THE FUTURE IS SYMBIOTIC: Radical Indigenism and Lo-TEK Design with Julia Watson

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Today we look to the ancient technologies of indigenous ecosystems to provide guidance for the future (and survival) of humanity in the face of climate change.

We are thrilled to welcome designer, activist, academic, and author, Julia Watson to SOUNDFOOD. Julia is a leading expert in the field of Lo—TEK nature-based technologies for the built environment and climate-resilient design. Her bestselling book with Taschen, Lo-TEK: Design by Radical Indigenism has been featured in The New York Times, The Guardian, Monocle, Architectural Digest, and more. Regularly teaching at Harvard and Columbia University, Julia’s studio work involves landscape and urban design, along with public speaking and consulting with brands on sustainability. In her studio, she collaborates with a horticulturist as Watson Salembier, with a focus on rewilding, and has just completed the summer gardens for Rockefeller Center using a native plant palette inspired by the American meadow.

Julia has written for Topos, Landscape Architecture Frontier, ioARCH, Kerb, Water Urbanisms East and co- authored A Spiritual Guide to Bali’s UNESCO World Heritage. She’s a 2020 TED speaker, and a fellow of Summit REALITY, Pop!tech, & The Christensen Fund. Born in Australia, she regularly treks across the globe.

Above all, Julia is a master observer. In today’s conversation, she reflects on the greater understanding that has been revealed to her through her explorations of Earth’s sacred spaces- what makes them sacred, who makes them sacred, and whether those experiences can be recreated in design. Her combination of extensive research and awareness of natural processes has resulted in the most visually stunning, nutrient dense, empowering, design forward book we could dream of.

Julia possesses an exquisitely comprehensive view of the world, with attention to both the micro and macro, she has dedicated herself to applying critical thinking and understanding of indigenous ingenuity to the design of modern, climate resilient technologies. Through her eyes and mind, we have a glimpse into the ways that global communities have interactacted synergistically with nature for millenia. Watson invites us all to reflect on what we can learn from the past and present to envision what a Lo—TEK future could behold.

Thank you Julia for sharing your wisdom, insights, and vision with us!

Where to find Julia:

JuliaWatson

Julia’s Instagram

Books Mentioned In This Episode:

Lo―TEK. Design by Radical Indigenism by Julia Watson

USING THE DESIGN OF BALI’S WORLD HERITAGE CULTURAL LANDSCAPE TO EMPOWER BALINESE COMMUNITIES- Prof. Julia N. Watson and Prof. J. Stephen Lansing

Also Mentioned In This Episode:

Eva Marie Garroutte- Radical Indigenism

ArcoSanti by Paolo Soleri

SOUNDFOOD Episodes Mentioned:

A VOICE FOR THE VOICELESS: Film, Farming, Fungi and the Future with Nathalie Kelley

Catch our first ever JAM SESSION with Rocío Graves here!

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Julia’s Last Meal on Earth in a nutshell:

The beauty of Julia’s last meal on Earth would be centered around who cooks it. The creative agency that her partner would take with the meal would make it more meaningful than the details of what he would make. As Julia says, being cooked for by someone you love- and who loves you- is an incredibly powerful thing. Whether it’s a cup of tea made by a parent or truly a last meal made by a loving partner, what makes it so deeply engaging is that it’s accompanied by the people who you love and who give you love in return.

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