Eclectic Curiosity

Massive Change

Posted on April 1st, 2005, by Steve Hardy in Archives, Uncategorized. No Comments

Massive Change is an initiative by Bruce Mau Design and the inaugural class of its Institute without Boundaries post-grad project. It takes the form of a website, radio show, gallery exhibit, products and book, and through these presentations asks how design relates to global issues and opportunities. “Design has emerged as one of the world’s most powerful forces. It has placed us at the beginning of a new, unprecedented period of human possibility, where all economies and ecologies are becoming global, relational, and interconnected. In order to understand and harness these emerging forces, there is an urgent need to articulate precisely what we are doing to ourselves and to our world.”

It delves into topics such as urbanization, markets, manufacturing, movement, energy, living, information, materials, military, imagery, and wealth and politics. Overall, it succeeds less as a design project, per se, than as a timely synthesis and overview of many different and seemingly disparate perspectives, endeavours and specialties. Here are some noteworthy quotes:

Every building has connections to the sky, ground, and community, but these could be appreciated and utilized much better. — Michael McDonough, architect

It all depends on the city, but anything is possible. Sometimes mayors use as an excuse that their cities are too big. But no, it’s not a question of scale; it’s a question of philosophy. Don’t be afraid of the scale. Don’t be afraid if you don’t have enough financial resources. You can always build a good equation of co-responsibility. — Jaime Lerner, architect and urban planner

I love working with the Pentagon becase they’re the only entity I know that is completely eager to think in half-century terms. And there are several reasons for that. They’re not a commercial entity, so they’re not worried about the next quarter. They’re not a democratic entity, so they’re not worried about the next election. There really is a socialist economy in the military, and the people that you encounter at the senior levels are extremely bright. They’ve come up in a very tough meritocratic pyramid, and are trained throughout their lives to think globally. — Stewart Brand, founder of Whole Earth Catalog

I think most countries would be better off creating homegrown economies…. The famous economist John Maynard Keynes once said it was much better to ship around recipes than it was to ship around cakes and biscuits. This, to me, is the future, where we have a globalization system based on being able to savor all of the world’s best ideas – the world’s best music, food, art, recipes, and clean, green technologies. This is the direction I think we should be heading in world trade. — Hazel Henderson, evolutionary economist

The institution of war is older than civilization but, in a recognizable sense, it’s probably six thousand years old. It made a certain amount of sense when the only real source of wealth was land – of which there is a limited supply. But land is not really a source of any nation’s wealth anymore. The whole economy has moved beyond that. Wealth now derives mostly from industry and innovation and intellectual property, which can only be destroyed by war. — Gwynne Dyer, military historian

A number of researchers have been looking to different fields – complexity, self-organization, systems theory – in an effort to understand the genome in a more complex manner. Researchers like Stuart Kauffman have been saying this for decades and new fields like systems biology are trying to embrace this new approach. Whether this will translate into new drugs or therapy or maybe even a whole new paradigm in medicine is yet to be seen, but I think it’s certainly an interesting step forward. — Eugene Thacker, biotech hobbyist

There is no way that any nation can solve, say, the world’s environment problems only at the national level. Not China, not the U.S., no matter how big and powerful we are. How can we build a global system that’s safe if we don’t build it at the global level? We are at a stage in the evolution of our planet that we have to think and work together. — Bill Drayton, founder of Ashoka: Innovators for the Public

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