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11orono lgh Digital Humanities 11 illTo coincide with Digital Humanities Week 2011, Joline Blais joins permaculture experts Julia and Charles Yelton, social media hackademic Craig Dietrich, Rural Maine Partners’ Claudia Lowd, and members of the Wabanaki community in hosting “Social Media and Sustainability” at LongGreenHouse, a clearinghouse for sustainable culture on the edge of the U-Me campus.

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Nrcm LogoFor the last several years, Still Water Co-Directors Joline Blais and Jon Ippolito have been working with 20 other families to found an ecovillage on the coast of Maine. Now Belfast Cohousing & Ecovillage has won the National Resource Council of Maine’s 2011 People’s Choice Award “for exceptional efforts and tireless work to establish a model environmentally sustainable, affordable, multi-generational cohousing community.”

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10belfast Coho PermacultureStill Water Co-Director Joline Blais plants the seeds of sustainable gardening at the Belfast Cohousing & Ecovillage in midcoast Maine.

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Waterfall Arts presents Still Water Co-Director Joline Blais talking about her work in ecology, the New Commons, and cross-cultural networking on Monday 26 April at 7pm.

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Distant Neighbor Screenshot smaOn March 30, 2010, Joline Blais and Jon Ippolito present “Beyond Facebook: From Cliques to Kinship” as part of the University of Maine’s Women in the Curriculum and Women’s Studies Program.

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Still Water has been awarded a Maine Water Resources Research Institute grant for a community-based ecological intervention that is creative and practical at the same time. The project takes place at LongGreenHouse, a site at the southern edge of the Orono campus dedicated to the intersection of old and new models of sustainability.

The initiative will take a core Permaculture design principle–“the problem is the solution”–and focus energy on transforming a current economic and ecological liability (stormwater run-off) into an educational and economic asset (collaborative ecological restoration and food production). In the process–via online documentation, social networking, and artists’ engagement–this LongGreenHouse project will raise public awareness of the effectiveness of collaborative and ecological designs.

The application received the highest score of relevance from all three of its reviewers, who noted:

“I have met with the investigators and am convinced that their work will be of the highest caliber. They are inventive and dedicated and have been inspirational to students and faculty on campus.”

“This proposal’s potential value to society is great–especially in an increasingly resource constrained world where current human behavior, technologies and development patterns are nearly completely unsustainable and in need of deep redesign….its integration of art, community and design engineers holds the potential to communicate the culture-shift necessary to move up-stream and eventually eliminate many of the toxic and organic sources of waste currently entering water ways.”

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Innovators CoverStill Water is pleased to announce the publication of 60: Innovators Shaping Our Creative Future, a landmark book on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of renowned art and design publishing house Thames & Hudson. Still Water co-directors Joline Blais and Jon Ippolito penned the new media section of this book, which profiles five of the most innovative creators on the planet today.

These visionaries take the lessons learned from experiments in online communities and apply them to real-world problems, whether making cities sustainable, holding corporations accountable, or re-imagining laws that govern the flow of information. Included among these innovators are Maine’s own Miigam’agan and gkisedtanamoogk, Wabanaki elders who are building bridges between their ancestors’ lifeways and the 21st century.

“Every now and again along comes a book that acts as a cultural bookmark … Thames & Hudson’s new doorstopper Sixty is just such a book” — Grafik Magazine

“A collection of incredible, truly inspiring work from all over the world.” — The Design Files.

“Showcases the most creative minds in fashion, architecture, photography, green technology and science.” — New Scientist

“Fascinating insights into global projects that may predict future directions are presented here in an informative and visually appealing format.” — Library Journal

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Life art ImageA new University of Maine class in Life Art (NMD430/520) explores the boundaries of artistic collaboration by encouraging students to co-create with entire ecosystems of humans and other critters.

Life artists may :

  • Crowd-source their artmaking with 10,000 earthworms.
  • Get frogs to do their drawings for/with them.
  • Create sculpture ‘for the birds’ so they can survive destroyed migratory paths across continents.
  • Clone cruelty-free meat via the latest gene manipulation.
  • Get Michelle Obama to “perform” their art piece.
  • Plan an art opening with full course cross-species meals (eg for human and geese).

Student projects may draw from indigenous culture, digital culture, and/or permaculture, and will be featured in an exhibition at the end of the term. The course takes place at the Hutchinson Center in Belfast, Maine and is organized by Joline Blais in collaboration with Waterfall Arts and Unity College.

This New Media class is open to graduate students, qualified undergraduates, and members of the community. For more information, contact Joline Blais.

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From 24-26 September 2009, Espacio Enter brought artists, performers, technologists, and theorists to Tenerife, one of the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa. Organized by Montse Arbelo and Joseba Franco, directors and founders of ART TECH MEDIA, the conference explored possible scenarios for the future of creativity and new media over the next few decades, and gathered a diverse ensemble of presenters representing art, industry, and particle physics.

The cultural preconditions for sharing culture, energy, and emotion were a recurrent topic among presenters at Espacio Enter’s “Future Now” symposium, who hailed from Japan, Australia, and other Asian locales as well as Europe and the US. Eyebeam director Amanda McDonald-Crowley surveyed her institution’s many creative approaches to sustainability. Korean puppeteer Semi Ryu used a digital interface to inject reciprocality into the relationship between puppets and their “masters.” Transmediale curator Ela Kagel described her research on hybrid economies, and wondered aloud what a business run according to artistic principles might look like.

Drawing on themes from At the Edge of Art and the forthcoming book The Innovators, Joline Blais and Jon Ippolito presented “New Media Join the Rest of the World,” a look at creators who are taking the lessons learned in building online communities and re-applying them back in the real world. While Blais and Ippolito stressed the way networks can level the playing field compared to the hierarchies of broadcast media, Gunalan Nadarajan pointed out that the very inequalities of networks such as the electrical grid can become artistic fodder in the hands of artists such as Ashok Sukumaran, who invites street vendors in Bombay to share electricity with local apartment owners.

Blais in turn argued that the ethic of networks is one of connection rather than detachment, and that the simple act of listening to the natural world can be revolutionary in the face of the increasing mediation of technology and consumer culture. She demo’d the project Request For Ceremony, a set of community-created protocols for reconnecting with nature modeled on the famous Request for Comments (RFCs) that galvanized designers of the early Internet.

All in all, the discussion reinforced the importance of distinguishing between the technical and social definitions of shared networks.

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Subversion Poster illStill Water Research Fellow and Wabanaki elder gkisedtanamoogk joined Joline Blais and Jon Ippolito in presenting Still Water’s innovative legal template for fostering collaboration across cultural divides at a Cambridge University conference entitled Subversion, Conversion, Development: Public Interests in Technologies.

Meant to expand the conversation begun at Still Water’s 2006 and 2007 Connected Knowledge conferences, this meeting featured researchers in the fields of anthropology, philosophy, religious studies, and the tech industry.

See the ThoughtMesh summary of the Subversion conference.

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