Vauban, Freiburg, Germany.

A old path between two old houses in Breisach, Germany

One of Richard Register's main point, differ the idea of ecocities with all other sustainable city plans; that an ecocity is about the connections in the city; pathways, roads in different levels, squares at the roof top, or in the middle of the house makes a city in several layers, not just streets and buildings.

Richard Register's sketch of the bridges between houses and squares at the roof top, with trees follow the building all way up.

 Katarinahissen and Gondolen, Stockholm.

From a modern church to another building, New Brisach, France.

Christiania in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Pedestrian street under the train bridge, Paris.

Cultural center in Alby, Stockholm.

Buildings of today are not connected because they have different owners, a friend told me. "And, he continued, I don't know if I want my neighbor in my apartment!" now he pointed at the apartment at 12th floor in the other building; a man walked around, turned the lights on and off, opened and closed the windows, sat down, did it all over again, for hours.

How will the safety and security operating in a city with more layers and more connections?

Previous themes;
Green roofs and green cities
Make'n a good feeling in the city?
Green walls
Animals in the city
Urban agriculture
Streets in greenery
Greening the streets

Monday, November 29, 2010

The importance of people

Share some of the writings from different interesting courses in University over the years. Here's a summary from the course Governance of natural resource management, Dep. of  Urban and rural development, SLU dec 2008.


"We protect our forest better than government can. We have to. Government employers don't really have any interest in forests. It is a job for them. For us it is life

Agrawal tells us the story in the book Environmentality (2005), of how people change their minds about environmental issues in Kumaon. He call it "making the subjects", which is when people get involved in the decision making they become more aware. The investigation in Kumaon indicate a significance of awareness connected to the presence of a forest council. Villages which had not a forest council were less willing to protect their forests. Important institutions like this is similar to what Ostrom discuss in the Ostrom's theory on the common property and her eight principles.

But with this said, local management of natural resources does not guarantee sustainable development! Other circumstances such as lack of favourable policy environments, social capital and competence can interrupt such initiatives (Sandström, 2008). Agrawal adds to this that the creation of governmentalized localities and the opening of territorial and administrative spaces in which new regulatory communities can function are important for the decentralization of environmental regulation to the locality (often called community-based conservation). 

Today's modern nature conservation approach often;
  • give state officials (the experts) the prerogative to define what is valuable to conserve
  • establish and support institutions for nature conservatism
  • exclude other
  • focus on preserving biological values and down playing on other values; cultural, economical and spiritual

Instead, theories about community based governance means that the local people have;
  • Better knowledge of local conditions
  • Greater ability to enforce rules, monitor behaviour and verify actions
  • Better flexibility and adaptability to change rules according to changes in ecosystems
  • Higher sense of responsibility over the natural resource that surrounds the community

Socio-historical approach to natural resource management and
 Adaptive-governance of social-ecological systems

Agrawal shows in his book a continuously historical example and is so a good example to discuss in the Socio-historical approach to natural resource management, which tends to argue for the need of theoretical perspectives, in which the emergence of natural resource management arrangement is explained by historical narratives, networks and context (Sandström, 2008). 

From another point of view at the Kumaon case I can see that the theory Adaptive-governance of social-ecological systems (Folke, 2005) is in a way Agrawal's thoughts because this theory have its ground in the thought that we should improved understanding of the dynamic of the whole system, not detailed knowledge. A strategy for dealing with rapid change, reorganisation in that change and strategies for dealing with uncertainly and surprises is keywords in the adaptability governance. The governance should also be self-organizing meaning increases in complexity without being guided. This is somehow happening with the sanction rules in the Kumaon example, when the knowledge about who the monitoring person is, is a barrier initself for breaking the rules for others.

The Adaptive governance of social-ecological systems also give high trust to communites; society or community have a memory of knowledge about how to handle crises and change, and this knowledge is essential for that community, and have to be protected before it disperse in the next generation.  

Past crises is future policies.

In the Kumaon example and in Ostroms theory there are special rules for different areas, because of their history and special care, all places cannot be treated and governed in the same way. In a Socio-historical approach this is what happening when the rights and regulations emerged over time (Johnson, 2004). In the Adaptive governance approach, the scientist or expert is one of several actors and the system is based on multi-stakeholder. Co-management and flexibility is important. Also important is to have a leadership in the process that can build trust, make sense, manage conflicts, link actors, initiate partnership among actor groups, mobilise broad support for change, compile and generate knowledge.

