The US economy is in shambles, people are starving in Somalia, the European economy is diving as well…but here’s a little slice of the bright side of life.
These are some recent articles from Good Magazine – an online and print medium devoted to social change, and the NY Times:
“Summer is the season for awareness-raising road trips. The latest one we’re excited about is the Food and Freedom Rides, which is spreading the word about our broken food system in communities across the South and Midwest. Kicking off in Birmingham, Alabama with meetings with civil rights leaders today and yesterday, the movement pays tribute to the 50th anniversaryof the anti-segregation Freedom Rides that roiled the South and galvanized the civil rights movement…Along the way, the 12 traveling activists hope to “expose injustice in the food system, and reveal real solutions in both urban and rural communities” by putting a spotlight on local food activism [Read on]….”
- Check out their itinerary here.
- Learn more about the Freedom Riders by watching this PBS documentary.
August 6th marked the beginning of Ramadan for the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims. “Alas, many Americans are still completely ignorant to Islam’s holiest month of observance. For the next four weeks, Aman Ali and Bassam Tariq are out to change that.
Ali and Tariq are the two young Muslims behind the project 30 Mosques in 30 Days. Since August 1, when Ramadan started this year, the duo have been traveling to a new state each day and meeting with a new Muslim community. They then document their experiences with multimedia presentations on their blog. The goal is to hit 30 states and 30 mosques in 30 days, thereby introducing the world to the wide breadth of wonderful people composing Islam, a religion and culture still considered by many to be foreign and scary….” [Read on]
A protest in Santiago, Chile, last month. Students have held rallies of up to 100,000 people and taken control of dozens of schools around the country
“…If the Arab Spring has lost its bloom halfway across the world, people here are living what some have come to call a Chilean Winter. Segments of society that had been seen as politically apathetic only a few years ago, particularly the youth, have taken an unusually confrontational stance toward the government and business elite, demanding wholesale changes in education, transportation and energy policy, sometimes violently.
…The education protests have become ever more creative. There are at least two or three people jogging at all times around La Moneda, the presidential palace, trying to complete 1,800 laps to symbolize the $1.8 billion a year that protesters are demanding for Chile’s public education system. They carry flags that say “Free Education Now.” Others have held a mass kiss-in, dressed like superheroes, danced as zombies to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” and even staged fake group suicides where they fall in a heap of bodies….” [Read on]
- Check out more photos of the protests here.
- Learn about the leader of the university student group, Camila Vallejo Dowling. Her blog (in Spanish) is here. The translated version is here.
- Learn more about their list of demands here. The Wiki site is actually pretty informative as well.
You know how smart phones have created special bar codes (QR codes) on everything from paintings at art museums to ads in magazines?
I don’t have a smart phone, so the whole thing is a little weird to me. I think it’s great that people can use technology to get more information, but these scans seem rarely used for anything more than trying to sell you something. Maybe I’m just a phone square.
Or maybe I’m just a label square.
Andrew Price at Good Magazine writes that Liberia will soon begin barcoding its trees:
The African country of Liberia is blessed with lush rainforests full of pygmy hippos, Diana monkeys, duikers, and lots of valuable trees. But when Charles Taylor started plundering the forests to fund his forces in the country’s civil war, the UN placed sanctions on Liberian timber.
Now President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf wants to establish a legitimate timber trade to boost the Liberian economy. To that end, she has signed a deal with the European Union that would require companies bringing Liberian lumber into the EU to have proof that it’s legal. To make that possible, every legally harvestable tree and every cut log would have to carry a barcode that makes it traceable…
Making sure harvests stay within sustainable limits will be difficult and corruption may still undermine the integrity of the system. But some think Liberia could be pioneering a new model for legal, sustainable logging. According to Frank Hawkins, who leads Conservation International’s efforts in Africa, “Liberia has an opportunity to show the world how it is done.”
We tag everything. We tag animals at the zoo, clothes, and soldiers, we microchip our pets and children, and mark the garden with plant labels and new territories – even the moon – with flags. Are all these labels and tags and markers and flags helpful? I’m a little skeptical.
(Thanks to Good for sharing.)
I think this project is both inspirational and interesting – a nice reprieve from the death wishes that have saturated the media since last week.
