perhakansson:

I finished reading the brilliant book Monoculture: How One Story Is Changing Everything by F.S. Michaels yesterday. It argues - and rightfully so - that we live in a world where one single perspective has become the sole driving force behind everything. That perspective is the economic story. In the current mind-numbing paradigm we believe that the market can solve all our human problems and anything that cannot be defined within this limited view is not worth pursuing. 
We are conditioned to believe that we are purely consumers and encouraged (well, really not) to vote with our wallets. We should dutifully except products that are only good enough and not great as that is what it means to be a great and patriotic [insert any nationality].
The solution, says F.S Michaels is not to single-handedly fight the economic story but to create parallell structures, like the Slow Food Movement that started in Italy and spread across the world. Slow Food is a real people movement, not a consumer group. It’s about growing, cooking and eating real food and in the human tradition enjoying the intrinsic rewards: pleasure, happiness, friendship and health.
By understanding how powerful this story is and how it changes the way we think, act and interact we can rethink and innovate our lives as individuals and human beings. When I read the book I came up with dosens of ideas for new projects that could be developed into parallell structures.
I mentioned this in a tweet to F.S Michaels and she responded, asking how it can be applied to disruption and innovation. [How thrilling isn’t it to have the author of the book you just read respond to you within hours.]
Reading the book opened up my mind to the thought of how we can redesign and rethink our society so that it becomes more human. The reason lots of people are technophobic is that we used technology during the industrial era in a very dehumanizing and passive way. We now have an opportunity to change that and the networked world is ushering in different kind of rules and values: honesty, authenticity and transparency.
I like to think that all the new collaborative tools created by very creative startup teams is a parallel structure, enabling us to combine the economic story with more individual freedom. The same goes for the cottage industries and crowd-sourced projects that are evolving across the world. Projects that would never see the light of day in the traditional, industrial economic story but are emerging as parallell structures.
My personal contribution is the upcoming book Working The Future where I argue that we need to switch from passively accepting how we should live our lives to actively hack our lives to create our desired lifestyles. Note that these are not lifestyles defined by brands, advertising and marketing but by ourselves and what matters to us. 
It’s looking at the world as open source and building on top of what have already been created; adapting, altering and adding new value so that it works for you and possible for many more. 
The best way of “innovating” the economic story is to give away your best ideas for free, to share them with the world to encourage critical thinking, conversation and human progress. It’s very hard to shut down a great idea that turns into a global movement. I’m saying that knowing that history is littered with examples of the contrary. But maybe this time it’s different?

perhakansson:

I finished reading the brilliant book Monoculture: How One Story Is Changing Everything by F.S. Michaels yesterday. It argues - and rightfully so - that we live in a world where one single perspective has become the sole driving force behind everything. That perspective is the economic story. In the current mind-numbing paradigm we believe that the market can solve all our human problems and anything that cannot be defined within this limited view is not worth pursuing. 

We are conditioned to believe that we are purely consumers and encouraged (well, really not) to vote with our wallets. We should dutifully except products that are only good enough and not great as that is what it means to be a great and patriotic [insert any nationality].

The solution, says F.S Michaels is not to single-handedly fight the economic story but to create parallell structures, like the Slow Food Movement that started in Italy and spread across the world. Slow Food is a real people movement, not a consumer group. It’s about growing, cooking and eating real food and in the human tradition enjoying the intrinsic rewards: pleasure, happiness, friendship and health.

By understanding how powerful this story is and how it changes the way we think, act and interact we can rethink and innovate our lives as individuals and human beings. When I read the book I came up with dosens of ideas for new projects that could be developed into parallell structures.

I mentioned this in a tweet to F.S Michaels and she responded, asking how it can be applied to disruption and innovation. [How thrilling isn’t it to have the author of the book you just read respond to you within hours.]

Reading the book opened up my mind to the thought of how we can redesign and rethink our society so that it becomes more human. The reason lots of people are technophobic is that we used technology during the industrial era in a very dehumanizing and passive way. We now have an opportunity to change that and the networked world is ushering in different kind of rules and values: honesty, authenticity and transparency.

I like to think that all the new collaborative tools created by very creative startup teams is a parallel structure, enabling us to combine the economic story with more individual freedom. The same goes for the cottage industries and crowd-sourced projects that are evolving across the world. Projects that would never see the light of day in the traditional, industrial economic story but are emerging as parallell structures.

