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This blog documents Steven and Nil's adventures as they continue their search for a better world... a better way of living. Each entry offers commentary about current events, ideas or possibilities for the future or examples of what others have already implemented. We will also be sharing our experiences on the road in a campervan (our new home) to demonstrate the possibility of living a mobile, spontaneous and adventurous lifestyle. A lifestyle not dictated by routine and ritual but one led by passion and fashioned by the people and experiences we encounter. We are no longer battling to achieve a work-life balance but rather interweaving our work and our life—as Confucius said: “Choose a job that you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

It’s an exciting time to be alive as we are in the midst of a great transition. Social changes and disruption of existing systems are being driven by our newfound ability to connect and share information through the Internet coupled with an enormous range of new technologies.

Follow our blog and join us on this journey…

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Circular Economy Innovation Hubs: An Update from the Road

“We shape our buildings and thereafter they shape us” ~Winston Churchill

We are excited to let you know that researchers from the University of Queensland’s (UQ) Global Change Institute (GCI) as well as CSIRO have now confirmed their interest in helping us to plan, design and eventually build our vision for a Circular Economy Innovation Hub. We are currently exploring options for the right place to build this first demonstration project and have just been invited to present our ideas to a Council we hope will look favourably on the proposal.

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Grasping at Nothing: A Short History of Zero

“Nature abhors a vacuum and so do we” ~Robert Kaplan

Have you ever prepared a ‘to do’ list and included on that list ‘do nothing’? You have? Did you then watch television, or go for leisurely walk or lie on the couch? If you did then you did ‘something’. Nothing—as an absolute absence or void or vacuum—is actually very difficult to comprehend.
I’ve just been reading The Nothing that Is: A Natural History of Zero, by Robert Kaplan. It tells various stories about the development of mathematics and of the philosophical struggles we had in accepting zero as a number.

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The Colour of Light: Do You See What I See?

“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.” ~ Albert Einstein

When I was a child, I thought that the sky was a solid layer, above which dwelled all the ‘heavenly beings’. I gazed up in fascination at the stars in the night sky, the vast expanse of blue in the morning and was mesmerised by the sunset. It wasn’t till I started studying Physics in high school, that I realised that the word ‘sky’ was a construct of our imagination and was used loosely to refer to the atmosphere and outer space and that it consisted of a mixture of gases!

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Know Thyself or Consult an Oracle?

As we walk up the sacred way to the Temple to Apollo, I try to imagine Delphi in its heyday. It’s a little ironic to think that thousands of Greeks once walked past the pithy inscription “Know Thyself” inscribed in the Temple of Apollo to consult an oracle, perhaps not fully appreciating that self-awareness might have revealed the answers to the questions they posed.

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Life in the Big Smoke: Do we have a choice?

The narratives of jobs and growth with easy access to services and a more modern lifestyle have driven people to the cities ever since the start of the industrial revolution. People left their villages in droves and arrived in cities like Athens in search of their piece of the pie. There are about 6,000 idyllic Greek islands scattered in the Aegean and Ionian Seas, of which about 227 are inhabited. While about half the 10 million or so people of Greece choose to live in Athens, travellers often head straight for a bit of ‘R&R’ to one of these islands.

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Cities in Transition: Planning for Home and for Hope

As a result of ongoing economic recession, political and social unrest and the need for action on environmental issues—not to mention the dramatic impact of the Internet and other new technologies—a plethora of innovative ideas are being developed with respect to new economies, land development and town planning. Is it possible to synthesise these ideas into a new, coherent and resonant social narrative?
In this presentation in Victoria Square, Athens, we share our vision for a new Social Myth, describing it as a resilient network of interconnected 'hubs of resilience'. Have a look at the YouTube video...

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Home & Hope and the Power of Narrative

We were really excited to present a lecture on Cities in Transition in Athens, as part of our friend and colleague Niko’s post grad class. The class is taught in conjunction with the Victoria Square Project at the Documenta 14 Arts Festival, where artist Rick Lowe has created a social sculpture to better care for the people of the area and to understand the historical, cultural and political dynamics of this area. Victoria Square has seen a lot of disruption recently. Some months ago many refugees were brought here and spent time sleeping in tents in this square. The area reminds me of Western Sydney where both Steve and I spent many years working for local government.

