Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Unzooing Civilisation. If we're building cities that affect the entire planet, maybe it's time to start thinking like one.

 Here's a couple of articles that go nicely together. The first is an NZ Herald piece sketching a picture of the near future for us in Auckland City, human zoo style.  (The “zoo” is a modern, global and growing phenomenon generated by the powerful combination of social conventions, technological environment and commercial pressures).

Welcome to 2024

You get up and put on your exoskeleton suit. There are two million Aucklanders getting ready for work so you’re thankful that most do it from home and the daily commute is largely a quaint relic. You glance at the interior of your glasses to check the sports results and weather, your heart rate and whether your holiday booking for a week in space has been confirmed. Welcome to life in the future.
It's a predictive mishmash of powered exoskeletons, technology stepping in where our bodies have failed,  genome sequencing, living longer - and consequently a greater focus on the quality of life..(yeah right).
Rising populations -  more city gravitation versus de population of smaller regions, everything people use will be connected, from their watch to their car and their fridge, buying products will literally be at our fingertips; bathroom mirrors will prompt us when our product is getting low and pop a replacement in our shopping basket. Driverless cars - by 2024, we won't need a test because all the cars will be self-drive.

What is this really? I see key elements of the human zoo - technological environment and commercial pressures, disconnecting human evolution from nature and true human nature. 

Great. So here's the next article, which asks:

Is civilization natural?

So, there's the city and then there's the country, the built environment and the wilderness, nature and civilization. Whatever name the dichotomy goes by, we usually think of the world humans create and the world outside their creations as separate and unequal.
But as we enter the Anthropocene — an era in which human activity represents a principle driver of planetary changes — it may be time to rethink this ancient polarity. It's a question that has more than academic importance. How we resolve this split may have a lot to do with our chances for creating a technological society that can last for more than a century or so. That's because the Anthropocene is really the "Age of the City."
Here's the nutshell:
By 2050, more than 80 percent of all human beings will be living in urban areas.
The way we've been drawing these resources from nature and into the cities is simply not sustainable. An urbanized planet will need more energy, but it is crucial we get it in different ways: that is possible but requires massive change.
Our polar ideas of nature vs. civilization may be the first thing that needs to go. It's about human and natural systems evolving together.
 This possibility of "co-evolution" means cities will need to become far more responsive to what used to be thought of as nature lying outside their domains. It means recognizing how deeply the city relies on natural systems and thinking creatively about working with those systems rather than paving everything over.

One concrete strategy for addressing this issue of sustainability and resilience is to make cities act more like nature. Think about how forests get everything they need from whatever moves through where they stand. Building cities that use this principle is called biomimicry — and it means bringing more of the services nature provides to the city back within its confines.

With all our city building, it's the entire planet that we're changing now. And once we get to that scale, the distinction between nature and not-nature has to get updated. We need a perspective that's more sustainable and more resilient if we're going to make it for another 100, 500 or 5,000 years.

So I guess cities are not natural, yet. But they could be. They should be. That's Unzooing Civilisation.
 I compare the gist of the first article versus the second, and I can see we still have a long way to go. Paleo may be getting more trendy now and natural movement the next big fitness craze on the horizon, but the big picture still waits.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Unzoo Links - The Scope of Unzoo

The scope of Unzoo is comprehensive and I am always noting content for blog posts but never have enough time to see how far the rabbit hole goes…its more than about movement, or diet, - it filters across deep thinking about existence, technology, zoos as a parable for the human condition, health, politics and economics, habitat and architecture, population and culture, human physicality, and more yet...

The best I can do for now is catalogue the content that I connect to the Unzoo in order to describe its scope and shape, and as a future reference.

So here it is; (PS – some of these are for arguing against rather than for!)

Deep Unzoo:

The Fermi Paradox: Where the Hell Are the Other Earths? (evolutionary context on a cosmic scale)
The Shape Of Society Is Determined By Farming Methods In Antiquity
A Manifesto for Rewilding the World


Take a hike - why doctors should prescribe 'nature'
So tell us, where do the children play?



Does Technology destroy our relationship with Nature?
Japan Reveals The World's First Humanoid Newscaster
Stewart Brand: My plan B for climate change


Wild Animals, Zoos, and You: The Influence of Habitat on Health (John Durant)
Captive means not free
Glass-Free Menagerie: New Zoo Concept Gets Rid Of Enclosures


The Biomimicry Manual: What Can Dung Beetles Teach Us About the Circular Economy?
Finding your purpose in business



New exhibition in Copenhagen explores the city as a green ecosystem
Costa Rica's Self-Sustaining Tree House Community
Model Summer Rayne Oakes Turns Her Brooklyn Apartment into a Greenhouse Filled with 200+ Plants
5+Design's Michael Ellis Discusses How Architecture Can Fight Obesity

The Pre-Fabricated Skyscraper & The Clean-Tech Utopia: Two Game-Changing, Sustainable Proposals in China
Has the time come for floating cities?
10 Books That Could Change the Way You Understand Modern Cities
Witness the World's Most Extreme Passive House
The Crazy Genius Behind Solar Roadways

Reinvented: Futuristic Toilet Extolls the Health Benefits of Squatting
How to make a city great
Modern Office in the Forest
14 Once-Abandoned Places Now Reclaimed By Animals
25 Ways to Make Your House Awesome
World's climate experts forecast apocalyptic weather
What’s the biggest limit on city growth? (Hint: it's not steel or cement)
 The world’s new growth frontier: Midsize cities in emerging markets
 Global cities of the future: An interactive map
 Urban world: Cities and the rise of the consuming class
Dubai to Create the World's First Climate-Controlled City
Smarter People Are More Likely To Move To Cities
 China Is Building A Brand New Green City From Scratch
 5 Eco-Friendly Cities Built From The Ground Up
 Why Wild Animals Are Moving Into Cities, And What To Do About It

 Population (remember when there used to be humans?):


Graeme Easte: Auckland needs population strategy

Human physicality:

Follow your nose, it probably knows
Exoskeleton legs let you pull up a pew anywhere


Saturday, August 30, 2014

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Work on your weakness or play to your strength. The balance of Natural Fitness versus Natural Differences.

