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Rethinking Community | Do Dream Pledge by Nick Ierodiaconou

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A draft of our current thinking on neighbourhood development powered by the community told through animation here. How might our neighbourhoods be if the ideas and resources were crowd sourced from by the community "do"-ing instead of an outside developer imposing a way of living and doing in cookie cutter fashion? How might a people be inspired to "dream" if the amazing stories within their communities were made known to them - to understand that it is ordinary people that can make change happen? In a time of low resources, how could a community come together and "pledge" to regenerate itself  through the power of the masses? We think this is a future worth shaping - one in which dreams of the community drive a sense of place from the ground up to rebuild our neighbourhoods in a way that empowers people and enables the community to be active citizens.

AF

PS. We're trying this medium out following the success of our animation at the World Architecture Forum last year. Expect to see a few more 00:/ productions. In the meantime, hope you enjoy this...

#micro patronage by Nick Ierodiaconou

Came across micropatronage on twitter - interesting form of crowd funding but how does someone decide who to contribute to? Role of trust? This might work with an identifiable brand but how does a (well intentioned) stranger choose to donate to an unknown other stranger from the crowd. Doubt its success can only be based on “ cos i really liked the sound of this one” – can it? With street performers its different as there is immediate action of giving and satisfaction. like scratching an itch – but is this possible across the internet? Perhaps only with a one button purchase. Even then – the success would be in gathering micro amounts of money with no “movement” behind it to galvanise it – so can it scale? AF

00 at World Architecture Festival by Nick Ierodiaconou

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00 were invited to take part in the Less Does More exhibition at the World Architecture Festival last week and presented this animation on the Right to Build project accompanied by the following manifesto:

Less does more

We are in a period of systemic change - the current crisis, like that of the 1930s, is simply the crystallisation of an ongoing transition between an old world and a new one. Symptoms of this transition which may be heralded by a new age of austerity, include the threat of peak oil, the need to mitigate our carbon emissions, the wholesale contraction of consumer credit, and the massive pressure for the reduction of public spending.

This moment creates a fundamental choice for our civilisation - a choice to build a world where were we unpick the work of a century through demolishing the middle classes and radically polarising society between the few have and many have-nots or to use this scarcity of resource as the catalyst to create a new foundation to our economy. The first choice leads us to a particular place where democracy itself is threatened and we begin a great socio-economic unwinding. The alternative choice is routed in a more sophisticated formulation of capitalism based upon use value and the accounting of externalities; a new, sharing economy. We are already seeing the seeds of such a future in social innovations from car clubs to co-working environments where we share the cost and opportunity afforded by an asset, or in films such The Age of Stupid which are funded via crowd sourcing with both the investment and return being shared, or institutions such as the HUB built via micro bonds, or examples like community co-build housing in Tübingen-Südstadt. Together these and hundreds, even thousands, of other small scale civil ventures are starting to build a viable alternative to the less is less for the majority and slowly offering a real alternative for our cities, our notion of possession, and our collective being.

This nascent future has fundamental repercussions for place-shapers and place makers. These new interventions suggest a new taxonomy of architecture where the propositional skills of change-making in a city are no longer limited to creating buildings but to new ways of creating shared places as genuinely shared assets through their design as open platforms working across communities, markets, institutions, & environments.

In addition, Indy took part in a seminar on Thursday morning with Cezary Bednarski & Roger Zogolovitch to "Examine how a particular architectural type (housing) fits within, takes advantage of and serves a particular social context, in both developing and developed worlds.

  • Exploring how a radically rethink of approach to the typology of housing can create asset revenue and social value
  • Tapping the social, economic and physical resources of a particular place
  • Designing economic security and benefit into the building"

Do you still think we're as safe as houses? Do you think there is a future in our right to build as an alternative way of building our homes and communities?

AF

00 go travelling...first stop Istanbul by Nick Ierodiaconou

00 are this week participating in the Architecture Foundation exchange to Istanbul as well as the World Architecture Festival in Barcelona starting tonight wtih a presentation at the Istanbul Technical University. Istanbul is of particular relevance as a research ground as it has not undergone the degree of atomisation of societal structures that we have seen in London and by consequence Istanbul presents an opportunity to forensically examine the strengths and weaknesses of a living civic economy.

We see this as an opportunity to further investigate and discover emerging development models that leapfrog next-practice such as in Uganda, where banking infrastructure leapfrogged past high street banks and straight to mobile banking; or the energy leapfrogging as seen at a city level in Rizhao, China, where 99 percent of households in the central district use solar water heaters and most of the lighting and traffic signals are powered by photovoltaics.

The exchange should provide some fertile ground for such conversations....watch this space for updates over the next few days.

