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This blog is written by Wysing's Director, Donna Lynas, and is about some of the things happening at Wysing, or influencing what happens at Wysing.

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The Way We Live Now Final Entry  12 July 2014

Daniel Keller performance ‘An iDrive’
Love and commitment in the cybernetic world, where living life in the fast lane is about searching for an exit out of the cultural desert of redundant ideology.

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The Way We Live Now Entry 9  12 July 2014

Bonnie Camplin
A meandering anecdotal narrative on mind control, super soldiers, psychics and surviving as a rational individual in the Twenty-first century.

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The Way We Live Now Entry 9  12 July 2014

Question: Who are the people who run unMonastery?
Answer: Diverse range of ages, middle class, people from the hacker movement, documentary filmmaking, artists
Question: How do you manage your finances?
35,000 Euros for the project + given building by the city of Matera. It is distributed everyone gets 400 e a month and 200 of those go on collective living.
Question: It sounds very utopian
Answer: It is not a utopian project, it would be boring for future generations not to have some shit to deal with.
Question: Why have you chosen an institutional set up?
Answer: if we have to build an institution for other institutions to trust us then fine, that is what we will do. Bt unMonastery  is a democracy – there is no drip feed way of people telling you what to do.
Question: Do you really trust each other?
Answer: In a situation where power is decentralised you have to trust each other or it won’t function because we don’t have a big stick (like financial gain).
Question: It worries me that you are not supporting the welfare state.
Answer: It’s too late. Bit coin now exists. You need to start building other things. When you have a decentralised currency its already too late. We recognise that the welfare state has gone – its been sold off. So we can find violent or non-violent I would prefer violent
Question: In the 16th century monasteries were destroyed because they were oppressive institutions. It’s a strange thing to choose to model your project on, let alone the sexual connotations. I think monasteries are a despicable organisation.
Answer: We don’t want to reproduce the hierarchies in the monasteries. I was brought up by militant atheists and I’m not looking for spiritual redemption.
Respone: I wasn’t talking about religion I was talking about the oppressive nature of monasteries.
Question: You seem to be shying away from calling it a commune or a coop. Why?
We want a plurality of structures to bring to the organisation.

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The Way We Live Now Entry 8  12 July 2014

Ben Vickers on the utopian social model unMonastery, a global village set up to deal with three specific problems:

Large numbers of empty and disused property
Austerity and the rollback of state service provision
High intentional or unintentional unemployment

unMonastery opened in Matera in Southern Italy and are heavily indebted to the HackerSpaces model – the only difference is that they are outward looking. They are a commune and have solved the washing up problem by having a rota!

You can set up your own unMonastery, and they have produced a set of cards that tell you how to do this. There is also a book of mistakes – so that no other unMonastery will repeat them.
There are several organisations similar to unMonastery including Calafou, Aesir, Grupo Coop De Las Indias, unSystem and Open Source Ecology Europe and Oplate of St Benedict.

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The Way We Live Now Entry 7  12 July 2014

David Raymond Conroy: There is no such thing as bad weather only soft people

Down and out in Mayfair and Fitzrovia. A polemic on style, workwear and the art world’s love affair with Nike Flyknit trainer. An artist on the verge of a capitalist breakdown.

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The Way We Live Now Entry 6  12 July 2014

Dr Richard Barbrook
The Californian Ideology 20.0

Barbrook talks about re-examining his book he wrote in the 1990s about the dotcom boom.
He says twenty years ago he was waiting for the web to happen and knew it would be a massive transformation. He and his colleagues set up a research centre in Westminster University because:
they noticed that while lots of people didn’t believe in the privatisation of the railway system they started spouting neo-liberalism stuff with regards to the Internet. It was being promoted that you could do both. Whereas in the 1960s there was a division between the squares (industry) and the counter culture, it was not like that any more. Why was it suddenly respectable to be capitalist?
Marshal McLuhan created the key concept of our age that there would be this fundamental transformation in society caused by media into the net. He said we are moving forward to the electronic tribal drum.
The prediction was that social change would be driven by information technology.

Barbrook mentions the Progress and Freedom Foundation set up in America:
The purpose of these technologies was to break open natural monopolies and replace them with a world of small businesses. Everyone in the future will be rich and hip and we shall all become Californians.
But the Californian ideology is ambiguous – because it is founded on the principles of individual liberty brought about by the founding fathers. But we all know that the founding fathers (Jefferson, Washington) were slave owners. So there is an ambiguity in the liberalism they promote.

So what is the future?
Stop being caught in the perpetual present of post-modernism – break out of this and see the grand narrative – we can create a better future and it is not by looking at technology, but our minds, they need to be freed from the mental slavery.

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The Way We Live Now Entry 5  12 July 2014

Louise Carver: Should we value nature?
Carver studies Biodiversity offsetting in England
She is interested in what happens when something is declared valuable especially when the systems that now value nature devalued it so badly in the past.
Carver shows a film by Nature not for Sale – spoof promotion for Fracking in Regents Park. Best line: ‘selling off public assets to people the government went to school with is at the core of our policies.’

So what is Biodiversity offsetting?  - conservation activities that are designed to give biodiversity benefits to compensate for losses - ensuring that when a development damages nature, new, bigger or better nature sites will be created. They are different from other types of ecological compensation as they need to show measurable outcomes that are sustained over time.
The problem with Biodiversity offsetting is that it entails the conceptual disaggregation of constructed units of nature from their wider ecological fabrics.
Turns nature into a commodity capital can actually see and work with.

