Nuclear bee hives
Updated: Oct 25
Julia is German and she rock climbs. She also makes soap from chestnuts, which release saponine when cut into quarters and soaked overnight.
I trust Julia because she also grows pumpkins, makes tomato jam, and fed me olives she picked whilst wwoofing in Puglia (left 3 months in brine). Whilst I was busy admiring Julia she made two batches of tomato jam.
If Julia were a colour she would be blue ink dropped on paper, from a great height.
Once she did a project to save toads from being squashed when crossing the road.
Julia is also doing a Phd on protecting soil biodiversity and I couch surfed at her house on Wednesday night before speaking at the JRC.
The Joint Research Centre is a strange place, uncanny, built in 1960, and you are not allowed to take pictures. It is a 'fully fenced, 167-hectare research campus for hands-on experimentation, testing and demonstration purposes.' In size it equals the Principality of Monaco (the second smallest country in the world), sits next to the Lago Maggiore, and entry is by Special Permit Only.
This blog presents a series of vignettes using a technique for capturing vivid memories and experiences I learnt from poet Pele Cox. We met at the British School at Rome, a place which changed a lot of things for me, and she said that I should take home written pictures. First you put all your random thoughts on to paper by automatic writing (5 mins). Next pick out interesting bits, and rearrange them to create passages composed from speech, senses, anecdotes, impressions, et cetera. I can see from this process that what struck me most was a contrast between two voices.
This is a blog about democracy.
EDIT: At the end of the blog there are some clarifications provided by a wise commentator.
Joint Research Centre, 4th Public Participation and Deliberative Democracy Festival (20/10/2022)
via Francia, mini Eiffel tower
approximately 1:1000 scale.
Test facility for humanitarian demining technology
macchine per grandi carichi dinamici
Centre for Seismic Vulnerability of Historical Constructions
Orange doors and
Arches, from the cathedral in Lisbon.
via Gran Bretagna
The Makers' Space
"Think and tinker."
We are all made to wear beige slippers.
"BEES are pollinators"
We pretend to be bees.
It was recently Bees Needs' Week
There is graffiti which attracts
and is good for bees.
Make a bee house from old wooden shelves or
"The perfect size for a bee hive is 40 litres".
We scored 37 points in the game of bees collectively choosing the hot pink hive which was far from pesticides sat 1m above the ground and was adequately furnished with sunlight, water, flowers and a small chance of destruction.
Cubes of cheese mozzarella balls
vehicle emissions laboratory
five types of mushrooms and a
"THE CYCLOTRON BUILDING"
this is not a joke.
Scientists practice nuclear diplomacy
and it is green.
"THE TAXONOMY EXPERT GROUP CONSIDERS that the challenges of safe longterm disposal of high level radioactive waste can be ADEQUATELY MANAGED"
"The Joint Research Centre (JRC), the European Commission’s SCIENCE AND KNOWLEDGE service, dated 19 March, has concluded that nuclear is NO MORE HARMFUL to human health or to the environment than ANY OTHER TECHNOLOGY considered to be SUSTAINABLE."
Three Mile Island
"MOVE AHEAD with the inclusion of nuclear under the sustainable finance taxonomy."
this is not a joke.
Catastrophes can be averted
in a slow crisis room
1000s of people can forecast the weather
through doing together.
you can't own land
you have a right to use it.
I drew a square around my house
people pass through its gardens
in beautiful shared ownership.
"Machine learning is a branch of artificial intelligence (AI) and computer science which focuses on the use of data and algorithms to imitate the way that humans learn, gradually improving its accuracy."
Machine learning applied to paintings to determine whether they make us feel happy or sad.
The use of machine learning to curate art exhibitions to make us feel happy or sad.
When a hive becomes too full, bees colonise.
20,000 bees in a colony of 80,000 scout out
the best possible land.
From a place of rest they individually seek
locations and on finding an ideal spot
if friends think the dance convincing
and dance in similar fashion.
Enough bees dancing the same way can convince the rest
achieving critical mass hypnotically
then relocation can ensue
I think of how this might apply at a music festival.
Bees require a 20% waggle majority.
: a quorum
In your society what questions are open to democratic debate and why?
Bees make collective decisions on matters concerning their survival by listening and sharing knowledge
scarce time and resources require it.
Collectively they choose to kill the queen if she
is not up to scratch.
(We say nice things about the bees achieving democracy )
I bump into a student I supervised on the topic of fascist Italy
Ezra Pound wrote poems about antiquity in English and Italian
whilst broadcasting radio in support of dictators
An artist or a technocrat?
Italy has a neo - fascist prime minister, who wants to expand nuclear.
What if the Joint Research Centre closed
and became a nuclear site.
Waters of the Lago Maggiore were originally used for cooling
Filtered to ensure the radionuclides are out
before dumping again in lake or ocean.
Technocracy: the control of society or an industry by an elite of technical experts. 'The former government of the Soviet Union has been referred to as a technocracy. 89% of Politburo members were engineers.'
Democracy: what we do?
Wooden tulips in an orange plastic pot with a dead cactus glued to a rock.
