On the heels of the UN climate talks in Doha, facing a challenge beautifully summarized in this graphic by David McCandless, it is easy to feel the emphasis on ‘doing less’ in order to emit less CO2. The idea of ‘less’ is especially compelling in the Western half of the world, where fully developed industrial economies have produced the lion’s share of CO2 now scrambling the weather.
At the same time, a movement of inventive thinkers are developing the means to do ‘more’ in life, and do it more efficiently. Make more connections, be more productive, get better results, and do it in a framework that can enrich the future for succeeding generations. The key efficient step is sharing and collaboration, and tonight at the WNYC Jerome L. Greene space, cleanecnyc.org is hosting a talk on collaborative consumption, to discuss just that. The panel includes speakers from future-oriented businesses Krrb, Weeels, Bright Farms, and SolarCity. The moderator is Brian Merchant, editor of the VICE spin-off Motherboard, and the hosts are Solar One and NYU-Poly. The panel starts at 7 PM, doors open at 6:30, tickets are $25 online here, with some available at the door. The talk will also be livestreamed.
Other notable sharing initiatives include the New York arts-oriented barter network OurGoods.org, and their growing barter-for-learning project Trade School, an idea now spreading to more than a dozen cities around the world.
Which means you get to hear the Trade School concept explained with a charming Glaswegian accent, in this video:
The clean up from Hurricane Sandy has just started; if you’d like to help, here are connections:
A continuously updated list of requests for help from organizations around the city.
Another list of volunteer opportunities:
By neighborhood (list under construction):
Red Hook was hard hit:
There’s a crowdsourced geography tool that you can use to help FEMA identify areas in need in of relief:
The miniaturized exploration of New York waterways continues on Tuesdays and Thursdays in coming weeks, courtesy of Brooklyn Atlantis, a new research project from NYU Poly. Following last month’s model boat excursion on Newtown Creek, which was created by a group of artists, the Brooklyn Atlantis team is deploying a much more serious research vehicle in the Gowanus Canal. The science team asks the public to help tag images from the device as it roams above and below the waves. If you’d like to participate remotely in this research project, you can create an account at the Brooklyn Atlantis website.
As explained in the NY Times, “Anyone can tag photos and track patterns in the environmental conditions, and those who contribute frequently and accurately can graduate to greater responsibilities…Particularly avid users will eventually be able to control their own robot.”
And as described on the project website: “What should you be tagging? Any recognizable object! Whether it’s a tree, fish, or soda can, its fair game, so don’t hold back! By helping us tag the images from our ARV we can study and observe the canal and its wildlife right from home.” In this way, the cause of science can capture some of the time you might otherwise spend on Facebook or Pinterest.
Below is a sample shot from the rover. The project crowdsources the analysis of the images; once you’ve logged in to the site, and move your cursor over the window, boxes appear that allow you to tag features in the scene.
Top photo: NY Times
Join Textile Lab tomorrow Saturday September 15th from 4–6 with our friends from Our Goods to engage, create and feast at the “Unsold Supper” Event. We will be felting gifts to give to the farmers using local, naturally dyed fiber!
Please see our revised Greenmarket schedule below for September, October and November. Textile Lab will be visiting Brooklyn Borough Hall Greenmarket on September 29th.
September 15th- Union Square/ Unsold Supper Event
Sept 29th- Brooklyn Borough Hall
October 20th- Tribeca
October 28th- 79th Street
November 3rd- Tucker Square
November 18th- Carroll Gardens
photo, top: Laura Sansone
photo, bottom: E. T. Jones
Michael Bierut is a partner at the design firm Pentagram. His work is represented in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
As a designer, how can you learn from the public to meet their needs or redefine the problem? How can we learn from the public and make something that’ll convince them, for instance, of a long term problem like climate change?
Michael Bierut: The public won’t ever tell you, “this is how you change our mind.” People will say, “oh, the general public has an inability to take in information on multiple levels, so the only intake they can handle is coarse, low nuance, low density bits of things.”
On the other hand, a compelling explanation of something can carry the day and have an effect. For instance, by weird chain of circumstance I happen to be on the advisory board for something called the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Now, most people have never heard of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, but most people have heard of this thing that they invented a long, long time ago called the “doomsday clock.”
