Ai Weiwei installs huge fences in New York City to challenge Trumps border control measures

October 17, 2017 by  
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Ai Weiwei continues to address the refugee crisis through his latest multi-site, multi-media exhibition in New York City . In a campaign against Donald Trump’s border-control measures, the famous Chinese artist and human-rights activist has enclosed spaces throughout New York with gigantic security fences . The project, titled Good Fences Make Good Neighbors, includes a huge golden cage placed in Central Park, and a fence-like enclosure embedded within the Washington Square Arch. In 2016, Weiwei traveled to 23 countries and visited over 40 refugee camps while filming his documentary Human Flow . He chose a proverb from Robert Frost’s poem Mending Wall as the title for this new piece, which continues to explore the theme of borders. Related: Ai Weiwei Uses 1.2 Million LEGO Bricks to Portray 176 Political Prisoners and Exiles The artist worked with New York charity the Public Art Fund to create temporary structures in three locations in New York City. Funded through Kickstarter, the project aims to provoke and further the discussion about Trump’s plans to tighten immigration controls. The large circular gold structure, titled Gilded Cage, was installed on the Doris C Freedman Plaza, just a few minutes away from Trump Tower . The second installation is embedded in the Washington Square Arch as a mirrored passageway in the shape of two joined human figures. In Queens, Weiwei wrapped the Unisphere in Corona Park in mesh netting to create a low-lying fence. The exhibition will run until 11 February 2018, and it also includes several smaller interventions scattered throughout the city. + Ai Weiwei Photos by Jason Wyche via Public Art Fund, NY

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Ai Weiwei installs huge fences in New York City to challenge Trumps border control measures

More than 50% of New York Citys public schools now have gardens

October 17, 2017 by  
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There’s a food revolution brewing in over half of New York City’s public schools, and it’s not slowing down. Thanks to the local nonprofit GrowNYC , The Mayor’s Fund to Advance NYC, and Grow to Learn , five boroughs have been established to set up sustainable gardens in public schools. There are now at least 700 gardens across the city, and teachers are witnessing a myriad of changes in the kids who are spending more time outdoors and less time in a “traditional” classroom setting. From container gardens to bottle planters in the classrooms, teachers and the kids are getting creative to grow produce at their schools. Arielle Hartman, School Gardens Coordinator with GrowNYC, said, “I’ve seen teachers grow plants in soda bottles and old shoes or in projector carts with fluorescent lights.” Some of the most popular vegetables and fruit that are being grown include tomatoes , cucumbers, lettuce, eggplant, mint, collard greens, and herbs. At some schools, grapes and strawberries are cultivated, as well. The benefits of school gardening extend beyond the children learning about where their food comes from — which is an important lesson. For many kids, the gardens exist as a place of respite and contemplation. Rodale’s Organic Life reports, “Schools are using these green spaces not only as teaching tools and hands-on laboratories for math and science, they’ve also become arenas for social and emotional growth, particularly for students who may not do well in the traditional classroom environment, as well as serving as a respite for teachers and administrators.” As a result of improved emotional well-being among the student body, teachers are witnessing a reduction in behavioral issues . Julie Walsh, Assistant Director at GrowNYC, said, “Behavioral issues are dramatically reduced when kids are exposed to nature and to this kind of real sensory and experimental learning that the natural world offers.” Research presented at the 2017 American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference & Exhibition supports this observation. It noted that green schoolyards — which are bursting with nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables — provide children, families and their communities a “healthy environment ” for relaxation and play. Related: The Garden School is a New Green-Roofed Learning Facility for China Walsh says that by partnering with agencies, such as the Parks Department and the Department of Education, the challenge of introducing gardens into schools was made much easier. “Historically, one of the challenges for successful and sustainable school garden models has been a lack of coordination,” said Walsh. “If you try to do this in a vacuum, you run into bureaucratic impediments. By partnering […], we’re able to help schools run the gauntlet with these agencies so they don’t run into obstacles.” Other schools can easily implement a garden by partnering with the Grow to Learn program. Registered schools can attend free workshops that cover a number of relevant topics, and schools are eligible to receive free garden materials, access to an online resource library and garden network and the tools to apply for mini-grant funding to start or expand a school garden. The future of school gardens is only limited by the creativity of the teachers, parents, administrators, and students. As long as all involved are willing to work together, public school gardens can flourish across the entire city — and perhaps, the entire nation. GrowNYC , + Grow to Learn Via Rodale’s Organic Life Images via  Pinterest , Arielle Hartman, Grow to Learn, Pixabay

