"What you can hear, I can feel." The Sound Shirt.

Deaf people do not necessarily have to live in a world without music. The "Sound Shirt", a project of the Young Symphonic Orchestra of Hamburg, translates music, i.e. vibrations and aims to enable a deaf audience to experience a concert. A software converts sound into data and sends it to the Sound Shirt, vibration motors pulsate in line with the intensity of the music played. The Sound Shirt - because music should be for everyone.

A watch designed for blind people

"We started out thinking about what kind of watch would work for blind users and we struck upon this idea of using ball bearings rotating around a track to indicate the minutes and the hours on the dial."
David Zacher
"Designer Hyungsoo Kim was in a lecture hall at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in September 2011 when a neighbouring student asked him the time. "My classmate is visually impaired, and had been for 10 years," explains Kim. The student had a watch that could tell the time, but only by pressing a button that would make it speak out loud. Doing so in a classroom could be disruptive, so instead, says Kim, "I was his wristwatch."
"Manufacturers of accessible goods for blind people have discovered that producing something functional isn't enough - blind people always ask what it looks like, even though they can't see. In some ways, this suggests that it matters more if you're trying to control what people might think of you."
Damon Rose
"The watch is named after Bradley Snyder, an ex-naval officer who lost his eyesight in an explosion in Afghanistan in 2011 and who went on to win gold and silver medals at the London 2012 Paralympic Games."

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Image via Slice of MIT

Marginalisation of (skateboarding) youth in public space

Berlin's Museums: A Means of Integration for Refugees

"Museums in Berlin are helping to welcome refugees to the city and its culture with the programme Multaka—from the Arabic word for forum or meeting place—in which trained refugees from Syria and Iraq give free guided museum tours in Arabic to other displaced groups. The programme, started by the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin (Berlin State Museums), offers visits twice a week in four museums: the Museum of Islamic Art and the Museum of the Ancient Near East, two separate museums housed together in the Pergamon Museum; the Byzantine Art Museum in the Bode Museum; and the German Historical Museum (which is not part of the State Museums). (...)
At the launch of the programme, 19 guides from Iraq and Syria were recruited by word of mouth among the migrant community in Berlin, and were given a four-day training session. There are now a total of 25 guides, who come from a variety of professional backgrounds, some related to the arts and heritage, others to disciplines like law and economics."
(The Art Newspaper)

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Photograph via Zwischen den Welten

Texas African American History Memorial

"The Texas African American History Memorial Foundation is created to raise funds for the construction and dedication of a monument honoring African American Texans and their contributions to our great state."(Texas African American History Memorial Foundation)
“We have walked these ground for years and talked about the lack of representation in terms of the monuments as it relates to the African American experience. We know in the beginning of the beginning that African Americans, even when they were in chains, helped to build this building.” Helen Giddings
"Denver-based sculptor Ed Dwight proposed the Texas African-American History Memorial to celebrate more than 400 years of achievements by black Texans. The sculpture, which will be 27 feet high and be 32 feet long when completed, stands near the Capitol’s main entrance. (...)
One side of the monument, which will be completely installed by mid-October, depicts 48 slaves and marks the moment that slaves were emancipated in Texas. The other points to the state’s abundant cattle, cotton and oil resources and the contributions black Texans made to those industries. Plaques and other features still need to be added to the monument.
Here's what the monument at the Texas Capitol will look like when it's completed. This model was on display at the Texas Capitol's agriculture museum. BOB DAEMMRICH A public dedication and unveiling of the monument will occur this fall after its completion, according to a spokesman for the State Preservation Board." (The Texas Tribune)

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Photograph via Ed Dwight

Planning Inclusive Cities

"Annette Kim of the University of South California gives a seminar as part of the World Resources Report on Cities Research Seminar Series. Even in centrally planned cities, informal markets reveal the housing demand preferences not being served by either public policy or formal markets. Dr. Kim distills lessons for a more inclusive planning paradigm from her research of rural to urban land use conversions in Ho Chi Minh City, Beijing's subterranean housing marketing, and Shanghai's overcrowded housing units market."

