How Pressure from Pedestrians and Cyclists Make Better Cities

Depending on where you live you may think streets are for people or for cars. The correct answer is that streets are for moving people and not built for the need of inanimate objects. In an interesting series of videos the Toronto Star’s Christopher Hume examines the different urban design decisions between suburban and urban neighbourhoods. The urban areas that promote cycling and walking are understandably the most vibrant, interesting, and productive (economically and culturally). The impact non-car uses can have on streets is evident and something that every city can benefit from.

Unsurprisingly, Toronto’s most vibrant streets — Queen, College, Bloor — are generally narrow car-slowing thoroughfares lined with unspectacular buildings between two and six storeys tall — hardly the stuff of vehicular convenience. The major interruptions in these mostly intact streetscapes are largely the result of clumsy modern interventions beginning in the 1950s and ’60s. Decades later in what’s now Vertical City, we still have difficulty making buildings work at street level. Architects are slowly learning, but have yet to master the skills of contextualism. They prefer the silence of the vacuum and ignore the public realm whenever possible.

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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.

Be Safe Online

The American government recently repealed laws set to protect your privacy online, clearly the government doesn’t care about private communication. This impacts people around the world because a lot of internet traffic travels through the states via various online services. Safe and secure conversations are needed to keep a democracy running and we all deserve the right to not have our private conversations listened to. Still, we need to protect ourselves online. As a result of the recent privacy change, there is a lot more information published about online safety and easier ways to use implement practical solutions. Check them out and do what you can to keep yourself safe.

Use a Virtual Private Network

“The best option is going to be using a VPN, a virtual private network,” says Dillavou. VPNs are tools installed on a user’s device, like a phone or a laptop, that encrypt the traffic from that device, and mask the user’s IP address and online behavior from tracking tools.

VPNs are already a standard security recommendation for anyone working over unsecured WiFi—like what you might find in a coffee shop. But with ISPs now collecting data, and not just routing it, the workaround makes sense for home use as well. (They also come in handy when you’re trying to get TV streaming to work overseas.)

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Get Rewarded for Supporting Civil Disobedience

If your idea to change the world is creative enough then you could get $250,000 from LinkedIn cofounder Reid Hoffman. Technically, it’ll be from MIT Media Lab with money from Hoffman. The Lab and Hoffman teamed up to ensure that creative civil resistance in the USA doesn’t die under the Trump presidency. With the increased pressure on American institutions to buckle under corporate influence right from the top (think Rex Tillerson) the need for people standing up is needed now more than ever before. This prize for civil disobedience is designed to get people engaged and thinking in new ways to stand up for human and legal rights.

“We wanted to see if we could identify very creative and principled disobedience,” says Ito. “I talked to a lot of students, and some of them had started saying, this nonviolence stuff doesn’t work anymore, or those days of Gandhi are over. And some people threatened to engage in disobedience that I felt was sort of reckless.”

The aim of the award is to help someone make further progress. “My hope is that we support a person in the middle of their career and help provide coaching, support, and visibility to help him or her be more effective,” says Ethan Zuckerman, director of the Center for Civic Media at the MIT Media Lab. “We hope we’re not just rewarding what they’ve already achieved.”

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This River is a Person in New Zealand Law

The Whanganui River its the first river to have the same legal stats as a person. The New Zealand federal government recently passed a bill granting the river legal personhood. This means that the river is afforded all the rights as a person under New Zealand law. The river’s rights to clean air, legal representation, and other protections people get are now granted to the river itself. This will protect not just the river, it also represents a change in how NZ thinks about the law.

With progress and time we should see other natural entities be granted the same protection as humanity in other jurisdictions.

Long revered by New Zealand’s Maori people, the river’s interests will now be represented by two people.
The Maori had been fighting for over 160 years to get this recognition for their river, a minister said.
“I know the initial inclination of some people will say it’s pretty strange to give a natural resource a legal personality,” said New Zealand’s Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson.
“But it’s no stranger than family trusts, or companies or incorporated societies.”
The Whanganui River, New Zealand’s third-longest, will be represented by one member from the Maori tribes, known as iwi, and one from the Crown.
The recognition allows it to be represented in court proceedings.

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Thanks to Delaney!