If the Revolution Were Televised, Would We Recognize It?

The concept of moving-picture media, including film, video, and particularly television, as a dangerous sedative for the American public, is not a new one. Four decades ago, Gil Scott Heron warned in his spoken-word song “The Revolution Will Not be Televised” of the people-pleasing nature of television and of the powers that stand behind and project it. They want to please you not for your benefit, but for their own, Heron said, because their position at the top depends on the happiness of the foundation under them. Even before the true rise of television in the 1950’s, George Orwell foretold a similar fate in his dystopian prophecy 1984, depicting these powers as a totalitarian government that distributed “prolefeed”—art that was deliberately superficial in order to fill the brains of the people with dumb contentedness that left no room for reflection on the situation around them.

From the Parisian Press Room to the Senegalese Village: Narrative Imperialism in the Age of Development

We say that, if you go there, it is like winning the lottery… The young men were asking me about my home. What is it like in Canada? America? Or for that matter, Europe? I spoke to them about busy people—some happy, others sad. In the moment I wanted to tell them how it “really was.” But of course, there is no “real” America, no true once-and-for-all defined experience of something as big as a country. Yet here I was, in the community of Guédé Chantier in northern Senegal trying to represent a complex of experiences, flattened by the channels of globalization, turned into a “lottery”—some magical yellow brick road to an imagined, exotic world for the youth of a community five thousand miles from my own home in Camrose, a small rural community in Alberta, Canada. 

On Cities & Landscape Architecture

Cities are just like people. There are tall cities, and short cities. Hip cities and more traditional cities. There are growing cities, and there are shrinking cities. There are cities at the forefront of innovation, and there are cities that rely on a certain established modus operandi. There are those who were once capitals of ancient empires, and now are more modern metropoli: cities like Mexico City, Cairo, and Istanbul. There are those who flourished during a historically active past (usually the Medieval Ages and through the enlightenment when in the context of Europe), and now contend with specific pockets of modern city fabric contrasted with more organic city fabric: places like Barcelona, Rome, Berlin, and Amsterdam. There are also those cities which shot to stardom by efficiently meeting the needs of a single era—quickly expanding and incorporating new ‘paradigms’ of urbanism—but then quickly declined once those needs where over: Detroit is the most prominent example, but in Europe, Manchester (until its recent moves at redefining itself) would have also qualified. There are those mega-cities that unfortunately became poster children for the ailments that plague contemporary urban life: overpopulation and poverty (in cities such as Rio de Jainero, Sao Paulo, Mumbai), pollution (Mexico City, Beijing), and congestion and traffic (Rio de Janeiro, Moscow, Mexico City, Istanbul). There are those rare gems that are as beautiful as they are iconic: cities like Venice and Paris. And lastly, there are those cities that have been largely planned—for better or for worse—and built at once exhibiting their own unique set of qualities: Canberra, Washington D.C, Chandigarh, Pireaus and La Plata (among many others).

Dear Elon, You're Wrong

Fear of technology isn’t new. Socrates was adverse to the concept of writing, while Conrad Gessner, a Swiss scientist, issued dire warnings against the harm that would be brought about by the printing press. Even at the same time the steam locomotive was inspiring naysayers, the Luddites were “protesting against newly developed labor-economizing technologies” such as power looms—going so far to destroy machines and commit murder. And what about robots and A.I.? In my experience, most of the fear they inspire can be attributed to one of two main reasons: lack of knowledge, and a perceived attack on identity, or livelihood. But, are current concerns founded?

Viticulture Biodynamics as Agricultural Precedent

With a growing pursuit for more environmentally-conscious lifestyles, the past decade has seen an exponential increase in the production, distribution, and consumption of organic products. In addition to these health benefits, consumers have also found that organic food tastes better and that their agricultural methods of production are more respectful of the environment (given the smaller scale of farms, the better treatment of animals, and their limited carbon emissions).