Artist Candy Chang transformed an abandoned house into a communal bucket list:
Continually cleaned and rewritten, the board artistically bridges the past and present by weaving together the wishes, both concrete and abstract, of differing incomes, races, sexualities, genders, ages, ethnicities, religions, and education levels (and possibly nationalities):
What’s so endearing about the project is how, despite all our differences, at the end of the day “feed an elephant” and “do a cartwheel” are both on my bucket list, despite being most likely written by eight-year-olds.
If I could be in New Orleans, I would add the following to the bucket list:
Eat a slice of rainbow cake
Acquire a micro pig and name it Clover
Adopt a child
Save enough money to help a woman with a small business loan
What would you add?
Old books market in Cairo. Photograph: Alamy
From Good, read it here.
Just a few weeks after protesters toppled dictators in Tunisia and Egypt, books that were outlawed under the former regimes are now back on bookshelves in both countries, according to new reports.
La régente de Carthage is a book by two French authors that directly attacks Leila Ben Ali, wife of deposed Tunisian President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali. Also on sale are La Trace et l’Heritage, a biographical study of Habib Bourguiba, the president Ben Ali overthrew in 1987, and the works of Toaufik Ben Brik, a Tunisian journalist who long criticized the Ben Ali presidency.
Nearby, in Egypt, books hidden away for decades are now dispersed freely on street corners:
Salwa Gaspard of joint English/Arabic language publisher Saqi Books said accounts in the Arabic press told of books that had been hidden for years in private basements now once more seeing the light of day.
Alexis Krikorian, director of the Freedom to Publish programme at the IPA, said the emergence of these and other formerly banned books within Tunisia was “very good news”. Whether censorship still existed with regard to new titles was a separate issue, he added, but it was likely that the legal submission procedure, which under the old regime had been misused to block books at their printers, “no longer applies”.
Anecdotal reports are also emerging of once suppressed titles appearing for impromptu sale on street corners and newspaper kiosks across Egypt. Salwa Gaspard of joint English/Arabic language publisher Saqi Books said accounts in the Arabic press told of books that had been hidden for years in private basements now once more seeing the light of day.
Cairo is also to hold a book fair in Tahrir Square – the focus for protests against former president Hosni Mubarak – at the end of March, according to Trevor Naylor of the American University of Cairo Press bookshop, which is based in the square. Naylor told the Bookseller that the event had been planned in the wake of the cancelled Cairo Book Fair, which was abandoned in January in the face of growing political unrest.
“Everyone around the globe now associates Tahrir Square with freedom and revolution,” Naylor said. “We really wanted to do something that celebrates what happened here, and this seems like a great way to do it.”
Coverage of the Egyptian protests this week disproportionately interviewed and photographed male protestors, occasionally using the terms “Egyptian men” and “protestors” interchangeably (excellent example here). What images we did receive of women depicted them as separate from the demonstrations if not dependent on male guardianship. The paucity of images or stories about women activists excludes them from the national uprising and silences their protests.
The second-place winner at Amsterdam’s Green Fashion Awards last week, OAT’s “Virgin Collection” is the world’s first line of sneakers that, upon disposal, will biodegrade and sprout trees. The materials—some developed by OAT itself—are all easily broken down, and tree seeds packed in the lining will hopefully leave saplings where your sneakers once stood.
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For many Americans, the White House stands as a symbol of liberty and justice. But its gleaming facade hides harsh realities, from the slaves who built the home to the presidents who lived there and shaped the country’s racial history, often for the worse. In The Black History of the White House, Clarence Lusane traces the path of race relations in America by telling a very specific history — the stories of those African-Americans who built, worked at and visited the White House.
Fabrizio Costantini for The New York Times - Katricia Gray, left, of Detroit, brought sculptures to Tulani Salahu-Din, a researcher for the Smithsonian’s new National Museum of African American History and Culture, at a November event to appraise possible donations to its collection.
As the director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Mr. Bunch, 58, is charged with creating an institution that embodies the story of black life in America.
The pressure couldn’t be greater. To open in 2015, in a $500 million building designed to evoke the art of an ancient West African kingdom, the museum will stand at the geographic center of American civic identity, on the National Mall.