Cardboard Castles and Other Amenities...

I am really interested in using different forms of cultural action to help build better communities. Communities are a vital social model, allowing us to tackle problems beyond the ability of individuals with the focus of a defined (usually relatively small) group of people. How do the arts and cultural work in general help communities grow more sustainable futures? If you have a cool website or project or your own ideas on these subjects please let me know.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Who Da' Nerd; Cell Phones and Laser Tag

I can't tell if I'm getting more nerdy (hard to imagine) or our world is, but either way this is pretty cool. There is a group in Spain playing what is affectively laser tag with cell phones. It’s pretty cool.

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Global Street Art

I recently started a new job, which leaves me lots of free time to play on the internet. Since it does not leave me any other kind of free time I am forced to do my blogging here at the café. I tell you this so that you will understand all the typos that are likely to occur (Typing while standing up is harder than it seems.)

However, I did want to talk about a cool project going on. Rodrigo Lopez, RIPO, and ABOVE are traveling around Latin America, stopping in 18 countries in 6 months. Dubbing it The South Central Tour, they have put up some really fascinating public art pieces.

I checked out ABOVE’s website and found it the most appealing. Although it took me quite awhile to have any idea of what his work was getting at (I’m slow like that), it became interesting on two levels. One, direction as the main theme of his work and critique is pretty cool. We often miss the things that are not on our eye level be they below or above. As an avid looker, I can say that looking up often makes me feel like a tourist, as if I should already know what is above me or not care. Second, it is always awesome to learn of artists who are just doing it. This is a constant challenge of mine and I love the helpful advice he gives. Who knew you could easily create a whole years worth of euro-rail passes from one official pass using a computer and Photoshop. Also, I love his quotes:

"Opportunity is missed by most people becauseit is dressed in overalls and looks like work."
-Thomas A. Edison

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

It's Nice to See Democracy is Alive and Well in Florida

Monday, January 28, 2008

The First Green Homeless Shelter

The New York Times today reported on Crossroads, a homeless shelter in Oakland, CA, that is being reported as the first green homeless shelter in the US.

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Friday, January 25, 2008

Some Links I've Been Holding on to

I just started a new job and it has been keeping me pretty busy. As such, I have not been able to post some of the interesting things I've found lately. So, here is a list of some interesting articles I've run across.

Mobile Phone Credits as Currency in Kenya points out that due to the recent violence in Kenya and the dependence of the population on mobile phones for their communication needs, mobile phone credits have become a better currency than the government issue money. It goes on to discuss communcation needs in times of disruption.

Reaching Out to Muslim Victims of Domestic Violence talks about what efforts are being made to address issues of domestice violence in the Muslim-American Community and some of the challenges that are being faced.

let's define our terms: what is a "social networking technology"? does just that.

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Interesting Though

I've been thinking about the fate of declining suburbs, bombed out shrinking old industrial cities and the drying up ghost towns of the high plains, when I came across a journal note mentioning something Bruce Sterling said to me this fall in San Francisco:
"The ruins of the unsustainable are the 21st century's frontier."

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Monday, January 14, 2008

Good Reminder

The Revolution Will Not Be Designed is interesting (and blissfully short) reminder that when dealing with human problems we must deal with human interactions (including political, social, and cultural.)

In particular, design metaphors obscure the ideological—and political—decisions involved in tackling societal issues… Conceiving of global ills as design challenges may sometimes be in order, but only when a consensus exists on goals, budgets and relevant values. Such is rarely the case.

“Design thinking” describes a moment in the pursuit of social good that hardly ever arrives: when all the hearts are in the right place, all opinions have been brought into line and all that needs to happen is the change itself. If the model has intellectual benefits, it’s doubtful they outweigh the deficiencies of ignoring the long process by which consensus is built—a.k.a. politics.


Cool Videos is a really cool organization producing videos (of impressive quality) of speeches in a wide range of subject. I really like this one that us(es) text/typography and a spoken audio track… to visually express the emotion/thought/intonation behind… Vince Vaughn’s monologue of ‘The Perfect Girl’ in Wedding Crashers.

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Sunday, January 13, 2008

Youth Activism Rocks

Great heads up from YP4, When Abstinence Fails, High School Students Demand Maternity Leave by Laura Hadden points out a group of high school students in Denver demanding maternity leaver from their high school. For more info check out the Denver Post article. One of the most brain busting things about this issue is how worried many people are about schools encouraging teen pregnancy. Although, I think it’s safe to say that most people would be better served to wait till they are more mature before having kids, it seems when people are asking for maternity leave encouraging teen pregnancy is no longer the issue. We should be making it as easy as possible for all youth, including pregnant youth, to get an education.