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More than 50% of New York Citys public schools now have gardens

Foster + Partners and Heatherwick Studio spruce up Shanghais waterfront

October 13, 2017 by  
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Shanghai’s most famous street, the Bund, is undergoing the “starchitect” treatment. Foster + Partners teamed up with Heatherwick Studio to design the Bund Financial Center as the “end point” to the city’s iconic waterfront. The 420,000-square-meter masterplan recently saw the completion of a pair of 180-meter-tall skyscrapers as well as an arts and culture center with a kinetic curtain-like facade. Shanghai is a city of contrasts. The Bund, renowned for its old colonial-era buildings along the waterfront , sits next to the city’s Old Town and looks out towards Pudong’s futuristic skyline of skyscrapers. The objective of the Bund Financial Center is to connect the old town with the new financial district, while staying sensitive to the scale of waterfront as well as the old and new surrounding architecture. “The opportunity to make something new in this prominent location that had formerly been the river gateway to Shanghai’s Old Town was extraordinary,” said Thomas Heatherwick , Founder of Heatherwick Studio. “With a project that would create 420,000 square metres of space, we felt a great duty to look for fresh ways to connect with China’s amazing built heritage and make a meaningful public place for thousands of people to work and come together.” Related: Drone video reveals progress on Heatherwick’s “tree-covered mountain” in Shanghai The Bund Financial Center is bookended in the south by two recently completed landmark towers. The arts and cultural center, which houses the Fosun Foundation and was completed earlier this summer, is located at the heart. Once complete, the mixed-use development will comprise office spaces, a boutique hotel, cultural center, retail, and restaurants. + Foster + Partners + Heatherwick Studio Images via Foster + Partners

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Foster + Partners and Heatherwick Studio spruce up Shanghais waterfront

Folkets House pavilion is an inclusive space where refugees can learn skills and find jobs

October 10, 2017 by  
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This palm-shaped temporary pavilion recently popped up at the Enskifteshagen Park in Malmö, Sweden , as an inclusive space where refugees and longtime residents of Sweden can learn new skills, find jobs and make connections. The pavilion, named Folkets House (“People’s House), was designed for the Opportunity Space Festival in Malmö, as the winning proposal for the design competition organized by the Van Alen Institute , the City of Malmö, White Arkitekter , Skanska , Individuell Människohjälp , and Architects Sweden. Architects and designers Rik Ekströmof ARExA,  Gustav Fagerström of Walter P Moore,  Milad Barosen of the Milou Group and Nathan King of the Virginia Tech School of Architecture + Design teamed up to design the structure, which was influenced by Swedish 19th-century labor union buildings. Related: Beautiful timber pavilion unfolds like origami The pop-up structure is shaped by curved wooden beams that radiate from its center and shelter a large space under a thin skin. It is meant to host a range of programs, workshops, and other activities organized by Van Alen Institute. At night, the building is transformed into a beautifully lit gathering space where refugees and immigrants can mingle with locals. “We believe that Folkets House will signal the beginning of new opportunities and inspiration for working people of all nations who come together in Malmö — Sweden’s cultural melting pot,” said Rik Ekström of the Folkets House team. + ARExA + Walter P Moore + Milou Group + VT a+d + Van Alen Institute Lead photo by Nazim Benli

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Folkets House pavilion is an inclusive space where refugees can learn skills and find jobs

