Proof Protests Work: Trump’s Cancelled Plans

protest

‘Protesting it pointless’ is a refrain heard around the world by people who disavow public displays of disaffection. For the most part the idea of protesting being useless comes from the people in power who don’t want to be protested (or even questioned). This is evident when it comes to the thin-skinned president of the United States. President Trump has cancelled his trip to London because he’s worried that people will protest his presence.

He has apparently, in a recent telephone call to the prime minister, declared that he does not want to come if there are to be large-scale protests. The visit, we are told, is on hold.

Some may be surprised by this. From the violence and menace that became features of his ugly campaign, it was easy to assume that he liked a bit of edge at his public appearances. But on those occasions, he knew he would always have the support of far-right thugs and hangers-on who could drown out dissent and, if need be, throw a few punches at protesters, passers-by, anyone who would dare to question him. That intimidation, unprecedented in recent history, would have been more difficult to replicate here; he could hardly bring his street fighters with him. There are only so many seats on Air Force One.

Maybe he didn’t fancy the trip without Theresa there to hold his hand; to keep him strong and stable, as it were. Even he might blanch – all the way from Tango orange to the whitest white – at the idea of skipping through the Downing Street rose garden hand in hand with Phil the spreadsheet Hammond or Boris Johnson.

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VLC Demonstrates the Awesomeness of the FOSS Movement

VLC plays anything you can throw at it as it’s an amazing piece of software. The application is focussed on doing one thing really well: playing media. It’s so good because of the philosophy behind it, known as Free and open-source software (FOSS). Meaning that anybody anywhere can contribute to the source code and make VLC better, and everybody can download it for free. It’s hippy meets technology – essentially VLC is the most cyberpunk and useful application you can have on your computer.

Jean-Baptiste Kempf is one of the core developers of VLC and in the interview above you can see how and why he supports the FOSS movement through VLC.

UNESCO Exploring Underwater Mayan Heritage

Guatemala is a gorgeous country with a rich Mayan history, particularly around Lake Atitlán (and the more famous Tikal). The country will now be home to a UNESCO project toking at best practices for underwater archaeology. The main idea is to work with the local population to ensure cultural sensitivity and to match that care with environmental concerns. When the practices are outlined UNESCO will expand their underwater archeology knowledge to the world’s researchers with some locations already identified.

UNESCO’s technical mission to Lake Atitlán (southwest of Guatemala) will take place in the autumn. It will be funded by Spain and will be carried out by the experts of the Scientific and Technical Advisory Body of UNESCO’s Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage. María Helena Barba Meinecke, head of the Yucatan Peninsula underwater heritage programme of Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History will lead the mission, which will examine the archaeological sites in the lake and propose a management plan in consultation with the local communities, for whom these vestiges are of great cultural importance.

Several submerged archaeological sites were discovered in 1996 in Lake Atitlán, the deepest lake in Central America. Among them is a Mayan villages known as Samabaj, which retains the remains of domestic structures and religious monuments. The village appears to have been built on an island that was submerged, possibly because of a volcanic eruption, a landslide or another natural disaster.

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Turning Homes Into Business Could Save the Suburbs

the suburbs

The suburbs are an energy-intensive housing solution that started in North America and has spread worldwide. The appeal of the tract housing the very thing that makes the suburbs detrimental to society: large lots, expansive houses, low density, and that they are reliant on individual use automobiles. With the mounting pressure of rapid climate change and urbanization of civilization what can we do to negate the poor planning of the suburbs? One solution is to rezone the suburbs to allow business to operate to make the neighbourhoods liveable.

It’s not specifically the built form of the suburbs that makes them unappealing; the buildings there—the houses—are perfectly fine. What deadens these areas is the homogeneity of the uses these buildings are put to. But a building that looks like a house can easily be altered and put to another use. Toronto’s two most iconic and walkable neighbourhoods, Yorkville and Kensington Market, were created like this 100 years ago. If the City took away restrictive zoning, suburban areas will change as local people set up stores and services in converted single family homes and these neighbourhoods will develop organically into complete and vibrant communities.

The permit office should parcel out permits to create a situation where you can go six blocks in any direction anywhere in Toronto and find one or two services. For instance, from my house in North York, you have to walk 12 large suburban blocks to get to the only services available, at Bayview Village. Why isn’t there a little ice cream store or cafe on the first floor of one of the brand new townhouses built across from Bayview Village Park, six blocks away? My home has a walk score of 38 out of 100. Gradually, the City should rezone wherever necessary until every home has a walk score of at least 50. The point isn’t to make all of Toronto like downtown or Kensington Market; just add reasonable access to services that will benefit the neighbourhood. The suburbs would still be the quietest neighbourhoods with the most green space, but they would be better off by virtue of a few local amenities. If a neighbourhood wanted to opt out of this scheme, it could cease issuing these permits altogether, or, alternatively, request that the City issue more of them and to try becoming a new Kensington Market.

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Farming for the Future on the Roofs of Hong Kong

fruit store

Green roofs are great for collecting water and cooling neighbourhoods, they are also useful for feeding their local communities. In the densely built urban environment of Hong Kong there is a network of green roofs that used for farming. These farms are used to grow crops sold in local stores and to encourage the people of Hong Kong to get their hands dirty and understand where their food comes from.

Here the team tell me about their other goal: education. By running regular workshops, the team hope that Hong Kong’s city-dwellers will become a little more aware of the resources needed to grow the food they are eating. Pointing to a bed of broccoli, for instance, Hong remembers one recent group who had never seen the whole plant. “They didn’t realise that the florets that we eat are actually quite limited,” she says. “And if you look at the quantity we see in the supermarket, you begin to see how much space we would need to grow that,” she says.

Ultimately, Tsui’s dream is that a restful break on a rooftop farm will become ingrained in everyone’s daily routine. “I use the analogy of coffee,” says Tsui – something that was once a luxury, but which became a lifestyle, through sheer convenience. If he had his way, a trip to the farm would be as essential as a morning caffeine fix. “We do have a mission, in a way – to make farming cool.”

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