Vernacular Corner

Illich wanted to resuscitate the word ‘vernacular’ to name the activities by which men and women reimagine and retrieve convivial forms-of-life from the ongoing and intensifying depredations of government supported market exchange. Vernacular activities reduce dependence on commodities sold by corporations, services hawked by professionals and donations handed out by NGOs. Whether they be rooftop gardens or dry toilets, whether they be community supported agriculture or factory cooperatives, this corner is intended to document (in video, photo, text) the range and richness of vernacular activities that attest to the inventive and autonomous capacities of people. To contribute to this collection inspired by the Guide to Convivial Tools published by Valentina Borremans in the 1970s, write to [email protected]


All through history, the best measure for bad times was the percentage of food eaten that had to Be purchased. …before world war ii less than four percent of all food was transported into the Region from abroad… Ivan Illich The Right to useful Unemployment & its professional enemies, p.27-8, 1978


Only humans can dwell. To dwell is an art…and the art of dwelling is part of the art of living… Dwelling is an activity that lies beyond the reach of the architect above all because no two communities dwell alike. Dwelling, in In the Mirror of the Past, Lectures & Addresses, 1978-1990, p.


The decisive result of every brush with the health care system today is epistemic — a recasting of the ego. …(L)ate twentieth century practices its necromancy by…reducing persons born for suffering and delight to provisionally self-sustaining information loops. Limits to Medicine, p.x


School is an institution built on the axiom that learning is the result of teaching. And institutional wisdom continues to accept this axiom, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. OR Schools teach the need to be taught. Deschooling Society, p.


In this fool’s paradise [of free rapid transportation for all], all passengers would be equal, but they would be just as equally captive consumers of transport. Energy & Equity, p.xx


Imperialist mercenaries can poison or maim but never conquer a people who have chosen to set boundaries to their tools for the sake of conviviality. Tools for Conviviality, p.110.