David Weiss – From Slums To Significance: The Communities Shaping Our Urban Future

Photo: A meeting of Global Communities staff and community members of Ravine Pintade to plan the reconstruction of the neighborhood.

Photo: A meeting of Global Communities staff and community members of Ravine Pintade to plan the reconstruction of the neighborhood.

urb.im.September 2014. The two megatrends of demographic growth and urbanization are rapidly transforming human settlement from rural to predominantly urban environments. This is particularly true in Asia and Africa, where the UN forecasts that the urban population will grow from 2.3 billion people in 2011 to 4.5 billion in 2050. Many large cities in these regions are struggling with how to provide services, housing and jobs for large numbers of rural migrants. These migrants are often highly vulnerable: although they have moved to the city in search of jobs and access to services, the informal neighborhoods that receive them lack infrastructure and are often removed from main centers of economic activity. A lack of economic opportunities and poor living conditions set the stage for marginalization, instability and violence.

At the same time, this raw influx of human capital, ideas and energy are at the core of providing sustainable answers to the challenges that cities face. Too often slum dwellers have been considered a problem. I believe they are the solution.

Read more: http://urb.im/blog/urbimedge

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James Hamblin – Living Simply In A Dumpster

atlantic.com

atlantic.com

theatlantic.com. September 2014. Tucked behind the women’s residence halls in a back corner of Huston-Tillotson University’s campus in Austin, Texas, sits a green dumpster. Were it not for the sliding pitched roof and weather station perched on top, a reasonable person might dismiss the box as “just another dumpster”—providing this person did not encounter the dean of the University College Jeff Wilson living inside.

Professor Wilson went to the dumpster not just because he wished to live deliberately, and not just to teach his students about the environmental impacts of day-to-day life, and not just to gradually transform the dumpster into “the most thoughtfully-designed, tiniest home ever constructed.” Wilson’s reasons are a tapestry of these things.

Until this summer, the green dumpster was even less descript than it is now. There was no sliding roof; Wilson kept the rain out with a tarp. He slept on cardboard mats on the floor. It was essentially, as he called it, “dumpster camping.” The goal was to establish a baseline experience of the dumpster without any accoutrements, before adding them incrementally.

Read more: http://www.theatlantic.com/features/archive/2014/09/the-simple-life-in-a-dumpster/379947/

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Barbara Ernst Prey – The Value And Importance Of The Arts And The Humanities In Education And Life

Ills.: wikihow.com

Ills.: wikihow.com

A number of my summer conversations have centered around the importance of the arts and the humanities. I spoke with my friend Dr. Mitchell B. Reiss, the President of Washington College, about the humanities and arts as an essential part of a college curriculum. He was the President’s Special Envoy to the Northern Ireland Peace Process from 2003-2007, when we made historic progress towards ending the “Troubles” and realizing the promise of the Good Friday Agreement as well as Director of the Office of Policy Planning for Secretary Colin L. Powell, from 2003-2005. He will become the President and CEO of The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation later this fall.

Why are you a strong advocate for the arts?
Most of us consider the arts to include the literary arts: fiction, creative nonfiction, essays and poetry; the performing arts, such as dance, theater and film; and the visual arts, which include painting, sculpture, mixed media and installation art. The arts encompass a broader spectrum of our lives.

At Washington College, we believe the education we provide our students is far more than just career prep for their first job. We challenge our students to develop life-long skills such as analytical thinking, clarity in written and spoken expression, collaboration, and creativity. These skills can all be developed through the arts and are valuable in any career.

Just as importantly, we believe that our mission is to help students prepare for a rich, meaningful and engaged life that goes well beyond job titles and salary levels. Exposure to and understanding of the arts is key to developing qualities of responsible citizenship.

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/barbara-ernst-prey

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Watch This Film About How Simple Solar Lamps Can Transform The Developing World

Photo: phys.org

Photo: phys.org

fastcoexist.com. September 2014. If you were to pick a social invention with greatest bang-for-buck value, you might plump for a solar lamp. These cheap simple devices are life-changing because they’re relatively cheap, simple to use, and have so many knock-on benefits for communities that have traditionally used kerosene lamps and candles.

This nicely made film comes via Great Lakes Energy, a solar supplier in East Africa, and the Global Brightlight Foundation, U.S. nonprofit that developed a lightweight lamp powered with a portable solar panel. It focuses on the Kiziba Refugee Camp in Rwanda and shows how 3,700 households there have benefited from the technology.

Read & watch:  http://www.fastcoexist.com/watch-this-film

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Patrícia Vieira On The Work Of Art In The World : Civic Agency And Public Humanities and The Humanities And Public Life

What Are the Humanities For?
Work-of-Art-in-the-WorldLos Angeles Review of Books. September 2014. Debates about the “Future of the humanities” frequently revolve around the suspicion that the humanities might not have one. Yet despite the direness of this anxiety — an anxiety especially personal for every academic worried about professional choices or mortgage payments — conversations on the topic are often dull, long-faced affairs. Every professor has sat through one or another of these depressing discussions. The conversation proceeds according to a familiar set of pieces: there are passionate apologias of work in philosophy, literature, history, and the arts; veiled criticism of the anti-intellectualism of higher education administrators and society at large; and vague pledges to do more interdisciplinary research and extend a fraternal hand to the social and natural sciences, who remain largely unperturbed by this plight. The whole thing wraps up with the reassuring conviction that, if the humanities go down, they will do so in style (we study the arts, after all), and that truth is on our side, all folded in a fair dosage of indulgent self-pity.

Read more: https://lareviewofbooks.org/review/humanities

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Nairobi Noir – A Street Photography Project

©Msingi Sasis.

©Msingi Sasis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

http://nairobinoir.com/

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