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Social, Ecological, Economic: Design Futures

Posted in Movements by Kate Archdeacon on April 14th, 2010

Source: Doors of Perception

From “Design, regions, and the two economies”

The stated ambition of Cornwall, in the the far south west of England, is to become a “green peninsular”[sic]. It’s an evocative concept, but people there interpret the word “green” in different ways. … The development of Newquay Airport, for example, is promoted by some business and tourism interests as a vital element in Cornwall’s regeneration; they want it expanded to handle more than a million passengers a year within 20 years. But others oppose airport expansion not only on environmental grounds, but also because it would lead to an even greater demand for second homes in Cornwall.

Cornwall’s Eden Project finds itself in a bind here: It struggles to reconcile its position as an environmental showcase with the fact that so many of its million-plus visitors go there by car.

A few years ago, persuasive alternatives to big-ticket, high entropy regeneration projects were thin on the ground. But today, a competing Cornish economic reality is emerging in the form of social and ecological projects right across the county. The region is filled with groups actively involved in the restoration of ecosystems, teaching each other environmental stewardship, recycling buildings and equipment, cultivating fungi, swapping seeds, growing medicinal plants, planting community fruit and nut tree nurseries. There are courses for families on green woodworking, permaculture, and blacksmithing and bushcrafts such as wild food foraging.  This emerging social-ecological economy is restorative, self-reliant, and steady-state.

The question facing last week’s DottCornwall seminar on ‘emerging design practice’ was therefore a tough one: where can, and should, designers aspire to make difference? As Jeremy Myerson, the event’s chair, pointed out: “Designers have done well out of globalisation; the challenge facing designers now is whether they have the skills and sensibility to make a meaningful contribution at a local scale”. ….

Read the full article on Doors of Perception.

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