The Adaptive governance theory is relatively new and is probably very good to have when dealing with effects of climate change in the future. In the other hand, you may have a ground like that in Common property theory or Agrawal's three points (see above) before applaying it. The adaptation for a society can also be found in Ostrom's second principle: rules should be based on local conditions. As a villager you can participate to change the rules (third principle), and the nestedness in different levels (principle eight) is near to the Adaptive management approach. Kumaon have some  in common to the Adaptive management approach, but Common property theory is even easier to compare to the case.

Agrawal talks about the phenomena as environmentality (inspired from the famous philosopher Foucault's later work on governmentality which refers to how to see on and think about environmental politics) in which he include (p 229 in Agrawal, 2005) parts of Foucaults thoughts about power;
  • formation of new expert knowledge's
  • the nature of power- efforts to regulate social practice
  • the type of institutions and regulatory practices that exist in a mutually productive relationship with social and ecological practices and can be seen as the historical expressions of contingent political relationship
  • the behaviors that regulations seek to change, which go hand in hand with the processes of self-formation and struggles between expert or authority based regulation and situated practices

Other cases of interest

The Kumaon case is very similar to the case in Kalix, North Sweden (Kustringen with help from Gaia Foundation); the citizens felt that they protect more, create employment, could do it cheaper, build competences, are together, rebuild ”by-laws” and are a resource for other. Agrawal is mention at least some of them, as more protection and that local community management is cheaper. In the case of Kalix, there was a lack of communication with higher incentives like the state and county administrative board but in the case of Kumaon is seems to have been different. In the Kalix example they created a one-to-one relationship between each forest council and state officials, they create unequalities between state and locality. Instead in Kumaon the villages get the rights to management the rules by themselves.

Only when villagers saw the forest as theirs and the condition of forest as depended on their actions would they begin to follow protectionist strategies (Agrawal, p 123).
Agrawal started some interesting thoughts about the communication in natural resource management. It is in the nature of various form of knowledge that is always potentially under dispute. Regulation always demands new knowledge (p 226). Beliefs and knowledge are developed through practice,
”environmental practice.. is the key link between the regulatory rule.. and the imagination that characterize particular subjects”
says Agrawal (p 167). We can never forget that it is people we deal with in the end- not institutions. Talking the role of the other is important even from the county administrative board to accually see the local residents. Community as a group of people with similar interest have something that connects them, and if we want to be the good communicator we have to find this connection. How the shaping of institutions, politics and subjectives plays a role in ecological practice needs a greater elaboration and analys. 


Agrawal, A. (2005). Environmentality. Technologies of Government and the Making of Subjects. Durham and London. Duke University Press.

Folke, C. Hahn, T. Olsson, P. and Norberg, J. (2005). Adaptive Governance of Socio- Ecological Systems. Annual Review of Environment and Resources, Vol. 30, Pp 441-473.

Johnson, C. (2004). Uncommon Ground: The ‘Poverty of History’ in Common Property Discourse. Development and Change 35(3) pp. 407-433. Blackwell Publishing. Oxford.

Ostrom, E. (1990). Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action pp. 90-102. Cambridge University Press, Cambrige

Sandström, Emil (2008) Reinventing the commons. Doctoral diss. Dept. of Urban and Rural Development, SLU. Acta Universitatis agriculturae Sueciae vol. 2008:48.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Göteborg growing in height

Is it so, as we need to come to a level in "development", were it is important how it looks like were we live, even in the city center? Is it so, that smart compact and beautiful places for a city is just possible when the middle- class people reached an income level where they stay in the city but then they want it very fancy.

Interesting things happens on top of some of the buildings in the area of Linné in Göteborg, Sweden. Luxury penthouse apartments is built both at Linnégatan and Nordostpassagen. See the Topfloor Linné project here.

Different time periods shaped the city and the style of houses depending on who lived in them. Poor, middle class, upper class?

