The Sunday Diigo Links Post (weekly)

February 26, 2012 at 5:17 pm | In links | 1 Comment

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The Sunday Diigo Links Post (weekly)

February 19, 2012 at 1:00 pm | In links | Comments Off
  • If I kept chickens, I wouldn’t want to slaughter them myself (much less slaughter mammals), nor would I like to have neighbors who do so. At the same time, I see some value in children “witnessing grisly scenes,” because everyone should know where their food comes from – but getting an eyeful once or twice should suffice either to deepen your thinking about taking life away or turning you into a vegetarian (or both). Doesn’t have to happen on a regular basis… But with regard to slaughter: surely there are facilities to which residents could take their animals (even ‘real’ farmers don’t all do their own butchering)?
    QUOTE
    Perhaps no city is as divided over the chicken question as Oakland. City officials are considering allowing residents to raise and slaughter not just chickens, but goats, rabbits, ducks and other animals, in their backyards. Backers argue that it would help alleviate food deserts.

    Oakland’s anti-slaughter group sees the practice as a socio-economic problem. NOBS argues that the city’s approval of the slaughter of chickens “would serve the needs of a small group of people interested in creating artisan animal products instead of serving the low-income communities.” They’ve posted flyers around the city, playing up fears of stray chickens wandering the city and children witnessing grisly scenes of animal killing.
    UNQUOTE

    tags: backyard_farming urban_farming chickens atlantic_cities

  • Good strategies from Ben Keenan for tapping into your creativity:
    QUOTE
    SP: Do you have any strategies or tips on how we can be more creative?

    BK: Sure, here are five:

    1. Get the question right.

    Before you consider the possibilities, you need to knuckle down and articulate the problem you are trying to solve in a single sentence. A problem well stated is a problem half solved.

    2. Stop yourself from trying to solve things right away.

    Years of rote education has drilled the question answer response into all of us.

    You need to suppress that part of you that wants recognition and reward, and consider all the ways into the problem. Fill a page full of little boxes and try and put a thought in every box. Not an idea, but a thought, anything and everything that might solve the problem. Your goal is to fill the page, not answer the question.

    3. Things won’t make sense after a while and that is normal.

    We are not wired to consider possibilities when confronted with a problem, we are wired to jump out of harms way, that’s why the creative process makes you feel flustered, and like you aren’t getting anywhere. Understanding this helps you push through it and just keep going, it’s only after things stop making sense that the really interesting thoughts arrive.

    4. Go do something else.

    After you’ve a had a burst for an hour or two, go do an expense report, your time sheets, something that requires your full concentration. While you are applying conscious thought to this task, your subconscious will be sifting through all knowledge you’ve offloaded about the problem.

    5. Keep a pen and paper handy.

    Once your subconscious has done its job, the answers will come to you thick and fast. Usually, if we are not having any luck on a solution, I’ll just go at it for an hour or so at night, sleep on it, and an idea will come to me while I’m on my way into work the next morning. We all do this without realizing we do it, it’s why your best ideas often happen in the shower.

    SP: Lastly, are there any resources / training links for people who are interested in exercising their creative muscle?

    BK: There are many, I am a hoarder of them at my Thought Police site and I regularly tweet about them on @warmcola.
    UNQUOTE

    tags: smartplanet ben_keenan creativity reference how_to

  • Biomimicry in architecture, from Norman Foster’s Gherkin (which mimics the Venus Flower Basket sea sponge structure to cool the building) to Rachel Armstrong and Neil Spiller (who are working on biomimetic materials, like CO2-eating paint for exterior application) to saving Venice from sinking into the Adriatic:
    QUOTE
    Armstrong, who is a TED fellow, also proposes to use the protocell technology on an architectural scale to save centuries-old Venice, Italy, which is gradually being reclaimed by the sea. Armstrong believes the protocell droplets could be deployed beneath the crumbling city to act as a living limestone foundation.

    “We did some experiments inside the Venice lagoon with architecture students and we know it works with the Venice water,” Armstrong said. “It’s not ready, but the principles are there. It just needs some more research and development.”

    All of this work is evolving at a quick pace, pushing architects, designers, biologists and other scientists to rethink how are cities and buildings mesh with the natural world. Now, using technological innovation coupled with inspiration from the biological processes of nature, these dreams are becoming a reality.
    UNQUOTE

    tags: architecture biomimicry building_materials buildinggreen

  • Interesting juxtaposition to earlier bookmark on biomimetic architecture: Richard Driehaus seems unimpressed by newfangled tech advances?
    QUOTE
    Q: Does this, by extension, mean there is not a place for modern and more experimental visions of cities and the built environment? How do you feel about contemporary, sustainable architecture?

