Archive | June, 2012

Sunglasses or access to fresh water?

28 Jun

Our students have just presented their scientific posters in our water-in-food-systems course. The topics they choose are quite varied from comparing water-related activities of breweries, over international campaigns to promote tap water, discussion of water as a human rights issue, water in food packaging to comparing the water footprint of Spanish and Dutch tomatoes. We always put the posters together in a non-edited course proceedings volume. For this year’s proceedings I used the following images for the cover and back pages.

These are two motives from the People in need campaign, run by the international aid organisation Cordaid. This  outdoor advertising was developed by Saatchi & Saatchi, Amstelveen, Netherlands, and won a Silver Outdoor Lion at the Cannes International Lions Festival in 2007. There are also some delicious watery fonts that we have used, such as underwater love, which I used this year, and Wet1Becker, which I used last year.


Stop recycling and start repairing!

15 Jun

Here’s a neat manifesto by the folks from platform21 in Amsterdam from their project Platform21 = repairing. Their initiatives inlcude The Most Remarkable Repair Contest with quirky entries from all over the world, The Repair Hub for sharing well-kept secrets about Fix-it whizzes, Repair Clinics, an Ode To Duct Tape (well almost) and a some further inspirational tidbits. (via Mrs. Easton)

The power of transformative experiences

12 Jun

When I visit intermittently what Chris Jordan is doing about Midway, when I look back from the first photos, the follow-ups, the TED-talk, see the development to a film project, read some blog entries, read Victoria’s (Chris’s wife) accompanying poetry, read how others have been touched and gotten onboard,  and hear his voice in the trailer, then I think that the story of the fate of the albatrosses on Midway Atoll is a transformative experience. And it is a transformative experience with tremendous power, to touch and change people’s lives, to sustain a change.

What I think I see happening is something very valuable. Its something that has happened to others before and unfolded a similar power. The story of Aldo Leopold is one I would mention here. Leopold’s transformative experience came from watching a mother wolf he had killed – this is before the first world war – die and the subsequent changes he observes in the relationships between deer, wolves and mountains. He went on to become one of the most powerful voices in conservation, making the systems thinking that is ecology eloquently apparent. The experience and his reflections are best captured in his very short essay Thinking like a mountain which you can read here. If you want to know a bit more about Aldo you can read a short summary here or visit the Aldo Leopold Foundation here.


Courage for sustainability?

8 Jun

One of my courses is built up around the value chain in the food system: production-manufacture-distribution-consumption-disposal. In the session on disposal and packaging I like to use images by photographer Chris Jordan from his project “Midway: Message from the Gyre”. These are images that show us where some of that Great Pacific Garbage Patch are ending up. Chris captures them on film exactly as he finds them. Nothing is moved or changed in any way. Here’s one or two of them.

Chris and his collaborators are currently making a film of the Midway story.  You can follow their progress via the blog here and see the trailer here.

The question he poses in the trailer – “Do we have the courage to face the realities of our time?” – is, I think, a central one, and brings us to one of the qualities that we need in these days, namely courage. We speak much about what we need to do and debate about who needs to do it, but we speak little about how we need to be to do what needs to be done.