Babes in the Wood

When I went to Australia the first time, I stayed with my parents' good friend Trevor the first week. He introduced me to Australian cooking (for example vegemite sandwiches), how to navigate both Sydney and the Blue Mountains (by train), how to dress like an Aussie (I got the boots) but most of all to English proverbs.

This was the first time I really noticed sayings like "it's raining cats and dogs", "I'm not my brother's keeper", "more than you can poke a stick at" and "like babes in the wood". Although I had already begun working with metaphors in my research (interface metaphors) and in research projects focusing on intelligence tests (analogies), this was a new kind of usage. A real treat!


Urban Acupuncture

I found the metaphor "urban acupuncture" very intriguing when I read it the first time in a magazine I flipped through at my local library. A good place to start looking for more information is, of course, Wikipedia:
"Urban Acupuncture is an urban environmentalism theory which combines urban design with traditional Chinese medical theory of acupuncture. This strategy views cities as living, breathing organisms and pinpoints areas in need of repair. Sustainable projects, then, serve as needles that revitalize the whole by healing the parts."
I think the idea of focusing activities to a small number of efficient and effective project that will have an impact in several dimensions is a good one, although it could of course also be considered as a way for politicians to get away will less spending on development. Obviously the approach has been tried and found successful in a number of cases, some of the described at the Casagrande Laboratory, named after the inventor of the concept: the Finnish professor Marco Casagrande.

One of these places is Curitiba in Brazil, where Jamie Lerner, architect and urban planner, has been elected three times. In his Instituto Jaime Lerner he introduces another metaphor the city as a turtle:
"These concepts [sustainability, mobility and socio-diversity] come together in the metaphor of the Turtle embodying life, work and movement — if you break down the shell of the turtle, it will die. So, the "vital" city is one that, as the metaphor emphasizes, provides a protective shell for integrating compatible urban functions and effecting change without breaking down the life-sustaining shelter."
Recently the metaphor has been used in relation to another area: food. Arch Daily writer Vanessa Quirk has used it as an idea for closing the gap between people and food in the concept of Urban Agripuncture. An idea soon picked up by the Huffington Post.

This, of course, made me think. If I were to put needles into my home city Göteborg, where would I start? Some current hot spots are both sides of the river "Göta älv" where the old port and shipyard areas are being turned into something new and the stakeholder dialogue seems to become more sour every day. Of course we have areas with lower average income where jobs are scares, but maybe we should put the pins in the more bourgeois areas just to shake them up a bit. Like the one I'm living in.

But why stop at acupuncture needles? My chiropractor is also a trained in acupuncture in order to have a variety of methods to choose from. Maybe there are places that need some massage followed by physical adjustments? Or perhaps some current flowing into them? Or maybe some new nutritional recommendations? Back to Urban Agripuncture I guess...