As a designer interested in sustainability, I’ve learned a lot of lessons from food system innovators. And as a daughter of a mother who owned and operated a catering business called Gorgeous Food, well, I think food is gorgeous.
So I have a lot of food photos. I used to share them on facebook but since I am cutting back on social media these days, I’ve gathered a bunch of those photos into this google album. Enjoy!
If you’d like to use some of my pictures for something of your own, you may do so as long as you attribute the image(s) to me with a link to this blog.
TAKE IT FURTHER
Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food on PBS
some of my favorite regional food makers:
Sweet Land Farm (our CSA)
Good Food Collective (innovative distributor in ROC)
New Hope Mills (the pancakes!)
Lively Run Goat Dairy
Maarten Baas destroys things. He has a whole series called smoke in which he burns iconic furniture, rendering the pieces to charcoal silhouettes of their former selves.
Maarten Baas reimagines things. He has a whole series called clay in which he hand-molds industrial objects in brightly colored polymer, rendering them cartoon versions of themselves.
Charing or hand-forming classic objects helps us question the assumptions that we make about them. Questioning assumptions is a healthy practice. So while Baas may seem destructive and wasteful, he is really being productive in inspiring new ways of thinking about old things.
Social platforms can be great for connecting people from all over the world. But they can also be great for connecting people locally.
While facebook drives me nuts, I ❤ its events feature. I wish it had an app of its own like messenger does. When the weekend is approaching I use the location search filter in events to see what’s going on in different “day trip distance” towns and cities. This has been particularly fun during the holidays when so many holiday craft fairs and concerts are going on.
I like it when technology makes it easier for me to connect with folks who live and work where I live and work. Craigslist can work like this–it helps co-located people share or sell goods and services. I like searching by location on Etsy. And I remember the moment when the organic farms around here created paypal websites for CSA signups. It felt like a significant shift in their capability to get, keep, and grow community members.
What other social platforms help co-located people connect in meaningful ways? And which ones don’t exist yet? And how might we create them?
Yesterday Innovation Writer, Ben Thompson, shared a piece about two scooter-sharing startups. I thought the piece was going to be a prediction about which startup would be acquired by Uber. Instead, the piece was about Uber and aggregation theory.
Aggregation theory is about how a company understands its goal. The theory distinguishes platforms from aggregators. If Uber only understood itself as a car-sharing platform, then its view of itself would be to provide car sharing services. As a platform, it would view the recent dent in car-share rides made by scooter-sharing as a threat. But if Uber, instead, sees itself as an aggregator of transport options, then they see the scooter-sharing space as an opportunity and thus they would work to acquire a scooter-sharing platform.
As the saying goes, the customer doesn’t want a drill, they want the hole in the wall. Aggregators who understand this have a monopolistic edge over silo-visioned platforms. But what does this mean for startups? Is the dream to get acquired by a huge aggregator and if so, what are the steps you have to take to get that dream? Or is the dream to carve out a niche, to be small but scalable and repeatable in your own space? And if so, how do you win at that?
The answers to questions about the types of dreams startups might have are personal and situational. But the answers to questions about how to achieve those dreams, whether going for an acquisition or planning to walk to the beat of your own drum are less clear. Is it about who you know? Charisma? Tech talent? There’s a lot at play.
Another question: Is aggregator the new word for monopoly and platform the new word for small? Or are there instances in which a startup that doesn’t want to be acquired can become an aggregator in their own right.
What do you think?
When a project has a lot of moving parts, sitting your butt down and making a spreadsheet can really help. Without one, it’s just too hard to keep track of WHAT needs to be done WHEN and by WHOM.
Your spreadsheet doesn’t have to be digital. If using a paper ledger or graph paper is a better fit for you, then go for it. Just be sure to use a pencil and not a pen because tasks evolve over the life of a project.
TAKE IT FURTHER
Project Management for Artists
I was recently reminded of this quote from designer and educator, Allan Chochinov, from his 1000 Words on design.
“[Designers] think we are in the artifact business, but we are not; we’re in the consequence business.”
What attracted me to the field of design was the scalability and potential impact of that scalability. But as I got deeper into the field of design, it became clear to me that that scalability can also be terrifying. Because when a designer designs, it’s not just a one-up. If that thing goes into production, distribution, and sales, then that thing scales and makes an impact on the environment and culture. We have to be better about thinking that through. Because what we design has consequences.
TAKE IT FURTHER
Read Chochinov’s 1000 Words here
People use the word “better” a lot. And I never know what they mean. When I can, I ask them. Asking what better means, and for whom, is something we should do more often. It helps us shed light on assumptions and biases.
I understand why it’s called that. Security is the feature that enables distributed ledger technology. But the word “crypto” is a description of the technology and says nothing about the user experience or its impact on the economy and society. The word “blockchain” is a description of the tech, too. Both words are so defensive. We need a name for crypto that is more about what the tech allows us to do that we couldn’t do before and less about how the tech works. What might that name be?
Jessi Baker is a technologist, designer, and founder of Provenance, a European startup that uses blockchain to track supply chain of products. Why is this kind of system valuable? It’s valuable for product companies in that it can help streamline supply chain issues. But more important, it’s valuable for customers who want transparency on where and how the companies they buy from source their materials.
TAKE IT FURTHER
The Sustainable Supply Chain. HBR, 2010.
Sustainability in Supply Chains. McKinsey, 2016.
Blockchain is a distributed ledger technology. Its killer feature is that it enables decentralized transactions. Example: You may have heard of Bitcoin. Bitcoin uses blockchain technology to facilitate financial transactions without banks.
There are blockchain experiments in journalism, like civil, that are exploring new business models in a field whose hierarchy was disrupted by the internet. There are experiments happening in about every sector: transportation, education, healthcare. If the internet disrupted command and control systems, then Blockchain, and it’s decentralized model, promises to be the solution to that disruption.
One application of that excites me is blockchains potential to track the social and environmental ethics that are embedded in supply chains. There’s a model in sustainable product design called “Life Cycle Assessment” or LCA. LCA can be used to measure the environmental and social impact of products and industrial systems. There are a lot of variations of LCA, but to give you a broad sense of what it tracks, we might look at the social and environmental impacts of how the raw materials for a gadget were mined; how they were manufactured; distributed; used; and in the end, reclaimed or recycled.
As you can imagine, one of the challenges in communicating LCA to decision makers (consumers, citizens, or policy makers) is that there’s a lot of variation in what and how things are measured with LCA models. The lack of universal standards is often pointed to as a challenge. But blockchain might turn that challenge into an opportunity. How might blockchain LCA be more dynamic and thus more appropriate for decision-makers? For example, in California a decision-maker might want to put more weight on how much water is wasted in a product’s LCA. Yet in upstate New York, where water is plentiful, this data point might carry less weight. Blockchain can accommodate this fine-tuning. Which can be scary if used to manufacture alternative facts. But can be quite powerful if used to make the social and environmental costs of products more visible than they are now.
TAKE IT FURTHER
From diamonds to recycling: how blockchain can drive responsible and ethical businesses
How a Seattle startup is using blockchain and virtual reality to upend the global coffee market