The city life, fashion and lifestyle is important for todays young adults, but so also the interior. New, large, stylish apartment attracts all kind of people in Göteborg today. Suburban sprawl with similar houses and gardens is also happening in the edges of the city.. but its not the fashion.  Instead we see more of high-rise buildings and with that a more compact city.

So last question is; when do we reach the level in development, where we invest not only in our own homes, but out of our homes, so that would be a very beautiful place to be, too?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Friday, November 19, 2010

Ecohouse in Tübingen

A house with a smaller house connected. The smaller house has a green roof with mosses and other tolerant plats, both for dehydration and rainwater, the house is almost invisible in the green. A space for activity as for a pool, a huge relax room, tennis or bowling? Or a small room for school? A restaurant.. Or just a 100 m2 apartment.

The larger building is more visible, but surrounded by trees and huge windows. A path leds you down to the lower house and the garden.

Stairs. Big windows. Balcones. Additional passageways between the outside and inside.

View to the garden. Business in the lower floors?

Greenhouse in the lowest floor or a place to relax. Paths to walk in the garden.

Wood and stones. Several entrences witnesses for several apartments/ business. House in bad shape, but the arcitechure is beautiful.

The house has view over the river from the upper floors and to the garden and green branches from the lower.

The building is built in the slope which made the entrence in the middle of the house while the lower floors has the connection to the ground and to the garden.

The first thing we saw, was not much.. just the perfect site (it is the house fartherst in picture). The house was found in the city of Tübingen, Germany. This house, is next to the house under soil, the best example of an ecohouse I've seen. If this house whould have been a larger building in same style, it would have been an ecocity of its own. See why here.

-"I will be a hummingbird"

the Vision of Wangari Maathai

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Site turns ride-sharing into a social game

From a discussion about the existens of cars, took some of the dialogue to share.

What is the problem?
Congestion, pollution, wasted time in traffic jams or wasted time at the bus / tram.

Why is it so?
People (today) needs to travel between point A and B

How can we improve the situation?
Move A closer B
Move B closer to A
Faster and more convenient public transport
Better use of space in cars commuting- carpools?
New options for local transportation -podcars?
Bicycling (exercise into the bargain, but a pain in the winter)

When will we do this?
NOW. But what?

Read an interesting note with the title Site turns ride-sharing into a social game or go directly to the site for future ideas how to use cars when we need to move.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Green- infrastructure

The Economist wrote an article 11 nov how sewage water overflow regularly in big cities like New York, and how the city can solve the problem, not by invest into pipes but to plant trees,

New York recently unveiled a grand plan to clean up its waterways. Instead of spending billions on new tanks and pipes (ie, “grey infrastructure”), which take years to build and never quite address the problem, the city intends to invest in “green infrastructure”, such as roofs covered with vegetation, porous pavements and kerbside gardens.
David Beckman at the National Resources Defence Council is optimistic. “Usually we’re plaintiffs,” he says, “but here we’re collaborators, working with the city.” Finally cities are finding ways to handle storm-water that needn’t involve holding one’s nose.
Read the full article, Trees grow in Brooklyn- A natural form of relief for overworked city sewers

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The world may be smaller than you think

Steve made a calculation of how much land we would have if we divide planet by 6.8 billion people. The result is 0.2 hectare of arable land, and you can live at 0.65 hectar. See Steve's calculation here at his blog A very beautiful place.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Doing Science Together

I have read scholarship in rural development, feminist theory and science studies that underscores problems with the view that only science has the right answers. Over time I have come to understand that scientists can answer some questions, people with other kind of knowledge answer other equally important questions, and that some questions are best answered in collaboration- what is called here interdependent science.
- Part of the introduktion in the book Participatory Research in Conservation and Rural Livelihoods: Doing Science Together, Louise Fortmann; 2008

The ultimate roller coaster ride

A breif history of fossil fuels, with talks from Richard Heinberg.

Doing fast drawing in the meantime someone talk have been used in the story of stuff and the secret powers of time. Maybe it's time to do something else, what du you think?

A deeper analysis of the crises we face, and possible solutions we can work on right now can be found at

Monday, November 08, 2010

Urban Planet Atlas

Another way of showing important information can be seen at The atlas  is a joint project of the Stockholm Resilience Centre, Albaeco, Mistra Urban Futures, SWEDESD and GAME department at Gotland University.

