Noah's Knack ...

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Noah Raford is an urban planner and the Director of Space Syntax Limited in North America. He graduated from Brown University with a degree in Sociospatial Analysis and Design, then received his masters at the Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London. He is currently pursuing his PhD at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he focuses on the use of scenario planning and systems mapping to aid local governments in climate change management.

Jason Bradford (JB): I want to start by quoting from an email exchange that will become a major theme of this show. You wrote: "As I started getting more and more concerned about climate change and peak oil, I began to integrate these themes more explicitly in my projects. But I was surprised to find that even though almost everyone I was talking to was worried about it too, they would only say so in private. Why was this? Why do organizations like government tend to ignore the future consequences of their actions, even though they know they're digging themselves deeper into a ditch?"

This is a monster question, and one I personally struggle with. Why don't we start by having you tell us the story of how you got to this point, and where this is taking you in your research?

Noah Raford (NR): Perhaps it is the name (Noah), but I've always been interested in issues of rapid social change... how it happens, why it happens, and how to deal with it.

As a kid I used to spend hours reading my parent's old self-sufficiency books, like "One acre and security", "five acres and independence", the whole earth catalogue, etc. So I've always had this idea that things change, sometimes very fast, and that when they do it might be up to you to do something about it.


If the answer is yes, than you've got a clear goal for helping minimize your exposure to collapse and maximise your chances of success when it really kicks off.

This is the essence of what Boyd's called the OODA loop. Observe, Orient, Decide, and Act. Observe what is really happening... match your mental models to the world. Don't get caught up in old beliefs and belief structure. Then orient yourself within it, relative to you goals, wants and desires. Then make a plan and do it. Then repeat. See what the results of your actions were. Observe them. Did it get the result you wanted or not? If not, re-orient, decide on a new course, and act.

Observe, orient, decide and act. That's the OODA loop, and it's what differentiates fast, agile, successful species from slow, rigid, dead ones. It's also what will help you survive collapse, whether it happens overnight, over a year, or over a decade.

To conclude, I offered a few take away message from my LSE presentation. These were: 1.Look around 2.Stay light 3.Experiment 4.Learn quickly 5.Stay smart 6.Keep your options open. A good bumper sticker summary of this might be: "minimize your exposure, maximise your resilience, pay attention, and dance!"

Of course there are an infinite number of ways to do this, but the point is to start doing it.

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This page contains a single entry by writch published on August 4, 2009 6:30 AM.

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