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

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

architecture as environmental communication

The method of measuring how much information a source conveys to a destination is called entropy.
"The exact amount of transmitted information depends on how much the designation knows beforehand, and on the number of choices the source has in deciding what message to select from a number of alternatives". 
The degree of similarity of function or organization of any system in terms of probability can be considered entropy. The idea of entropy was first introduced in physics. In thermodynamics the tendency for a closed system to run down from an organized and improbable state to a disorganized, more probable an chaotic state is considered an increase in entropy.
In open systems, when entropy increases there is a tendency for higher order because of the fact to increase entropy the system takes in energy from outside the system. The source of energy is known as information.
In other words, to exchange information is to give more order and organization to a system and to reverse the direction of change of entropy. In final words, information is the reduction of uncertainty which is the freedom of choice available in a system.
Among the patterns of form or behavior of a system, lack of originality, uniqueness, and distinction indicates high probability and thus low information. Information theory then provides measurement criteria depending on the amount of information a message contains. The less the probability of occurrence of a message the more information it can carry. The concept is like the measurement of electricity as the potential difference at two points of a wire. It measures the uncertainty before and after an event.
-Asghar Talaye Minai, Architecture as Environmental Communication, 1984

Do or die

Not a full year since, being quiet at my work, my heart was filled with sweet thoughts... That the earth shall be made a common treasury of livlihood to whole mankind, without respect of persons; yet my mind was not at rest, because nothing was acted, and thoughts run in me that words and writings were all nothing and must die, for action is the life of all, and if thou dost not act, thou dost nothing
- Gerrard Winstanley, 1649

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Buildings under soil

Buildings under soil. Why?
This is like an ordinary house with a layer of dirt on the roof. Nothing strange, no digging in the soil or rock, not more than shovel away some and then back. A lot of concrete. You'll get the feeling of closeness to earth and it's lee for free. Buildings can be higher than one storey and buildings can offer more than the hotel on the fist picture and the studio for boat building and carpentry seen in last picture. Whole cities can be made like this. Nature can be ontop, around and life can countinue.

See more examples from What is an ecocity and Living in future.

Friday, October 01, 2010

I might be wrong

..or I might be right?

I think that something is not right in the society, but I might be wrong, because they say Sweden is one of the most equal countries in the world and because of that, we feel better here than more unequal ones. But what I can see, this is not what we are witness to right now. I might be wrong, but it seems as the equality gap is growing, it's harder to get a job, people take jobs they do not want, more dirty, less paid jobs, we can see more angry immigrants and youth, more competitions.. and more fashion change. But I might be wrong, because a lot of people likes their jobs too.

What we do right now is to higher the amount of "medelsvensson"-the number of people in the main group, so as in income, housing, social relationships, traveling, leisure, etc, but stretch the line longer to the extreme ends. In the same time, we just put the problems somewhere else when we buy all those "cheap, for all" things from other countries (doesn't mean, very cheap things, but affordable). And it is the buying which is the problem. Never have I felt that people buy so much as now. When people, wish I like, say that it doesn't matter if we buy it now or later, it is so cheap anyway.

So it seems as people are working too hard, to get those money (even if not everyone does) to buy a lot of things (cloths, shoes, bags, interior, magazines, books, "coffee to go" and lunch). And I can see that it seems to be "good" to say that you are so busy in your work (because it comes more frequently nowadays); "I can't meet you, I have sooooooo much to do", "I'm soooooo tired, I worked the whole weekend and now it's a new (working) week". I do not say that we should not work, but questioning the way we are doing it. As slaves under some structures (if run a company; things has to have a low price, or it can't be sold) or "slave" under someone else's company and structures. We give those structures and companies our time and energy just because we want to have some extra money to buy more things with (?).

We put the children in institutions, like school, daycare, the older in elder care and the physically or mentally handicapped in disabled service, because we have to work.. If we do the work ourselves without those institutions and without a salary, it's "kind of cute"- but what are you do for a living? (money)? Meaning also that you are a bit lazy. Or if you fell your own trees, clean your own windows or stairs (if you own a residential building), it means that you can't afford a company to do it.

Society wants this to happen, because then it gives more work opportunities, more jobs! And that means more salaries so we can buy some extra things for our money. I do not want to say that it is not good with more job opportunities, and that we should go around home all of us and do things like taking care of kids, elder and our siblings who have troubles, but I mean that we should have some time to do this too and gardening, do art work, play music, cook, do sports.. It's not that things that can't be measured in money is nothing worth.. it is the opposite.

If we could see that other things are important than just money (we have enough to feed ourselves anyway), we could have some time to do other things than just work. Things that none can explain to us, things like a kid needs to do with it's parents. Just some time, doing nothing..

In a short period, three young persons was murdered in Gothenburg, all three in parts of town which are segregated from the rest. A larger amount of murders are connected to a larger amount of inequality. So is this a sign; in this category of age, and in those areas. Just a speculation.. What is going on?

What I think is needed now, in Sweden and everywhere, is another development direction. This crazy society with it's rat race for money and status can't go around forever. We need to calm down, see life from it's right side and reevaluate the whole system. Competition for latest products, fashion and status are (now) something that everyone should to not be old fashion or a "outsider" or seen from a youth eyes "a fucking freak", "nerd" and so on.. but it can't go along forever because..
  • Cheap things are in the long run, bad for both environment (hits back sometime..) and for the wallet (again, how much do we slave)
  • Fashion means that we show that we have time to actively search for clothes and have afford to change often, leaving a world with crap. (Is this sexy, glamorous or hip??)

  • People need to rest after hard work or do need to feel that they do things that are appreciated (meaning; work less and do other things too or work a lot but be happy in the same time)
  • This is the same argumentation as earlier posts asking if we would like to have a country based prosperity or one owned from companies. Meaning in some ears a more equal society or a a society with more job opportunities. Sweden have had for some years both systems and after last vote, it will just grow stronger. People are falling in the gap, and people feel that they do not have time.. But I might be wrong. The system should cover most people still but has nothing to do with environment and meaningful jobs to do..
     I would like to say it like Herman Daly when he answering the question if we can grow us to an environmentally sustainable world, with "My question to you then would be—After you grow your way to an environmentally sustainable world, then what?" Read full article here at Growth is Madness.

    I do not think that this is the way to "go back in time", we do not need to live in villages again and be farmers all of us. I think we can live in the time we live in even if we consume less, think more and appreciate life more. This is a more clever and tricky way of running a society than one based on a "free market" (crazy market). And what all people should do then, when they do not work as maniacs on working place they do not like, well, I don't think that is a problem. Actually if we need a more realistic world to live in, we need more time to understand, and to actively take action for the ideas we share with each other. See more about ecological modernization (a marked for environmental friendly goods) compared to the idea of ecocities.

    Here is a little film before the project "Exploring equality" when two young men took their bikes from UK to the "more equal" country Sweden. The project is now finished and everything is in a very positive manner, and I just wonder if I might be wrong with how I interpret Sweden now compared to some years ago (material in those graphs). See more about the project, interviews and result at their website here.