Sometimes it feels like I've spent the past few years as a human cannonball act, launching myself into one project after another. In the second half of 2012, that caught up with me, and I'm doing my best to slow down, take stock and make some decisions about what I want to do in the next phase of my life. More on that soon.
Meanwhile, I've updated the Projects section of the site fairly heavily this month, adding sections on New Public Thinking, The University Project and the Euroaxacan Initiative of Transformative Cultures.
One thing I definitely want to do more of in the next few years is teaching of one kind and another. So I'm very pleased to have been invited, along with my co-conspirator Vinay Gupta, to give a five-day course on Collapsonomics at Schumacher College, Devon (UK) from April 30th to May 4th. There's more information and details of how to book on the Schumacher site. The nature of the course means that the price is quite high, but as usual we'll aim to make as much material as possible from it freely available afterwards online.
So, it turns out I'm not very good at these monthly updates. Since January, I've been dividing my time between London and Brussels - and over the summer, it's set to be scattered even further. For those wanting to track me down, I've finally added an Events page to this site.
What else has happened since the bleak midwinter? Well, I found myself writing a long reflection on What I Learned (2003-10). This set me thinking the same kind of distance into the future. What could I start working on this year which I'd still want to be involved in when I'm forty?
That question led me back to the task of creating spaces for learning and reflection. So when Indy Johar asked me what I'd do with a huge space in central London, I told him I'd start a new kind of university. And that's exactly what we're doing. I'll be speaking about this project at the RSA's Education for Uncertain Futures event on 20th June. In the mean time, here's the blog post I wrote asking for people to help make it happen - and here's the talk I gave at the University of Winchester in February, on 'The University in Transition'.
The university project grew out of New Public Thinking, which launched in February and has provided a focus for exploring the emerging culture of ideas I've found myself in the middle of over the past few years.
Besides these new projects, Dark Mountain and Space Makers both continue to take up a significant amount of my attention. The new Dark Mountain book comes out later this month, and this year's festival is in Hampshire, the weekend of 19-21 August.
The main Space Makers project so far this year has been the West Norwood Feast - a new community-led street market in south London. There's also an excellent case study of our work at Brixton Village in NESTA's Compendium for the Civic Economy.
I've been developing closer relationships with certain pockets of academia. I'm now officially a Senior Visiting Fellow in Higher Education Policy at the University of Lincoln, and I've been having fun as thinker-out-of-residence with the Scarcity and Creativity in the Built Environment project, led by Jeremy Till at the University of Westminster. The latter has so far led to an essay on Deriving Scarcity and to an exchange with Andrew Simms on 'Economies of Scarcity'.
I'm increasingly coming to the conclusion that my optimum level of involvement with an organisation or project is between five and ten days a year, so I'm definitely open to other attachments of this kind.
Other new things on the site include recent talks on the truth about the Big Society and 'How to avoid getting a proper job'. There are a couple of additions to the interviews section, including one with Willi Paul of PlanetShifter, where I talk about craft, northerness and our obsession with "saving" things. In the Writing section, there's The Space Hackers are coming!, which I wrote for Vinay Gupta's forthcoming book, The Future We Deserve.
Finally, as things calmed down briefly at the end of 2010, I found the time to edit the video of the conversation I'd filmed with David Abram - author of 'The Spell of the Sensuous' and 'Becoming Animal', and a thinker whose work has had a great impact on mine.
Have a great summer - and I'll try not to leave it as long before my next update!
If you want to make God laugh, they say, tell him your plans.
A week after writing last month's update, I gave myself a nasty concussion which took me out of action for the past few weeks. (I did it by accidentally headbutted a bookshelf - another blow struck against the literary establishment...)
I had no idea that a concussion could reverberate so long. I am still feeling its effects and, although I'm beginning to reengage with the outside world, having to take things gently.
One side effect is that I've decided to postpone the American trip I had planned for this winter. Hopefully I'll be able to reschedule this for later in 2011, with better weather and more time to prepare.
This does mean that I will be able to have more hands-on involvement with the newest Space Makers project. Over the next few months, we'll be working with people in West Norwood to create a new monthly street market, focusing on the locally-grown and locally-made. This starts with an exploration event at the Portico Gallery on the evening of Weds 8th December.
In the first ten days after the concussion, I had to rest from reading, writing or looking at screens. Instead I found myself baking cakes, doing jigsaws and colouring in children's puzzles.
But as I get reading again, I'll be spending a lot of this month reading through the many submissions for the second Dark Mountain book. From what I've seen so far, there's a definite sense that we can do something new and exciting, rather than it feeling like a re-run of Issue 1.
I'll miss the usual Dark Mountain meetup on Weds 8th because of the West Norwood event, but will be at the Royal Festival Hall as usual on the 15th and 22nd. Come and join us on the 5th floor from 5.30 to 8.30pm.
After that, I'm heading to Scotland for Christmas and New Year with my parents - and hoping there's a bit less snow in Livingston by then. Then a couple of days in Cumbria editing with Paul, before returning to London.
Insha'Allah, as they say.
I'm in London this month, taking stock after the end of the Space Makers project at Brixton Village and making plans for the winter.
The main plan is for a North American tour.
I've been invited to join a field trip to Detroit with the architecture school from Oxford Brookes University from 11 to 18 December. Detroit is somewhere I've wanted to visit for years.
If I'm going to fly across the Atlantic, I want to make it worthwhile, so I'm intending to extend my stay into 2011, visiting friends in other parts of the US and Canada.
I am also looking to give talks and guest lectures during the trip. I already have one speaking invitation from Dean Bavington at Nipissing University, North Bay, Ontario - and I could use some help setting up further events for January and February.
Apart from preparing for a nomadic winter, this month also sees the deadline for submissions for Issue 2 of Dark Mountain. Paul and I will be getting together near the end of the month to start the editing process.
I'm also spending time with the Space Makers team, looking at how the agency goes forward after the Brixton project and bringing some new associates into the team.