The concept of general physical preparedness has become trendy in relatively recent times as part of the functional fitness mantra connected to ancestral fitness and military readiness doctrines. So systems such as CrossFit and MovNat both call for us to work on our weaknesses to develop a well balanced capacity for dealing with any physical situation.

This is good summary of the premise: crossfit-functional-vs-natural
 General Physical Preparedness (GPP) – or “being ready for anything.” CrossFit argued that its program trained initiates for the “unknown and unknowable.” 

A key part of this model is that you need to find your weakness and work on it to round out your overall GPP. MovNat also advocate development of all your movement abilities to achieve a holistic movement capacity, and emphasise focusing on any weakness.

I have always had a bit of an issue with the "work on your weakness" concept. I am fully aware of the anti specialisation position of both CrossFit and MovNat, but check out these "many different variations of the human physique" in  athlete-body-types-comparison

Yes, this is an extreme and striking illustration of my point. But even in a tribal situation where all members are well balanced in natural fitness, or a military unit where they all get the same training - there are natural differences. I reckon that yes, we should minimise our Achilles heels, but the real focus should be on what you do best. 

Rafe Kelly's recent blog on this topic matches my thinking in this regard; 

"We should all be generally capable, but we are all equipped also with different inherent talents and drives. The natural 250-pounder who loves lifting heavy things should of course still be able to run, vault, climb, and move on the floor but if he spends a bit more time on moving heavy things his whole community can benefit from that great strength. On the other hand, if he focused solely on becoming the perfectly balanced athlete that neither his natural constitution nor personal play personality reflected, he would likely never develop his full potential in total capacity or in his joy of movement. Similarly, a lanky bouncy athlete who loves to dance should certainly invest in some heavy weight training to balance his strengths, but trying to make sure his manipulative capacities were as developed as his dance would be overkill in my opinion".
 So if someone is in the situation where they are thinking "I need to eat more to get bigger so I can move more weight and compete with those other big guys", maybe they should tweak that into "I will get myself stronger to balance my structure/abilities more, and also to feed my strength at X, which I can develop further naturally and use as my 'superstrength' ". Like Rafe says - "add what is uniquely your own".  Find your own balance of Natural Fitness versus Natural Differences.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Marks Daily Apple asks the Unzoo question...

Is the technology in your life working for you or against you?

Sounds almost like an extract from my Fleshing out Unzoo:

Zoo can be many things. It describes a state of being. Zoo is anti-nature. Zoo is what happens when our tools stop working for us, and work against us instead. Zoo can be technology, our tools, our culture. Our architecture, our food, our movement, our politics. Even the size of our population is "zoo" if it goes beyond its natural bounds. 

When do things become zoo? Anytime things work against our true nature. And our true nature is based on how we have evolved to be. A "zoo human" is a human removed from its natural environment, not eating food appropriate to its species, not moving in all the ways a human has evolved to move. It is when our population exceeds our resources (natural and psycho-cultural). When our technology has exceeded the natural boundaries of our evolution. 

So what is Unzoo? "Undoing the zoo" invokes an evolutionary context to all thinking. It embraces working with nature as opposed to working against nature. Tools and technology are Unzoo if they work for us and with nature. Our nature and the nature we live in. 

Unzoo is an inherently subversive concept given that it seeks to reverse some of the key developments of civilisation that are "zoo". This is not to say that Unzooing is a step back from progress. Rather it is a new path to move forward on. 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Unzoo Zoo; Welcome To The Dodo UnZoo

These guys are on the path...using modern technology to help us appreciate the true nature of the world;
It's a start.

Unzoo the zoo

Quote from the home page
Zoos have existed in their present form for nearly two-hundred years, originally intended to present the curious public with a host of exotic species which they would have likely never seen otherwise. But while these facilities have certainly helped educate and inspire generations since to the wonders of the natural world, zoos by design can only offer a filtered glimpse of the animals they contain -- with the creatures themselves paying the price for this experience through their lives of confinement.
Our captivation, however, needn't require their captivity....

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Unzoo your senses.

A key part of the Unzoo process is to Unzoo your movement. Ain't no argument with that. By that I mean hooking in primal movement patterns as a regular part of your life. I should probably do a blog on the benefits of doing this, but not today. It seems obvious to me.

Today I acknowledge the importance of unzooing your senses; very related to movement, but hugely relevant on its own merits.

It seems the paleo trend started out from a diet base which has reached a critical threshold and now  human movement has become the next big thing to gain traction. That's all good I guess, but now is a good time to think about the senses in the same context.

Movement and the senses are intricately linked. Yet the whole movement training trend appears to be focused primarily on physical movement without meshing in with sensory variables. There is some basic reference in terms of sensory feedback, barefoot benefits, and balance requirements. But is that it? 

Smell this

Food for thought. I think another part of the Unzoo progress is definitely to Unzoo your senses as well as your movement. I am starting to experiment with this by exploring sensory aspects when in a movement session.  For instance sensory deprivation by blindfolding while moving through complex terrain  is  a great way to both appreciate your vision but also discover how much other sensory resource you have.

But maybe for Unzoo we should not just limit sensory development to the movement link. There is a broader scope to our senses that we need to Unzoo to live the fuller lives we are meant to live.