RSS Entries ATOM Entries

Archive for December, 2011

Insight: How the Dutch got their cycling infrastructure

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on December 28th, 2011

From “How the Dutch got their cycle paths” by Sarah Goodyear for Project for Public Spaces:

Given the reputation of the Netherlands as a cyclist’s paradise, you might think that its extensive cycling infrastructure came down from heaven itself, or was perhaps created by the wave of a magic wand. Not so. It was the result of a lot of hard work, including massive street protests and very deliberate political decision-making.

The video [click through below] offers vital historical perspective on the way the Netherlands ended up turning away from the autocentric development that arose with postwar prosperity, and chose to go down the cycle path. It lists several key factors, including public outrage over the amount of space given to automobiles; huge protests over traffic deaths, especially those of children, which were referred to by protesters as “child murder”; and governmental response to the oil crisis of the 1970s, which prompted efforts to reduce oil dependence without diminishing quality of life.

The Netherlands is often perceived as an exceptional nation in terms of its transportation policies and infrastructure. And yet there is nothing inherently exceptional about the country’s situation. As the narrator says at the end of the film, “The Netherlands’ problems were and are not unique. Their solutions shouldn’t be that either.”

Watch the video. It’s inspiring (“…it seems so simple”) and frustrating (“aaargh…it seems so simple!”) at the same time.


Making Toys From Waste: Small interventions

Posted in Movements by Kate Archdeacon on December 21st, 2011

Makedo:

Wouldn’t you love to make play objects, kid’s costumes, furniture, decorations for the home and well, just about anything you can think of from the materials around you? makedo makes it possible and impossibly fun. makedo is a connector system that enables materials including cardboard, plastic and fabric to easily join together to form new objects or structures. When you’re done playing, simply pull it apart to reuse over and over again.

http://mymakedo.com/

Box Play for Kids:

We make eco-friendly, 100% recycled, custom-designed stickers* that (combined with a little imagination) turn any old box into a wonderland of possibilities. Good for the imagination. Good for the earth. Good for the pocketbook.

http://www.boxplayforkids.com/


Diverting waste to make durable products: Replas on Kangaroo Island

Posted in Movements by Kate Archdeacon on December 19th, 2011

From the Re-Plas blog:

Not only was Kangaroo Island, in South Australia, one of the first locations in Australia to ban the use of plastic bags, but now the KI Council has gone a step further in helping the planet by installing 27 outdoor settings, 900 bollards and a staircase, all made from recycled plastic.

Ian Woolard, Co-ordinator Civil Works, Kangaroo Island Council, said, ‘We were looking for a product that would stand up the elements experienced on the South coast of Kangaroo Island and one that would incur the minimum ongoing maintenance cost to Council’.   As a result of choosing to use recycled plastic KI council has diverted approx. 22,000 kg of plastic waste from landfill in 2010-11 alone.

Six years ago Kangaroo Island started the trend by purchasing recycled plastic seats for their school. More recently the local Landcare Group built a staircase out of garden panels and the Kingscote Jetty was also refurbished with Enduroplank™ decking as part of a trail by the South Australian government to see if recycled plastic proves more durable and cost effective than timber.  All of this adds up to an estimated 35 000 kg of plastic waste which has been diverted from landfill and made into Replas recycled-plastic products for use throughout Kangaroo Island. Not bad for an island with a population of 4500!


Climate Challenge: Play the game

Posted in Models, Tools by Kate Archdeacon on December 14th, 2011

Climate Challenge: Earth’s future is in your hands

A game where you are president of the European Nations. You must tackle climate change and stay popular enough with the voters to remain in office.

Play the game.

(It’s a bit confusing but the help button gets you through) 

About the game:

Currently there is a growing consensus amongst climate researchers that Earth’s climate is changing in response to man-made greenhouse gas emissions. The main debate amongst scientists is focussed on the amount of climate change we can expect, not whether it will happen. With the current level of debate in mind, the BBC decided a game might be a good introductory route into climate change and some of the issues this creates for governments around the world. The producers’ primary goal was to make a fun, challenging game. At times it was necessary to strike a compromise between strict scientific accuracy and playability. For this reason, Climate Challenge should not be taken as a serious climate change prediction. Wherever possible, real research has been incorporated into the game. This document describes the scientific sources used to create Climate Challenge and some of the compromises made by the producers. These sources are a good starting point for someone interested in learning more about climate change. This document also describes some of the compromises the producers made for the sake of playability.

Game focus and aims

Apart from the primary goal of creating a fun game, Climate Challenge’s producers aimed to:

  • give an understanding of some of the causes of climate change, particularly those related to carbon dioxide emissions.
  • give players an awareness of some of the policy options available to governments.
  • give a sense of the challenges facing international climate change negotiators.

