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Summer reading: Design, When Everybody Designs

Design, When Everybody Designs

Design, When Everybody Designs: An Introduction to Design for Social Innovation
Ezio Manzini
Cambridge: MIT Press, 2015

A book that challenges people to use design methods and to work together to solve complex social issues. It includes case studies, like a collaborative housing program and community-supported agriculture (CSA).

That’s it for 2017 Summer Reading posts! See you next summer!

Summer Reading: The World We Made

The World We Made

The World We Made: Alex McKay’s Story from 2050
Jonathon Porritt
London: Phaidon Press, 2013

The book works from a visioning perspective to show a future state of the world in an upbeat, dynamic way, and that allows the reader to visualize a more sustainable planet and how we might get there.

This book is part of the 2017 Berkeley Summer Reading List. Stay tuned for more weekly posts!

Summer reading: How to Thrive in the Next Economy

How to Thrive in the Next Economy

How to Thrive in the Next Economy: Designing Tomorrow’s World Today
John Thackara
London: Thames & Hudson, 2015

In each chapter, this book addresses a wicked problem like water scarcity and provides a case study of how one or more communities have addressed the issue and been successful. The case studies show how large complex problems can be approached and are not so intractable.

This book is part of the 2017 Berkeley Summer Reading List. Stay tuned for more weekly posts!

Summer reading: Hillbilly Elegy

Hillbilly Elegy

Hillbilly Elegy
J.D. Vance
New York: Harper, 2016

Hillbilly Elegy is a memoir of JD Vance growing up in Middletown, Ohio—a town that has been through its share of economic transformations. After World War II, Middletown was a booming factory town with a thriving downtown, attracting residents from Kentucky’s Hill Country seeking a better life from the coal mines of Appalachia. By the time Vance was born, the factory had closed along with many downtown stores, leaving its residents in a state of poverty and social isolation. Hillbilly Elegy is the story of one family’s journey through the boom and bust cycles of Middletown. Along the way, it provides some insights into the way residents of Rust Belt towns (or at least one family) think about politics, work, education, and community and why many of them bought into the promises of Donald Trump in 2016.

This book is part of the 2017 Berkeley Summer Reading List. Stay tuned for more weekly posts!

Summer reading: Dark Matters

Dark Matters

Dark Matters: On the Surveillance of Blackness
Simone Browne
Durham: Duke University Press, 2015

Dark Matters is a fascinating book that deals with the way modern surveillance practices–ranging from CCTVs to facial recognition programming to airport security–have been formed through racial biases and the policing of Black life. Rooted in historical methods of surveillance and connecting to modern manifestations, it deals with the consequences of racially-motivated surveillance. It’s a really interesting and interdisciplinary combination of social theory, history, technology, and even pop culture.

I found out about this book as part of a connector course, Data and Ethics, taken along with Data 8, Foundations of Data Science. As data collection and surveillance practices have become intensely enmeshed into our daily lives, this is an important text to consider. Dark Matters is really compelling in how it situates technology in the scope of current, and historical, social and racial issues in modern America.

This book is part of the 2017 Berkeley Summer Reading List. Stay tuned for more weekly posts!

Summer reading: Why I Write

Why I Write

Why I Write
George Orwell
New York: Penguin Books, 2005

Earlier this year the work of George Orwell experienced a resurgence of interest when 1984 soared to the top of Amazon’s best seller list. A small book of his essays, published by Penguin Books as one of their “Great Ideas” series, is simply entitled Why I Write. In the title essay, originally published in 1946, Orwell chronicles his beginnings as a writer that will resonate with many: “When I was about sixteen I suddenly discovered the joy of mere words, i.e. the sounds and associations of words.” He goes on to consider the reasons for the underlying motivation of his desire to write that began around this time, e.g.: “1. Sheer egoism. Desire to seem clever, to be talked about, to be remembered after your death, to get your own back on grown ups who snubbed you in childhood, etc.”

In another longer essay, Orwell writes with detailed knowledge about the nature of class struggles, the politics of the British colonial empire as well as the political strife going on in Europe during the time of the Great Depression and the eve of World War II. His writing is as relevant today as when it was originally written. Consider this from the last paragraph from the final essay in this collection, entitled “Politics and the English Language”: “Political language– and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists– is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”

George Orwell’s writing is an example of eloquent truth telling that readers will refer to for generations.

This book is part of the 2017 Berkeley Summer Reading List. Stay tuned for more weekly posts!

Summer Reading: The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer

The Emperor of All Maladies

The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer
Siddhartha Mukherjee
New York: Scribner, 2011

A very readable Pulitzer Prize winner. Despite the somewhat depressing topic, I couldn’t put it down. Maybe our future students will find a cure.

This book is part of the 2017 Berkeley Summer Reading List. Stay tuned for more weekly posts!

Summer Reading: The Man Who Planted Trees: A Story of Lost Groves, the Science of Trees, and a Plan to Save the Planet

The Man Who Planted Trees

The Man Who Planted Trees: A Story of Lost Groves, the Science of Trees, and a Plan to Save the Planet
Jim Robbins
New York: Spiegel & Grau, 2012

Inspired by Giono’s tale from 1953, the book follows the endeavors of protagonist David Milarch, a Michigan nurseryman who engages in a study of the oldest trees in the U.S. and attempts to copy the genetic material of 826 species of trees. The story is easy to follow and is informed by both scientific knowledge and environmental efforts. It includes detailed descriptions of the role of trees in cleaning pollutants from the air as well as preserving our freshwater systems. The book emphasizes the interdependence of trees not only with their immediate ecosystems but with the planet as a whole.

This book is part of the 2017 Berkeley Summer Reading List. Stay tuned for more weekly posts!

Summer Reading: The Man Who Planted Trees

The Man Who Planted Trees

The Man Who Planted Trees
Jean Giono
Chelsea: Chelsea Green Publishing Company, 1985

A short story, first published in 1953, about a man who spent his life planting one hundred acorns a day in a barren part of Provence in the south of France, ultimately leading to a complete transformation of the local landscape. Coinciding with the start of the First World War, the story unfolds over four decades. With its powerful environmental message and speculations about the real events that may have served as inspiration for it, Giono’s fictional work remains relevant to twenty-first century readers.

This book is part of the 2017 Berkeley Summer Reading List. Stay tuned for more weekly posts!

Summer Reading: Flight Behavior

Flight Behavior

Flight Behavior
Barbara Kingsolver
New York: Harper, 2012

Dellarobia Turnbow, the young mother at the center of this novel, seems trapped in a cycle of rural poverty and missed opportunities until a mysterious phenomenon in the woods outside her Appalachian home sets in motion a series of disruptions. As reporters, environmentalists, and scientists descend on her small town, what begins as the story of a bored and restless wife contemplating an affair morphs into an expansive tale that considers not only the possibility of personal change but the impact of climate change. What kind of life can she make for herself and her children, and what kind of world will they grow up in?

This book is part of the 2017 Berkeley Summer Reading List. Stay tuned for more weekly posts!

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