Sponsors: Formas and Sida
Partner: UNESCO
Flash development: Electric Gaunitz
Producer: Danil Lundbäck
Graphic design: Electric Gaunitz Erik Rosin Studio

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Environmentalist killed

  Write this date [5 September 2010] on your calendar: in Italy,
  organized crime has murdered an environmentalist politician for the first time (line from e-blogs).

The italian environmentalist and politican Angelo Vassallo was a mayor in the little italian town Pollica. He worked with micro loans, renewable energy, littering and said no to illegal building contruction.

The Telegraph writes:

Mr Vassallo, a father of two, was regarded as a 'green' mayor for his efforts in helping preserve a national park and for fighting against illegal building close to beaches and other local beauty spots. Shopkeepers in his hometown kept their shutters and doors closed as a protest at his death on Tuesday.

Vassallo was found in his car, shoot to death by nine bullets. The style of the murder and knowledge of his work against illegal constructing, leads the suspections to the mafia, which leads me to the question if an environmentalist is so much different than any other politican that wants to make it better for the citizens.

I mean, he was not shoot to death by nine bullets just because he wanted renewable energy, a beautiful city with parks and no litter- no he was shoot to death because he wanted a change. A change for poor people, the inclusion of all.

I have to quote Richard Register when building an ecocity, or just a city with improvements then, will also give other perspective about our selves and the surrounding; ”While it probably won't rid the world of greed, ethnocentrism, and violence, building a nonviolent city that respect other life forms and celebrates human creativity and diversity is consistent with solving those problems” (Register, Ecocites-rebuilding cities in balance with nature).

The story of Vassollo make me think of Antanas Mockus, former mayor of Bogotá and runned the green party in the Colombian President election 2010 (got 22% of the votes). Mockus' work and later mayor Peñalosas' work, on the development of Bogotá, is described in the documentary CITIES ON SPEED - Bogotá Change from oktober 2009. It is promoted as being "the story of two charismatic mayors, Antanas Mockus and Enrique Peñalosa who, with unorthodox methods, in less than 10 years turned one of the world's most dangerous, violent and corrupt capitals into a peaceful model city populated by caring citizens. With Mockus and Peñalosa and key members of their staff as first hand witnesses, the film uncovers the ideas, philosophies and strategies that underlie the changes in Bogotá and which are now being exported to cities worldwide."

Environment, human health and security issues is about the same thing; people. Removing favelas, demolish streets for cars, or higher the taxes of emissions, are not everytime what people wants. A dialouge with them or a "survey" with a focus group is common needed to give something back, doing something good from the bad.

Because 'they' are not angry or dissapointed because of cleaner surrounding or that other people gets a better life, but because it changes peoples lives. Even the mafia boss.

Good environment requires good communication.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Measure Your Eco-Footprint

Make your own test at, and while you are doing it, answers is also examples of what you can do. I got 58, what do you get? The Eco-Footprint test here; Measure Your Eco-Footprint

And make the carbon calculation  to see how much you should donate for your carbon emissions! I got 6.6 Tons of CO2 and have to pay $79. You?

$5 trillion a year

$5,000,000,000,000; The cost each year of vanishing rain forest

The way we are doing things is not sustainable," Mrs Spelman added. "Biodiversity is where climate change was 20 years ago – people are still trying to understand what it means and its significance. Things that we thought nature provides for free, actually if you lose them, cost money.

Article from the independent, 3rd of october

Friday, October 29, 2010

Problematization of Parrhesia

My intention was not to deal with the problem of truth, but with the problem of truth-teller or truth-telling as an activity. By this I mean that, for me, it was not a question of analyzing the internal or external criteria that would enable the Greeks and Romans, or anyone else, to recognize whether a statement or proposition is true or not. At issue for me was rather the attempt to consider truth-telling as a specific activity, or as a role.
  - Discourse & Truth, Concluding remarks by Foucault,

