Julia Watson is really into TEK. Not necessarily the Silicon Valley variety of tech, but rather traditional ecological knowledge. An anthropologist, environmentalist, activist, and landscape designer, Watson has become a leading researcher of indigenous communities, closely studying the vast implications of their centuries-old (in certain cases, millennia-old) innovations. In the face of today’s climate crisis, Watson’s new book, Lo-TEK: Design by Radical Indigenism (Taschen), a culmination of years of research in 18 countries around the globe, is poised to become something of a bible for a growing design movement that’s focused on harnessing nature-based technologies and better understanding how we can all live in closer harmony with the earth.
Born in Australia, Watson studied landscape architecture at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, where she focused on eco-technologies and preservation of sacred spaces. Currently, she teaches urban design at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Planning and Preservation, as well as at Harvard, and runs her own design studio that’s oriented toward the practice of “rewilding.”
On this episode of Time Sensitive, Watson speaks with Andrew about her deep research into various indigenous communities, the symbiotic relationship between culture and nature, her perspective on the recent Australian bushfires, and more.