Cities & The Mental Health Gap

"Cities have an inherent creativity, energy, and entrepreneurial capacity that captivate millions of people. Such characteristics are frequently identified as a boon for start-ups and businesses, but their reach goes much farther. Urban ecosystems have great potential as solution hubs for a less-discussed area: mental health."

"The mental health gap is especially large in cities, due to mass urbanisation and higher incidence rates of mental illness in metropolitan areas, which place increasing strain on public services. But while cities feel the burden of mental illness acutely, they also have the great potential to achieve meaningful impact in the struggle to close the global mental health gap."

Three points are important when addressing mental health: cross-sector collaboration (e.g. housing, transportation, education, health systems), innovation and internet/communication technology. (CityMetric)

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Photograph of Tokyo via Wikipedia

Der Schwamm

Artist Michel Abdollahi's huge sponge in the German city of Hamburg will be exhibited for two weeks. The sponge is there to symbolically clean the public space from demagogy, racism, corruption.

"Ein Topf- oder Küchenschwamm wird zur Reinigung verwendet und besteht im Wesentlichen aus Schaumstoff. Die raue Unterseite dient zum Scheuern. Dieses Scheuervlies ist besonders hart, meistens mineralisch oder aus einem Kunststoff. Die heutige Zeit ist wahrscheinlich nicht stärker durchsetzt mit billigen Parolen, Hetze, Korruption und hausgemachter Angst als früher, aber alles ist durch das Internet sichtbarer geworden. Deshalb wird Michel Abdollahi einen überdimensionalen SCHWAMM bereitstellen, mit dem gescheuert werden soll, um den Kern freizulegen. Als zweiwöchige Aktion ist der SCHWAMM im öffentlichen Raum installiert. Der Hamburger Allround-Künstler, Conférencier und Journalist Michel Abdollahi ist international bekannt für seine politisch-provokanten Aktionen und Reportagen; in diesem Jahr gewann er den Deutschen Fernsehpreis für seine Reportage »Im Nazidorf« und für seine Straßenaktionen im Kulturjournal." (Kampnagel)

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Foto via RBNSHT Urban Culture

Nonnas of the World

"Just like grandma used to make" is much more than a clever advertising scheme, it's literally what's happening at Staten Island's Enoteca Maria, where the kitchen's staffed not by professionally trained chefs, but by a fleet of "nonnas" from around the world. For about a decade, owner Jody Scaravella has opened his kitchens to grandmothers cooking the cuisines of their native countries. It started with just Italian grandmothers, after his own heritage, but has since expanded to include dozens of women from places like Argentina, Algeria, Syria, the Dominican Republic, Poland, Liberia, and Nigeria. (...)

There's the old adage about too many cooks, so do the nonnas get along? "Each one of these [Italian] grandmothers feels like they're the boss, because in their particular family unit, they're at the top of that pyramid. So when you put all of these grandmothers that are all at the top in a room together, they all feel like they're in charge and they're all wondering what that other person is doing there," Scaravella joked. "It can get dicey." (...)

"Usually at the end of the day, the people will applaud the nonnas that have cooked for them," Scaravella beamed. "They get standing ovations on a regular basis and it's really something nice." (Gothamist)

The Unusual Football Field Project

"If we give importance to some useless space, in every area of our life, therw will not be such word as 'useless'".

"A Thai real estate developer has built four misshapen pitches in Khlong Toei, an extremely densely-populated area of the capital where the proliferation of high and low-rise apartments have left little space for parks or play areas. (...) The concept of the project, its creators said, was to transform irregularly-shaped areas into practical football fields that still allow fair play. Each pitch is painted brick-red and with markings in grey."

“This unusual football field has proven that designing outside boundaries can help foster creativity used to develop these useful spaces.” (The Guardian)

"Firm believers in the notion that "Space can change a life", the AP Thailand and CJ Worx team saw that this unused space had immense value and understood that a project that successfully utilised it would serve to strengthen the community and enhance relationships amongst those living within it. It was from this conviction that the Unusual Football Field project was born." (Design Indaba)