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A better kind of wrongness

-"When you try to improve wrongness, what you do is you make it wronger. You make wrongness successful. I always use the gun example. The original gun was a little pipe that projected lead or rocks or something. Now we have guns shooting three hundred bullets a minute. That's a consequence of a constant improvement of what I call the wrong thing.
   Consider also Frank Lloyd Wright's Broadacre City. By perfecting the notion of the suburb he helped glamorize it, legitimize it. That was for me, another typical case of something wrong getting wronger though the elabortation of very intelligent and very clever and very good design. It was never built but, in a sense, it's all over the place nowadays. So here we are smack in the center of wrongness".
The neighbourhood Rieselfeld, Freiburg, Germany.
A better kind of wrongness?
-Paolo Soleri, 2000 from the book The Urban Ideal- conversation with Paolo Soleri, here with John Strohmeier and Kathleen Ryan

Power outage

Last night- a power outage in my friend's neigbourhood. Took the tram, and it felt like going into the forest. No lights on the streets, no lights in the buildings, just darkness and that kind of dark that is darker than just no lights. Buildings are very dark in the dark. Almost like mountains or high trees. Another man in the same tram stop went into the railing, and told me "I can't see!" 

Everything we are depended on is driven by electricity. To not mention just street lights, signs and advertisement in cities.. so much as light pollution is a phenomena.

Friend's house was full with candles, no tv, no radio, no computer because it already runned out the battery, with a captured laundary in the washing machine, and no tea because of the electric stove, we instead had a good chat over some whiskey and chocolate in an apartment in the view of a dark neigbourhood. I lend the sofa to sleep over and in the middle of nigh, Bang! all lights were on again! In the morning, over the tea- bang! Out! Dark again.. Laundary was never dry and smelled a little bit wierd in the black cellar..

Interesting how vulnerable our lives are and our neigbourhoods with no backup plans.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Consensus Design

Once, however, we can connect material necessity with soul nourishment, the needs of nature with our own, and the need of place with the need of our activities there, sustainable design ceases to be an add-on extra. It becomes the obvious, even inevitable, way to do things. That is what the consensus design process is about.
-Christopher Day with Rosie Parnell, Consensus Design- Socially inclusive process, 2003

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Healthy Neighborhoods, Healthy Kids

“People are like plants. If they live in a harsh environment, they will adapt to the harsh environment.” -- David Sloan Wilson, evolutionary biologist

Article at Greater Good- The Science of a Meaningful Life, 12 of October 2010

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Taking Root

Come Join Green Cafe Network on April 23rd in celebrating Earth Day and Arbor Day with a free public screening of the award-winning documentary film, "Taking Root: the Vision of Wangari Maathai."

Taking Root tells the dramatic story of Kenyan Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Wangari Maathai, whose simple act of planting trees grew into a nationwide movement to safeguard the environment, protect human rights, and defend democracy-a movement for which this charismatic woman became an iconic inspiration. This film is an inspiration for taking small actions in one's community that can add up to have widespread impacts. Film screening will be followed by discussion and Q&A with guest speakers.

When: Thursday, April 23rd from 7:30pm - 9:30pm
Where: Coffee to the People cafe
Address: 1206 Masonic Ave (near corner of Haight St and Masonic) in San Francisco's Haight Ashbury district
Who: Everyone is welcome!

The postcard is still with me from that night 2009. It reminds me that we can do something for environment, how crazy it seems. Hope is a necenssity for future. This is also a good example of what expectations does to us. Was your thought that you wanted to go to the meeting but it was to far away in time (1 and ½ year ago)? Not in you neigborhood?  What happened to the interest to see the film? These questions, we should think of dealing with environmental communication..

Trailer to the film Taking Root by Lisa Merton and Alan Dater, Independent lens

It is the people who must save the environment, it is the people who make the leaders to change. So we must stand up for what we beleive in.
-Wangari Maathai