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Welcommon Centre: A Model for Social Inclusion

There are thousands of abandoned buildings in Athens. There are also thousands of homeless in Athens, a significant proportion of them are Greeks who were badly affected by the Economic crisis during the past 5 years. Each of those handprints, represent a few of those stories from refugees and migrants who came here recently. While there are numerous organisations providing cooked meals daily, shelter is still a major challenge. Welcommon is a wonderful demonstration project of how abandoned or un-used buildings can be re-purposed to provide housing for vulnerable refugees.

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A Migrant’s Dilemma: Where do I belong?

Perhaps it is because he was once a newcomer to this city that Moawia feels so much empathy for the new arrivals to Athens. Before we sit outside in the garden to chat, he shows us around the building where the Greek Forum of Migrants is housed and we are impressed. Colourfully decorated with vibrant African art, the centre houses a network to unite all migrants living in Greece, particularly aiming to provide assistance to refugees during the asylum procedure, to protect their rights and help their integration in Greek society.

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Food for Thought: Thought for Change

When was the last time you sat down for a meal with a stranger and discussed a taboo topic like politics or religion? Who made these topics—which to me are the essence of our being—taboo? Growing up in Sri Lanka, discussions about politics was quite normal in our home and in our circles, especially because my dad enjoyed nothing more than a robust debate. Today, I find many people are afraid to have their belief systems challenged and socialise only in circles that mirror their worldview. It is too easy to live in our own little bubbles, where Google searches and Facebook feeds deliver you the news you want to hear or where you can tune in to your radio or TV channel to hear what you always suspected.

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Watoto Africa: Celebrating African Culture in Athens

“Preservation of one's own culture does not require contempt or disrespect for other cultures.” ~Cesar Chavez

Kalimera! We have spent the last two days immersed in the Watoto Festival, organised by African’s in Athens, to share their culture with the people of their adopted homeland. The festival is a joyous occasion. There is something about the way African’s immerse and lose themselves in dance and music that I have not witnessed in any other culture. I am amazed at the large presence of young Athenians who perform West African dance routines as if they were born with that skill. In the recent past Athenians have embraced dynamic dance routines such as Latin, Bollywood and African possibly as a means of shaking off their emotional and economic woes.

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What is a City? Imagining an Internet of Cities
economics, education, politics, urban sustainability

Smart Cities, Liveable Cities, Green Cities, Biophilic Cities, EcoCities and Regenerative Cities. Add to the mix Eco-Villages, Intentional Communities and Place-Making and it seems everyone is talking about cities and what cities of the future could or should be like. Yet in all this conversation there is little or no discussion about what a city is. Before adding an adjective let’s try to understand the noun we are trying to describe and change. What is a City?

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Prosperity and Despair
education, politics

The origin and meaning of words can often give us an insight into the birth and development of ideas. As I explored the concept of prosperity I discovered that the word is closely related to despair and, in my view, understanding these two words has significant implications for how we think about life, society and planning for the future. Prosperity is, after all, what we are striving for.

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Abandoned Villages in Spain

While the price of living in cities skyrockets out of the reach of the next generation and millions of refugees languish in detention centres and refugee camps, in Spain, entire villages have been abandoned in the last 50 years or so. Thousands of them were vacated by people who flocked to the cities in search of jobs and growth. They left behind fresh air, a connection to their natural environment, and the wonderful communities where they had grown their own veggies and neighbours were family. They found congested cities and a life of debt, worry & stress.

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The Festival of the Crosses

Spain in the country of never ending fiestas! The sounds of the military bands from Santa Semana have barely died down, when crosses decorated with mostly red flowers start to pop up like mushrooms all over Cardoba. We hear it’s the festival of the crosses! There is a buzz at every plaza, the beer is flowing freely and spontaneous dancing breaks out in step with the flamenco music that is blasted over loudspeakers. It’s an interesting time to be here, although not even the ladies at the information desk are able to tell us what it’s all about, so I’ve had to resort to Googling to learn about this festival. If you’re interested, here’s what I’ve discovered...

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