    A: When it comes to sustainability, I welcome solutions in any form, but many of the modern, technological methods, however promising, remain unproven. The environmental value of traditional architectural techniques has been established over centuries. And, regardless of their technological efficiencies, if new buildings are constructed in a way that makes them obsolete within decades, the burden on our resources to build and rebuild our cities will be too great.

    Q: You see traditional architecture as part of the increasing interest in more traditional skills (farming, canning, cooking)–can you expand on that?

    A: It’s about the satisfaction that comes from meaningful work. I’ve heard the term “slow architecture.” Like the “slow food” movement, it describes an architecture whose followers care passionately about the quality of ingredients, about techniques that require practice to master, about a connection to the past and a legacy for the future, about the value (in every sense of the term) of a local focus. And, when the work is done, the intricacies of traditional architecture, like a good meal, offers so much to savor.
    UNQUOTE
    The connection between taste (what we like *to* taste) vs the leap into (bio-)mimicking forms that are essentially alien to us (say, sea sponges) strikes me as having deep evolutionary roots related to survival of the species (and therefore as something that a biomimetic approach can’t ignore – because if biomimicry isn’t about *our* survival, then what is it?).

    tags: architecture tradition biomimicry atlantic_cities allison_arieff

  • Great essay/ speech: Heart of Darkness, excellent sheep, smiling sharks – and a take-down of multi-tasking. ;-)
    QUOTE
    Now that’s the third time I’ve used that word, concentrating. Concentrating, focusing. You can just as easily consider this lecture to be about concentration as about solitude. Think about what the word means. It means gathering yourself together into a single point rather than letting yourself be dispersed everywhere into a cloud of electronic and social input. It seems to me that Facebook and Twitter and YouTube—and just so you don’t think this is a generational thing, TV and radio and magazines and even newspapers, too—are all ultimately just an elaborate excuse to run away from yourself. To avoid the difficult and troubling questions that being human throws in your way. Am I doing the right thing with my life? Do I believe the things I was taught as a child? What do the words I live by—words like duty, honor, and country—really mean? Am I happy?
    UNQUOTE

    tags: multitasking american_scholar william_deresiewicz leadership inspiration solitude

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The Sunday Diigo Links Post (weekly)

February 12, 2012 at 5:30 pm | In links | 1 Comment
  • Lovely essay from 2006, Paul Goldberger on Jane Jacobs:
    QUOTE
    Jacobs was never as eager as Mumford for acolytes, though she ended up with plenty of them, and she saw right through many of the things that were presented as consistent with her views. She didn’t even have much patience with the New Urbanists, whose philosophy of returning to pedestrian-oriented cities would seem to owe a lot to Jacobs. But she found the New Urbanists hopelessly suburban, and once said to me, with a rhyming cadence worthy of Muhammad Ali, “They only create what they say they hate.”

    What Jane Jacobs really taught wasn’t that every place should look like Greenwich Village, but instead that we should look at places and figure out their essences, that we should try to understand what makes cities work organically and to think of them as natural systems that should be nurtured, not stymied. I think of her less as showing us a physical model for cities that we need to copy and more as providing a model for skepticism.
    UNQUOTE

    tags: paul_goldberger jjacobs urbanism american_scholar

  • Interesting piece by Karrie Jacobs on the word urban’s changing meaning(s) …in Austin, Texas.
    QUOTE
    Up until recently, I hadn’t taken “lifestyle centers” seriously as places or as proto-cities. But on this trip to outermost Austin, my attitude changed. I’m not sure whether it was the perceptual magic worked by Dresher, Benedikt, and Rotondi, who literally turned my point of view around, or the shock of returning to the Aloft late on a sunny Saturday afternoon and encountering Dogtoberfest, a full-scale street fair for dogs with booths selling artisanal biscuits and doggie portraits, and a costume parade. I showed up just as hoards of people were leaving with their tutu-wearing pets. Suddenly, I understood what I was seeing. While The Domain and its ilk are not replacements for real cities, they are genuine urban places. They’re a conscious remix of the twentieth-century mall and the postwar subdivision, for a generation that wants absolutely nothing to do with either.
    UNQUOTE

    tags: metropolis_magazine karrie_jacobs urbanism austin_tx

  • John Maeda on Twitter.
    QUOTE
    Q: You’re very active on Twitter. In fact, you’ve said that your new book, Redesigning Leadership, is based on some of the “micro-posts” you’ve Tweeted about leadership and innovation. Why did you decide to start using Twitter?