My personal contribution is the upcoming book Working The Future where I argue that we need to switch from passively accepting how we should live our lives to actively hack our lives to create our desired lifestyles. Note that these are not lifestyles defined by brands, advertising and marketing but by ourselves and what matters to us. 

It’s looking at the world as open source and building on top of what have already been created; adapting, altering and adding new value so that it works for you and possible for many more. 

The best way of “innovating” the economic story is to give away your best ideas for free, to share them with the world to encourage critical thinking, conversation and human progress. It’s very hard to shut down a great idea that turns into a global movement. I’m saying that knowing that history is littered with examples of the contrary. But maybe this time it’s different?

3rdplanet:

“Covering a war means going to places torn by chaos, destruction, and death, and trying to bear witness. It means trying to find the truth in a sandstorm of propaganda when armies, tribes or terrorists clash. And yes, it means taking risks, not just for yourself but often for the people who work closely with you.
Despite all the videos you see from the Ministry of Defence or the Pentagon, and all the sanitised language describing smart bombs and pinpoint strikes, the scene on the ground has remained remarkably the same for hundreds of years. Craters. Burned houses. Mutilated bodies. Women weeping for children and husbands. Men for their wives, mothers children. … We go to remote war zones to report what is happening. The public have a right to know what our government, and our armed forces, are doing in our name. Our mission is to speak the truth to power. We send home that first rough draft of history. We can and do make a difference in exposing the horrors of war and especially the atrocities that befall civilians.” — Marie Colvin (1957-2012)

3rdplanet:

“Covering a war means going to places torn by chaos, destruction, and death, and trying to bear witness. It means trying to find the truth in a sandstorm of propaganda when armies, tribes or terrorists clash. And yes, it means taking risks, not just for yourself but often for the people who work closely with you.

Despite all the videos you see from the Ministry of Defence or the Pentagon, and all the sanitised language describing smart bombs and pinpoint strikes, the scene on the ground has remained remarkably the same for hundreds of years. Craters. Burned houses. Mutilated bodies. Women weeping for children and husbands. Men for their wives, mothers children. … We go to remote war zones to report what is happening. The public have a right to know what our government, and our armed forces, are doing in our name. Our mission is to speak the truth to power. We send home that first rough draft of history. We can and do make a difference in exposing the horrors of war and especially the atrocities that befall civilians.” Marie Colvin (1957-2012)

Our Daily Bird 27: Khenko

One January, on a dull but dry Sunday afternoon, I attached Piper to his leash, placed my camera in a backpack & headed out for a long walk in the urban landscape — our last trek, I feared, before even more 2010 Winter Olympics security measures blocked our favourite paths and views.

We headed north, over the bridge to the False Creek seawall. Then, the difficult choice: left or right, east or west? Usually we opt for east (because of the dog park), which in a roundabout way takes us home. But that day, I — admittedly fighting some resistance at the other end of the leash — chose the opposite direction because the western sky was clearing.

Maika halo kwass yukwa/ Yukwa maika elip (photo: @elle_ann)

The phrase on the seawall railing (Chinook jargon, I learned later) intrigued me; bright blue patches above and the promise of better light ahead kept feet and paws moving way beyond our usual turn-back point. After about 15 minutes of alternating between stop-focus-shoot and walking to the next viewpoint, we rounded a curve in the seawall and discovered a large bird soaring above a grassy mound:

Khenko/The Great Blue Heron (photo: @elle_ann)

The plaque below this “kinetic wind sculpture  informs passers-by “Khenko, the fisher, is the Coast Salish mythical name for the Great Blue Heron” and the sculptor, Douglas R. Taylor, created Khenko “to celebrate the return of the great blue heron to False Creek and serve as a symbol of environmental rejuvination of the waterway” (Khenko/Great Blue Heron).

(photo: @elle_ann)

"Suspended from a forty foot pole, Khenko, fabricated from steel, flies at the whim of the wind. Pods or sails attached to the cross bars on the pole catch the wind and, by revolving, set in motion the gears that raise and lower the wings. The pods are made of fabric and are designed to tilt and spill wind to prevent them from going too fast” (Heron Sculpture Takes Flight at George Wainborn Park)

(photo: @elle_ann)

An uncredited Georgia Straight writer aptly describes Khenko as “part hang glider, part anemometer, part outsize whirligig” and “a kind of line drawing in three dimensions”.

