Does Your Street Smell Like Food or Sound Like Nature ?

How do we experience cities, streets, squares?

How they sound? How they smell?

Good City Life creates experience-based maps for the cities, well at least for London, Barcelona, Milan, Rome, Seattle, …  Good City Life team wants to challenge “the corporate rhetoric of the smart cities movement”:

To change the corporate rethoric of the smart cities movement, there is the need to study how people psychologically perceive the urban environment, and to capture that in a quantitative fashion. (Good City Life)

There are two maps available online: Chatty Maps and Smelly Maps

Chatty Maps shows how a street sounds. Covent Garden (London) sounds like human or Kingsway (London) sounds like traffic. It is quite a database for soundscape of a city!

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Smelly Maps is the second amazing map the Good City Life team created. Check St Nicolas Avenue (New York) out. It smells 98% food 🙂 Wow, hell of an experience 🙂 Ouch, the Tower Bridge (London) smells like emissions, not so good 🙂

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Thank you the Good City Life team for creating such amazing maps for us 😉

 

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Go Home Human, We Take Over From Here!

We, humans, love greenery and landscape!

We all would love to sit under a nice tree or at a beautiful park, right?

However, somehow, we want these to manicured. We design the landscape, we trim the greenery, we cut them, garden them, we nip them off… We want them to flourish in our garden or parks, but we do not want them to grow other places…

Well, this is what we think. Let me tell you something, they do not care about it at all!

There are some majestic examples of that landscape and greenery take over the things humans built.

But they also are so hideous that I’d rather focus on details.

You know what they say, the devil is in the detail!

Here it is the green is in every crack of the city!

Keep an eye on it!

 

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Beer, wine spirits and this little tree over there

 

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We will rise again!!

 

 

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Let there be dandelions!

 

 

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You can never know where I am coming from!

 

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Almost there!

 

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Iron? Who cares! I will take over this phone box one day!

 

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Granite? No problem!

 

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Hello World!

 

 

Soo look around, you will see more of this sneaky invasion (and at perhaps more weird places).

Meet Gurgaon: A Patch-work Private City without Sewage System

Gurgaon is a city in India, where many private housing enclaves are located and run by private management companies. With no municipal services, the private management companies provide key urban facilities only within the gates of the enclaves.

The practice draws a horrendous picture of the piecemeal private provision of municipal services, replacing sewage system with gigantic septic tanks, dumping sewage to public land, replacing police force with the army of private security, dodgy lost spaces between the housing enclaves…

A patchwork of private services emerges, but only within property lines. “If you’re living inside the development, everything looks great. It looks like you have functional sewage, but those lines are not connected to a main line. They go nowhere.” Instead, the sewage collects in a septic tank at the edge of the property. The building’s owner contracts a tanker truck to ferry the sewage to a dumping ground or river.

Gurgaon’s developers can weather shortages in electricity by using diesel-powered generators … which serve only their own properties. They’ve beefed up the city’s 4,000-strong police force with an army of 35,000 private security guards.  (ideas.ted.com)

Another controversial topic regarding this developments is their relationship with surrounding slum areas.

Sewage trucks will frequently bypass treatment plants and dump their contents on public land, and while it poses a health hazard to nearby slums, public officials don’t have the resources to counter such infractions.(ideas.ted.com)

What we see here is double exploitation of the urban space: on one hand, exclusive private provision of municipal services is hampering public provision; on the other hand, the enclaves expulse their unwanted bits to the surroundings such as dumping their sewage on public land.

All in all, we should ask ourselves, if we want to live in such an unsustainable dystopia before it is too late. Because this is what we are heading towards with a speed of light in this level of the commodification of urban space.

What a Bloody Screw-up: Venice Syndrome

 

Venice Syndrome brilliantly tells the story of a city turning to be a museum and loosing its soul by loosing its citizens.

 

What a Bloody Screw-up: Venice Syndrome

 

Director: Andreas Pichler
Release: 2012 (imdb)

From the synopsis:

Twenty million foreigners visited the city last year. That’s an average of 60,000 day. And this year it will be more still. By comparison, there are only 58,000 inhabitants, the same amount as they were after the Great Plague of 1438. And next year it will be fewer still.
For the city is becoming uninhabitable. Venice’s own urban life has almost collapsed; it scarcely still exists.

The film shows what remains of Venetian life: a subculture of tourist service industries; a port for monstrous cruisers which is waiting to be expanded; Venetians who are moving to the mainland as there are no longer affordable apartments to be found; an aged noblewoman who treats the municipal council with scorn; a realtor who is considering abandoning the sinking ship.

A Requiem for a still grand city.
An illustration of how common property becomes the prey of few.
An elegy to the last Venetians, their humour and their hearts. (venicesyndrome.com)

 

Vietnam’s Housing Enclaves Where Even the Air is Cleaner!

 

Wide spread of gated communities is global with different scales, characteristics and contingencies.

 

Gated communities and vast, privately built and managed “new towns” like these have spread across southeast Asia over the last 20 years as rising levels of inequality have redefined the region’s cities. Vietnam as a whole has seen a dramatic reduction in poverty over the same period – but inequality is growing, and becoming increasingly marked in the country’s expanding urban areas. (Guardian)

 

Rise in equality is the major drive behind this spread. Check this out rent for a villa in Ciputra housing enclave is 25 times the minimum wage in Vietnam! 25 times!

