Friday, December 4

Running away...

A couple, Adam and Helen, who are friends of a friend of mine here in Oxford have set up a great little company called Sheepskin.

If you ever feel the need to properly get away from it all, yet at the same time want to retain a few home comforts, then Sheepskin have come up with a great solution.

They have collected a small group of properties in very remote places where "...nature wears the trousers and man asks permission, there is inspiration all around and poor weather is about the wrong clothes."

Their places look really fantastic.

Tuesday, October 13

The 'Other' Nobel Prize Winner

Phew, twitter has really killed this blog. Thankfully every so often something comes along which needs a few more characters. I tried to twitter this but failed.

So, the other people to win a Nobel Prize this week were Elinor Ostrom and Oliver Williamson, winning the prize for economics. As an aside it's always worth doing a bit of digging on the winners of the economics prize, I personally always learn a thing or two.

I won't go into detail here about her research and conclusions, but read the following blog:

If this really flips your widget, then knock yourself out on the full paper:

This thinking has a LOT to say on two subjects close to my work and heart.
1. Community - it helps to explain how we can better manage and moderate our common resources
2. Social Entrepreneurship - It provides a good model on which to base the 'free' but limited elements of our products and programmes.

Enjoy, my little nurd friends.

Tuesday, September 1

Greenbelt '09 - It's the people stupid

Well.. it was another fantastic Greenbelt. For me, perhaps, the best ever.

It's a very personal thing, but there was a combination of factors which made it special.

1. People
2. An agreed time management process
3. The usual combination of great talks, music and arts stuff

1. People - We were blessed enough to be the people responsible for agreeing, finding then communicating the spot for a gang of 23. This was a mixed group of mainly hOME folk, but also old friends of 20+ years. Everyone got on well, and fist fights were kept to a minimum.

2. Mary and I developed and agreed a very simple but structured time managment system for the weekend which comprised of three elements. Ask me on the comments if you really want to know what it was.

3. Really, really enjoyed almost all of the stuff I saw. Rob Bell, Alex Horne, Douglas Alexander, HFASS... Also really enjoyed Matthew Bishops talk, and it was a real joy and privilage to introduce him; great questions from the crowd.

But overall... it was the people who made it. See everyone at Breakfast in our little camp bit, and hanging around until things kicked off, was just fantastic. It was a great place to question and reflect on what each of us had seen and experienced... in the end I concluded it's the people who make Greenbelt what it is, corporately and individually....

PS. I regret not taking my camera this year... doh. The picture above was taken in the Beer Tent in 2006

Thursday, July 30

Creativity, schools and the future of education

Just came across this great, great talk, from TED, by Sir Ken Robinson (probably way, way behind the curve) - Creativity, schools and the future of education...


Wednesday, February 11

The School of Life

The picture to the left is the shop-front of a group called 'The School of Life'

The describe themselves as "a new social enterprise offering good ideas for everyday living", offering courses, holidays, books, food advice, occasional talks and advice on finding a psychotherapist (among other bits and bobs). 

There is some relationship between these guys and the raggle-taggle bunch behind The Idler.  

There are number of things which I really like about what they are doing, which might take a bit of time to explain, if you would care to indulge me. 

1. They are and they're not, counter-cultural
Last autumn I attended a 'blah...' day at CMS house, in Oxford. The day was lead by Brian Walsh and Sylvia Keesmaat, and centered around their book 'Colossians Remixed'

I had the joy of sitting next to Pete Ward for the day, and here I must confess, like Jonny Baker 'I am a disciple of Pete Ward'.  Jonny has a very long pitch as to how and why this is the case, but for me Pete simply taught me to pray in The Spirit and trust my instinct, sound advice indeed. Anyway, I digress. Pete's main beef with Walsh and Keesmaat's reading of Colossians is that it was and is 'anti-culture', meaning they presented a picture of Christ who is against culture. Now, IMHO a lot of this boils down to  Neiburh's models in 'Christ and Culture'. In the current climate for many in the 'emerging/t church' there is much confusion about this, confusion which is not helped by simplistic for-and-against arguments, not something which Pete can be accused of. 

Anyhow, back to 'The School of Life'. This bunch are not simply presenting themselves as anti-culture, which is an impossiblity anyway, but rather applauded what they see as 'best', 'meaningful' and 'beautiful' in culture, and expounded on it. 

2. It's Liquid 
There are different elements of The School which people can buy-into. There is not guilt element, demanding that people buy into everything, there are just lots of helpful points of entry to support people think a bit more about their own lives and what they want from life. 

3. The mundane is to be celebrated
A good example of this is a group which gathered for a 'Heathrow Weekend' (the pictures can be found on the 'School of Life'  facebook page. This group, facilitated by  Alain de Botton, toured terminal 5 of Heathrow airport looking for the unusual and beautiful in the architecture and environment of the space. To me, this is akin to finding God in the everyday. 

Anyhow.. over the past couple of weeks I've found their stuff, and more particularly their approach, quite inspiring. 

Wednesday, February 4

The poor also need art

"Today, after more than a year of planning, 2000 square meters of rooftops have been covered with photos of the eyes and faces of the women of Kibera. The material used is water resistant so that the photo itself will protect the fragile houses in the heavy rain season. The train that passes on this line through Kibera at least twice a day has also been covered with eyes from the women that live below it. With the eyes on the train, the bottom half of the their faces have be pasted on corrugated sheets on the slope that leads down from the tracks to the rooftops. The idea being that for the split second the train passes, their eyes will match their smiles and their faces will be complete."

This reminded me of a quote I cam across years ago (18+) in the book 'Original Blessing ' by Matthew Fox.

"The poor need not only bread, the poor also need beauty' Monsignor Hildebrand

Saturday, January 24

A must see...

While lounging around feeling sorry for myself with a cold on Thursday, I remembered a film that I saw last year, which I will have to put as one of my top films of 2008, despite the fact it was released in 2006. 

The film was 'Kenny' and going by the film poster, or DVD cover, you would normally avoid it like the plague. However, a friend of mine, Kelvin (perhaps the best graphic designer I have ever met?), give it to my housemate, Mark, for his Birthday.  So this was enough of a recommendation to give up an evening... 

It is Brilliant... it is a REAL gem of a film. It has more to say about inclusion/exclusion, clean/dirty, hope/hopelessness and lost/saved, than ten thousand films which claim the same pretension. 

As you can tell, I am really quite a fan!

Friday, January 23

Best collection of the 44th...

Like most people, I suspect, I've been looking at a LOT of photo's from the Presidential Inauguration... But for just one last look... this is the best collection from the Boston Globe.

What makes it especially good is the international perspective.

beauty and practicality... in a mug

I found this post through Len Sweet's twittering. I really, really like nice design pieces which also deliver really sound functionality. The three I liked most were...

The one below is a good example of functionality without form... I like the idea (really helpful for those who belong to the persecuted minority of sugar takers), but the form is not good enough. 

Thursday, January 22

Form and function

At home in bed with a bad cold, and in one of those places where I don't know what to do with myself!!  Perfect condition to explore the world of twitter and figure out it's usefulness or otherwise. 

Rather than try to make an argument for it myself, go to this link to The New York Times, which nicely covers the pro's and con's, along with a few surprising anecdotes. 

Illness brings out the worst in me, so it's best I'm left alone in my own squalor until it passes - unless you're happy to bug me on twitter.