Categories
Environment Projects & Ideas

Guerrilla Gardening

When your city council neglects to take care of the public green spaces in your city, who you gonna call? Not the city council gardeners, but your own neighbours and friends.

Guerrilla Gardening is a loose network of local groups that want to regain control of the public space, and more precisely, of the green spots in our cities, from the institutions. The act of citizens looking after their own green spaces fosters consciousness of public spaces, improves their involvement in city matters, and of course, makes better looking gardens. And maybe some vegetables and fruits for tasty victories over concrete and ugliness.

Guerrilla Gardening

In the Guerrilla Gardening website you can find a community posting board with local groups in your country, with sub-boards for states and cities. If your country or city is not listed, you can send an email to open up a new board and start organizing a local Guerrilla Gardening group.

The Guerrilla Gardening groups are totally independent from each other, there is no central organization nor do you need to affilliate or even sign up to the website. You can just set up your own website to organize your community, as this group in Madrid has done (weird copyright legal notice and all).

Categories
Environment Projects & Ideas

DIY City

How can inhabitants interact with urban planners and affect the way their city evolves? How can they think, and propose, better solutions for urban problems in a horizontal way, adapted to the particularities of a district or neighboorhood, or building, instead of having an elite deciding what’s best for everyone?

DIYcity is a site where people from all over the world think about, talk about, and ultimately build tools for making their cities work better with web technologies. The result is an open source suite of tools that residents of any city, anywhere, can plug into and use to make their area better. This toolset, as it grows, becomes an initial version of a city/resident interface. This interface is the ultimate product, and the ultimate goal, of DIYcity.

Cityleft works for a new theoretical and practical scenario in urban planning. The new scenario is called Urbanism 3.0.

In Urbanism 3.0, Urban Art Interventions and Peer to Peer (P2P) projects are conceived to simulate alternative urban scenarios in public space capable to affect region making as well urban planning, involving the participation of a broad research community made of urbanists, social workers, NGOs, environmental artists, graphic designers, minorities, inhabitants, and so on.

The mention of anything 3.0 or 2.0 or whatever makes me cringe a little bit. We should drop the mentions of x.0 in our projects as this assumes that is the next, logical step in the evolution of a certain discipline, and inherently, excludes any other approaches. There are no hegemonic, totalizing, global solutions to problems or ways in which a discipline, science or cultural feature may evolve.

Categories
Organization Projects & Ideas

The Buckminster Fuller Idea Index

This website and Revolution Summer have a similar purpose of showcasing projects that may spark social change or resolve pressing issues, like access to water or enviromental pollution by proliferation of combustion engine vehicles. Of course, the difference is that the Buckminster Fuller Idea Index gives a prize of $100.000 to the winner project each year.

The winner of the 2009 edition is this project by MIT researchers that proposes to replace the private owned fossil fuel vehicle traffic inside large cities with a network of battery-powered small vehicles, that can be rented at convenience in racks spread throughout the city, similar to the public bike rental systems in cities like Barcelona or Paris:

Mobility-on-demand systems provide racks of these vehicles at closely spaced, convenient locations around an urban service area. Vehicles automatically recharge while they are in these racks. Users walk to the nearest rack, swipe a credit card, pick up a vehicle, drive it to a rack convenient to their destination, and drop it off. These are, in other words, ubiquitously distributed one-way rental systems. These systems are highly efficient in reducing urban congestion, energy use, and carbon emissions. They are synergistic with ubiquitous wireless networking and distributed intelligence, and with solar-friendly, wind-friendly, fuel-cell-friendly smart electrical grids.

Categories
Unrest

Madrid threatens squatter enclave of 40 years

A squatter enclave that’s been existing for over 40 years near Madrid, Spain, is going to be razed and most of the neigbours will be forced to live, as not all will be eligible for rehousing.

Under the plan, the worst areas of the community of 40,000 will be bulldozed to make way for a park, and only a few residents will be eligible for rehousing. The article, in typical fashion, blames all of the drug addiction in Madrid on this one neighborhood (as if organized crime control over the drug trade doesn’t even exist.)

It seems absolutely outrageous for a civilized country to deny rights to people who have lived in a community for decades.

As Victor Renes, of the Spanish charity Caritas, says, “You find yourself here, where it is still possible to settle and try to survive … at the margins where the city tolerates you … until the city arrives and bumps into you and then after that you are tolerated no longer.”