A varied survey of interesting finds and tips from around the web for the week of April 8-14:
What it is: Google Earth has continued to evolve into a more and more useful and dynamic tool throughout its lifetime. This recent article highlights its utility as a means for understanding the crisis in Darfur, with an overlay option that adds links and resources to the basic map.
Excerpt: Google Earth has added a Global Awareness layer to its maps program that lets you learn about the crisis in Darfur. By selecting the Global Awareness layer (in the lower left-hand corner of Google Earth) you can fly over enhanced satellite images of the war-torn region. Sprinkled over the map are icons that link to photographs, data, videos, and narratives of eyewitnesses to the genocide.
What it is: The Digital Be-In is a bit of a longstanding Bay Area tradition, at the central junction of cyberculture and progressive environmental thinking. This year's virtual (and on-the-ground) gathering centers on the theme of biomimicry, bringing such groundbreaking leaders as Janine Benyus and Paul Hawken together for a conversation about the possibilities for interweaving biological systems thinking with technological tools. You can also attend in Second Life! Location TBA.
Excerpt:A showcase and launching pad for several new bio-inspired technology initiatives...The Digital Be-In begins with a two-hour, multidisciplinary exploration of Biomimicry as it relates to green tech, urban development and land management, economics, social systems, and the worldwide sustainability movement.
What it is: GOOD Magazine's newest online video, just in time for tax day, shows in what's become their usual high-quality, edgy and entertaining format, an "oversimplification" of the U.S. government's distribution of our tax money.
What it is: Vinod Khosla shares an interesting opinion piece about renewable energy technologies, investment choices, and the role of pragmatist vs. idealist within environmentalist circles. The piece was inspired by a panel he recently sat on with Dr. Herman Scheer, a member of the German parliament and the president of EUROSOLAR (The European Association for Renewable Energy), with whom he disagreed quite fervently as far as approaches to getting more of the world on renewables.
Excerpt: Moreover, these lower carbon emission generation technologies must be attractive not only to government planners, but also to private capital that cares only about economics and regulation- hundreds of billions if not trillions of which needs to become available. Simply put, government money will never be enough to reform the world's energy infrastructure. To achieve these goals, we must provide services that consumers want and prefer over their non-sustainable fossil competitors, while at the same time be profitable for business (unless it can politically be mandated worldwide thru policy which seems unlikely, especially in India and China). Applications that meet the engineering needs but fail to meet the commercial ones are doomed to failure, which provides one of the key reasons for my disagreements with Dr. Scheer.
What it is: The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) just announced the recipients of its 2007 Professional Awards, which honors projects around the world for innovative landscape and urban design. The winning projects are beautiful, and many of them examine integrating sustainability into design. Worth a look.
What it is: Parsons The New School for Design in New York has partnered with non-profit organization, Women for Women International for a collaborative project between design students and women in Kosovo. The students have designed a series of products which the women will manufacture. They will be sold online and proceeds returned to programs in Kosovo. They can be purchased online at the virtual bazaar.
Excerpt: Women for Women International helps women in war-torn regions rebuild their lives by providing financial and emotional support, job skills training, rights awareness and leadership education and access to business skills, capital and markets.
What it is: Philadelphia designer, Kelly Cobb, undertook a project to make a man's suit using only materials sourced from within 100 miles of her home. It took 20 people and 500 cumulative hours to create. The final product does not have an urban or modern aesthetic to say, the least...at least not the one that would currently be described as such. Definitely part of the challenge of a 100-Mile Wardrobe.
Excerpt: Cobb's suit is a demonstration of the massive manufacturing power of the global economy. Industrial processes and cheap foreign labor belie the tremendous resources that go into garments as simple as a T-shirt...Cobb estimates that 8 percent of the materials in the 100-mile suit came from outside the prescribed radius. Those alien components, including the cores of the thread and the rubber soles of the shoes, were colored yellow to stand out against the primarily gray-brown color of the suit.
Vinod Khosla writes "Simply put, government money will never be enough to reform the world's energy infrastructure."
To me this smacks of not really understanding the nature of money.
When we have the materials, the tools, the space, the time, the skills and the intent to do something, not having enough money to do something is like not having enough inches to build a house.
In essence money is an agreement, between a community, to use something as a means of exchange.
The agreement can be freely chosen, or coerced. Explicit or implicit.
At present we all coerced to implicitly agree to the present Money as Debt system, but there is nothing stopping us making freely chosen explicit agreements to create new money.
Indeed, that is exactly what thousands of communities around the globe are doing - creating their own currencies. LETS, Time Banks, Local and Corporate Scrip, Reciprocal Trading networks, Mutual Credit systems, etc. etc.