5


What is waste?
November 22, 2010, 2:08 pm
Filed under: 5/5, Recycling, Theories | Tags: ,
Main Entry: waste
Part of Speech: noun
Definition: garbage, refuse
Synonyms: debris, dreck, dregs, dross, excess, hogwash, junk, leavings, leftovers, litter, offal, offscourings, rubbish, rubble, ruins, rummage, scrap, slop, sweepings, swill, trash
Main Entry: waste
Part of Speech: verb
Definition: spend or use without thought; dwindle
Synonyms: atrophy, be of no avail, blow, burn up, consume, corrode, crumble, debilitate, decay, decline, decrease, deplete, disable, disappear, dissipate, divert, drain, droop, eat away, ebb, emaciate, empty, enfeeble, exhaust, fade, fritter away, frivol away, gamble away, gnaw, go to waste, lavish, lose, misapply, misemploy, misuse, perish, pour down the drain, run dry, run through, sap, sink, splurge, squander, thin, throw away, trifle away, undermine, wane, wear, wear out, wilt, wither

Source: http://thesaurus.com/

‘Waste (also known as rubbish, trash, refuse, garbage, or junk) is unwanted or unusable materials. Litter is waste which has been disposed of improperly, particularly waste which has been carelessly disposed of in plain sight, as opposed to waste which has been dumped to avoid paying for waste disposal fees.’ (Source: Wikipedia)

‘Waste includes all items that people no longer have any use for, which they either intend to get rid of or have already discarded.’ (Eionet-European Topic Centre on Sustainable Consumption and Production)

‘Wastes are substances or objects which are disposed or are intended to be disposed or are required to be disposed of by the provisions of national laws.’ (according to the Basel convention)

‘Wastes are materials that are not prime products (that is products produced for the market) for which the generator has no further use in terms of his/her own purposes of production, transformation or consumption, and of which he/she wants to dispose. Wastes may be generated during the extraction of raw materials, the processing of raw materials into intermediate and final products, the consumption of final products, and other human activities. Residuals recycled or reused at the place of generation are excluded.’ (The United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD))

Who does waste belong to? When does something turn into waste? Is waste defined in its context or by its charasteristics? Would you eat waste? It is intruiging and apalling to realize that we use the same word as a verb meaning to spend or use something without thought and at the same time as a noun naming refused unwanted material. Amd would it be a contradiction to say: We are wasting waste (by wasting it and calling it waste)?

Advertisements


Talkoot
November 1, 2010, 8:42 am
Filed under: Network, Theories | Tags: , , ,

Harvest talkoot//Source: http://www.erm.ee

Have you ever heard that word before? Me either! First time I encountered the term was in the context of the oven building workshop in the Summer, when the word was mentioned to describe the building process as an ‘urban talkoot’.  The word exists in different cultures with similar meaning, such as ‘bee’ or ‘barn raising’ in English, ‘imece’  in Turkish, ‘talgod’ in Estonian, ‘dugnad’ in Norwegian, ‘kaláka’ in Hungarian, ‘gadugi’ in Cherokee, and tłoka in Polish, or ‘Nachbarschaftshilfe’ in German.

In Finland, it is an old tradition to help our your neighbour or the community in a village with volunteer work to build e.g. a barn, a house, an oven, or to harvest the fields. This tradition is still alive in old neighbourhoods on the countryside and at Finn’s mökkis (cottages). Andrew Petterson, a researcher in media lab at Taik in Helsinki, has written the very interesting paper ‘A Buzz between Rural Cooperation and the Online Swarm’ about the word ‘talkoot’, analyzing its lingual origins and meaning, and comparing it to contemporary internet practices. According to him, internet communication and web activity enlarge the ‘social capital’ of a society, referring to the term defined by French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu. “Social capital is a sociological concept, which refers to connections within and between social networks. The core idea is “that social networks have value. Just as a screwdriver (physical capital) or a college education (human capital) can increase productivity (both individual and collective), so do social contacts affect the productivity of individuals and groups”.” (Wikipedia/Putnam, Robert)

With the expansion of big cities, social bonds between neighbours got lost. Whilst we may not know the people who live next door, we might talk online to strangers from the other side of the world, give advice and ask for help. Still, it seems that virtual social networks are indeed reviving real life social bonds, which is a very promising sign for the future. Comparing it again to the fine example of the oven workshop: instead of direct neighbours, it was mostly anonymous strangers who gathered via internet platforms, but real life social bonds were the result of it!

Social capital is a sociological concept, which refers to connections within and between social networks. Though there are a variety of related definitions, which have been described as “something of a cure-all[1] for the problems of modern society, they tend to share the core idea “that social networks have value. Just as a screwdriver (physical capital) or a college education (human capital) can increase productivity (both individual and collective), so do social contacts affect the productivity of individuals and groups”.


Permaculture
October 29, 2010, 7:26 am
Filed under: Design, Food, Production, Theories | Tags: , , , , , ,

Fuji Eco Park Village, Japan, by Cecilia Macaulay

Last night, I attended a lecture about Permaculture at the Hub Helsinki. My mind is blasted. Jerome Osentowski, director of the Central Rocky Mountain Permaculture Institute, was speaker of the night. It got me really interested in learning more about Permaculture, which is a whole philosophy including social, economical, technological, cultural, educational, political and spiritual aspects. Basically, it is a concept about a self-sustained life, independent from governments and states, in accord with nature. The term comes from the two words ‘permanent’ and ‘agriculture’, and “aims to design human settlements and agricultural systems that mimic nature”, Osentowski presented in his lecture. Three basic ethics lead Permaculture: care for the earth, care for the people, and sharing the surplus. From the website www.permacultureprinciples.com, you can find very nice and clear descriptions of the principles, presented in the permaculture flower diagram, which are explained more nearly when clicking on them. Those Ecovillages are like small Utopian realities with a holistic philosophy, that I agree with in many aspects. I would only be careful with a too large body of rules and regulations that need to be followed.