These were all former Manhattan Project physicists who decided, after they invented the atom bomb, that they needed to take responsibility about how atomic power and atomic weapons would be used, controlled, and, in many of their views, eliminated. Once they invented this thing they were very ambivalent about, they realized it was extremely dangerous.
They were founded in the late ‘40s and they still are active today. Early on, they had a magazine that was called the Bulletin. One of them was married to an artist named Martyl, and Martyl was asked to do a cover illustration for it and just decided to just to show the last fifteen minutes of the hour face of the clock approaching seven minutes to midnight. And she said she put it at seven minutes because she thought it looked cool.
These Ph.D. physicists — who are much smarter than me and a lot of other people — were evaluating whether the world was a more dangerous place to be. And finally one of them said, “well what if we move the hands of the clock and change the position of it depending on our scientific assessment” of whether the world was moving closer or farther away to nuclear annihilation.
Way back in the forties they started this process, and now with some regularity, they have these scheduled meetings where they meet to assess things and decide if they’ll move the clock forwards or backwards.
During the Cuban Missile Crisis it was two minutes to midnight — the closest it’s ever been. The farthest it’s been from midnight was in the ‘90s, during the Clinton administration after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The last meeting they had was in February, and they moved it one minute closer to midnight. They moved it from six minutes to midnight to five.
It’s a really complicated history. There are lots of competing views about it, but the fact is that they’ve agreed this unbelievably simple, almost childish, comic book-y metaphor is meaningful enough to signal the sum of all of these individual scientific political assessments they’ve been making. I think it’s miraculous. It’s really incredible. Martyl managed to intuitively come up with this really simple metaphor that is able to contain multitudes of detail, or be the leading edge, the headline.
And it also ties into any Bruce Willis movie you ever saw – the ticking clock, the hands moving closer, the thing that’s going to happen at midnight. There’s something – it’s Cinderella, it’s a disaster movie — it’s just such a great metaphor: poignant and accessible to people.
And to me, that’s graphic design. That’s really pure graphic design: taking a set of complicated interlocking concepts and translating them into a simple, fairly two-dimensional graphic design idea. That actually translates also into words.
And now, because of communications technology, it’s interesting to try to figure out what actually becomes the most likely carrier of such simplicity. The Occupy Wall Street movement, for example. Every time I’ve heard the creation story of that – attributed to Kalle Lasn, the editor of Adbusters magazine – he says that they had this idea to do this poster that shows ballerinas standing on top of the Wall Street bull statue down on Wall Street, underneath it says “Occupy Wall Street,” and then it says “we have one demand.” Have you ever seen that poster?
No, I’ve never seen that Occupy Poster.
Michael Bierut: No! Exactly! Both the doomsday clock and Occupy were very organic and they weren’t necessarily conceived to be the thing that they turned into. With that cover design for the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the scientists didn’t sit down with her and give her a Powerpoint presentation explaining what the survey results said and what their goals were. They didn’t say, “We need you right now to come up with a device that will be an immediately understood metaphor for the dangers of manmade threats to the world in the form of nuclear annihilation or others.” They just said, “Can you come up with some way to decorate the cover of this thing? It looks boring and probably we just got a little donation, so we can afford to print it on shiny paper in a second color. Could we have a picture for the front?”
She actually had some advice, I learned, from the graphic design director at the Container Corporation of America – this guy named Egbert Jacobson – who told her to project a vague, very metaphoric and indirect sense of foreboding. “Clock is ticking.” But it didn’t mean anything specific.
Then he said, why don’t you just do this every time except keep the art the same and just change the color? And that was a proto-modernist approach – so they did that. They got repetition on their side and then a little bit later had the inspiration to take this thing that they’d been putting out there and decide that it meant something.
Michael Bierut: Adbusters does all kinds of stuff all the time. They’re always buying. They’re trying to create these big global movements and then they did this thing that started with this poster that few people have seen, and those few who’ve seen or heard about it don’t quite get it, but it actually had those words “occupy wall street.”