AF

Locational micro-blogging by Nick Ierodiaconou

http://foursquare.com/ http://gowalla.com/

A couple of neat smart-phone apps helping to socialise the process of submitting place-based reviews (mainly restaurants and bars) and building a gaming environment for people to drop and collect ‘gifts’, and be rewarded for their loyalty to particular shops/restaurants/places. A cool way of building a shared database of local knowledge about stuff... perhaps a platform for dropping location-based community news and pledges...?

10:10 Age of Stupid by Nick Ierodiaconou

Back in April a few of us went to see this film by the makers of the McLibel documentary. In a similar vein, The Age of Stupid tells the story of human kind looking back on itself from the future (2055) and asking how we could have saved ourselves from a climate apocalypse. Its an insightful documentary, which really emphasises the critical crossroads that we are at - in how blinkered our society is to the damage that is being done by a small percentage of the worlds population to the world, and our inability to believe that there is a real problem. I'm sure there will be a lot of debate by climate change experts, climate change non-believers, etc ... but the really provocative moment for me was the live Q&A session after the film. Having been shocked into the urgency of the need for pro-active change in our consumption patterns, the post film momentum launched straight into a cornering of Ed Miliband, putting pressure squarely at his doorstep and his actions at the Copenhagen Summit in December - seen by many as the seminal moment in the future of climate change. And beyond the content of the film, the way in which it was financed and launched is another fine example of the micro massive. The film was made possible through a combination of volunteering and crowd funding that ranged from small donations through to larger investments with a share of profits in return. The launch of the film was organised as a People's Premiere with screenings simultaneously held at over 60 cinema's across the UK, with a solar powered link up to the premiere in Leicester Square. Basically - the film would not have been feasible without the involvement of the crowd.

For me, the film surfaced many questions about the role of the individual - how disempowered  many of us feel from being active citizens. And at what point do we stand up and become accountable for our actions. What will it take to shake us from our apathy?

Well - yesterday, the team Stupid launched the 10:10 campaign at the Tate Modern, that asks individuals and institutions to vow to cut their carbon footprints by 10% with the hope of creating enouogh mass momentum to be able to challenge the UK government to  make the same commitment. Supported by everyone from Stella McCartney, Ken Livingstone and Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall to the RSA, NHS Hospitals and energy company Eon, there will be the inevitable critics out there who will debate the affect of a single persons actions - but as we are seeing more and more, it is the collective action of many individuals coming together that is the solution - a solution made from simple everyday actions. Its not complicated.

00 @ the Royal Academy, Paper City : Urban Utopias by Nick Ierodiaconou

Last night saw the launch for the Paper City at the Royal Academy an exhibition featuring a retrospective of Blueprint magazine's back page commissions from the last 3 years in addition to 10 further commissions on the theme of urban utopias. 00 was invited to make a contribution  on our vision of the city.Entries ranged across artists such as Gaia Persico and Takaya Akiyama, to architects Ian Ritchie, Neil Spiller and Duggan Morris and recent RA graduates.

00's entry was a vision of the city based on a series of catalytic social technologies that enable an ever-denser web of economic and community exchange in digital but also in real space - the city as place of continuous, distributed innovation, instead of as mere backdrop to developer-led financial instruments and the whimsical icons of architectural grandeur. From classified ads to the online School of Everything, the city is both its physical infrastructure and the more intangible conditions that underpin its age-old offering of positive freedom and opportunity to develop endlessly unpredictable human capabilities.  We see innovative spatial practice for the 21st Century as moving right across this spectrum from the down-to-earth physical to the social and organisational design for new places of exchange.

The commissions are displayed as printed pads of the works with visitors invited to rip pages off to take home. So if you want your very own vision of urban utopia, go down to the RA and help yourself...

The exhibition runs from until the 27th October 2009 at the Royal Academy, Burlington House, Piccadilly.

AF

Micro Massive Movement by Nick Ierodiaconou

"Let's take on Tesco's with a People's Supermarket". This is the new project by ArthurPotts Dawson - the chef, who in partnership with the Shoredtich Trust, launched Acorn House, "London's first eco-friendly training restaurant". His next venture - the People’s Supermarket is a not-for-profit co-operative supermarket that will open for trading in a high-street location in October 2009. The concept of the People’s Supermarket is based on the Rochdale Principles that has been around for 150 years - a food co-operative. Members will be expected to pay a £25.00 joining fee and commit to working in the shop for four hours per month. There will be a request to invest a further, refundable £25.00 over the course of the first year of membership to generate working capital. In return for their commitment, members will own a share in the business and be promised a discount on the cost of their shopping of at least 20%. The more members that the supermarket attracts and the more each member spends in the shop, the higher the profits and the greater their ability to reduce prices.