    A: First and foremost, I think of myself as an artist and designer, and I’m also the president of a college. Being the president of a college, your role is to be the authoritative leader. I own that and I embrace that fully, but at the same time, as an artist, I want to express my creativity in some shape or form. I can have a show once a year somewhere in the world and that’s okay, but every day I have to make art somehow, and making art is about taking emotion and making it into something. I found that using Twitter gives me the chance to have a gallery online where I can share different thoughts that I’m forming and thinking and struggling with. Also, I have very little time, so I use little micro-minutes to just summarize something and put it out there.
    UNQUOTE

    tags: john_maeda risd creativity smartplanet interview

  • Interesting Jan.2012 op-ed by Jeff Jahn in the Portland Tribune. Jahn is an independent curator and critic.
    QUOTE
    Since the mid-’90s, artists and designers have emigrated to or stayed in Portland for very specific and often moral reasons. In a nutshell, it is because Portland is the first U.S. city to grow out of the adolescent attitudes of America in the second half of the 20th century. The laundry list: non-car-reliant transportation, green thinking, proximity to nature, a very non-1 percent-centric civic attitude, high-tech savvy and a permissive attitude that was essentially humanistic rather than purely capitalistic.

    In other words, the original Occupy Portland started around the mid-’90s by artists and has only gathered steam since. Think of artists as canaries in the coal mine of civilization — it is a tough job, but it’s very important to watch what they do. Artists bring immense cultural cache, even jobs. Ultimately, they redirect our attention, giving us a new aesthetic and conceptual compass. Then they export those ideas in distilled, compact creative endeavors.

    No city owns its artists, but a city can choose to (either) support or take its artists for granted.

    To be overly simplistic, Portland became a 21st-century leader because it rejected both of the 20th century’s main models: Manhattan’s top-down corporate verticality and LA’s car-driven suburban sprawl. Instead, as a more 19th century-style city of shopkeepers and artists (defined by our citizens more than institutions), we should own the title and take care to not become complacent.
    UNQUOTE

    tags: portland jeff_jahn artculture socialcritique

  • Introduction to Jarrett Walker’s book, Human Transit: How Clearer Thinking About Public Transit Can Enrich Our Communities and Our Lives. Excellent points. Eg.:
    QUOTE
    Transit debates also suffer from the fact that today, in most of our cities, most of our decision makers are motorists. No matter how much you support transit, driving a car every day can shape your thinking in powerful subconscious ways. For example, in most debates about proposed rapid transit lines, the speed of the proposed service gets more political attention than how frequently it runs, even though frequency, which determines waiting time, often matters more than vehicle speed in determining the total time a transit trip will require. Your commuter train system will advertise that it can whisk you into the city in thirty-nine minutes, but if the train comes only once every two hours and you’ve just missed one, your travel time will be two hours and thirty-nine minutes, so it may be faster to drive or even walk.
    UNQUOTE

    tags: human_transit jarrett_walker transportation planning portland

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The Sunday Diigo Links Post (weekly)

February 5, 2012 at 11:30 am | In links | 1 Comment
  • I love this presentation by Garth Lenz – and (sorry, but it has to be said) I hate Canada very much for condoning the tarsands. Canada gets away with pretending to be better than the US, but the tarsands show otherwise.
    QUOTE
    A visual journey through the Alberta Tar Sands and a discussion of the the local regional and global impacts and how we can respond.

    For almost twenty years, Garth’s photography of threatened wilderness regions, devastation, and the impacts on indigenous peoples, has appeared in the world’s leading publications. His recent images from the boreal region of Canada have helped lead to significant victories and large new protected areas in the Northwest Territories, Quebec, and Ontario. Garth’s major touring exhibit on the Tar Sands premiered on Los Angeles in 2011 and recently appeared in New York. Garth is a Fellow of the International League Of Conservation Photographers

    Filmed at TEDxVictoria on November 19 2011
    UNQUOTE

    tags: tarsands oil_sands boreal_forests canada garth_lenz tedx victoria video environment

  • Pretty amazing, when you think about it: a house built from shredded decommissioned European currencies, a protest against the Euro being foisted on Ireland…
    QUOTE
    A cheap flood of credit at the introduction of the single currency caused an extensive property bubble in the early 2000s. However, following its rapid decline, the euro has left Ireland amassed with derelict and empty building, and faced with a deep recession which forced it to accept a humiliating EU bailout last year.
    UNQUOTE

    tags: ireland euro currency art architecture smartplanet

  • Great interview with Brad Cloepfil. On Portland:
    QUOTE
    I don’t know why Nike for instance doesn’t spawn innovation in architecture. Ziba has played its role — it hired John (Holmes, a principal at Holst). It’s really about how a company sees themselves.

    What I like is that people are so critical. That’s the thing. Everyone is so hard on the Pearl. It’s because we care so deeply. We want more and want the best.

    Another way of looking at it is that the people who do those kinds of buildings and residences are people who care about culture deeply. And they care that their company participates in that level of dialogue. That’s rare. Here or anywhere else.

    Q: How would you tell the next mayor of Portland how to improve design in this city?

    A: (…)
    …a mayor and government has to feel the cultural expression of their city is important. And I just don’t think we have that here. It would be wonderful.
    UNQUOTE

    tags: brad_cloepfil architecture portland

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