And eventually it got tweeted out with a date and that tapped into a movement that was already somehow happening, and that gave the image a focus. So all of those things are guerilla movements in way. They’re leaderless, they don’t necessarily have believably clear goals at the beginning, and they grow in an organic sort of way. I think part of the problem is that we live in a time that’s built perfectly to accommodate guerilla movements and the world still has tons of Napoleons.
Napoleon thought the way a proper battle gets fought is you get everyone in uniform matched up perfectly, then you line them all up row after row after row after row. You’re all waiting on the top of the hill, the sun starts to come up, and at dawn the battle begins and they all march in the row against other guys marching in a row, and they just shoot at each other. Eventually the battle’s over and a lot of people are dead and maybe the battle line has moved, you know, a mile one way or twenty feet the other way.
Apple is Napoleonic in the way they administer their brand. It’s not like that doesn’t work; it can change hearts and minds even if the goal is to make everyone convinced that there’s one best kind of phone to buy. You can make it work in the command and control way. But even Apple has depended a lot on the ability of independent people developing apps for them. Their sort of centralized control model isn’t really the whole story with them.
Guerillas just sneak up and think, “lets go around behind that tree and shoot that thing.” It’s much more opportunistic, it’s much more incremental, it’s much more insidious, much more relentless. I think good incrementalism and relentlessness and insidiousness – ubiquity, let’s say – are all traits that could serve communications really well.
Cities are where it’s always worked best just because people live in close proximity to each other — plugged into networks that were there just to make the city work. Now those networks are all mirrored digitally, so people can feel that they’re parts of communities even if they’re really living in disparate places. So there’s a whole interesting conversation you can have there from the communications point of view too.
Michael Bierut: One of the reasons City Atlas is interesting to me is that I think that New York is a working model of a sustainable community, and because density and efficiency has a lot of lessons for the future. Every city is different and every community is different — every place has its own set of conditions that have formed it and particular influential people within it or just sort of everyday people that affect its future. But I think New York is really special in that regard.
I grew up in the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio in a traditional suburban cul-de-sac development that was built in the ‘60s, with all its shortcomings, with the ride across the superblocks to the nearest shopping mall, that was brand new when we moved there.
It sort of went through its life cycle of aging and quasi-renewal. We saw the whole thing. And at large, we saw all the problems with suburban life and sprawl and everything.
I think it’s good, the sort of the density, efficiency of the kinds of interactions we can have here in New York. And public transportation – all those things, and so I moved here immediately after I graduated from college.
As much as designers are flattered to think that they are equipped to have special insights into the world, I don’t think that they’re that much more equipped than dentists are to tell you the truth – quote me on that – but I do think that I really, I personally just have a passion for New York – not an absolute monogamist sort of passion – I live in Tarrytown, in Westchester. I live back in the suburbs now.
Michael Bierut: Once every three months. I get in cars every once in a while, but I live 90 seconds from Metro North. When [my wife and I] moved, and this was a long time ago, we sort of determined we needed to be close to Grand Central as opposed to Penn Station, just because of my admiration for Grand Central. And then I take the bus to work every morning. I walk over to the bus stop.
I don’t know many people my age who ride the bus. There’s one designer who’s lived here since the ‘70s and claims he’s never been on a bus.
On a trip in 1974 we took to New York in high school, we were given a mini hand-out of tips about New York, and one of them was ways to get around the city, and they listed walking — ‘most interesting,’ subway – ‘fastest,’ and then there were buses – ‘see the most.’
And I still remember that really clearly.
And so, speaking of the MTA and Metro North, the big break through in my life was when my Metro North pass started being paired with a metro card – an unlimited metro card. Now I will walk out of a meeting at the Museum of the City of New York and if there is a number 2 bus going by, I’ll just think “oh, free ride!” A free ride in this giant chariot — and it’s fantastic.
