Ultimately, we have just one moral duty: to reclaim large areas of peace in ourselves, more and more peace, and to reflect it towards others. And the more peace there is in us, the more peace there will also be in our troubled world.

– Etty Hillesum


Featured artist: Marta Koshulinska

Dense Discovery
Dense Discovery

Welcome to Issue 183!

View/share online

One of the podcasts I occasionally listen to recently debated the question whether there is a place in Australia where people are safe from climate change and I thought this answer by a former UN adviser on disaster risk reduction was pretty great:

“The safest place to live in Australia is where you have a sense of community, because at the end of the day it’s about the way we help each other.”

As someone who moved more than ten times in the last two decades, that made me wonder how strong my sense of community really is. And I don’t think I’m alone: the typical US American now moves an average of 11.7 times in their lifetime and there is evidence that newer generations move even more often. The result of this transience is that we struggle to develop a sense of place, a key attribute of healthy, engaged communities.

“Sense of place – the way we perceive places such as streets, communities, cities or ecoregions – influences our well-being, how we describe and interact with a place, what we value in a place, our respect for ecosystems and other species, how we perceive the affordances of a place, our desire to build more sustainable and just communities, and how we choose to improve cities. Our sense of place also reflects our historical and experiential knowledge of a place, and helps us imagine its more sustainable future.” (Source)

As the globetrotting Airbnb generation that’s increasingly susceptible to income, housing and job insecurity, millennials are perhaps the first generation to embody a sense of placelessness. In architecture and geography, placeless landscapes are seen as having no special relationship to the places in which they are located: shopping malls, petrol stations, convenience stores, fast food chains – they could be anywhere and don’t contribute much to the unique identity of a place.

In last week’s issue I touched on Oliver Burkeman’s observation that we’re at risk of losing the shared temporal rhythm required for a well-functioning society. I think the same could be said for our shared sense of place. If community is key for climate change resilience and adaptation, we ought to focus more on committing to and investing in the places we inhabit. For younger generations like mine, this may mean honing our credentials not as global jet setters but as good neighbours.


(On a related note: a reader recently shared with me this amazing illustrated guide to the participatory city, a practical instruction manual for building engaged communities and resilient neighbourhoods.)


Become a Friend of DD →

With a modest yearly contribution you’re not only helping keep Dense Discovery going, you also receive special discounts and get access to the DD Index, a searchable catalogue of past issues.


Dense Discovery is a weekly newsletter at the intersection of design, technology, sustainability and culture, read by over 37,000 subscribers. Do you have a product or service to promote? Sponsor an issue or book a classified.


Discover Amazing NewslettersSPONSOR


Letterlist →

Fall in love with your inbox again

Discovering great newsletters you love and trust (like this one) should be way simpler. So I curated a collection of the world’s finest publishers, then added a button so you can subscribe with one click. I think you’ll like it. – Marc Eglon, Letterlist founder


Apps & Sites

BeReal →

Time-based photo sharing app

I love the idea behind this new social photo-sharing app: “Everyday at a different time, everyone is notified simultaneously to capture and share a photo in two minutes. A new and unique way to discover who your friends really are in their daily life.” The app activates both your front and back-facing camera lenses to capture your face and what’s in front of you.

Clay →

Relationship manager

I’m quite torn about Clay, a kind of task manager but for people. The app allows you to record personal and professional details about the people in your life and then reminds you to ‘check in’ on them. It’s both a product idea many will find useful and a step towards the kind of tech-solutionist optimising of basic human activities that really just needs more presence (and less staring at our phones) to fix itself.

Framed →

Guess-the-movie game

Inspired by Wordle, Heardle and all the other spinoffs, Framed is a once-a-day game in which you have to guess the movie based on the fewest amounts of stills possible.

OS Alternative →

Find OSS alternatives

It does what it says on the tin: discover 250+ popular (often free) open source alternatives to your proprietary SaaS products.


Worthy Five: Rahul Chowdhury


Five recommendations by software engineer and personal growth blogger Rahul Chowdhury

A video worth watching:

We’ll always encounter stressful situations in life, and although we can’t prevent these situations, we can be prepared for them. This great TED talk by Daniel Levitin explains how.

An Instagram account worth following:

Brian from The Tiny Wisdom re-packages everyday advice into delightful comics that help keep negative thoughts at bay.

A book worth reading:

Sam Walton’s biography is not only a delightful story but also one that teaches us how to value money and hard work even when you become a millionaire.

A word worth knowing:

Jugaad – a colloquial Indian word to say ‘make do with what you have’. We rarely find ourselves in the perfect circumstances or environment to realise our ideas. Being able to jugaad helps us make the most out of every situation.