Getaway is launching new tiny house rentals in Washington DC and Boston

October 9, 2017 by  
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Getaway tiny houses  are expanding, and we couldn’t be more excited. Until now, you could only rent one of the off-grid houses outside parts of Boston and New York, but now you can also spend the night away from the hustle of  Washington DC . Getaway is also expanding in Boston, so you will have even more options for a weekend escape outside of Beantown. At $99 a night, users of Harvard Innovation Lab startup’s Getaway houses get a hotel-level experience in the middle of a forest. The cabins have no Wi-Fi or TV, which helps you completely disconnect from the stresses of everyday life. All other aspects of the structure were designed for ultimate comfort. Related: Harvard student startup unveils third tiny house that can be rented for $99 a night The majority of the structure are located within two hours from the city, with a special series of three cabins located on New York harbor beaches accessible by public transport and a half-hour drive from Prospect Park. The company recently closed a round of funding to the tune of $15 million, and is set to expand in Boston by 20 houses this fall. + Getaway House Lead photo by Roderick Aichinger

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Getaway is launching new tiny house rentals in Washington DC and Boston

Mieluisa’s Bilberry Pads are an accessible way to bring the forest to the city

October 4, 2017 by  
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These modular planters bring a taste of the forest to the city. Finnish design collective Mieluisa designed the Bilberry Pad as a way for people without access to nature to grow bilberries, lingonberries, crowberries, different ferns, mosses, bunch grass and spruce wherever they are. They are meant to replicate the experience of a real forest, with birds, ants and long-legged spiders bustling around the plants— like they do in nature. Fresh heath forest floor is transplanted into these movable planter modules that are easy to move and to combine. They are also designed to be accessible, so people can pick berries while sitting or even lying in bed. Related: The Ienami Bonkei Planter is a Green-Roofed Cityscape for Your Desk Ease of access was the motive behind the first version of The Bilberry Pad in Kangasala, Finland , where Mieluisa organized a berry-picking event for residents of the Maijala Service Center. The project was financed by Kone Foundation and The Finnish Cultural Foundation, with support by Messupuu and Piiraisen Viherpalvelu who provided the Siberian larch for the containers and the bilberry heath transplant. + Mieluisa

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Mieluisa’s Bilberry Pads are an accessible way to bring the forest to the city

Paris banned all cars for a day to highlight pollution issues

October 2, 2017 by  
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Pedestrians and cyclists cheered yesterday as Paris closed all of its streets to cars. The government held a Car Free Day and the streets filled with bikers, walkers, and roller-bladers instead of smog. Paris held a Car Free Day in 2015 and 2016 as well. But this was the first time they extended the boundaries to include the entire city . From 11 AM to 6 PM local time, cars were asked to stay off the streets – with exceptions made for emergency vehicles, taxis, and buses. The Paris City Council hosted Car Free Day, together with collective Paris Sans Voiture , or Paris Without Car, which is behind the city-wide car-free idea. Related: Activists Show What it Would Look Like if Bikes Took Up as Much Room as Cars Pollution from cars is often an issue in France’s capital – the Associated Press said mayor Anne Hidalgo was elected after promising to slash air pollution and cut traffic . The government’s statement on the day said one of the Car Free Day’s objectives was “to show that cities can and must invent concrete solutions to fight against pollution” coming from road traffic. They encouraged people to travel by scooters , skates, bikes , or walking . The symbolic event also brought results. The government said Airparif Association conducted independent measurements during the Car Free Day using sensors and a bicycle outfitted with measuring instruments. They saw “an increased decrease in nitrogen dioxide levels along major roads” and “access roads to the capital.” Meanwhile, the Bruitparif Observatory looked at noise with the help of 11 measurement stations. They saw sound energy decreased 20 percent on average, as compared against a regular Sunday. Via Paris and Associated Press/NBC News Images © Henri Garat – Mairie de Paris

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London considers banning wood-burning stoves to tackle air pollution