Michael Bierut studied graphic design at the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning. Prior to joining the international design consultancy Pentagram as a partner in 1990, he was vice president of graphic design at Vignelli Associates. His work is represented in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Montreal. He has served as president of the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) and as a director of the Architectural League of New York, and is a member of the Art Directors Club Hall of Fame. He is a co-editor of the Looking Closer series of design criticism anthologies and a founding contributor to the online journal DesignObserver.com, and the author of Seventy-Nine Short Essays on Design (Princeton Architectural Press, 2007). In 2008 he received the Design Mind award from the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, and he is currently a senior critic in graphic design at the Yale School of Art. Michael Bierut’s father served in the U.S. Army during the occupation of Japan, and was stationed in the city of Nagasaki.
Top photo: Maureen Drennan
Inset image: Design Observer
On July 8, I spent an afternoon in Bushwick with James Rojas. An urban planner by training, Rojas uses a very interesting method to observe how people “feel” their cities as they currently exist, and how they can imagine an ideal version of their urban spaces. “The idea is just to give them some material and see how they imagine their ideal city through such material” James explained to me. They do not need to speak during the activity or write in order to explain what they imagine and want. Rojas’ workshop provided an experiential exercise that fills the language gaps in this multicultural city.
James, a quiet person who was born in California as part of a second generation of Latino immigrants, has few words to say in English and even fewer in Spanish, but understands all of what I said in the same language. In the end, what I can notice is a man with a blue bag full of pieces of old toys (hair rollers, little animals, little trees, etc) and a brain full of memories of the city where he has grown up: Los Angeles.
He told me that this workshop indeed stems from such ideas and the Mexican culture that is very present in that part of California. He mentioned that he has observed many times the typical Nativity in some of the ideal cities built up by the people there, as well as the mixture of the culture in LA, a Christmas tree decorated with Mexican typical handcraft. We could notice the same in this workshop when a little girl put some figures proper to her city of origin and mixed this with some snowflakes. Rojas has conducted the workshop around the entire country and last Thursday, Rojas workshopped with adults in Midtown Manhattan. But like he says, other cities and other states will then get their turn next.
In this case James did the activity with children in Maria Hernandez Park in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Most of them were Latino and younger than six years old. It did not take more than four minutes to hook the children’s attention after James placed the big blue IKEA bag full of toys and “things” on the soil–a colorful scenario that a child cannot resist. Even though the day was extremely hot and the park looked more like an arid desert with a few green bushes, the approximately twenty children were really concentrated on their dream: building their own ideal cities. Even when a few of them lost focus on the activity, what really happened is that most of the children just sat there and followed a simple and basic instruction: “build up your ideal city.”
We took out some papers and sheets so they could “plan” their cities over a more solid foundation than the soil. Twenty minutes later, they had completed their own cities with the “things” that they found in the bag. Opposed to what some of us might think, the children had great stories behind their spontaneous experience. They were not just playing with the objects and if they were; they played to be the ideal engineers and the ideal architects. Almost every single piece was put over the paper sheet with careful intention, and had its function and its order. But mainly, every piece had a story that they developed in their heads and told us after playing with the objects for twenty minutes. As for James, that story is the result of a life they have seen, heard, smelled, tasted but mainly felt. Evidence of a life that maybe did not start there in Brooklyn–or a life that was began in the city but still has some of their parents’ roots—materialize in a mix of their home cities and their current one. At least that is what we saw in their “ideal plans”–plans that most of the time were full of color, water, farms, animals, and faith.
According to James, the exercise is a great way to see how people feel their city. But it is also an activity that allowed us, the viewers, to see how those who participate, have their culture inside and how they reproduce such culture in a scale model.
Now that the activity is over, I hope that next time, instead of dried soil into the IKEA blue bag, James will find some green bush along his pieces of toys reflecting the dreams of the children and the reality of a greener city. And I also hope that children but also adults (Rojas’s second workshop in NYC consisted of the same activity, but for adults) can keep their cultural roots in their ideal cities but with a more global idea of world citizen of a greener city.
El pasado 8 de Julio pasé toda la tarde en Bushwick con James Rojas. Un urbanista que utiliza un método bastante interesante para observar la forma en que la gente “siente” la ciudad que habita y la forma como imaginan una ciudad ideal. “La idea es simplemente darles algún material y ver como ellos imaginan su ciudad ideal utilizando ese material” me explica James. Ellos no necesitan hablar o escribir durante la actividad para explicar lo que imaginan o desean. El taller es un ejercicio experiencial que cruza la frontera del language en una ciudad multicultural.
