The Sunday Diigo Links Post (weekly)

by Yule Heibel on February 19, 2012

  • If I kept chickens, I wouldn’t want to slaughter them myself (much less slaughter mammals), nor would I like to have neighbors who do so. At the same time, I see some value in children “witnessing grisly scenes,” because everyone should know where their food comes from – but getting an eyeful once or twice should suffice either to deepen your thinking about taking life away or turning you into a vegetarian (or both). Doesn’t have to happen on a regular basis… But with regard to slaughter: surely there are facilities to which residents could take their animals (even ‘real’ farmers don’t all do their own butchering)?
    Perhaps no city is as divided over the chicken question as Oakland. City officials are considering allowing residents to raise and slaughter not just chickens, but goats, rabbits, ducks and other animals, in their backyards. Backers argue that it would help alleviate food deserts.

    Oakland’s anti-slaughter group sees the practice as a socio-economic problem. NOBS argues that the city’s approval of the slaughter of chickens “would serve the needs of a small group of people interested in creating artisan animal products instead of serving the low-income communities.” They’ve posted flyers around the city, playing up fears of stray chickens wandering the city and children witnessing grisly scenes of animal killing.

    tags: backyard_farming urban_farming chickens atlantic_cities

  • Good strategies from Ben Keenan for tapping into your creativity:
    SP: Do you have any strategies or tips on how we can be more creative?

    BK: Sure, here are five:

    1. Get the question right.

    Before you consider the possibilities, you need to knuckle down and articulate the problem you are trying to solve in a single sentence. A problem well stated is a problem half solved.

    2. Stop yourself from trying to solve things right away.

    Years of rote education has drilled the question answer response into all of us.

    You need to suppress that part of you that wants recognition and reward, and consider all the ways into the problem. Fill a page full of little boxes and try and put a thought in every box. Not an idea, but a thought, anything and everything that might solve the problem. Your goal is to fill the page, not answer the question.

    3. Things won’t make sense after a while and that is normal.

    We are not wired to consider possibilities when confronted with a problem, we are wired to jump out of harms way, that’s why the creative process makes you feel flustered, and like you aren’t getting anywhere. Understanding this helps you push through it and just keep going, it’s only after things stop making sense that the really interesting thoughts arrive.

    4. Go do something else.

    After you’ve a had a burst for an hour or two, go do an expense report, your time sheets, something that requires your full concentration. While you are applying conscious thought to this task, your subconscious will be sifting through all knowledge you’ve offloaded about the problem.

    5. Keep a pen and paper handy.

    Once your subconscious has done its job, the answers will come to you thick and fast. Usually, if we are not having any luck on a solution, I’ll just go at it for an hour or so at night, sleep on it, and an idea will come to me while I’m on my way into work the next morning. We all do this without realizing we do it, it’s why your best ideas often happen in the shower.

    SP: Lastly, are there any resources / training links for people who are interested in exercising their creative muscle?

    BK: There are many, I am a hoarder of them at my Thought Police site and I regularly tweet about them on @warmcola.

    tags: smartplanet ben_keenan creativity reference how_to

  • Biomimicry in architecture, from Norman Foster’s Gherkin (which mimics the Venus Flower Basket sea sponge structure to cool the building) to Rachel Armstrong and Neil Spiller (who are working on biomimetic materials, like CO2-eating paint for exterior application) to saving Venice from sinking into the Adriatic:
    Armstrong, who is a TED fellow, also proposes to use the protocell technology on an architectural scale to save centuries-old Venice, Italy, which is gradually being reclaimed by the sea. Armstrong believes the protocell droplets could be deployed beneath the crumbling city to act as a living limestone foundation.

    “We did some experiments inside the Venice lagoon with architecture students and we know it works with the Venice water,” Armstrong said. “It’s not ready, but the principles are there. It just needs some more research and development.”

    All of this work is evolving at a quick pace, pushing architects, designers, biologists and other scientists to rethink how are cities and buildings mesh with the natural world. Now, using technological innovation coupled with inspiration from the biological processes of nature, these dreams are becoming a reality.

    tags: architecture biomimicry building_materials buildinggreen

  • Interesting juxtaposition to earlier bookmark on biomimetic architecture: Richard Driehaus seems unimpressed by newfangled tech advances?
    Q: Does this, by extension, mean there is not a place for modern and more experimental visions of cities and the built environment? How do you feel about contemporary, sustainable architecture?

    A: When it comes to sustainability, I welcome solutions in any form, but many of the modern, technological methods, however promising, remain unproven. The environmental value of traditional architectural techniques has been established over centuries. And, regardless of their technological efficiencies, if new buildings are constructed in a way that makes them obsolete within decades, the burden on our resources to build and rebuild our cities will be too great.

    Q: You see traditional architecture as part of the increasing interest in more traditional skills (farming, canning, cooking)–can you expand on that?

    A: It’s about the satisfaction that comes from meaningful work. I’ve heard the term “slow architecture.” Like the “slow food” movement, it describes an architecture whose followers care passionately about the quality of ingredients, about techniques that require practice to master, about a connection to the past and a legacy for the future, about the value (in every sense of the term) of a local focus. And, when the work is done, the intricacies of traditional architecture, like a good meal, offers so much to savor.
    The connection between taste (what we like *to* taste) vs the leap into (bio-)mimicking forms that are essentially alien to us (say, sea sponges) strikes me as having deep evolutionary roots related to survival of the species (and therefore as something that a biomimetic approach can’t ignore – because if biomimicry isn’t about *our* survival, then what is it?).

    tags: architecture tradition biomimicry atlantic_cities allison_arieff

  • Great essay/ speech: Heart of Darkness, excellent sheep, smiling sharks – and a take-down of multi-tasking. 😉
    Now that’s the third time I’ve used that word, concentrating. Concentrating, focusing. You can just as easily consider this lecture to be about concentration as about solitude. Think about what the word means. It means gathering yourself together into a single point rather than letting yourself be dispersed everywhere into a cloud of electronic and social input. It seems to me that Facebook and Twitter and YouTube—and just so you don’t think this is a generational thing, TV and radio and magazines and even newspapers, too—are all ultimately just an elaborate excuse to run away from yourself. To avoid the difficult and troubling questions that being human throws in your way. Am I doing the right thing with my life? Do I believe the things I was taught as a child? What do the words I live by—words like duty, honor, and country—really mean? Am I happy?

    tags: multitasking american_scholar william_deresiewicz leadership inspiration solitude

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