 

Beyond Ciputra’s walls, villas painted shades of beige are set amid lush private gardens – with price-tags of as much as £3,000 a month to rent (25 times the minimum wage). A world unto itself, the complex is a land of Greek revival architecture, tennis courts and amenities including a beauty salon and a post office. The United Nations International School moved there in 2004, followed by two other private schools, and a private kindergarten. Under construction still are a mega-shopping mall and a private hospital. (Guardian)

 

Well take a deep breath, or not! The most disgraceful part of the story of Vietnam’s housing enclaves is the commodification of air!

 

While security concerns and a fear of urban crime are typically among the motives driving the elite behind walls in cities in South America and sub-Saharan Africa, in Hanoi developments are increasingly being marketed as exclusive enclaves of convenience and clean air, away from the air pollution and traffic congestion of the city. (Guardian)

 

Traffic in Hanoi, Vietnam         Image Credit: Guardian

But, not everything is smooth, thanks to ordinary folk 🙂

Locals protesting development of a housing enclave Image Credit: Guardian

For the full story check Inside Hanoi’s gated communities

Children of Ocean

Jason deCaires Taylor creates incredible underwater spaces. A fascinating combination of art and nature!

 

For sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor, the ocean is more than a muse — it’s an exhibition space and museum. Taylor creates sculptures of human forms and mundane life on land and sinks them to the ocean floor, where they are subsumed by the sea and transformed from lifeless stone into vibrant habitats for corals, crustaceans and other creatures. The result: Enigmatic, haunting and colorful commentaries about our transient existence, the sacredness of the ocean and its breathtaking power of regeneration. (TED.com)

 

More importantly, Jason reminds us the richness of underwater life and our ignorance.

 

Another Brick…

Nut Brother, a performance artist from China, vacuumed Beijing’s heavily polluted air and turned it into a brick. The artist stood 4 hours a day 100 days to collect the dust in the air, then mixed the dust with clay and produced the bricj which symbolizes many aspects of this pollution.

 

(Image Credit: Quartz)

This symbolic acts tells us many things. But, his next step tells even more, giving the brick to a construction site to make it part of a new building in Beijing! He says this would be “just like putting a drop of water in the ocean” (Quartz),  a concrete ocean!

 

And Brandalists Strike Back!

To take our streets back 🙂

 

Two days before the launch of the UN COP21 Climate Conference, 600 posters were installed in outdoor media spaces across Paris. 82 Artists from 19 different countries made artworks to challenge the corporate takeover of COP21 and to reveal the connections between advertising, the promotion of consumerism and climate change.

To see other works, check brandalism.org.uk 😉

 

The Tragedy of The Commodity

Although humans have long depended on oceans and aquatic ecosystems for sustenance and trade, only recently has human influence on these resources dramatically increased, transforming and undermining oceanic environments throughout the world. Marine ecosystems are in a crisis that is global in scope, rapid in pace, and colossal in scale. In The Tragedy of the Commodity, sociologists Stefano B. Longo, Rebecca Clausen, and Brett Clark explore the role human influence plays in this crisis, highlighting the social and economic forces that are at the heart of this looming ecological problem. (Rutgers University Press)

The book “The Tragedy of The Commodity” starts with the critique of Hardin’s the tragedy of commons.

The classic illustration of the tragedy of the commons used by Hardin involved the dynamic of herders and their livestock. He claimed that each herder will act primarily in his or her own interest by adding additional livestock to common grazing land when it served to increase individual benefits. Therefore, Hardin argued, each herder would attempt to acquire the benefits offered by the commons, while socializing the costs to all. For example, by adding an extra animal to the pasture the herder reaps all the benefit, but pays only a fraction of the environmental costs, such as depletion of the grazing land. Each actor, motivated by individual maximization of benefits, increasingly introduces grazing animals into a finite system of resources, leading to the tragic destruction of the land. With this Hardin concludes “freedom in commons brings ruin to all.” For Hardin, and many others who have adopted this perspective, expanding private property is offered as a leading policy solution for avoiding ecological tragedies. (Counterpunch)

The authors respond this by relating the overexploitation of ecological resources with  the tragedy of the commodity.

In contrast, the tragedy of the commodity approach emphasizes the role of the growth imperative of capitalism and commodification in producing the institutional rules by which nature and, for example, the commons are governed and historically transformed. Ecological systems are never altogether free of social influences. Rather, they are shaped by social conditions including norms, traditions, economic rules, the organization of labor, politico-legal arrangements, etc. The social actions that have emerged with capitalist development are dominated by what Adam Smith called “the propensity to truck, barter, and exchange,” matched with a crude utilitarianism, where individuals follow pure self-interest without social constraint. Unfortunately, these actions are often incorrectly ascribed to innate human behavior. Thus, what might appear to the casual observer to be a system governed by base greed and human instinct is in fact largely directed by the drive for capital accumulation and what Immanuel Wallerstein called the progressive “commodification of everything.” Among other outcomes, the commodification process results in a social metabolic order—socio-ecological interchanges and interrelationships—that produces unsustainable social and ecological consequences. (Counterpunch)

The approach is an answer to today’s level of commodification of nature and the ecological dmise we live in.

For the Counterpunch review of approach see the link here, and for the book check here or the QR code below:

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And enjoy the sunshine before it is commodified 🙂