Taking the role of the other

          Imagine a world without war!
          Imagine truly loving someone for the rest of your life!
          Imagine how someone who loses a job, a child, a fortune, a skill, a memory, good health, or fame must feel.
          Imagine what the world on this page mean to an author struggling with the problem of clarify and desire to teach a view of reality that makes good sense to him or her
          Imagine how someone would think and feel if he or she won the lottery. Imagine how you would feel if you won. Imagine what it must be like to create a great piece of art or music, a film, a novel, or a poem, or imagine what it must be like to kill in war, to be killed in war, to see yourself as the enemy of someone else, or to be loved by someone you love.
          Imagine what you would think about American society if you were a homosexual. Imagine what you would think if you were one who come to America believing that it is your last change for living a decent life, yet you are confronted by many other who do not believe you have a right to be here.
          Imagine the view of the U.S. President as he or she must try do deal with an enemy who wishes our destruction.
          Imagine how another is thinking when he or she is caressing you, or giving you a compliment, or laughing at you, or punishing you.
          Imagination is truly a magnificent quality. It is an ability central to human life. To imagine means to "create an image" of something. This is an active process, not a simply a respond to a stimuli, not simply seeing an image because it "pops into your head." It involves doing, creating, active building on the actor's part; something is created by the one who imagines; a discussion is involved, a discussion with oneself, what we have called mind action. It is his or her own; it is controlled by the individual. To imagine is to actively see something beyond the immediate and make possible overcoming that immediate while one acts.
         Imagination is something we all do; it allows us to get outside our simple egoistic present physical environment. It allows us to jump out from the immediate to see the future; recall the past; pull out knowledge, events, ideas, and people from our past; play around with what we already know; even create and preceive something new that does not exist in our physical environment nor taught to us by others.

-Charon, Joel M., 2009 Symbolic Interactionism- An Introduction, An Interpretation, An Integration, 10th edition, Prentice Hall, Boston

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Is Your Neighborhood Making You Depressed?

Psych Central reports:

When a person feels unsafe and socially disconnected in his own neighborhood, it may lead to depression, say researchers from Iowa State University.

On the other hand, living in an area with strong social ties and low feelings of racism has been shown to improve residents’ moods.

Daniel Russell, professor of human development and family studies, and Carolyn Cutrona, professor and chair of psychology, report that living in a neighborhood with a negative social infrastructure can prevent residents from forming neighborly friendships.

And it’s the absence of these social ties that have a small but significant impact on a person’s mental health.

“If you’re living in neighborhoods where there’s a lot of crime, gang activities and so forth, you see weaker social ties,” said Russell.

“One of the things we tried to assess was essentially community support — to what extent people in that neighborhood turned to others for child care, other forms of assistance — and whether they socialize and know each other. And it’s clear that in these negative neighborhoods there’s this inverse relationship in terms of their various problems and lack of strong ties,” he added.

Regular stressors that everyone experiences are amplified in negative living situations, possibly being the final push into a depressive state.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Learnings from the slums

"We live in the age of the city. The city is everthing to us
- it consumes us, and for that reason we glorify it"

- quote Onookme Okome 2002, first page in Planet of slums, Mike Davis 2006

Al Jazeera's Melissa Chan reports from Inner Mongolia, where a whole town built with government money is standing empty.

Said about the slums..

This post just deals with the inconsistency of world perspectives. All quotations comes  from the article Learning from the slums from The Boston Globe.

  "We should not dismiss them because they look ugly, they look messy," says Cruz, a professor at UC San Diego. "They have sophisticated, participatory practices, a light way of occupying the land. Because people are trying to survive, creativity flourishes."

  "One of the misconceptions is that they're endless seas of mud huts," says Robert Neuwirth, author of "Shadow Cities: a Billion Squatters, a New Urban World," who spent two years living in squatter communities. "There's a tremendous amount of economic activity - stores, bars, hairdressers, everything."

  Shantytowns are "pedestrian-friendly. There are small alleyways, the streets are narrow. Children can play in the streets," says Christian Werthmann, a professor of landscape architecture at Harvard.

  "When people are relocated to places where government thinks they can be housed in a better way, they often move back," says Hank Dittmar, chief executive of Prince Charles's Foundation for the Built Environment.

  Another major concern of contemporary urban planners is ecological sustainability, and shantytowns get high marks for that, too. Teddy Cruz, who has spent a great deal of time in Tijuana, says, "These slums have been made with the waste of San Diego. . . . Aluminum windows, garage doors. Debris is building these slums."

  On a more basic level, these places can teach us about where, for better or worse, urban life appears to be headed. "Squatters are the world's dominant builders," says Brand. "If you want to understand what's going on in cities, look at squatters."

