This man spent 36 years carving through mountains to bring water to his village

April 21, 2017 by  
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In 1959, the small village of Caowangba in China ’s Guizhou Province had a problem – a drought had dried up all the nearby water sources, and residents were forced to rely on a single well for drinking water. Even that single well was faltering, sometimes leaving the people of the town without enough water to go around. Worse yet, the town’s single rice paddy had dried up, making it hard for residents to access enough food. Something had to be done. But rather than give up and move to a new home, one man named Huang Dafa decided to lead an ambitious project to dig a 10-kilometer canal along the face of several sheer cliffs to bring water to his home. It took 36 years and at least one failed attempt, but now enough water flows to the city to provide food and drinking water to everyone. Many have compared Dafa to the legendary figure Yu Gong , an old man whose determination caused the gods to literally move mountains from his path. At only 23 years old, Dafa made the project his life’s work. To build the canal, villagers had to carve along the sheer cliffs of three karst mountains , dangerous work that involved climbing up the side of the mountains, tying themselves to trees, and rappelling hundreds of meters down the cliff to dig. Related: Indian Man Single-Handedly Plants 1,360 Acre Forest Naturally, it took a bit of persuading before anyone else in town was willing to take on this dangerous work. But in the end, the only other option was to do nothing and watch the town continue to struggle. Unfortunately, after a decade of work, the first attempt at a canal was unsuccessful in bringing water to the city. It wasn’t a total waste: the effort did create a tunnel through the mountains that allowed for easy travel through the stone, rather than around, which is still in use today. Dafa realized they needed a better understanding of irrigation to make the project work. So he left to study engineering for several years, and planned his next attempt even more meticulously. In the early 1990s, he persuaded the villagers to try again. The workers often slept in caves along the cliff side, and the remote location made it difficult to reach them in case of emergency – in fact, Dafa was working in the mountains when his daughter and grandson passed away, unable to reach them before they died. Related: Hundreds of beehives hang off a steep cliff in China to save wild honeybees Finally, in 1995, the new channel was finished, and water began to flow to Caowangba. As if the channel weren’t enough, Dafa’s efforts were also responsible for bringing electricity and a new road to the town that same year, allowing the residents to step into the modern era. Now, the community is thriving, and Huang Dafa is celebrated as a local hero at 82 years old. The channel provides running water to three other villages that happen to cross its path as well, providing water to 1,200 people and allowing them to grow 400,000 kilograms of rice every year. Via Oddity Central Images via VGC , China Daily

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This man spent 36 years carving through mountains to bring water to his village

Green-roofed wooden tower in Lagos maximizes daylight and natural ventilation

April 17, 2017 by  
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This green-roofed wooden tower planned for Lagos features a perforated envelope inspired by indigenous cultures of the area. Hermann Kamte & Associates designed the experimental structure as an alternative to the massive concrete buildings that dominate the city. By contrast, the wooden tower emphasizes passive design principles that marry indoor and outdoor living. The building was designed for the Plan B: City Above the City competition. Each floor provides a variety of residential units surrounded by a belt of lush greenery. Divided into 4 parts, the new building sits atop an existing housing estate, with sky gardens and other amenities separating the old and the new. A rooftop garden provides panoramic views of the city and functions as an informal gathering space and restaurant. Related: Shanty Megastructures envisions a colossal vertical slum in the heart of Lagos The wooden envelope incorporates traditional patterns from the Yoruba culture, and it provides protection from direct sun while giving the project a unique appearance. The entire structure is designed using LVL timber for both load-bearing and non-load bearing elements. + Hermann Kamte & Associates

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Green-roofed wooden tower in Lagos maximizes daylight and natural ventilation

NYC community gardens may wither under Trump’s proposed budget cuts

April 3, 2017 by  
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President Donald Trump’s proposed budget cuts could mean the kiss of death for New York City’s community gardens . More than 500 of the communal spaces across all five boroughs depend on a program called GreenThumb , which is administered by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation . Initiated in the wake of the 1970s fiscal crisis, which resulted in the widespread abandonment of both private and public land, GreenThumb has turned hundreds of derelict lots into tillage. Most of its funding comes from federal Community Development Block Grants—the same ones the budget blueprint seeks to eliminate. Should the budget pass, GreenThumb risks losing $1 million a year out of a $2.4 million budget, according to WNYC . Related: Detroit nonprofit seeks crowdfunding for new East Side community garden “It would be devastating to GreenThumb, it would mean laying off a dozen workers or more, and it would be less money for supplies, for bulbs, for tools,” said New York City Councilman Mark Levine, who chairs the city’s Parks and Recreation Committee. Levine, WNYC adds, is working on securing more money for community gardens, as well as the restoration of jobs for 150 Parks department gardeners and maintenance workers. Via WNYC Photos by Unsplash

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NYC community gardens may wither under Trump’s proposed budget cuts

Why Austin, Texas is poised to be the next mobility hub

March 31, 2017 by  
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Austin’s New Mobility Resolution project is redesigning the city for mobility and attracting smart industry movers.

