Abandoned Walmart Becomes a Library

Walmart is best known for predatory corporate behaviour that damages communities and for the “interesting” people who shop there. One thing that Walmart does is pit one small town against the other to get cheap land and better tax rates, this sometimes means that an existing Walmart gets abandoned.

A small Texas town decided to turn their vacant Walmart into something useful: a library!

Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle transformed an abandoned Walmart in McAllen, Texas, into a 124,500-square-foot public library, the largest single-floor public library in the United States.

The design won the International Interior Design Association’s 2012 Library Interior Design Competition. MSR stripped out the old ceiling and walls of the building, gave the perimeter walls and bare warehouse ceiling a coat of white paint, and set to work adding glass-enclosed spaces, bright architectural details and row after row of books.

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Using Turntablism to Address Climate Change

Turntable Art

Climate change id the biggest issue facing humanity today and it’s no surprise to see artists express this through art. In Calgary this month there’s an exhibit by John Folsom which was inspired through a walk in the rocky mountains looking at sound and climate change. The way he does this is through a mixture of recordings, turntables, and Alpine horns.

Amidst a series of his two-dimensional works blurring the line between photography and painting, John Folsom’s sound installation Diminishing Returns highlights the problems associated with climate change at higher altitudes, in particular how it affects bird’s migratory zones. This sound installation will be on exhibit at Newzones in Calgary, Canada from October 25 through November 22 with an Artist Reception held on October 25 from 1 to 4 p.m.

Diminishing Returns consists of cast Alpine horns, turntables and lathe cut vinyl records. The sounds of avalanches and bird songs play continuously. As the turntable stylus auto repeats, the ongoing cycle of play effectively erodes the vinyl, diminishing the sound quality. Over time, repeated plays will slowly eliminate the birdcalls resulting in a final wall of white noise. This sound piece aims to call attention to the ominous signals from wildlife in the hope that mitigating the effects of climate change will produce a brighter future.

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Condesned Forests for an Urban Canopy

Shubhendu Sharma has found a way to get a small area of land to become a thick forest nearly impossible to walk trough. The idea is to take useless spaces in cities (like car parking) and turn them into miniature forests. These mini-forests can cool the local temperature, clean the air, and increase local happiness.

What’s more, the process uses native plants so it is a self-sustaining setup of plants. Sharma has created a company, Afforestt, to sell the plant-growing service to cities.

“It’s the natural process of growth, but amplified,” says Afforestt founder Shubhendu Sharma. Through an intensive process of building nutrients three feet deep in the soil and carefully plotting out a mix of trees, Sharma’s team can fill up an entire plot of land with a forest so thick it’s impossible to walk inside.

The technique was originally developed by Japanese scientist Akira Miyawaki, who demonstrated it at Toyota while Sharma worked there. The engineer was so inspired that he ended up building a similar forest in his own backyard, and eventually left Toyota to start building small super-forests everywhere.

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Bringing Burmese Cats Back From the Brink of Extinction

Cats are adorable, but not all cats get the same respect. There are wild breeds that are threatened due to anthropogenic environmental changes while others, like the Burmese cat, have been negatively impacted due to conflict. Thanks to the effort of focused individuals the Burmese cat is back from the brink of extinction!

One of the casualties of Myanmar’s 1962 coup was the Burmese cat, which had to be repatriated from from foreign pedigreed stock about ten years ago. Wong How Man of China Exploration and Research Society describes how he reintroduced them. The cats were brought in from the UK and Australia after considerable negotiation, and they now have their own private compound at the Inthar Heritage House, Inpawkhon Village, on Inle Lake. By the looks of the second video, the food is amazing, too!

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A Green Office is a Productive Office

Workplaces aren’t associated with fun, but there are certain designs of places that can make places more enjoyable. It turns out that buildings designed with sustainability in mind tend to be a better, more productive place to work. You should convince your boss that you should move to a green building.

Until that happens here’s a solution that you can put into action rather quickly:

3. A PLANT OR A VIEW OF NATURE WILL IMPROVE YOUR WORK

Windows also help by providing views–something that’s especially helpful if you’re looking at nature. Looking at trees or a park is proven to make employees less frustrated, more patient, healthier, and more focused on work. Indoor plants, too, help make people more efficient and better able to concentrate. If you don’t have a view or a plant, even pictures of nature can help.

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