A Rose By Any Other Name: The New Age of Cannabis in America's Heartland

Illegal drug, natural medicine, cash crop, weed, pot, ganja, Mary Jane—whatever you call it, however you classify it—cannabis is bringing activists, medical patients, career farmers, and venture capitalists together to rebuild a traditional American industry with vast modern potential.  The infamous seven-leafed flora has polarized policy-makers for most of the 20th century and now Americans across the nation are rightly demanding justice and fairness in modern regulations.  Gone are the days of reefer madness and hollow scare tactics—the systematic miseducation at the hands of programs such as D.A.R.E. is no longer tolerated.  Millions agree: the stakes are far too high to delay this meaningful progress any longer.

From Despair to Repair: An Opportunity for Inclusive Design in Nepal

At 11:56 am, the ground began to tremble. What began—or at least felt—as a small shock continued beyond the few seconds of a usual tremor. It did not take me long to realize this was a violent seismic event. I was back at the office having returned from a site visit at Bhaktapur to design a residence for a new client where I had hand-surveyed a plot. Despite it being Saturday, I routinely work on holidays to increase productivity and get ahead of deadlines. This morning, there was no indication it would be any different. Yet as soon as the ground started shaking, I rushed outside and met with a sight that I shall never forget.

Empowering the Everyday Landscape

Empowerment is a highly contested concept. It can neither be fully measured nor defined. It can vary in scale and impact. It can be experienced as an individual and/or as a collective whole. Yet, in spite of such ambiguity, it can resonate with all of us. At its core, empowerment is guided by vision, responsibility, authenticity, empathy and love. It is a most sacred concept which invites the individual or group to experience the power of intention and prosper according to their own values. With the challenges we are faced with as a society—violent acts of terrorism and intolerance, racial, gender and religious bigotry, and socio-economic disparities—we must take responsibility if we are to evoke change. When we accept that something is bigger than us, that we cannot make a difference—that is when we fail. The questions we must ask become: what are we going to do about it?

Strive Today, Thrive Tomorrow

So, how can systems which are predicated upon delayed gratification (and associated to benefits to a group) be positively reconciled with humanity’s need for individualistic immediate gratification? Looking at the airplane, maximizing complete safety for all passengers is the directive. But, what about our current systems? Our views of the environment? Our relationships to each other, whether as people or nations?

The New American Solipsist

Many have blamed the problems of modern America on the failings of two of the major structures that polarize it: the media and the bipartisan political system. The media is sensationalist, we say at times. The bipartisan system is broken, at others. Neither statement is entirely unfounded. The media is a business fueled by profit, and its moral compass is as nonexistent as any automaton or corporation. Sensational content puts money in the shareholders’ pockets—journalistic ethics be damned. And conveniently enough, the bipartisan system happens to a renewable source of this content for the media, which then turns around and blames the system for promoting the wrong sorts of policy (both from the left or right). It’s a self-sustaining cycle.

Localism and The Urban Environment

One could say that our social and economic development, in addition to our population explosion within the last century can be attributed to our advancements in technology, medicine, food science and nutrition. Then, it is generally understood that as our population continues to grow we will need ever increasing revelations in science and in the dynamics of our culture in order to sustain humanity. Unfortunately, competition amongst humans has led to poverty and a lifestyle that has proven extremely harmful to our global ecosystem. The poorest people in our society have been plagued by unemployment, educational disparity, and a vast array of health issues due to bad eating habits and pollution. There are significant social, economic, public health, and environmental costs associated with the current production systems and the luxury-based economy—most of which go overlooked by the federal government.

Dreaming the Dark Mountain: Time, Economy and Development in Senegal's Ecovillages

I first discovered ecovillages on a small farm in southern Sweden. The farm itself was not an ecovillage, but it did have a small book called Ecovillages: A Practical Guide to Sustainable Communities. Between pulling weeds and trench digging, I absorbed the book in a single day. Like its author, I found provocative the idea of living in “community with others” and in “harmony with nature,” as part of a global movement of people building a new world. 

Volume I _ A Prologue

Disequilibrium, disharmony and discord—apt descriptions, one could argue, for the current state of affairs of our civilization. Never before has the human race been more connected, more capable and more informed than at the current moment. Yet, paradoxically, several millennia of aggregated understanding of these dynamics has not been effectively translated into reality. Current environmental pressures, social upheavals and contemporary warfare have highlighted the stark and urgent necessity for a more enlightened mode of thinking.