Ash at CIID

Ashwin Rajan's blog while at the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design.

Posts Tagged ‘systems thinking

Provocations: Making Sustainable Practices A Currency

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Based on user feedback on the Elevator Buzz concept for Intel, my team quickly realized that systemic solutions designed to generate and sustain conversations around sustainable practices had viability. Then our next concern became the issue that some users had raised around ‘incentive’ – “I think this is a good thing to part of, but whats in it for me?” This got us interested in alternative currencies – can sustainable choices made by individuals translate into a currency with the possibility for real world use?

As an impromptu exercise for provoking new perspectives when exploring this area, here are some word clouds I generated on Wordle. I used the Wikipedia Community Currencies page and the Kashklash project home page to find make three different wordles. Interestingly, they had different characteristics as seen below.

Wordle of five random articles from Wikipedia's 'Community Currencies' page. Made with http://www.wordle.net/.

Wordle of five random articles from Wikipedia's 'Community Currencies' page. Made with http://www.wordle.net/.

When five random articles from Wikipedia’s ‘Community Currencies’ pages were wordled together, the word ‘currency’ obviously stood out, with ‘eco-money’ making a surprise leap into the forefront.

Wordle of almost all pages together from Wikipedia's 'Community Currencies' page. Made with www.wordle.net.

Wordle of almost all pages together from Wikipedia's 'Community Currencies' page. Made with http://www.wordle.net.

But when almost all the articles from Wikipedia’s ‘Community Currencies’ pages were wordled together, ‘local’  was the clear winner, with ‘economic’, ‘services’ and ‘people’ starting to become prominent as well.

Wordle of text from Kashklash.com's home page. Made with www.wordle.net.

Wordle of text from Kashklash.com's home page. Made with http://www.wordle.net.

Finally, when the text from Kashklash.com’s home page was wordled, the prominent words were even more interesting: ‘sharing’, ‘communities’, ‘people’, ‘future’.

Driven by exercises like these and others, my team began to explore the question about whether communities of practice could be built around sustainability, which could also exchange any ‘wealth’ generated between the individuals in the community.

Sustainlane’s Greenest US Cities

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Treehugger has this comprehensive piece on Sustainlane’s (a “people powered sustainability guide”) list of the greenest US cities for 2008. Portland tops, and a lot of action underfoot elsewhere as well.

Portland_Map
Map of Portland’s performance on several green parameters. From http://www.sustainlane.com/us-city-rankings/overall-rankings

Written by Ashwin Rajan

May 16, 2009 at 10:05 am

The Vertical Farm Project

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The first phase of working on the CIID-Intel industry project was exploring current and future thinking around sustainable energy management technologies and concepts.

One of the prototypal projects I have been very kicked about for some years now is the Vertical Farm Project. I guess my background interest in this comes from understanding something of the terrible consequences of large-scale commercial farming in India: where the benefits of farming necessarily need to first impact the immediate local, small-scale community, and sustain the local economy. The unconditional dependence of the small farmer on the big market (read urban consumption) distributors is a sad tale which I won’t go into here. The central need is ‘local’. Extending the idea that small farmers need to grow food in order to first feed and sustain their immediate community, a ‘urban farm’ located within close proximity or within a city neighborhood to supply the needs of the surrounding community sounds like a good one. And apparently the concept is being discussed quite actively; here is a description and some videos + links on this fascinating concept.

A description from verticalfarm.com: “An entirely new approach to indoor farming must be invented, employing cutting edge technologies. The Vertical Farm must be efficient (cheap to construct and safe to operate). Vertical farms, many stories high, will be situated in the heart of the world’s urban centers. If successfully implemented, they offer the promise of urban renewal, sustainable production of a safe and varied food supply (year-round crop production), and the eventual repair of ecosystems that have been sacrificed for horizontal farming.”

Inside the vertical farm. From http://www.verticalfarm.com/designs.html.

Inside the vertical farm. From http://www.verticalfarm.com/designs.html.

This page with rich designs for the concept continues to grow!

A New York times article discussing viability and costs associated with the project.

A slideshow of pictures from the New York times.

Sources for this blog post:
http://www.verticalfarm.com/
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/15/science/15farm.html

Written by Ashwin Rajan

May 16, 2009 at 8:05 am