Players must respond to catastrophic events caused by climate change as well as natural and manmade events, which may or may not be linked to climate change. This aspect of the game is meant to give some idea of what could happen as the Earth’s climate changes and also introduce the unpredictable nature of some natural events.


Smart Stormwater Management: India

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on December 12th, 2011

Source: Nourishing the Planet: Worldwatch Institute

From “A Success Story in Parched India” by Kamaria Greenfield:

Wankute, a tiny village located high in the Sahyadri mountain range of the Maharashtra state of India, was dry and near-barren in the 1990s. Agriculture was limited to crops that could withstand hot temperate and little water, such as millet and certain legumes. The men worked outside of the village to bring in enough income for their families. Women sometimes walked for a kilometer and a half to obtain the day’s water. During the three months of annual, inevitable drought, the villagers would pay to have water tankers come in.

[…]

In 2003, the residents heard about the success of watershed development in similar nearby villages and wanted to try it for themselves. The main problem in Wankute was not that there was no rainfall, but that the limited 450 millimeters that fell every year did so during a short period of time, usually for less than three weeks. To transform their community, the village partnered with the Watershed Organization Trust (WOTR), a not-for-profit NGO that works in several Indian states, to bring much-needed water and prosperity to Wankute.

Since 1996, WOTR has conducted 747 watershed projects in India. The first of its eleven developmental sectors is a commitment to Integrated Water Resources Management. Efforts were at first met with some skepticism and resistance. Villagers were especially uneasy when WOTR mandated a ban on tree felling and the free grazing of cattle. But this was necessary for the planting of new trees and grasses, which would hold the soil and moisture in place. The main idea of the watershed development in Wankute was to build a water treatment structure composed of bunds (ridges and ditches in the soil) and check dams.

Today, the results are clear. The water tables have risen significantly and the villagers have not imported tankers for water since the project was finished. The vegetation planted eight years ago continues to thrive on the hillsides. And overall employment has increased because farmers can work with their crops for eight months out of the year instead of a meager three. A wide variety of more water-intensive crops now flourish, including wheat, tomato, onion, and potato. Because of this bounty, the export of foodstuffs and the import of agricultural labor have both increased. In addition to agricultural benefits, the watershed development has also had health and social benefits for the village. There is now no shortage of potable water, reducing the risk of waterborne illnesses such as cholera and dysentery. With their greater total income, the villagers built a new community hall, two new schools, a public health center, 150 latrines, and more roads for better transportation of goods. The women of Wankute have formed nine different self-help groups and invested in alternative energy methods such as solar lampsbecause they can no longer cut down trees for fuel. Furthermore, because labor and resources are now both readily available in the village, men can work locally and families are more physically intact. The introduction of watershed development has had far-reaching effects that, ten or fifteen years ago, neither the people of Wankute nor the world at large could have imagined.

Read the full article by Kamaria Greenfield for Nourishing the Planet.


The 2012 TED Prize is awarded to….the City 2.0.

Posted in seeking, Visions by Kate Archdeacon on December 7th, 2011


TED is pleased to announce the winner of the 2012 TED Prize. For the first time in the history of the prize, it is being awarded not to an individual, but to an idea. It is an idea upon which our planet’s future depends.

The 2012 TED Prize is awarded to….the City 2.0.

The City 2.0 is the city of the future… a future in which more than ten billion people on planet Earth must somehow live sustainably. The City 2.0 is not a sterile utopian dream, but a real-world upgrade tapping into humanity’s collective wisdom. The City 2.0 promotes innovation, education, culture, and economic opportunity. The City 2.0 reduces the carbon footprint of its occupants, facilitates smaller families, and eases the environmental pressure on the world’s rural areas. The City 2.0 is a place of beauty, wonder, excitement, inclusion, diversity, life. The City 2.0 is the city that works.

The TED Prize grants its winner $100,000 and “one wish to change the world.” How will this prize be accepted on behalf of the City 2.0? Through visionary individuals around the world who are advocating on its behalf. We are listening to them and giving them the opportunity to collectively craft a wish. A wish capable of igniting a massive collaborative project among the members of the global TED community, and indeed all who care about our planet’s future.

Individuals or organizations who wish to contribute their ideas to a TED Prize wish on behalf of The City 2.0 should write to tedprize@ted.com

The wish will be unveiled on February 29, 2012 at the TED Conference in Long Beach, California. On a Leap Year date, we have a chance, collectively, to take a giant leap forward.

http://www.tedprize.org/announcing-the-2012-ted-prize-winner/