While the upper part of the structure is elegant and graceful, reminiscent of a big Alexander Calder mobile, the bird and fish are a tad cheesy. This is unfortunate, because as an accompanying notice tells us, the work celebrates the return of the great blue heron to False Creek “after many years of industrial pollution”. More subliminally, it addresses the ways in which our built environment bumps up against the natural world. And… the ways human beings bump up against public art, too (Public Art A Study in Contrast).

Well, I agree with everything except the “cheesy” part. I think Khenko is charming and whimsical with no hint of le fromage. Unexpectedly bumping up against this bird with fish in its belly, “a symbol of hope and restoration” was delightful.

You can find more details about Khenko, the kinetic wind sculpture, in these resources:

Khenko the Heron (PDF)
Artist’s statement and slideshow

Our Daily Bird 26: Le Merle

Ready for a little nonsense?  I happen to have just the thing: Le Merle by Norman McLaren, circa 1958.

From the NFB:

In this animation film, Norman McLaren imparts unusual activity to an old French-Canadian nonsense song. Simple white cut-outs on pastel backgrounds, many by Evelyn Lambart, provide lively illustrations. The folksong “Mon Merle” is sung in French by the Trio Lyrique of Montreal.

You can see more work by Norman McLaren at the National Film Board’s super-duper online archive.  

Recipes and Ingredients

 Liz Lemon’s couple test in IKEA reminded me of these photos. (“You know what? I like myself. I have good taste in drapes.” “I wish I died in Iwo Jima and never met you.”). These make cooking look peaceful. Very unlike an IKEA visit and so far away from Allen wrench assembly trauma.

Images from Ikea’s cookbook. Photographs by Carl Kleiner.

The promo is kind of fun too:

IKEA – Homemade is Best. from Forsman & Bodenfors on Vimeo.

Our Daily Bird 25: Little Wing

God bless the CBC.  A few years back they performed an overhaul on the mainly-classical Radio 2, adding in several programs focussed on more contemporary music including Radio 2 Morning with Bob Mackowycz, and Radio 2 Drive with Rich Terfry (also known as Canadian rapper Buck 65).  These two shows feature a wide array of artists you don’t get to hear on commercial radio (a healthy dollop of which are Canadian) and have been greatly responsible for a large broadening of my musical palette.

One of the artists they introduced to me this summer was Corinne Bailey Rae.  Her sunny soul ode to transatlantic flights, “Paris Nights/New York Mornings”, became enough of an addiction that I had to track down her sophomore album, The Sea, a collection of sweet soul gems flavoured with gospel and blues. The iTunes edition of the album comes with a beautiful bonus - a cover of Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Little Wing’, a staple of her live sets. 

Good Book: If You Want to Write

Euland bookFrom author and Hedge Contributor, F.S. Michaels

One of my favorite books on the shelf is Brenda Ueland’s If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence, and Spirit. This is a book that has managed to stick around since 1938, which goes to show both how good it is and how much people really do want to write.

The back cover says Ms. Ueland had two rules that she followed absolutely: to tell the truth, and not to do anything she didn’t want to do. That’s a good show of both independence and spirit from a woman born in the dirty thirties, a woman whose first chapter is titled “Everybody is talented, original and has something important to say,” and whose tenth chapter is called “Why Women who do too much housework should neglect it for their writing.”

I reread this book regularly and take courage from it each time I go through it. That’s no small thing. What I love most of all is her conviction of things that we once knew to be true but today would throw out as naive and completely unrealistic in our pursuit of efficiency and saleability. See what I mean:

So you see the imagination needs moodling, - long, inefficient, happy idling, dawdling and puttering. These people who are always briskly doing something and as busy as waltzing mice, they have little, sharp, staccato ideas, such as: “I see where I can make an annual cut of $3.47 in my meat budget.” But they have no slow, big ideas. And the fewer consoling, noble, shining, free, jovial, magnanimous ideas that come, the more nervously and desperately they rush and run from office to office and up and downstairs, thinking by action at last to make life have some warmth and meaning.

***

And so now I have established reasons why you should work from now on until you die, with real love and imagination and intelligence, at your writing or whatever work it is that you care about. If you do that, out of the mountains that you write some mole hills will be published. Or you may make a fortune and win the Nobel Prize. But if nothing is every published at all and you never make a cent, just the same it will be good that you have worked.

The last thing I love about this book in particular, a copy I found in a used bookstore, is the handwritten note on the front flyleaf:

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