So is this just a cheap locally run supermarket? No. It is a much more powerful sign of an emerging trend that might transform our local high streets and communities. It is one example of an emerging economy that harnesses the resources available at the micro level of each individual citizen, but at the massive scale of the community to enable time, finance or skills to be invested together to enable the provision of a service in combination as a means of investment. This trend has the potential to construct a whole new architecture for investment by taking advantage of the dispersed capacities that are available to deliver public services at a massive scale whilst building trust bridges across our communities.

Potts isn't alone - other such stories span from the local filling station in the remote Scottish village of Applpecross, where the small community of less than 200 residents formed a Community Company to run the petrol station that was vital to the community's survival, because the manager couldn't individually afford to maintain the pumps; to the post office in the Hertfordshire village of Tewin that was revived by the local residents who formed an Industrial & Provident Society to apply for loans with residents matching this with fundraising, time and skills, and is now collectively managed by 60 volunteers. Each demonstrate the power of aggregation across a community of small amounts of time, money, skills - something we are understanding as the "micro massive" - in order to deliver a local service, and at the same time building the relationships that help create, and more importantly maintain, community.

In a post consumer capital post welfare state landscape, in which large sums of funding will be scarce, are these the new architectures of investment and community building?

AF

"Selling is the new saving." by Nick Ierodiaconou

Despite putting too much weight behind the cringeworthy term "sellsumer," this article on trendwatching.com identifies a significant trend and includes a good list of websites that make it easy to sell products and services online. These websites have proliferated as their web masters play the part of long-tail middlemen, benefiting from low initial investment. Equally, users flock to such services as they allow them to profit from their skills without having to negotiate the complexities of setting up an online business from scratch. Add the recession to the mix as an added incentive, and this efficient coupling of micro-entrepreneurs and long-tail middlemen could be poised to command a good slice of the online economy. OC

TED Night by Nick Ierodiaconou

TED night at 00:/ On the evening of the 1st of April, while helicopters hovered over the G20 demonstrations outside, a diverse group of people gathered at the 00:/ office to watch lectures and discuss them. Using TED talks as stimulus, we tackled the social issues stemming from pervasive augmented reality technology, the effects of overwhelming choice, the effects of too little choice, the importance of long-view statistical visualisation, and the role of creativity in education. Among us were marketers, architects, social media strategists, ecological fashion designers, animators and 3D artists, bankers, all bringing valuable insights to remarkably in-depth conversations. The level of engagement with the topics was a very welcome change to the usual "dialogue" of media sound-bite versus placard slogan.

We hope that this will be one of many such events to come (possibly under the TEDx umbrella), and that it may further inform all of our activities.

OC

Knowledge Exchange: Cognitive Surplus by Nick Ierodiaconou

I was interested by Clay Shirky’s (professor at NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program) term cognitive surplus. The technology revolution in the 20th century resulted in increased personal wealth, education attainment, rising life expectancy and the five day week – all resulting in free time. Shirky proposes that the response to the cognitive surplus was crisis – in the form of watching TV! How big is the surplus? Shirky uses Wikipedia as a measure - the whole of wikipedia equates to 100 million hours of human thought. The potential for user-lead consuming, producing and sharing is revealed when compared to the time spent on TV – in the US every year 200 billion hours of TV are watched. When people start experimenting with the surplus it becomes integrated into and transforms society. For example the Brazilian site Vasco Furtado – the website allows people to record instances of crime on a Google map. The information already exists as tacit knowledge but this platform allows its gathering and exchange, and exposing the weakness in the top-down system to disseminate this information. SH

we20 - the open source G20 by Nick Ierodiaconou

we20 is "a public initiative to run alongside the G20, creating a bridge between the G20 leaders and you. The current objective for we20 plans is around finding short and long term solutions to the global economic crisis." So the idea is for individuals to organise groups of 20 friends to come up with plans to fix the economic crisis. An interesting pro-active social tech platform to engage people in real debate at a very timely moment. The organisers of we20 have been talking with the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office, who will be reviewing them before the London Summit on April 2nd and there is the opportunity for some plans to be posted onto their site. "The G20 world leaders and their expert teams are making plans to try and fix the global economy. If you think the G20 may need some help, we20 may provide the platform for you to create a plan and build the concensus you need to have an impact and make your ideas a reality.

You may have a burning passion to create a solution to a challenge close to your heart. Perhaps you are curious about where a we20 meeting will lead you.

This challenge may be a local issue, such as raising funds for a local market or sports team; a national issue such as how your government should spend taxpayers money or laws affecting your workforce; or a global issue such as trade protection, global warming, the IMF and World Bank or International Accounting standards.

we20 allows you to communicate and have meetings with your friends, contacts and many others to make that plan."

Time to step up, engage and put forward a plan if you're tired of waiting for others to come up with mediocre excuses as to why we should continue on the same old path.