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Why Austin, Texas is poised to be the next mobility hub

Michigan to replace thousands of Flint water lines in settlement

March 29, 2017 by  
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A judge approved a settlement with the state of Michigan today that will come as welcome news to thousands of residents: at least 18,000 homes in Flint will have their toxic water pipes replaced over the next three years. The state has committed $87 million to identify and replace any service lines containing lead or galvanized steel by 2020. The settlement marks the end of a lawsuit filed last year by Concerned Pastors for Social Action , the Natural Resources Defense Council , the American Civil Liberties Union and a resident of Flint, targeted at both city and state officials. Flint Mayor Karen Weaver has praised the agreement. The $87 million used to replace the pipes will come from a variety of sources. The Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act, which was passed by Congress last year, will provide up to $20 million in funds, with the state matching another $20 million. The state must also hold an extra $10 million in reserve, in case the repairs end up being more expensive than anticipated. The state will also cover the $895,000 the plaintiffs ran up in litigation costs. Related: 1,700 Flint residents sue the EPA over tainted water In the meantime , residents will have to either pick up bottled water from designated locations in the city, or they’ll have to install water filters on their taps. Though the filters have been shown to render the city’s water safe for human consumption, many residents are nervous and distrustful of anything that comes out of their taps (and with good reason). The lawsuit had asked that bottled water be delivered door to door throughout the city until pipe replacement was complete, but the judge shot down that request. Via Reuters Images via Pixabay and Paul Hudson

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Michigan to replace thousands of Flint water lines in settlement

India could have its own Hyperloop system within 38 months

February 27, 2017 by  
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Past and present modes of transportation simply do not compare to the impressive abilities of  Hyperloop  technology. This efficient, low-cost vision of the future could be making its way to India in the next few years, according to Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT) co-founder Bibop Gresta. He argues a system of high speed tubes that transport people and cargo could help ease the challenges associated with extreme population density and a dearth of infrastructure. Hyperloop technology involves a series of tubes with an interior vacuum-like environment, through which pods can zip from point A to point B at nearly the speed of sound. Forbes India interviewed HTT co-founder Gresta about his vision for the country – one he thinks could become reality in as little as three years. Related: BIG releases video sneak peek of Hyperloop designed to connect Abu Dhabi & Dubai “The Hyperloop is based on efficiency,” Gresta said. “The cost of creating it can sometimes be one-fourth the cost of a high speed rail, and the cost of operations can be one-fifth.” He also argues that construction and operation costs, as well as projected passenger rates of $20-$60, are based on American pricing and that these costs in India would be smaller. He has already met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the chief ministers of several states which his Hyperloop proposal would affect, and said the response was a positive one. Gresta said the country could have a functional Hyperloop system in place within just 38 months, once the project is approved. “We are ready with the technology and we can bring the money,” he explained. “We just need land and a commitment from the government of India.” A similar Hyperloop project is already underway in the capital of the UAE, where feasibility studies are being done to run the system between Abu Dhabi and the city of Al Ain. + Hyperloop Transportation Technologies Via Forbes India Images via Wikimedia , Getty Images

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India could have its own Hyperloop system within 38 months

Shapeshifting Tent House blurs the line between indoor and outdoor spaces

February 27, 2017 by  
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Spark Architect’s Tent House is a seasonal shapeshifter. Situated close to Australia ’s famed Sunshine Coast, the house’s location in a rainforest clearing called for a unique design that blurs the line between indoor and outdoor spaces. Limited by the natural size of the clearing and surrounded by a forest wall, the tent home was carefully planned to make maximum use of all available space. A large, open area houses a kitchen , a dining area complete with an accommodating table, and a living “room”, all with a welcoming flow that makes the home ideal for entertaining and for family living. A continuous corridor links the common spaces to hang-out nooks and multiple bedrooms, including two situated at either end of the house that feature picturesque views of the surrounding greenery. Although the area generally welcomes warm temperatures year round, the house was crafted for easy transitioning according to weather. The homeowners can manually slide open walls to welcome the fresh air as they wish; the roof also retracts to reveal the translucent tent canopy and expansive sky above. The tent buffers the home from sun exposure while still allowing for plenty of light to filter through. The space between the tent and the box-like structure’s insulated roof  encourages natural air flow. In addition to offering shade, the pitched tent canopy extends the home’s boundaries for play and relaxation. With the walls/doors open, the entire house becomes an open-air sanctuary, a perfect exploration ground for children and adults. Nature surrounds the Tent House in the form of trees, a river, and a garden area, but it is also reflected within the sleek space: a warm wood floor inset brightens up the concrete floor, and underneath the bar area, wood panels peek out to contrast with the industrial metal counter. The ultimate result is a shelter that looks like our childhood camping dreams grew up and made room for family and friends to join in on the indoor/outdoor fun. Via Uncrate All images © Christopher Jones