"The promise is that again and again, from the garbage, the scattered feathers, the ashes and the broken bodies, something beautiful may be born"

- John Berger, "Rumor", preface to Berji Kristin, epilogue Planet of Slums

Making the consistency of ideas

This is just a post with a few thoughts after a visit at the ecobuilding messe outside Uppsala (check it here Ekobyggmässan, Håga by),

 I saw a plant on a bike (double click, its beautiful).

and a sign to a garden; "take fallen fruit if you want". Yes we did.

See more of my thoughts at the discussion we already know that, the post Environmental awareness: attitude or action?, a thought about Human justice- environmental issues and a Personal reflection on why and how.

Many thanks, Anna

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Theme; green roofs and green cities

"He left the rural countryside; the nature and moved into town".

Countryside and cities can be separated just by this, the green, the silence, the freedom. But we also made the suburbs which is a combination; close to nature, or have your own garden. In the suburbs we can found the residential buildings which can be huge with hundreds of inhabitants, or large areas covered with single family houses, each with its own garden; the sprawl.

In the middle 60's and 70's the Swedish governement invested in the Million Programme which built affordable apartments, close to an "area center" with everything needed for the people and often also close to nature. Idea was initially good, but has now as in the whole Europe, "started" to have a lot of problems as segregation, the centers closes down and houses are falling apart. Some of the worst areas had to be demolished, some of the better has transformed to condominiums. And in the other part, in the sprawl the same problem, but a lot of them were there from the begining; no stores, long way to town, segregated from the rest of the city inhibitans (especially those in the million program area).

When new areas are built here in Sweden, they just continue with this million program style, meaning; a lot of similar buildings, affordable for one kind of income level, but what they do is to put things from the sprawl planning too; it is far to stores, far to citycenter and a consequence; a dependency of cars.

Why is so as we have to choose either to live in a small house in the countryside far away from city or in an apartment far away from city or in the sprawls far away from the city if we want a safe neighborhood with some green areas around?!

When can we live in the city, with all its own life and in the same have more green with all that?

Towns, villages and cities are absolutely the best area to establish small farming, orangeries, fruit trees, herb gardens, botanical gardens and tropical greenhouses. Their inhabitants can take care of them together. No one has to plan the full garden for himself, and do not have to take care of everything himself. Roofs, balconies and spaces between houses can be either private or a sharing private with some of the neighbors.

Green walls, urban agriculture, green streets and streets in greenery are post I made in this blog with pictures from my journey to central Europe. There you can find proofs that we can do it!

In this post I choose to not make an comment on every picture (list of where those pics are taken can be found in the end of this post). But look closer and you will see that every picture has green roofs in one or another way (double click to see closer). Green roofs has many benefits except being nice and cozy. They last twice longer than ordinary roofs, reduce sounds by 40 decibel (at 12 cm depth) and can reduce heat gains by 95% and heat losses with 26% (

Green roofs can also be used for urban agriculture, as gardens, as golf area (!), can contribute to refuges to rare invertebrate populations and the green cleans the air and give better air quality in cities (

The benefits are many, and why it hasn't been used that much before is to me a little strange, but can be explained by our history. Even if a city is something made from the past, one house by one, it is not planned by one piece (with some exceptions) and the result is a city with a lot of parts, but not really a whole. Another explanation is certainly with the idea of a city controlled by man and if any green should be there, it should be with the hand of the man; flower arrangement, parks and so on. Another is definitely that human should be in the city to work, or do things that contributes to others work. Places to be for free and to relax is not really in the plan when it does not contribute to any business. Last argument is that the technology hasn't been here before, but that is only a piece of the truth, because green spaces can be grown almost everywhere if we want.

Anyhow with stronger societies, where the individuals are seeing as important and with a government concerning health, green space can be invested in, because unhealthily is costly for the city.

1. Lausanne, Switzerland 2. Geneva, Switzerland 3. Tübingen, Germany 4. Amersfoort, Netherlands 5. Breisach, Germany 6-9. Freiburg, Germany 10.Tübingen, Germany 11. Freiburg, Germany 12 Zermatt, Switzerland 13. Breisach, Germany 14.Tübingen, Germany 15. Breisach, Germany 16. Tübingen, Germany 17-18. Neuf Brisach, France 19-20 The Alpes, Switzerland 21-23 Breisach, Germany 24. Amersfoort, Netherlands