AF

(Don't) Keep Calm and Carry On by Nick Ierodiaconou

3031525215_2e4d3279bb1 An increasingly familiar sight during these credit crunch times, "the pin up for our age" with a dash of  British humour.  The poster was originally made during the Second World War by an anonymous civil servant (no Saatchi & Saatchi back then...) and was the third in a series, the first of which was an encourageful "Your Courage, Your Cheerfulness, Your Resolution Will Bring Us Victory" , with the second "Freedom Is In Peril" having a ring of urgency about it. And so poster number three, "Keep Calm and Carry On" was held back for a time when the threat of invasion was more imminent, and thankfully never quite required. It has made me think - about the scale of our reactions to the current crisis surrounding us. With unemployment hitting the 2million mark (and predictions for more), is the reaction of keeping calm in fact the wrong reaction. I'm not suggesting we run around like headless chickens, but perhaps the current attitude of "Keep Calm and Carry On Spending" is not right.We have been "keeping calm" and ignoring the underlying issues that have gotten us to this state in the first place. Our current crisis is not one of credit. The real crisis is one of value and values in which our homes, high streets and communities have been singularly reduced to the £ factor on top of which we have been attempting to superficially bolt on ideas of community, civic behaviour etc... Shouldn't the question we ask ourselves right now be - "Why carry on using a value model which has only resulted in a society that hoovers up more than its fair share of resources and ha(d) a large bank balance, but which is globally ranked in the bottom third on terms of happiness?".

I suggest that we need an alternative to the Keep Calm slogan. As entertaining as the multitude of mugs, tea towels and T-Shirts that have this graphic emblazoned on it, we are in real crisis and need to recognise this at all levels. This crisis is on our shores - its not an invasion from a foreign country. Its an implosion from within. Time for us to wake up from our stupor.

AF

the software of...sharing software by Nick Ierodiaconou

For some time now I have been thinking about the issue of new social techs that allow us to share everyday resources more efficiently - Streetcar being an excellent example: using existing technologies it allows users to approach the logic of Just-In-Time delivery for such a basic parameter of life as private transport, underpinning a much more efficient use of a resource that for most people sits dormant most of the time: the car. In industry, dormant capital goods represent waste. The same logic applies for many resources, be they consumer goods or business resources, which are merely means to an end - in this case mobility. There are so many examples across many sectors, from books (an obvious one) and gardening / DIY tools (or toys) to office desk space and underprogrammed community halls. If we succeed to intensify their use, we achieve higher living standards whilst minimising waste and therefore, environmental impact. This requires social innovation - the use of social techs to make this possible. The roll-out of public libraries (or public baths, for that matter) in the 19th Century is a good example - a social innovation (clearly not a technical one) which built new institutions in working-class neighbourhoods to improve quality of life. They answered a need in their time by taking an existing concept and creating an organisational and physical infrastructure to create intensified use, enriching the public realm.

I thought that, like Streetcar, the urban bicycle renting schemes of Paris and Barcelona were an excellent example - a new sharing software that combines available technologies to answer a contemporary need, enriching the public realm and laying the basis for a new sharing ethic in our cities, which itself could nurture social capital and underpin a new development cycle in our social-economy, creating new civic institutions ...

Yes. But. See last months report on Paris here

They get nicked. Or trashed. Or dumped. Or 'exported'. The Curse of the Free Rider is everywhere. A New Commons depleted.

So, we have created the institution and the social tech but not found ways to validate and reinforce the collective behaviour norms required to sustain it. The very software of this sharing software failed - (it's like pissing in the pool, really).

So now what?

JB

rewarding civic behaviour by Nick Ierodiaconou

This recent article by Catherine Bennett in The Observer on knighthoods and peerages raises some valid points and a timely conversation on recognising civic behaviour. Bennett begins with asking the question of how to "hurt" Sir Fred Goodwin, the former RBS chairman of exorbitant pension fame, and suggesting that one way might be to "take away that knighthood". She notes that Knighthoods are "supposed to reward consistently high standards of civic behaviour" with a further requirement that "a knight's achievements be inspirational and significant nationally". Further to this - and this is important - she quotes government guidance on honours which explains that "the sovereign may, on the advice of ministers, cancel an award if the holder is considered unworthy to retain it. The object of forfeiture is to preserve the integrity of the honours system." The article goes on to how the worthiness of Sir Fred is clearly in doubt and is worth reading.

But this topic goes further than just how to hurt Sir Fred and speaks to a far more systemic problem of the importance we as a society place on   civic behaviour. Do we still have a collective understanding of what constitutes a meaningfully contribution to society; what behaviour we as a society promote and celebrate; how champions are selected/elected/promoted etc.

Between the debates on pro-localism, forms of regeneration , the decline of the high street and finger pointing of blame for the current economic crisis and their collective subsequent effects on our communities, are we overlooking the more fundamental concerns of what might underpin sustainable economies and communities in the form of everyday civic-ness.

AF