Chris Rock & Tupac Shakur Boulevard

Watch Chris Rock's hilarious petition to get a street named after a black person in a white neighbourhood.

Michelle Obama says...

"Yes there are the projects that happen downtown – that important building, that important park – but there's also those community centres, those parks and district facilities, the homes, the opportunities that you have to make a neighbourhood beautiful for a family or a child that feels like no one cares."

"When you run out of resources, who's the last to get the resources? The kids outside the circle."

"Cities are a complex, big, messy enterprise. And they're expensive."

"To have a city with millions of people – with dense populations, great architecture, economic development, commercial development – and when you think about what it takes to run a city – the infrastructure, pot-hole repairs, traffic safety, you name it... it is expensive. It takes an investment."

"This project means the world to me and knowing that we have architects that appreciate the whole project and not just what the building looks like – which is important, but it's a building that's sitting in a neighbourhood."

"If we're going to have cities, then we have to invest."

(quotes via Dezeen)

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photograph via Business Times

The Broken Chair

The Broken Chair Sculpture for Victims of Landmines was designed by Swiss artist Daniel Berset and can be seen in the Place des Nations, Geneva, since 1997. One of the giant chair's legs symbolises mutilation by explosion.

“It was impossible to expose the image of a person torn apart by the explosion of a landmine… the hardness of such an image causes a rejection of the message by the public. So we evaded the shock and horror, and looked for a symbolic force instead”.
Paul Vermeulen, co-founder of Handicap International Switzerland

“The chair symbol seemed particularly appropriate to me; indeed, a chair follows the body curves, evokes a presence even when it is empty, its legs support life… by mutilating it, it is life itself that one hurts. The idea was to collaborate with an artist to draw the public’s attention to Handicap international's battles, by creating a powerful quality message that could not be rejected by Genevan authorities. I knew from watching those pictures that seeing the hardness of mutilation by explosives causes the rejection of the message; to mention such a crude subject, we needed a symbol”.
Paul Vermeulen, co-founder of Handicap International Switzerland

(via/more Handicap International)

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photograph via Peace

Social Robotics & Autism

"‘Milo’, a humanoid robot, is all set to transform the life of children with autism in the Middle East through its specialized educational programs and unique gestures."

"Experts have found hat Robots can help children with autism in ways humans cannot. A therapist working along with the humanoid robot is able to get the children’s attention and engagement, and help them develop basic skills."

"What Milo does is it extends the educator’s ability and help reduce the cost of high-quality instruction. In a one -on-one lesson, Milo records answers as well as reactions, which the educator or therapist can access via the reporting interface."

(Al Arabiya English)

Image via Tharawat

Canberra's Backyard Experiment

Using colours, paint, lighting, lightweight tables and chairs, designers (and volunteering passersby) in Canberra turned a place people "generally detest" into an appealing place that makes people stop and hang out there. Their changes dramatically changed the way people engage in space.

"The number of people walking through the plaza nearly tripled in the eight days of the experiment, which took place in mid-October. But before it began, 97 percent of all people in the area walked through without stopping, and nearly all of them were adults under 64 years old."

"When the new features were added, the number of people stopping to hang out in the area shot up 247 percent, and it wasn’t just adults taking a seat as they passed by. More couples and friends lingered in the plaza, as did more seniors, families, and children. This was a key goal behind the project: Garema Place is known more for its weekend nightlife than for being welcoming to families. The researchers credit that change to the wide mix of interventions, including art and color, wi-fi access, physical and digital libraries, freely moveable furniture, and the community collaboration that went into redesigning the area."


Melbourne Pushes for Gender Equality

Melbourne is installing ten pedestrian crossing lights depicting a woman in a dress instead of "the usual male figure" in order to reduce unconscious bias. This is sparking a debate, of course.
(The Sydney Morning Herald)

London introduced similar changes during Pride Week last year (with some of the temporary traffic lights becoming permanent), the German city of Zwickau in 2004 (more).
"Some people have expressed a little scepticism wondering whether it's gesture politics rather than having any real substance. But these symbols are a practical and meaningful way to demonstrate that in fact 50 per cent of our population is female and should therefore also be represented at traffic lights." Martine Letts
"There are many small — but symbolically significant — ways that women are excluded from public space." Fiona Richardson
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Photograph via RTE

An Ancient Matrilineal Society in New Mexico

"Following a recent dig, archaeologists found that New Mexico’s Chaco Canyon was home to a matrilineal society -- one that saw power descend through maternal family lines -- between the 9th to mid-12th centuries.

Publishing their results in the journal Nature, archaeologists came to this conclusion by studying nine individuals buried in the largest house in the canyon Pueblo Bonito.

Thousands of ancient indigenous Americans worked in and lived in this 650-room building, each building of which had a different use. In this study, archaeologists assessed Room 33, a royal burial chamber." (ati)

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image via International Business Times