Multiculturalism is a grand, revolutionary concept. But I think its purpose is really simple. It is to live with each other without the fear of each other.

– Nyadol Nyuo

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Featured artist: Matheus Costa

Dense Discovery
Dense Discovery
 

Welcome to Issue 153!

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Thanks to a lot of reading, speaking to friends and witnessing impacts more locally, my internal response to the climate crisis has evolved in recent years. Occasionally, the grief-panic-anger cocktail still gets the best of me, but overall I’ve managed to erect somewhat of an emotional and intellectual scaffolding to help me navigate the trouble ahead, I hope. It’s work in progress.

One source of inspiration is my friend Jon who I admire not just for eloquently sharing his thoughts on the topic, but also for ‘walking the talk’ by continuously cultivating skills for growing food and caring for the land he lives on.

I was reminded of my conversations with Jon when I read Rosie Spinks’ article It’s Time to Replace Ambition with Adaptation (possible soft paywall) in which she asks: “Does following our personal and narrowly defined ambition, at the cost of all other skills and possibly our own health, make much sense anymore?”

She argues that many of us ‘privileged, knowledge-economy workers’ are hustling for a career that is not just very egocentric, but is based on skills that are probably dispensable in the future. Some of the energy and time we put into our ambition might be better spent on adaptation: to acquire skills that are useful for us and the communities we’re a part of.

“Embracing adaptation as an alternative is not saying that we can’t be creative or innovative or willing to work hard – on the contrary, we must be all those things. But it calls us to shift those skills elsewhere, beyond our personal interests and egos to communal and societal challenges that are collective. It also calls us to redefine what it means to live a ‘successful’ life. ...

“On a personal level, this shift could take many forms. Maybe it means you focus on building social capital in your community rather than a LinkedIn or Instagram following. That you downsize or move to a cheaper place and acquire less stuff so you can work less, produce more, and rely less on globalized supply chains. Maybe it means re-skilling and re-networking yourself (in an offline sense) so you have more to offer your immediate community and vice versa.”

Giving up on ambition may sound like surrender to some – and, as she writes, it is about acceptance – but it doesn’t mean giving up hope. In fact, committing ourselves to adaptation could help us regain a meaningful connection to people and land, affording us a much needed sense of belonging.

Essays and conversations like this have helped me think more deeply about the future and what adaptation looks like for me. It’s part of the reason why I’m so curious about the idea of living a life of sufficiency and how that contrasts with our conventional idea of ‘success’. Since adjusting my ambition to ‘enough’ and, as a result, working less, I’ve managed to carve out more time for friends, some great local causes and overdue internal work. Small steps, but it feels like I’m moving in the right direction. – Kai

 

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Apps & Sites

Nimbus →

Workspace for docs, media, tasks and lists

You can tell that even the folks at Nimbus have trouble succinctly explaining what Nimbus is/does. I would describe it as an apps ecosystem that blends together features of a web clipper like Evernote, a document space like Notion, and a list manager like Trello. It is whatever you want it to be.

Integrately →

App automation

Essentially a more affordable Zapier copy-cat, Integrately connects a growing catalogue of apps to help you automate tasks. I’m a paying customer of Zapier and really like their product, though I find it bit pricy. It’s good to see more competitors entering that field, potentially having a positive effect on pricing.

Demystifying Public Speaking →

Practical advice for speaking to crowds

A few years back, Lara Hogan wrote the book Demystifying Public Speaking. Now she made it available online, for free: “From choosing a topic and creating a presentation, to gathering and distilling feedback, to event-day prep. You’ll feel confident and equipped to step into the spotlight.”

Deep Nostalgia →

Animate old portrait photos

Using “deep learning” (whatever that means), this app runs portrait photos you upload through a series of ‘drivers’ that apply a sequence of movements and gestures. What you get is a fascinating, slightly creepy animated version of the photo. I haven’t dug into the privacy policy but the company says it won’t share the original photos, nor the animated videos, with third parties.

 

Worthy Five: David Bauer

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Five recommendations by journalist, newsletter writer and curious generalist David Bauer

A question worth asking:

If you want to prompt someone to reconsider their position, don’t swamp them with arguments, instead ask: ‘What would make you change your mind?’

