CAPE TOWN, Oct 12 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Siphesihle Mbango was just six years old when her friend, Asenathi, begged her to go with her to the toilet then ran outside alone – and was never seen again.
Now 12, Mbango tells the story with an intense, unflinching gaze but her hands, fidgeting nervously as she speaks, show the trauma is still raw.
“We were at the crèche and she wanted me to go with her,” but I told her I was busy, I was playing, I didn’t want to go and she went out by herself,” she said, at her home in a Cape Town slum.
“It was a long time she was away and when the teachers asked me, I told them she went to the toilet. They looked and looked for her for a long, long time. But then we lost hope. We never saw her again.”
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Ten years ago in the United Arab Emirates, a new settlement was started from scratch, with the aim of becoming “the world’s most sustainable city”. Masdar City was designed to be zero-carbon and zero-waste, home to a population of 40,000 people, with an additional 50,000 commuters, in an area of six square kilometres. Today, it’s playing a crucial role in the development of sustainable design and technology.
Around the world, access to a reliable and plentiful energy supply is becoming increasingly critical. Urban populations continue to grow and demand even more energy. At the same time, vital resources such as water are becoming increasingly scarce, and rising levels of CO₂ and a warming global climate are adding to the stress on the Earth’s system.
All of this means that Masdar’s function as a test bed for innovations in fuel efficiency and renewable energy is more important than ever before. As part of a recent study, my colleagues and I took a closer look at the new technology on show in Masdar. Here’s what we found.
The convoy of buses departed from the Palazzo on a cloudless spring morning, rolling onto a muted Las Vegas Strip and toward the Nevada desert. The buses carried a group of tech journalists, venture capitalists, curious engineers and startup-culture hype merchants – along with, not incidentally, one of the world’s most celebrated architects, Bjarke Ingels – passing sere mountain ranges and spiky yucca trees and a shimmering field of solar panels before finally arriving, after nearly an hour, at their destination: a compound of trailers and shipping containers surrounded by a barbed-wire fence. Someone made a nuclear-test-site joke.
We’d come to witness the first-ever public demonstration of a new super-sonic transportation venture called Hyperloop One. Tech billionaire Elon Musk had roughed out the concept in 2013 and given his blessing to the founders, though he wasn’t directly involved himself. Essentially, the plan was for Hyperloop to revolutionize freight and passenger travel by shooting pods through pressurized tubes at speeds of more than 700 mph – faster than a commercial airplane! – using a zero-emission electric-propulsion system. This could mean half-hour trips from Los Angeles to the Bay Area.
When Robert Bezeau moved from Montreal to Panama in 2009, one of the first things he noticed was the trash: the beaches surrounding the island where he lived were lined with plastic bottles. In a year and a half, working with volunteers, he estimates that he collected more than a million bottles for recycling.
Surrounded by piles of bottles, Bezeau started wondering if they could be used for something new—a building material for houses in what he calls the Plastic Bottle Village. In a new short documentary from Mel Films, filmmaker David Freid visits Panama to see one of the houses now under construction.
A depression era film by the United States Housing Authority of the Federal Works Agency, showing urban renewal projects in slum areas. Includes of housing construction and related activities.
Housing in Our Time – 1930’s Social Guidance / American Cities / Educational Documentary – Val73TV