James, una persona callada que nació en California como parte de una segunda generación de inmigrantes latinos, tiene pocas palabras en inglés para decir y todavía más pocas en español. Sin embargo, el entendió todo lo que le dije en este idioma. Al final, lo que puedo ver en James es a un hombre con una bolsa azul, llena de pequeños juguetes o trozos de ello (rulos para el pelo, animalitos, arbolitos, etc) y un cerebro lleno de memorias de Los Angeles, la ciudad en la que el creció.
De hecho, el me comentó que este taller tiene su origen en esas ideas y la atracción que siente por la cultura mejicana que esta bastante presente en California. El menciona haber visto varias veces las típicas Natividades en los prototipos de ciudades ideales diseñadas en esa ciudad, así como la mezcla de culturas presente en Los Angeles. Un árbol de navidad decorado con piezas de artesanía mejicana por ejemplo. Algo similar a lo que pudimos ver en el taller de hoy cuando una pequeña puso figurines típicos de su ciudad natal junto con algunos copos de nieve que seguramente ha visto acá en Estados Unidos.
Rojas ha conducido dicho taller por todo el país con gente de todas las edades. El siguiente se realizará mañana en el centro de Manhattan con adultos. Pero como el dijo, luego vendrá el turno paran otras ciudades y otros estados.
En este caso, James realizó la actividad en el parque María Hernández en Bushwick, Brooklyn. La mayoría de los participantes eran niños latinos menores de seis años. Después de que James dejara la bolsa en el suelo, no pasaron cinco minutos para que los niños se acercaran con toda la atención puesta en la bolsa azul de IKEA. Una bolsa llena de juguetes y “cositas”. Un escenario bastante colorido para que un niño se resista a acercarse. Y aún cuando algunos de ellos habrían podido perder la concentración, lo que realmente sucedió es que la mayoría simplemente se mantuvieron allí sentados siguiendo la dirección dada: “construir sus ciudades ideales”.
Nosotros les dimos unas hojas de papel para que pudieran planear sus ciudades sobre un suelo un poco más solido que el suelo del parque. Veinte minutes después, ellos habían terminado sus diseños con las “cosas” que encontraron en la bolsa. Opuesto a lo que muchos de nosotros podríamos pensar, los niños tenían grandes historias apoyando sus bocetos. Ellos no estaban simplemente “jugando”, y si lo estaban haciendo, entonces jugaron a ser los ingenieros y los arquitectos ideales. Casi todas las piezas estaban puestas intencionalmente con un orden y una función específica. Y aun más, cada pieza tenía una historia que ellos desarrollaron en sus cabezas y que nos contaron luego de jugar con los objetos por veinte minutos. Según James, esas historias son el resultado de una vida que ellos han visto, oído, olido, probado y principalmente sentido. Historias de una vida que quizás no empezaron allí en Brooklyn, o que empezaron en la ciudad pero aún conservan algo de las raíces natales de sus padres, y que se ha materializado en una mezcla de sus ciudades de origen y su ciudad actual. Por lo menos, eso es lo que vimos en sus planes ideales. Planes que estaban llenos de color, agua, granjas, animales y fe.
Según James, el ejercicio es una forma excelente para ver cómo la gente “siente” sus ciudades. Pero tambien una actividad que nos permitió a nosotros, los que observamos, ver cómo los que participan llevan dentro sus culturas y las reproducen en modelos a escala.
Ahora que la actividad se ha acabado, yo espero que en lugar de tierra seca, la próxima vez, James encuentre en su bolsa de Ikea no sólo sus juguetes, sino algo de pasto verde. Algo que refleja los sueños de los niños y la realidad de una ciudad más respirable. También espero que los niños y los adultos (quienes serán los participantes del siguiente taller de Rojas) puedan mantener sus raíces culturales en esos imaginarios de ciudad ideal pero con una idea más global de lo que implica ser un ciudadano de un mundo más verde.
Summer has arrived! Soon enough, you’ll be seeing blue.