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Shapeshifting Tent House blurs the line between indoor and outdoor spaces

Rios $800 million Olympic Park sits nearly abandoned after 2016 games

February 23, 2017 by  
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Last year, during the 2016 Summer Games , it would have been hard to imagine the Olympic Park in Rio de Janeiro sitting empty in the hot Brazilian sun. Sadly, this is what has become of the space today. Despite having been officially reopened in January as a public recreation area, the park is treated to only a few visitors and a longstanding bad reputation. The $800 million Olympic Park was constructed in the months prior to last year’s Summer Games in a process that displaced residents and enraged others. Clare Richardson of Vice visited residents of the old Vila Autódromo favela, a community that was forced to move, later granted new public housing in the area. The city’s promises have fallen short of the agreed upon vision of building playgrounds, a court for sports, and a community center, leaving people with plain housing in an asphalt jungle. Residents have even resorted to creating their own speed bumps out of stones and trash cans to keep nearby roads safe. Related: Japan wants to make 2020 Olympic medals from recycled smartphones Visitors to the area feel shortchanged, as well. Vital services that were available during the park’s grand opening event, such as running water and electricity, are no longer available. The typical two-hour journey from the center of the city greets commuters with a sad skatepark , playground, and the ghostly spectacles of towering arenas. Bigger events, like the Rock in Rio music festival, are planned, but the park has become an inconvenient eyesore for the rest of the year. “I’ve seen about 12 people here since I arrived five hours ago,” Vinicius Martini, a beer vendor at the park, told Vice. “And I haven’t sold any beer.” Via Vice Images via Clare Robinson

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Rios $800 million Olympic Park sits nearly abandoned after 2016 games

Stay in the world’s largest human birdhouse for free

February 23, 2017 by  
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Planning to attend SXSW but still searching for a place to stay? You may be in luck— HomeAway is opening up its human-sized Birdhouse in downtown Austin to two lucky groups of SXSW attendees for free. The vacation rental website teamed up with West Elm to transform the quirky space in their headquarters into comfortable and stylish bedrooms that sleeps six. Keep reading to take a tour inside of the world’s biggest human birdhouse. Perched in the middle of downtown Austin at 5th and Lamar, HomeAway’s giant two-story Birdhouse is an iconic landmark for Austinites and an ideal place to stay for SXSW. In hopes of providing a last-minute alternative to groups still looking for housing—there are less than 10,000 hotel rooms in downtown Austin—HomeAway has opened up the Birdhouse as part of a competition open to anyone over the age of 21. Entrants must answer the question “Why do you want to stay in the Birdhouse during SXSW?” and explain how the experience will impact them and the creative enterprise that they are part of. Entrants can choose from two two-night timeframes from and the winners will also receive a free two-night stay at a different HomeAway vacation rental for the nights that they do not stay in the Birdhouse. Related: SXSW Eco Announces Winners of the 2014 Place by Design Competition The Birdhouse is located on HomeAway’s third floor and has been converted into a rental with sleeping areas on two floors. HomeAway also rented the Birdhouse to guests last year with an auction with proceeds donated to Habitat to Humanity . You can enter the contest by sending HomeAway a message on their Birdhouse listing. + Birdhouse

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Stay in the world’s largest human birdhouse for free

California city on its way to becoming the first Zero Net Energy city in the U.S.

February 19, 2017 by  
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The city of Lancaster, California is one step closer to becoming a Zero Net Energy city – the very first in the U.S. The proposed ordinance, recently moved forward by the city council, will require all new homes to be equipped with solar panels or to take other steps toward energy mitigation. The end goal is to create a city with a truly sustainable future. “This is a great stride in Lancaster’s journey to become a Zero Net City,” said Mayor R. Rex Parris in a statement. “The Zero Net Energy Home Ordinance expands upon Lancaster’s residential solar ordinance so that new homes built in Lancaster now will not only be environmentally friendly, but have a zero net impact on our environment, while reducing energy costs for the homeowners.” Related: Lancaster, California to require all new homes to have solar panels The ZNE ordinance requires all new homes built in the year 2017 and beyond to choose one of three options for energy use: install photovoltaic panels to support two watts of energy for each square foot, pay mitigation fees that will result in a discount on the energy generation rate section of their bill, or select a combination of both options. The required feasibility study for the ordinance is already taking place, which is needed before receiving approval from the California Energy Commission . These processes are expected to be complete by the end of the year. Images via  Wikimedia

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California city on its way to becoming the first Zero Net Energy city in the U.S.

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