October 2, 2017 by  
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Wood-burning stoves could be producing up to one third of London’s fine particle pollution , according to figures cited by the city’s mayor, Sadiq Khan . A ban on the stoves could help address the air pollution plaguing the capital; last week, Khan triggered the emergency air quality alert for the seventh time in 13 months. Wood-burning stoves have recently been popular in Britain – The Guardian reports 1.5 million have been sold in the country. 16 percent of households in southeast England have the stoves, compared to five percent nationally. But somewhere between a quarter and a third of fine particle pollution in the capital could arise from domestic wood burning. And King’s College London research indicates during very high air pollution in January, domestic wood burning yielded half of the emissions in some parts of London. Related: London breaks legal limits on air pollution in just five days in 2017 Khan said, “Non-transport sources contribute half of the deadly emissions in London, so we need a hard-hitting plan of action to combat them similar to moves I am taking to reduce pollution from road vehicles. With more than 400 schools located in areas exceeding legal pollution levels, and significant health impacts on our most vulnerable communities, we cannot wait any longer.” In a letter to Environment Secretary Michael Grove, Khan requested London’s environment department amend a Clean Air Act to set up zero-emission zones where people won’t be allowed to burn solid fuel from 2025 on. Khan also called for tougher enforcement on emissions restrictions for construction machinery like diggers and bulldozers, and for greater powers to tackle emissions coming from Thames River traffic. In a statement , the London government said half of toxic emissions come from cars and other road vehicles, and that the second-largest source of PM 2.5 particles is construction machinery. Via The Guardian Images via Pixabay and Joshua Newton on Unsplash

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San Francisco’s Wave Organ captures the sounds of the sea to make haunting music

September 29, 2017 by  
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A symphony of strange and haunting music made from the waves can be heard at the tip of a jetty in San Francisco. Part sculpture, part musical instrument, the Wave Organ is an unusual land art installation that harnesses the rhythms of the water. Created by Exploratorium artists Peter Richards and George Gonzalez, the wave-activated sound sculpture is set atop the salvaged remains of a demolished cemetery and is one of the city’s best hidden gems. Installed in 1986, the Wave Organ is a somewhat obscure landmark, often overlooked due to its hard-to-find location at the end of a jetty east of the St. Francis Yacht Club. Making the trek out there, however, is worth it. Surrounded by stunning 360-degree views of the San Francisco bay, the environmental artwork harnesses the pulse of the sea through 25 PVC and concrete pipes located at various elevations that transmit the sounds of crashing waves and gurgling water to elevated openings for listening. Related: Incredible ‘Sea Organ’ uses ocean waves to make beautiful music The Wave Organ is best heard during high tide, but can still be enjoyed at other times of the day though the gurgling rhythms will be much quieter. The music of the bay, which is made by waves slapping against and pushed through the pipes, is relatively subtle. Visitors will need to sit and let their ears attune to the environment to fully enjoy the performance. Carved granite and marble salvaged from the demolished crypts of the city’s former Laurel Hill Cemetery provide plenty of seating. Times for high tides can be checked here . + Exploratorium Images via Wikimedia , Shutterstock

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San Francisco’s Wave Organ captures the sounds of the sea to make haunting music

SF Wave Organ captures the sounds of the sea to make haunting music

September 29, 2017 by  
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Comments Off on SF Wave Organ captures the sounds of the sea to make haunting music

A symphony of strange and haunting music made from the waves can be heard at the tip of a jetty in San Francisco. Part sculpture, part musical instrument, the Wave Organ is an unusual land art installation that harnesses the rhythms of the water. Created by Exploratorium artists Peter Richards and George Gonzalez, the wave-activated sound sculpture is set atop the salvaged remains of a demolished cemetery and is one of the city’s best hidden gems. Installed in 1986, the Wave Organ is a somewhat obscure landmark, often overlooked due to its hard-to-find location at the end of a jetty east of the St. Francis Yacht Club. Making the trek out there, however, is worth it. Surrounded by stunning 360-degree views of the San Francisco bay, the environmental artwork harnesses the pulse of the sea through 25 PVC and concrete pipes located at various elevations that transmit the sounds of crashing waves and gurgling water to elevated openings for listening. Related: Incredible ‘Sea Organ’ uses ocean waves to make beautiful music The Wave Organ is best heard during high tide, but can still be enjoyed at other times of the day though the gurgling rhythms will be much quieter. The music of the bay, which is made by waves slapping against and pushed through the pipes, is relatively subtle. Visitors will need to sit and let their ears attune to the environment to fully enjoy the performance. Carved granite and marble salvaged from the demolished crypts of the city’s former Laurel Hill Cemetery provide plenty of seating. Times for high tides can be checked here . Via Exploratorium Images via Wikimedia , Shutterstock

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SF Wave Organ captures the sounds of the sea to make haunting music

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