She talks about the contradictory idea of selling nature to save it.
She uses the example of Land grabbing – the story of the Kisaware village in Tanzania when villagers gave up their land for large-scale Bio fuel investment. Project failed and the villages have 10,000 acres of useless land, and the villagers are kept off it by guards.
What will happen to tropical forests when their services are traded and speculated by investment services?
We know there is nothing ethical about the way the markets work. Will they be liable for asset stripping.
This has a profound social aspect to it.

Our research is concerned with
The value of what and for who?
The tragedy of the well intentioned valuation.
Carver shows a picture of an Elephant with a red line through it. George Lakoff talks about language framing.
Don’t think of an elephant – you cannot avoid thinking about an elephant – bringing these systems of value into the government – it stops them thinking of other ways of thinking.

Solutions?
Carver says lets be radical pragmatists – we should criticize Biodiversity offsetting but lets not throw the baby out with the bath water.

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The Way We Live Now Entry 4  12 July 2014

The Way We Live Now: Environmental and Social Consequences

Ian Hodge
Wants to talk about three things:
1.How eco-systems are driving the way we think about the environment
2.The Way in which eco-systems are being used in a neo-liberal context
3. Maybe there is an alternative way of thinking and reflecting on eco-systems and how it will affect our economic environment
First point: We value the environment for economic purposes (crops, timber) and we value it for non-economic purposes (recreation, aesthetic, wellbeing).
There is a danger in starting to work out the value of each eco-system eg..What is the value of Bee pollination in relation to the pesticides used to promote crop production?
But the UK National Ecosystem Assessment has set out to look at the problem of this and try to place some sort of monetary value on these eco-systems.

The Neo-liberal approach to eco-systems:

Nature as a commodity
A source of economic growth
Monetary valuation
Delivery by markets and civil society (with private funding)

Economists have spent time trying to work out the monetary value of different aspects of the environment.
The fundamental question for environmentalists is whether this valuation system strengthens the argument for the environment.
This can misdirect policy.
For example if you want to protect the rain forests and use payments to those who have control over the environment to get them to preserve it what kind of consequences does this have for the stewardship of the environment?
Where is the moral argument in this when it is just down to who pays?
Do you pay polluters not to pollute?
The problem with the Neo-liberal approach is that while markets are important they are not a substitute for government intervention. Governments need to be active rather than stepping back and hoping the market will do it for them.

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The Way We Live Now Entry 3  12 July 2014

Dr Isaac Marrero-Guillamón

He says: I’m going to be talking about a very unsustainable project: The London Olympics.

The Olympics actually belong to the IOC – they have the right to exploit it commercially. Hosting the games, the public bodies carry the cost and the IOC exploited the benefits.

Here are a few things London did in order to host the games: 

They regulated the use of language, words like ‘2012’, ‘summer’, ‘Gold’, ‘Silver’, ‘Bronze’. He reminds us of the kebab shop that was threatened with legal action because the name was Olympic Kebabs.

Total revenue of IOC in 2012 was £2 billion (tax exempt). The cost of the Olympics to the country was £9 billion

The cost of the economic structure on the ground was massive. Biggest compulsory purchase order in history was enacted in the purchase of the Olympic Park. 1500 residents, 200 businesses and 5000 jobs were displaced.

Dr Isaac Marrero-Guillamón talks about the Olympic Grand Narrative.

The story of the Olympics was promoted as the creative destruction of an unregulated post-industrial landscape, a moral redemption of a contaminated and corrupt land.
Photographs were published of the Olympic stadium as a beacon of hope and beauty in the London darkness. In fact the area was a place of small businesses, artist studios, allotments and marshes.

Dr Isaac Marrero-Guillamón moves on to talk about some of the artists who began to question this grand narrative. They published the work in a book called ‘The Art of Dissent’.
The artists:
1. Jim Woodall ‘Olympic State’ built a hut where he surveyed the Olympic site using surveillance equipment.
2. Office for Subversive Architecture, ‘Point of View’ built a staircase next to the wall for people to look over into the Olympic site – it was removed.
3. Adelita Husni-Bey ‘Clays Lane Live Archive’ constructed a story about the residents who were evicted from the site which now resides in Bishopsgate.
4. Space studio commissioned a project called The Cut – Jessie Brennan created drawings inspired by stories collected from people associated with the site.
5. Gesche Würfel ‘Go for Gold!’ – took photographs of the area before construction started. She returned to the site every year to document the changes. A way of showing the violence of the destruction
6. Stephen Gill ‘Buried’ took as series of pictures of the area with a camera bought on the black market operating in the area. He printed the images and gave them to friends and collaborators to bury in the area. He then dug them up. A strategy of double exposure – significant in the context of the regeneration of the area. The contaminated nature of the soil was one of the excuses the authorities used to dig up the area.

 

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The Way We Live Now Entry 2  12 July 2014

Quick change in the programme as Dr Richard Barbrook is stuck in traffic, so first up is Dr Isaac Marrero-Guillamón on London’s Olympic development.

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The Way We Live Now Entry 1  12 July 2014

Live blog by Jessica Lack.
Hello and welcome to Wysing’s third Futurecamp event, and today we shall be confronting that monster of the political arena – living standards. With crippling house prices, high unemployment, child poverty, and mental health on the rise, the future looks about as bruised as a Brazilian football player. As the epidermologist Sir Michael Marmot said this week “social injustice is killing on a grand scale”. What are the answers? Hopefully our guest speakers can provide them.

As always, the event will be kicking off at noon.

In the mean time you can:

Check out Dr Isaac Marrero-Guillamón’ website The Militant City

Watch Ben Vickers discuss his initiative unMonastery 

Leave questions on the Facebook page and I shall introduce them into the discussions at 1:10pm and 2:30pm respectively

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