A quote worth repeating:

“For me, success is not a public thing. It’s a private thing. It’s when you have fewer and fewer regrets.” – Toni Morrison. It’s obviously good not to let others define whether you’re successful, but this advice from Toni Morrison makes it actionable.

A newsletter worth subscribing to:

What Happened Last Week by Sham Jaff is an excellent weekly briefing that shines a light on the blind spots of the usual world news.

A concept worth understanding:

The precipice, as defined by Australian philosopher Toby Ord: Humanity has gained the power to destroy ourselves, without the wisdom to ensure that we avoid doing so.

A book worth reading:

The Future We Choose by Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac, the lead negotiators of the Paris Climate Agreement. Practical advice that strikes the right balance. What you, as an individual and consumer, can do. And what you, as a citizen and employee, should demand from governments and corporations.

 

Books & Accessories

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The Humane Home →

Sustainable living guide

When I browsed through this book at a local shop recently, I was positively surprised that it covers more than your obligatory oat milk and soap-making recipes you’d expect to find in ‘green living’ books like this (although they are included too, of course). Some of the meatier topics include a chapter on more sustainable building/renovation materials or how to do an energy audit for your home.

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What Happened to You? →

Conversations on trauma, resilience, and healing

A book that looks at our own and other people’s behaviour through the lens of good and bad experiences in the past. “Through deeply personal conversations, Oprah Winfrey and renowned brain and trauma expert Dr. Bruce Perry offer a groundbreaking and profound shift from asking ‘What’s wrong with you?’ to ‘What happened to you?’”

 

Overheard on Twitter

Can’t help but notice how many people who complained about not understanding their kid’s math homework turned into infectious disease experts and military strategists over the last year and a half.

@Angry_Staffer

 

Food for Thought

Collapse, Renewal and the Rope of History →

Read

You can always count on Angus Hervey/Future Crunch to pull you out of a hole with the hope rope. What a lovely way to shift your perspective! Please do read. “Ultimately, we have no way of judging whether we’re living through Collapse or Renewal. Future generations will decide that out for us. The only thing that matters is the part we play. We can choose which strand of that rope we belong to. We can add to its grand weave, in the way we treat other people, in the leaders we vote for, in the daily work we do, in the decisions we make about where to put our energy, and in the words that come out of our mouths.”

It’s Time to Replace Ambition with Adaptation →

Read

I discuss this piece in my intro. An essay that helps us reassess the importance we place on our career. “Since the Industrial Revolution launched a large subset of humanity into the illusion that we could conquer nature for our own purposes, linear ambition has been a kind of survival strategy. In recent decades, that’s certainly been true for privileged, knowledge-economy workers like me: We’re always trying to keep up in a world of work that seems to constantly get faster and expect more of us, leaving us too burned out and apathetic to deal with anything that doesn’t directly affect us or our families.” (Possible soft paywall)

Workism Is Making Americans Miserable →

Read

This piece hit home. I don’t work long hours, but work still plays an outsized part of my identity. If this applies to you too, you probably want to read this. “The economists of the early 20th century did not foresee that work might evolve from a means of material production to a means of identity production. They failed to anticipate that, for the poor and middle class, work would remain a necessity; but for the college-educated elite, it would morph into a kind of religion, promising identity, transcendence, and community. Call it workism.”

Buried in concrete: mafia architecture – in pictures →

View/Read

A fascinating photo essay that shows the illegal, brutalist buildings that were constructed by mafia bosses and are now decaying all over Italy’s south. “Mobsters changed the shape of Italian cities, ravaging landscapes with concrete to affirm their authority.”

 

Aesthetically Pleasing

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What a tilt-shift masterpiece! This stunning video of the Erzgebirge region makes me miss Germany. Such a beautiful piece of camera work. Explore the Little Big World channel for many more places around the world (even Pyongyang in North Korea) in tilt-shift goodness.

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Vincent Bal calls himself a “shadowologist and filmmaker from Belgium”. He creates adorable characters from the shadows of various everyday objects.

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I’m really enjoying the photographic style of Brendon Burton, whose work “focuses on the side effects of cultural isolation and the concept of liminal space”.

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Type foundry newglyph offers an impressive collection of variable text and display type faces, and a great business attitude to boot: 30% of all sales goes to a good cause.

 

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The Week in a GIF

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It’s Quiz Time!

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