A brand-new fleet of nearly 10 thousand bicycles will populate New York’s streets in the coming months, and they will all need riders. We’ve already posted the DOT’s interactive map of 420 planned bike share stations across Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens. Now it’s time to take another step closer to your future as a renter-rider.
The most recent project of OpenPlans, a non-profit focused on open government and better transportation, gives New Yorkers a sneak peak at our improved future lifestlyes as bicyclists. Using this map, you can plan your daily commute to work, a jaunt to the High Line, or a weekly cycle to the EBT-friendly greenmarket nearest you.
So far, the map works like this: you pick the start and end points, and drag the flags to change your route. Cibi.me currently provides a recommended pickup and drop-off site for your rented three-speeder, as well as the number of bicycles available at the start point and how many parking spaces you’ll find at the end of your journey. You can also change your route to determine quickest, safest, or flattest journey.
According to a recent post by OpenPlans’ Frank Hebbert, cibi.me will let you know if bikes are available before recommending a route to you once the bikeshare program is in full operation.
In the mean time, you can share comments or suggestions for cibi.me @OpenPlans.
Here’s to the future: an open-sourced, collaboratively-planned, bicycle-positive New York.
Though environmental standards have improved over the past decades, in these muggy days of early summer in New York the quality of our air and water becomes palpably questionable. We bicycle through clouds of truck exhaust that hang in the damp air, and it won’t be long before we’ll almost be able to smell the Gowanus from Manhattan.
What can you do this summer to make sure that your daily habits contribute to a city with cleaner air and water? Surveil yourself.
We’ve been tracking a few open source technology initiatives that make it easy for everyday citizens to monitor the air quality of the areas we inhabit, track our own daily water usage, and keep feelers out for things like sewer overflows in our boroughs.
Take dontflush.me, for example. According to the project’s website, maintained by inventor Leif Percifield:
“The idea behind this project is to allow NYC residents to help reduce the amount of pollution in the harbor. Some 27 billion gallons of raw sewage is dumped into the harbor every year. This comes from Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs) that open when the sewer system is overloaded. The idea is to enable residents to understand when the overflows happen and reduce their wastewater production before and during an overflow event.”
Use the widget on the dontflush.me website and updates from their twitter account to monitor when it’s safe to flush, shower, and do laundry, or when you should hold off due to a possible sewer overflow in your borough.
You can also use this map to track rainfall in the blocks surrounding your apartment, office, and regular haunts to keep an eye out for combined sewer overflows due to rain and snowfall hitting our outdated sewer systems. A feed of tips and facts under the map offers simple ideas to help you help us all steer clear of of code brown [example tip: take a shorter shower on rainy days].
From a team including coders, educators, hackers, and activists from Citizen Sensor, Pachube, and some of the same people from dontflush.me, comes #AirQualityEgg: A community-led air quality sensing network that gives people a way to participate in the conversation about air quality.
We’ll keep giving you tips on self-surveillance for sustainability throughout the summer, but will leave you with this video on an open-hardware, data-collecting air quality egg to look forward to:
A story in the New York Times on Mayor Bloomberg’s speech in Singapore, where he was accepting an award for urban sustainability, noted that the mayor also commented on the problems of governing in an era of social media. The article focuses on this passage:
“Social media is going to make it even more difficult to make long-term investments. We are basically having a referendum on every single thing that we do every day, and it’s very hard for people to stand up to that and say, ‘No, no, this is what we’re going to do,’ when there’s constant criticism, and an election process that you have to look forward to and face periodically.”
It’s a fascinating comment from New York’s most high tech mayor. Different viewpoints may be expressed at the upcoming panel discussion on social media and urban planning, held at Studio X on Tuesday, March 27th.
More content from the mayor’s speech is available at his own website, but not the section critical of social media. His speech does highlight specific successes in the city’s planning, like the High Line, which triggered $2 billion of private investment in the surrounding neighborhood. The transcript available is worth reading for a recap of the city’s recent innovations, long term vision, and international position, as framed by City Hall.
On Saturday, February 11th, the city’s innovative crowd source platform Change By Us will team up with the Parks Department, PlaNYC and Million Trees NYC to host the Grow Our Grassroots Summit at Borough Hall in Brooklyn.
