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John Thackara
Blog | Biography | Public Speaking | Publications | Projects | Doors of Perception | Subscribe | Books | Contact

Public Speaking


John Thackara is a world renowned speaker, giving inspiring lectures on such topics as climate change, financial crisis, peak oil, and technological innovation. He continues to speak to large businesses, students, and communities who seek an alternative, sustainable future. “I’m a kind of bee,” John explains: “I cross-pollinate ideas, people and place.




Topics for 2010


From Doomsday Machine to Clean Growth Economy
Today’s growth-at-all coasts economy is like a doomsday machine: it compels us to launch a new product every three minutes into a biosphere whose carrying capacity is finite. The alternative is to move from an extraction economy to a restoration one and to innovate services that create value without destroying natural and human assets.

The green economy is not a future dream — it exists, at least in embryo. Social innovation is all around us in a million grassroots projects. The better  known examples have names like post-carbon cities, or transition towns.

Food: A ‘Wicked Problem,’ and Some Promising Approaches
Food systems are in crisis for complex reasons. Neither an individual, nor a single firm can tackle the challenges alone. Food is a ‘wicked problem.’ So what to do? This talk kick-starts conversations about complex issues in sustainable food systems and the economy in general.

How to Travel Less
We would probably travel less and telecommunicate more if the sensation of “being there” were more engaging than it is now. Artists, theatre directors, fashion designers, psychologists, game designers and even philosophers could play a role in this developing field.

The Five Percent Solution
Public services are under severe pressure to reduce costs. But trying to deliver the same service for less money pleases nobody. A more radical solution is to change the question to which service is the answer. In Cuba, for example, health expenditure costs per person are five percent of the cost per US citizen — and yet health outcomes (i.e. life expectancy) are comparable. By changing the question, similar efficiency gains are possible in housing, transport and education.




Selected recent keynotes


Food Systems and Cities
Foodprinting the City, Stroom, The Hague, NL

Clean Growth
T-Mobile, Bonn, DE

Annual Innovation Awards
Cognis, Düsseldorf, DE

Metrics for A New Economy
Forum d’Avignon, France

Quality Time At High Speeds
European High Speed Train Network, Breda, NL

New Geographies of Learning
University of Professional Education, Amsterdam, NL

Low Entropy Urbanism
Norwegian NAtional Architecture Policy Forum, Oslo

Off-grid Water Systems (Design Clinic)
Stanford University, Palo Alto, USA

Innovation at the Scale of the Bioregion
World Innovation Days, Poznan, Poland

From Greenwashing to Clean Growth
Four Days, Halifax, Nova Scotia

Design for Resilience
Design Forum; Zaragoza, Spain

Sustainable Daily Life Projects Clinic
The Planning Center, Los Angeles

Fashion, Ethics, and Sustainability
Colombo, Sri Lanka

Car Design After the Car
Fiat/Ambrosetti: Torino, Italy

Resilient Regions: From Mindless Development to Ecological Urbanism
Agor Azur Congress Conseil General des Alpes-Maritimes, Nice, France










Newsletter


From March 2002 to September 2010, John Thackara sent out a monthly email newsletter: Doors of Perception Report. The newsletter contained short, opinionated texts about social innovation and design.
ARCHIVES >>

Does the world need a professional development program to support designers, architects and design professors making a fundamental transition to a new kind of design? To explore that question, Doors of Perception has launched an enquiry with the working title xskool. An xskool encounter took place at West Lexham in the UK last weekend. It was a wonderful experience, but a question remains open: was last weekend's positive energy, attention, and mindfulness a happy fluke? Or could one reproduce the conditions that nurtured them? In which ways might xskool be an intentional part of 'the change we wish to see in the world'? A next discussion is in New York City on the morning [09-12h] of Wednesday 8 June. It's hosted by hosted by Cameron Tonkinwise at Parsons. If you would care to join us, email me at: john at doorsofperception dot com


Recent Essay


When Tech In Care Is Evil

When Tech In Care Is Evil

I spent the last two weeks in-and-around a care home in England that looks after people with dementia and terminal illness, and their families – including, this time, mine.


Recent Book



In the Bubble: Desiging in a Complex World
John Thackara
The MIT Press, 2005
More books by John Thackara >>


Design Observer Essays


05.13.14

Food As A Commons

People go hungry not because of a shortage of production, but because the food available is too expensive, or they lack the land to grow it on. In California, the prototype of a combined social, political and technical solution has been launched which promises to unlock the food system crisis.

05.07.14

Presence and Encounter — How We Meet Is As Important As Why

I’m not suggesting that we abandon social media — just that we cultivate a hybrid approach so whenever someone says “online” someone else says, “and what about offline?”. Or when we find ourselves inside, someone else says: “and when do we go outside?”

04.02.14

Keep Your Stuff Alive

What would fashion be like if it was more than a an act of consumption with no meaning beyond the point of sale? What kind of system would improve the quality of our fashion experience without increasing the quantity we consume?

03.25.14

Cloud Commuting

A two-year project in Belgium proposes new relationships between people, goods, energy, equipment, spaces, and value. Its design objective: a networked mobility ecosystem.

03.18.14

A ‘Wild Mirror’ For Desk-Bound Workers

A new scheme in England connects office workers with living systems by means of a ‘wild mirror’: each workspace is twinned with an equivalent area of ecosystem regeneration.

DESIGN OBSERVER ESSAY ARCHIVE

03.11.14: Summer Xskool in Sweden
03.03.14: Energy: Thriving On Five Percent?
02.14.14: Caloryville: The Two-Wheeled City
01.22.14: Conflict and Design
01.13.14: Shoe City vs Sole Rebels
01.06.14: A Whole New Cloth: Politics and the Fashion System
12.19.13: The Dementia Care Economy
12.17.13: Ecuador, Open Knowledge, and ‘Buen Vivir’: Interview With Michel Bauwens
12.12.13: Dementia: Care Before Cure
12.10.13: John Thackara on Avatar
11.28.13: Desert of the Real
10.25.13: Designing In A Complex World: Two Talks In Mexico City
09.13.13: Ways of Knowing
09.06.13: Speed? What Speed? Prisoners of Speed, by Ivan Illich
09.06.13: Speed? What Speed? The Belly-Dance Drummer, by Matthias Rieger
09.05.13: Speed? What Speed? The Falcon, by Sebastian Trapp
09.03.13: Flyways
08.26.13: Connecting With The Other
08.22.13: Between Sorrel And Supertanker





DESIGN OBSERVER JOBS




TWITTER BY @johnthackara


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JOHN THACKARA: RECOMMENDED BOOKS


Social Venturing
Robin Murray, Julie Caulier-Grice & Geoff Mulgan

the internet and everyone
John Chris Jones

Power and Love
Adam Kahane

Just Enough
Azby Brown

Hungry City
Carolyn Steele

Agriculture in Urban Planning: Generating Livelihoods and Food Security
Mark Redwood, editor

The New Economics
David Boyle and Andrew Simms

Just Enough: Lessons In Living Green From Traditional Japan
Azby Brown

Sustainable Fashion and Textiles: Design Journeys
Kate Fletcher

Animate Earth
Stephan Harding