Organizing a Design Revolution

DESIGN SCIENCE

"Design Science is the effective application of the principles of science to the conscious design of our total environment in order to make the Earth's finite resources meet the needs of all humanity without disrupting the ecological processes of the planet."

R. Buckminster Fuller

"In a changing world, everyone designs: each individual person and each collective subject, from enterprises to institutions, from communities to cities and regions, must define and enhance a life project."

Ezio Manzini

 

The goal of design science is to produce so much life support per unit of resources invested as to be able to take care of all human needs in harmony with the natural world.

Until recently the impacts of design science went unnoticed.  Today, innovations like permaculture, photovoltaics, offshore wind farms, farmers' markets, ecological design, community-supported agriculture, local currencies, open source manufacturing to name but a few are having widespread and significant impacts on communities, local economies and the natural systems that sustain us.

Organizing is key to developing a civic trimtab strategy designed to change the course of large,  powerful socioeconomic systems guided by political and corporate agendas and fueled by their considerable resources.

 

 

              Adapted from "Environmental Design Primer" | Earth Metabolic Design | Howard Brown, Robert Cool, Medard Gabel | 1967

              Adapted from "Environmental Design Primer" | Earth Metabolic Design | Howard Brown, Robert Cool, Medard Gabel | 1967


Civic synergies: Trimtabs in practice

This section will examine examples of initiatives employing the trimtab principle.  Some will draw on past experiences while others are current. We will extract lessons and principles from history and use them to monitor, assess and understand efforts in progress.

Trimtabs are systemic game-changers. They take on a variety of forms including artifacts, technologies, policies, programs, even works of art. Trimtabs leverage positive impacts that affect large numbers of people with a proportionately small amount of energy/resource expenditure. They are transparent, strategic, transformative, efficient, replicable and synergetic. 

They often emerge in times of crises but can also be the result of anticipatory design.

The following gallery highlights eight examples of civic trimtabs that I have been involved with: New Alchemy Institute; Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative (DSNI); Massachusetts Farmers' Markets; Berkshares, Inc.; Cuba-U.S. Agroecology Network (CUSAN); CleBar Uggún Tractor Company; U.S. Offshore Wind Collaborative (USOWC) and Boston Urban Gardeners.

 

Click on each thumbnail to learn more.


Help DeSIGN The Periodic Table of Civic Synergy Elements

Inspired by "The Periodic Table of the Elements in Pictures and Words" (elements.wlonk.com), here is my first take on a table of key elements for generating civic synergy and creating sustainable communities. The Periodic Table of the Elements provides a useful framework for this discussion. There are 92 “naturally-occurring” regenerative elements that Nature employs to create the conditions that have maintained life on Earth for over four billion years. It is the penultimate minimum inventory/maximum diversity system.   Systems can be envisaged which consist of some minimum inventory of component types which can be alternatively combined to yield a great diversity of efficient structural form. We call these minimum inventory/maximum diversity systems.                                                                                         Peter Pearce. Structure in Nature is a Strategy for Design   We are searching for a minimum inventory /maximum diversity toolkit for creating sustainable/just communities (hopefully with considerably less than 92 elements). It should be accessible to citizens who, if organized and focus, would find it useful to achieve their sustainable community goals. Finally, we need to define pathways for establishing these sustainable systems within the larger and potentially politically incompatible context. The toolkit cannot include EVERYTHING that everyone considers essential. That will be totally overwhelming and frustrating.  The challenge is to find the minimum BASIC elements necessary to create the conditions for just and sustainable communities to emerge and flourish. The need for such a toolkit has never been greater. The elements of this table are currently randomly arranged but will eventually be restructured to reflect patterns and natural synergies. Plenty of room for more elements. Comments? Suggestions?                                                                                                                                                                                    Greg Watson  

Inspired by "The Periodic Table of the Elements in Pictures and Words" (elements.wlonk.com), here is my first take on a table of key elements for generating civic synergy and creating sustainable communities.

The Periodic Table of the Elements provides a useful framework for this discussion. There are 92 “naturally-occurring” regenerative elements that Nature employs to create the conditions that have maintained life on Earth for over four billion years. It is the penultimate minimum inventory/maximum diversity system.

 

Systems can be envisaged which consist of some minimum inventory of component types which can be alternatively combined to yield a great diversity of efficient structural form. We call these minimum inventory/maximum diversity systems.      

                                                                                  Peter Pearce. Structure in Nature is a Strategy for Design

 

We are searching for a minimum inventory /maximum diversity toolkit for creating sustainable/just communities (hopefully with considerably less than 92 elements). It should be accessible to citizens who, if organized and focus, would find it useful to achieve their sustainable community goals. Finally, we need to define pathways for establishing these sustainable systems within the larger and potentially politically incompatible context.

The toolkit cannot include EVERYTHING that everyone considers essential. That will be totally overwhelming and frustrating.  The challenge is to find the minimum BASIC elements necessary to create the conditions for just and sustainable communities to emerge and flourish.

The need for such a toolkit has never been greater.

The elements of this table are currently randomly arranged but will eventually be restructured to reflect patterns and natural synergies. Plenty of room for more elements. Comments? Suggestions?

 

 

                                                                                                                                                                               Greg Watson

 

In the middle of one of Detroit's most blighted and abandoned neighborhoods, Shamayim 'SHU' Harris and her team of engineers, futurists, artists, urban farmers and their nationwide allies are reimagining public and private space. This is an invitation to step into the village and join us... The Avalon Village Website

In the middle of one of Detroit's most blighted and abandoned neighborhoods, Shamayim 'SHU' Harris and her team of engineers, futurists, artists, urban farmers and their nationwide allies are reimagining public and private space. This is an invitation to step into the village and join us... The Avalon Village Website