The keynote speakers include Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe and David Bragdon, Director of the Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability. The summit will include workshops and panels on a wide range of topics for urban volunteers and organizations, including tree care, community fundraising, and social media techniques.
To learn more: Grow Our Grassroots Summit website
Register for the event here.
Ioby, the online micro-funding platform for community green projects, will work with Deutsche Bank to provide matching grants aimed at projects led by Community Development Corporations (CDC’s) in New York City.
Deutsche Bank is the first investment bank to support ioby.org by providing a matching grant to stimulate green projects at NYC CDC’s.
Erin Barnes, co-founder and executive director of ioby, describes the goal of the collaboration:
“Any New Yorker can post their project on ioby, but we have a special interest in supporting the ideas and initiatives of New Yorkers in neighborhoods that have a greater burden of environmental problems and fewer resources to address them. With Deutsche Bank’s match for CDC-led projects, we have a special opportunity to work with an existing infrastructure in neighborhoods like this.”
The first two CDC projects chosen are the featured on the grant program webpage, and include:
CDC Cypress Hills Verde seeks $5,940 for an urban farm in the East New York/Cypress Hills neighborhood of Brooklyn. The project – Pollos Del Pueblo – will transform an overgrown, City-owned vacant lot into a community resource with a chicken coop, a chicken run, storage shed and community compost station.
Living City Block Gowanus and the CDC Gowanus Community Development Corporation seek $4160 for the design of Living City Brooklyn Gowanus street signage in the Gowanus neighborhood. As both a utilitarian and public education project, the signs will direct pedestrians, cyclists and car traffic to bike racks, solar panels, bioswales and micro-wind turbines. The goal of the signage project is to “connect residents with creative, recreational and green resources while at the same time encouraging sustainable practices that will help clean up the canal and create a more livable community.”
Read more about the program here.
Think Progress asks “Is the Climate Crisis Caused by the 7 Billion or the 1 Percent?” The Public Mapping Project is trying to bring more transparency to electoral redistricting in New York State. Ready to shop for gifts already? City Fabric has made some great looking shirts with NYC maps on them.
EVERYTHING IS BETTER WITH A POOL
+ Pool is the collaborative initiative of design studios Family and PlayLab to build a floating pool for everyone in the rivers of New York City. The project seeks to improve the use of the city’s natural resources by providing a clean and safe way for the public to swim in New York’s waters.
As both a public amenity and an ecological prototype, + Pool is a small but exciting precedent for environmental urbanism in the 21st Century.
WATER + POOL
The most important aspect of + Pool’s design is that it filters river water through the pool’s walls – like a giant strainer dropped into the river.
The concentric layers of filtration materials that make up the sides of the pool are designed to remove bacteria, contaminants and odors, leaving only safe and swimmable water that meets city, state and federal standards of quality.
HISTORY + POOL
Floating pools have paralleled the development of New York City dating back to the early 19th Century. When the city’s elite used lower Manhattan as a resort in the 1800′s, floating spas were located just off the Battery. After the Civil War. the huge influx of immigrants required bathhouses in the Hudson and East Rivers as many were without proper bathing facilities in their homes. In the early 1900′s improved plumbing infrastructure and increasing water quality concerns closed the last of the river-borne pools, relocating aquatic leisure activities to more sanitized and inland sites.
In 1972, the Clean Water Act set forth the goal of making every body of water in the country safe for recreation, and in 2007 the Floating Pool Lady – a reclaimed barge now located in the Bronx – brought back the first semblance of New York’s floating pool culture in almost a century.
Today, as the appreciation for our city’s natural resources becomes increasingly crucial, a permanent floating pool in the river will help restore the water culture so integral to New York City.
Why the shape? Why that particular location?
We wanted Plus Pool to be for everyone, so it’s four pools in one. Granted, you could subdivide a regular pool into four quadrants, but then it wouldn’t look as good, would it?
We don’t have a particular location per se. Since the pool is more a new typology, or even product, than a site-specific building, it more or less can go anywhere.
How will you clean the filters? Is Plus Pool feasible even if there are sewage spills, like the recent spill from the North River Treatment Plant?