(Image Credits: Denver Post)

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Numbers, Please

An interesting article at Worldchanging about corporate green accountability, product backtories, and the winnowing of sustainable companies from those simply greenwashing. The article challenges a piece by Chris Anderson, of Wired, about the sustainability of paper distribution. The basic argument of the Worldchanging piece is that Wired should know its own environmental backstory and, through this knowledge, should be able to produce hard numbers about how it is and is not sustainable. The article also makes the connection between this knowledge and good brand imagery. The comments had a particularly interesting discussion.

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Friday, January 11, 2008

Entrepreneurialship is the Way to Sail

Over the summer I was having sushi with a friend and her mother. During a discussion of how to fund art projects the mother, who has been involved with art and art administration for roughly 30 years, began talking about entrepreneurialship as an alternative to grant-based funding. Basically, her argument is that making money while doing art is not as hard as it seems, it allows for greater freedom, and applying for grants can force one to model (and often corrupt) ones work around the grants you can get.

I saw this calendar by Nebraskans for Peace on eyeteeth and it struck me as a really simple yet sweet way to fundraise and get a message out.

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

PEW Study of Youth and SNS (Social Netwoking Sights)

Pew put out another great report: Teens and Social Media. This report fleshes out what I noticed earlier - teens are much more protective of the content they post online than adults are. Yet, this report is sooo much more than that. Here are some of the new findings to whet your appetite:
  • Digital images - stills and videos - have a big role in teen life. Posting them often starts a virtual conversation. Most teens receive some feedback on the content they post online.
  • Email continues to lose its luster among teens as texting, instant messaging, and social networking sites facilitate more frequent contact with friends.
  • More older girls than boys create and contribute to websites.
  • Girls have fueled the growth of the teen blogosphere.
  • Teens from lower-income and single-parent households are more likely to blog.
  • Teens who are most active online, including bloggers, are also highly active offline.
  • Most teens restrict access to their posted photos - at least some of the time. Girls are more restrictive photo posters.
  • Content creators are not devoting their lives exclusively to virtual participation. They are just as likely as other teens to engage in most offline activities and more likely to have jobs.
  • African American teens are more likely to look for college information online.
  • Girls are more likely than boys to look up health, dieting, or fitness information on the Web.
  • The number of teens who report instant message use has dropped since 2004.
  • Visiting a chatroom has declined significantly in popularity since 2000.
  • Fewer teens are buying products online.
  • Wealthy teens are more likely to engage in multimedia Web activities.
This from apophenia a really interesting blog by Danah Boyd, who studies youth's interactions over the internet. She talks more about the study here.

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Radio Waves Rock

I really interesting post at Eyeteeth (probably my single favorite blog, after yours of course) about Radio Anak Kampung Bantar Gebang, located in Bantar Gebang the larges dump in Indonesia. The station provides the ragpickers who earn their living in the dump hope and a chance to communicate to the outside world.

I cherish the hope that this radio will one day send out information about all the problems with which the community of rag-pickers are struggling. At this moment the rag-pickers need protection. If any of them should meet an accident, let's say wounded by a sharp object while turning over some garbage, or hit by a garbage tractor, it would be nice if the radio could announce it, so that help would be coming. We rag-pickers often have problems; if one of us gets sick, no one would care. And if that illness gets worse, the patient surely dies. The radio should give information about people in trouble.

The post is also has a lot of information on other alternative media (mostly radio) that focuses on social justice.

(Picture Credit:

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I Am A Big Fan

I just listened to another of Caroline Casey’s radio shows and as usual it blew my mind. I first came across Casey’s work when my brother sent me a tape of hers (rather “randomly”) and I have been hooked ever since. Casey blends many different knowledge systems, including astrology, myth (from many different cultures), linguistically analysis, and traditional news to talk about how to manifest a better world.

Much of her point is that there are intelligent forces that can, and must be tapped to create a just sustainable world. Astrology, myth, and linguistics are all methods for tapping these forces. These intelligences are there to help us manifest, that is imagine, create, and appreciate, the stories we wish to be true.

I don’t do justice to her work. I highly recommend you check out one (or more) of her radio shows.

(Picture Credit:

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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

The Supper Bowl Greens Up