A saying worth repeating:

‘The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second best time is now.’ – Chinese Proverb. It’s never too late to start something.


Books & Accessories


We Need New Stories →

Challenging the toxic myths dehind our age of discontent

The Sudanese-born journalist and author Nesrine Malik deconstructs six key ‘myths’ of contemporary western society to contest the idea of exceptionalism that has come to define our politics. This book offers a debunking exercise, showing how widely accepted, mainstream narratives have – for decades – been used to prop up the existing unequal power balance of society.


We Should All Be Feminists →

A 21st-century definition of feminism

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the best-selling novelist of Americanah, converted her popular TED talk ‘We should all be feminists’ into a short but powerful book by the same name: “Drawing extensively on her own experiences and her deep understanding of the often masked realities of sexual politics, here is one remarkable author’s exploration of what it means to be a woman now – and an of-the-moment rallying cry for why we should all be feminists.”


Overheard on Twitter

So sick of hearing that government ‘inaction’ brought about climate change. They acted: they subsidized fossil fuel companies, gave them leases, spouted their misinformation, criminalized protest. Nothing about that is passive.



Food for Thought

“Urgency and Agency”: Michael Mann on Conquering Climate Despair →


A short interview with Michael Mann, a professor of atmospheric science, that highlights the importance of not giving in to climate despair: it’s time to be alarmed, but not an alarmist. “For the organizations looking to stall climate action, climate denial has become passé. Instead, they have turned to carbon shaming, it’s-too-late climate doomism, and stirring up fights among climate advocates, all to paralyze behaviors and policies that could help us fight climate change.”

Silent Partner →


A fascinating look at the rise of ‘relationship coaching’ apps that aim to improve our love life by quantifying and gamifying emotions and interactions between partners. “The idea that our approach to love has become more about precision, honing, and active work. The idea of wild, romantic love – love as a whirlwind, a disruptive force, or even a kind of insanity – just isn’t as appealing in a society where precarity, instability and unpredictability are the norm. Love is no longer about fate, but instead a partnership that one enters consciously and then builds.”

How every child can thrive by five →


When I grow up, I want to be as good a public speaker as seven-year-old Molly Wright. Through an impressively eloquent TED talk, she calls on parents to be more present during their children’s first five years – the most crucial phase for brain development.


Aesthetically Pleasing

❏ ❏

Nature-inspired paper artist Lisa Lloyd creates vibrant, tactile animal sculptures from colourful cardboard. Prints are available from her shop.

❏ ❏

These abstract landscapes depict oyster farming on the northwestern French Atlantic coast – the latest series by talented aerial photographer Tom Hegen who has specialised in presenting “an overview of our earth’s surface that has been transformed by the impact of human presence”.

❏ ❏

In the series Boxed In, photographer Benny Lam documents the suffocating living conditions in Hong Kong’s subdivided flats and in particular so-called ‘coffin cubicles’.

❏ ❏

Charlottenburg is an all-caps, high contrast serif display font. “Proportions like it’s AD 113, serifs bordering on the exuberant, hints of Art-Nouveau. It’s born for the big stage so give it some space, honey.”


Notable Numbers


A study found that having on average 10 more trees in a city block improves how someone rated their health by a level comparable to an increase in annual personal income of $10,000 or being seven years younger.


For the typical German travel distance, the total lifetime cost of car ownership ranges between €599,082 for an Opel Corsa and €956,798 for a Mercedes GLC. The share of this cost born by society is 41% and 29% respectively.


European budget airline EasyJet is partnering with US startup Wright Electric to develop the Wright 1, an all-electric, 186-seat commercial passenger jet with an 800-mile range that’s targeted to enter service around 2030. Wright Electric also announced plans for an electric 100-seater, the Wright Spirit, due out in 2026.



Apply to join the upcoming Nervous System Mastery cohort – learn research-backed protocols to regulate stress in real-time, rewire breathing patterns & reset your nervous system.

Join award-winning design agency Humbleteam, as they shed light on how fintechs can reduce time to market, fast-track competitor research, and create processes that engineers love.

Subscribe to the Nerdletter: a weekly newsletter designed to practically educate, thoughtfully illuminate and get you thinking differently about money in the world.

Create consistency in content + reduce edits forevermore with a modern update to ‘The Elements of Style’. Pre-order ‘Writing for Humans and Robots: The New Rules of Content Style’.

Classifieds are paid ads that support DD and are seen by our 37,000 subscribers each week.

Book yours →


The Week in a GIF


Reply or tweet at DD with your favourite GIF and it might get featured here in a future issue.