In the discussion after the lecture, the question was raised whether is was possible to use only vegan fertilizers, forgoing animal manures, since Osentowski is making use of the rabbits’ and chicken’s dirt for the plants. I was wondering what could be wrong with using animal excrement, and found an answer of sorts in the internet: Using animal manures would support the meat and dairy industries. But if one raises the animals himself and does not make use of any other products but their dirt? Food philosophy at its best, source of discussion and thoughts; I am seriously troubled.

Here an interesting article about Masanobu Fukuoka’s, a Japanese farmer, philosophy, whose agricultural approach is recommended on the Permaculture website. Another interesting aspect are the alternative economic models proposed and encouraged, such as volunteer work, trading without money, and concepts such as WWOOFing (which I plan on doing next year – I hope to find answers to all my questions!).



Food and identity
October 27, 2010, 10:11 am
Filed under: Bread, Food, Good to know, Theories | Tags: , ,

Cover image of the book ‘CrEATe – Eating, Design and Future Food’

You are what you eat – how true is this saying? From my experience of working at the cashier of a supermarket, I have to admit that I cannot withstand making up profiles of the customers, imagining their different ways of living while scanning their groceries. Like all products we buy, consume, and wear, food especially is an expression of how we live and who we are. Of all products, food is the one that gets closest to your body. By eating food, it actually becomes part of our system. It affects our health, our well-being, and the way we look and act. It affects emotions and can arouse memories. In her book ‘Eat love’, eating designer Marije Vogelzang describes eight different dimensions of food, that she provides as an inspiring starting point for people working with food:

– the senses – nature – culture – society – technique – psychology – science – action

Looking back in food history, certain foods obtained specific roles in a nutritional class hierachy and cultural data base, so that eating certain foods distinguished one group from another. To cultivate food and shape it into man-made products such as bread and wine was looked at as an indication of civilitas – Roman and Greek writers such as Procopius wondered e.g. about Lapps, who only lived off hunted animals, without cultivating any food from the earth. Pride of the nutritional and cultural identity, and maybe also the lack of understanding for other food cultures characterized all groups.

Rather than having a  ‘plant of cultivation’ such as corn in America, rice in Asia, and wheat in the Greek and Latin worlds, Celts and Germanics were characterized with an animal, namely the pig. Similarily, Germanic mythology often used pigs as a symbol of the origin of life, whereas Greek and Latin writers valued above all all the fruits of the earth, an earth that would give food as a result of human labour. ‘It is from [bread] that the whole world begins’, did Pythargoras write. It was bread that, together with wine, allowed the savage man to become civilized, as can be read in the Epic of Gilgamesh, one of the oldest testimonies of Mediterrean culture. What is the definition of civilization, what is the true meaning of culture?

Source: The culture of food//Massimo Montanari; Blackwell Publishers Ltd., Oxford 1996



behind bread
October 26, 2010, 11:32 am
Filed under: Art, Bread, Design, Theories | Tags: , , ,

I did it again. I baked. Bread. I just cannot help it. This one is a mix of maybe Finnish, Italian, and German bread. Rye-sourdough with walnuts and olives. Really good with pea soup, another very typical Finnish dish. Hmm, it seems like I am jumping from art theory to ‘bread theory’ today, doesn’t it? But, just a reminder: bread is the basic metaphore of this project, each event had its own special bread that actually connects to a theory; 1/5: Rieska, 2/5: Reikäleipä, 3/5:Piimälimppu, the rest will still be kept in secret. Plus, baking bread is just the most beautiful and relaxing thing to do after getting done with some work. By the way, it is time for true contemplation, since halftime has been crossed – two more out of five events to go!



Thoughts about aura
October 26, 2010, 11:03 am
Filed under: Art, Theories | Tags: ,

In 1935, cultural critic Walter Benjamin wrote his famous essay “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” (Das Kunstwerk im Zeitalter seiner technischen Reproduzierbarkeit; originally published in Zeitschrift für Sozialforschung). Back in the days, it did not find too much attention, but in the 1960’s and 70’s, it has been rediscovered and since the 80’s, it is one of the documents modern theory of culture and media is founded on.

The essay speaks about the aura of an artwork; art in itself, has, according to Benjamin, been a tool to record history. Its uniqueness is bound to time and place. With the invention of different tools of reproduction, such as copperplate engraving, the printing press, photography, and many others, works could be reproduced and distributed widely. At the same time, the work of art would deprive its aura, its originality, the certain distant unseizable feeling that comes with an original art piece.

When it comes to photography, the digital age has overruled most analogic picture taking. Admittedly, I also mostly take pictures in digital form, due to easier handling and costs. The ‘aura’, that Benjamin is talking about, is lost though. The only camera that takes true originals is maybe the Polaroid camera, a technology, that has been lost, but it being revived by nostalgic fans, after Polaroid ceased the production of films in 2008. (The impossible project) The same thing occurs in nature, nothing that grows and is alive is alike (unless humans fiddle with it). This diversity is beautiful and should be kept alive at all times.

Why is it that people long to go backwards to old technologies and production methods? Why is it that people start to do things themselves again? I hate to call it a trend, because I don’t believe people do so because they think it is fashionable (for that, it is way to time-consuming and would demand a change of lifestyle), but most certainly, it is a growing movement present in most Western countries.