Some of the filters we are looking at are self-cleaning. Others will require backwashing and of course the occasional maintenance, like any pool filter. Sewage spills and rainy weather contaminant spikes are what we are designing for. Whether people will want to get into river water after a spill, even if it’s clean, is another story.
Now that you’ve started the campaign, what have you learned most about the process, about people, about yourself?
That this project is surprisingly self-propelled. And that we know very little. And that inexperience isn’t necessarily a bad thing. And that a lot of New Yorkers are jaded experts on the outside and stoked kids on the inside.
What else would you like to see in NYC in ten years?
A proper goddamn burrito.
What would you like to see in City Atlas?
A burrito map. Anything regarding food really.
Do you think people can change their lives to include less of the old ways (high energy and carbon) and more new ways, and be happy?
No duh. One of the problems is that ‘sustainability,’ or ‘green,’ or ‘conservation,’ has all been understood as reducing a bad thing. Which is all good, but reducing how you live is never all that appealing. The other way to look at it is producing good things, which seems a lot more fun and wide open.
How did you decide to go the Kickstarter route?
Playlab used Kickstarter for a small sculptural project they did a while back. And we met with Kickstarter and they seemed rad and into the project. Honestly, we didn’t know of many other options so we figured we might as well try Kickstarter.
What are some precedents that inspired your course of action?
Not sure. The High Line is somewhat similar. But otherwise we haven’t found any models that shed light on what to do next. It’s mostly: “Huh, that seems like it’d be good. Let’s try it.”
Top photo illustration courtesy of pluspool.org
This is part one of a two part interview.
Concerned citizens could post proposals to project profiles (similar to Facebook profiles) with information and imagery. They could then send a link to others and begin working with them on political mobilization, design collaboration and project funding. They could discuss the project on the profile wall, vote on whether or not it should proceed, and make donations.
ONGOING thru 2013
Twenty “hubs” dispersed along the length of Broadway will serve as sites for collaboration between MMStudio, research scientists and other experts, municipal policy makers, and local community groups. Installations that are small in scale but which aggregate to reveal the vast network of systems vital to a sustainable city, are designed to make sustainability tangible to citizens at street level and catalyze future projects by artists and environmental designers. The sense of incremental transformation—of many individual instances working together to create a powerful cumulative effect—is the overarching idea for the project and the basis of its title “1000 Steps”. The central message to be communicated – generated out of a year-long collaboration with a prestigious scientific and community advisory board – is that nature is everywhere and in action at all times, that the city is an urban ecosystem, that an innumerable number of small decisions over time have shaped the environment to be the one we inhabit today, and that our decisions (behavioral choices) impact the future of all of nature.
To ensure the quality of information being communicated, Mary Miss Studio has formed partnerships with senior personnel at NASA Goddard Institute for Space Science, Center for Research on Environmental Decisions at the Earth Institute of Columbia University, The Institute for Sustainable Cities at CUNY, the Wallerstein Collaborative for Environmental Education at NYU, and with the writer Tony Hiss. The partners have met monthly to develop learning goals, shape the information gathering framework that informs the deployment of art markings, and curate the specific information that will be included at each hub. In order to secure municipal partnerships, permits, and permissions, there is an ongoing dialogue with the Department of Planning, Department of Parks and Recreation, Department of Transportation, Department of Buildings, Department of Cultural Affairs, and the Mayor’s Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability.
ioby stands for “in our backyards” and the belief that environmental knowledge, innovation, action, and service begin and thrive in our backyards.
ioby.org is an online platform combines the tools of micro-philanthropy, social media, and community organizing to meet our three goals:
(1) support the infrastructure of the grassroots environmental movement in urban areas
(2) promote direct engagement with local projects as a way to gain environmental knowledge
(3) tell the collective story of grassroots environmental work in urban areas.
On ioby.org, local community groups submit project applications and ioby staff screen, vet and approve projects based on rigorous environmental and social criteria. Approved projects are then given an online profile that describes their environmental problem, proposed solution, steps to action, and the budget needed to carry out the idea. Our micro-philanthropic model works by pooling small donations from many online donors to fund projects directly and our website will soon allow groups to simultaneously organize volunteers.