"We have two announcements. First, and not connected to this conference, I would like to say that the prime minister of Great Britain Liz Truss has resigned."
Bee queen Liz truss deposed.
"It is expensive to run a physically disconnected country"
Can we manage society like a bee hive?
The PP/DD Festival asked questions like 'how do we govern the metaverse?', 'When is it that real citizen participation actually increases the quality of our democracy?' and 'can we govern society like a bee hive?'
Who decides what technologies we make and how they are used?
What governance structures do the technologies themselves impose?
How can we empower ourselves to have more of a say in the above?
Collective, individual, democratic, autocratic, technocratic forms of decision making
are different forms of governance which can affect knowledge production - for example, the technologies we make, and the uses to which they are put.
I have learnt a lot from the researchers at the JRC Democracy event and their approaches. I think this is captured best in the comments made by one presenter on her project researching community responses to mineral mining.
"Film making and the arts are really powerful voices in Greenland at the moment.
Theatre and film brings people together to articulate these things in different ways.
Very powerful things can happen in arts
but it's often not reflected upon properly.
The real impacts of art cannot be argued very easily because the lifetime of our projects is not long enough for that to be measured."
This is a Catch 22 because the idea that arts projects have 'immeasurable use' means they receive less funding than 'traditional' science approaches, from 'aeroplane motors' to 'energie renovabili' - but they are just as important. The arts encourage different ways of knowing the world and relating to one another.
- I do not think the JRC is a technocracy. The Soviet Union was a technocracy.
- I very much like Ezra Pound's poems and consider them hugely important.
- Many of the JRC scientists work in Decommissioning or nuclear Safety, some even in (nuclear) diplomacy.
- Meloni has very little to say about the research funded at JRC – it is very much a European institution and Meloni would have exactly as much influence as her representative (if she has time to nominate a member of the National Science Academy) would compared to any of the other 26 scientific members of the JRC Board of Governors. And that only after the decisions of the Scientific Committee and the hive of researchers presenting/defending their projects. So there is little risk that we would ‘become nuclear again’. The wisdom of European construction?
Institute for the Protection and Security of the Citizen:
- The institutes have been abolished in 2016. The Protection and Security of the Citizen looked at a host of issues from cybersecurity and fake news to plastics used in the food chain or eg research into the elimination of lab animals.
Selected JRC sessions outlined above
The Hive: Democracy in a honeybee hive
The Hive: Democracy in a Superorganism is an interactive exercise that draws on the idea of honeybee democracy and decision-making in a honeybee hive during swarming: a critical moment when a honeybee colony needs to find a new nesting location before honey supplies run out. Using a game format, participants have to work together to solve a common problem that honeybees face. The aim of The Hive is to experience what it might be like for honeybees to make decisions as a collective, and ultimately reflect on what participatory democracy means for us as humans and whether we can learn from other species and their systems of “democracy”. MODERATORS: NADINE SCHULLER & NYNKE BLÖMER (CO-FOUNDERS OF POLLINATOR AMBASSADORS)
What can civic monitoring offer to deliberative democracy?
Our interactive session brings a distinctive form of deliberative democracy, i.e. the reality of ‘civic assemblies’, in dialogue with that of 'civic environmental monitoring'. Through contributions from research and from practice (invited Observatories), we illustrate how the two forms of participation can be complementary in facilitating collective decision-making. We outline the promises and perils of bringing these instruments together, both in the preliminary phase of the civic assemblies and in the implementation of recommendations stemming from collective deliberation. A live illustrator will accompany our panel with scribbling and invite participants to do the same.
MODERATOR: ANNA BERTI SUMAN (THE SENSJUS PROJECT & DIGITAL ECONOMY UNIT, JRC), SVEN SCHADE (TEAM LEADER AT DIGITAL ECONOMY UNIT, JRC) PANELLISTS: FULVIO FAGIANI (SPOKESPERSON FOR THE RETE CLIMA VERBANO), GIANNI TARTARI (OSSERVATORIO LAMBRO LUCENTE), GIOVANNI ZENGA (POLITECNICO MILAN & DIGITAL ECONOMY UNIT, JRC), GREGORIO PULCHER (OSSERVATORIO ITALIANO DELLE ASSEMBLEE CITTADINE), SOFIA GREAVES (POSTDOC AT PROSPERA & POSTGROWTH INNOVATION LAB), ILLUSTRATOR: ALICE TOIETTA
The mountain that became the epicentre for a democratic discussion about Greenland’s future
The Kuannarsuit/Kvanefjeld plateu in South Greenland is thought to contain the world's second-largest deposit of rare-earth oxides, sixth-largest deposit of uranium and one of the largest multi-element deposits of its kind in the world. This session will present an artwork that refract the different facets, local perceptions and decision-making around the plans for the mining of Kvanefjeld. Fragments of interviews, children's toys, impacts from melting glaciers, radiation monitoring of polar bears, radioactive rocks, tweets from the US president and traditional knowledge create a swirling fractal narrative about the discussion about a mountain that has become the epicentre for a democratic discussion about Greenland’s future. Lise will be in conversation with Adriaan Eeckels.