Archive for the ‘politics’ Category

Jón Gnarr, Mayor of Reykjavik, on his dream for Iceland

Monday, April 14th, 2014

Reykjavik
Photo of Reykjavik by Gunnar Steinn /
Made by Iceland

Jón Gnarr, mayor of Reykjavik and member of The Sugarcubes, shared Made by Iceland‘s photo on Facebook and wrote this:

My dream

(It’s pretty naive but I just have to get it off my chest)

I think Iceland offers a unique opportunity for the world. It is a small community with only 350.000 inhabitants, highly modern and educated within less than 3 hours flying time to London and 5 hours to New York and endless possibilities, beautiful nature and security for families, good schools and solid infrastructure. And don’t let the name scare you. The weather is not so bad. The average temperature in Reykjavik is actually higher than that in New York!

There are so many ideas that could be tried out here to see if they work, and then be exported around the world and adopted to bigger places for the benefit of mankind.

Iceland is a stable and peaceful nation with a low crime and corruption rate and offers renewable electricity that is about 35% cheaper than in the US. Everybody speaks English, many speak German, French, Spanish, Polish and many other languages.

Human rights in Iceland are among the best in the world, women and LGBT among others. Iceland is the best place in the world to be a woman. Here nobody cares if you are gay and you will not be discriminated against.

In my dream scientists, artists and creatives, entrepreneurs, designers, philanthropist and dreamers will flock to here and join hands to make something special happen. Something that has never happened before.

I dream of a UN Peace University. An international Research center for Arctic studies, climate change and global warming. Research and development of electric cars. Peace conferences and peace talks. Artistic happenings. Natural history museum. An international institution of non violent communication.

I want to make Iceland the Home of Hope for Humanity.

So please come before Sauron and Ronald MacDonald take over the place :)

Arhuaca mochila bags of Colombia

Sunday, April 13th, 2014

IMG_5388mochillaxx I first saw these handwoven bags in Medellín, Colombia, worn by a couple of delegates at the UN World Urban Forum. I noticed them because they looked unusually sturdy, finely woven from natural wool, and beautifully patterned. After I arrived in Bogotá I realized they are actually common here. They’re called Mochilas and are a traditional artisanal bag made by the Arhuaca people in Colombia’s Sierra Nevada de Maria mountain range. Traditionally they were made either from agave fibre, hemp or wild cotton, thought after the arrival of the Spanish they were also made from various wools. You can  also see synthetic fibres used (see top left in photo below) as well as disappointing mass-produced versions. Traditionally the patterns indicated families via their totemic animals, often very abstracted. “Starting in the 1960s, the arhuaca mochila left the geographical arhuaco, penetrated large Colombian cities (especially Santa Marta, Valledupar and Barranquilla), and is used primarily by young people today as a way to claim their indigenous culture. In 2006, the backpack was nominated as the Arhuaco cultural symbol of Colombia in the contest organized by the magazine Semana.” It now seems that the bag has more generally become a symbol of Colombia and have been adopted by a wide range of people dressed in varying degrees of casualness. More here. Mochila bags, Bogotá Mochilas arhuacas - via Wikipedia Photo above via Wikimedia Commons Arhuaca mochila bags of Colombia IMG_5420mochillax Mochila bag, Colombia The one above is particularly beautiful. Mochila bag, Colombia Mochila bag, Colombia Mochila bag, colombia Mochila bag, Colombia Mochila bag, Colombia Mochila bag, Colombia Mochila bag, Colombia Mochila bag, Colombia Mochila bag, Colombia This one is a bag in a different style and from jute: Mochila type bag, but of jute

mochila (& UN Habitat bag)

 

mochila

mochila

mochila

Ed Snowden’s surprise from-remote appearance at TED 2014 in Vancouver today

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

Edward Snowden at TED Vancouver

Edward Snowden made a surprise appearance at the TED 2014 main conference in Vancouver today. TED is calling it “Here’s how we take back the Internet.”

From a remote location in Russia he could remotely control a wheeled bot that allowed “him” to turn around and look at the audience.

Good remarks. And then Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the world wide web, comes out of the audience to talk to Ed too. If you want to watch that part, start around 26:30. Quite amazing to watch.

Edward Snowden at TED Vancouver

Tim Berners-Lee with Edward Snowden, TED 2014 Vancouver

Downtown Eastside Local Area Plan or DTES LAP

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

DTES LAP

The Downtown Eastside Local Area Plan or DTES LAP is a comprehensive plan for a significant area of downtown/East Vancouver. It goes before City Council this week, where Council seems likely to pass it despite significant opposition.

You can get a copy of the LAP—which released only two weeks before going to Council, despite consisting of 450+ pages—from Publication Studio in Chinatown, who have kindly printed it for public accessibility on a pay-what-you-can basis.

The plan is, in my opinion, a fairly massive giveaway to condo developers by the developer-friendly civic party Vision Vancouver. It conforms to a way of running and envisioning cities that is increasingly being termed neoliberal urbanism. See also this article on this approach.

I am by no means an expert on this very complicated plan and all the issues involved. But based on what I have learned from months of discussions down here in the DTES as well as living down here for 12 years, I find the following takes on the issue compelling (and will be adding more soon).

Advocate/PhD student Melissa Fong’s speech to Council is excellent.

Carnegie Community Action Project letter to Council

Statement by Strathcona Residents Association

Why developers don’t like the DTES LAP by Media Coop (in effect, developers dislike the only parts of the plan I endorse)

Where do working class ethnic enclaves fit into our future cities, in Megaphone Magazine

And the official links:

Staff Report and Plan

http://vancouver.ca/files/cov/report-downtown-eastside-local-area-plan-2014-feb-24.pdf

Social Impact Assessment

http://strathcona-residents.org/files/social-impact-assessment-2014-feb-26.pdf

Corporate Communications presentation for media

http://vancouver.ca/files/cov/executive-summary-dtes-local-area-plan-2014-feb-27.pdf

Lastly here is an interesting comment on the DEOD section of the LAP (please comment if you disagree, or have anything to add):

“Lastly, there has been a good deal of concern over proposed “no-condo zone” in the 10 blocks of the DEOD. In many respects we feel this is a bit of a red herring. The pretense includes 40% market rental and 20% “affordable” housing – with the remaining 40% split between shelter rate and CMHC’s Housing Income allowance (30% income) rate. To put a dollar value on that, a one bedroom at the CMHC rate would be about $950, a one-bedroom at the “affordable” rate would be about $1350. The scheme proposed significant height and density increases and relies on uncommitted federal / provincial money and developer levies. We feel that the “upzoning” being proposed will cause significant land lift and resultant speculation that will negatively impact retail and industrial diversity as well as social sustainability and liveability, and ironically the very “affordable housing” it is proposing to protect. For perspective on the market economics driving purpose built rental, we suggest the Western Investor’s recent “Why New Rentals are Being Built” article provides some context behind the market economics behind schemes like this and Rental 100 in the West End.”

We also need to talk about the City’s rather arbitrary population growth projections which seem to be the justification for allowing developers the density bonuses they seek. Not that density is bad, but how is the idea of density being mobilized and for whose benefit?

Video: the real story of 439 Powell Street, the Ming Sun building

Sunday, February 16th, 2014

439 Powell St - screenshot

This video, Behind the Walls of 439, corrects a great deal of the misinformation generated by the City of Vancouver. Good job by local television students.

Pretty heartbreaking.

“This is the story of the displacement of people with less power.”

“The Olympics have always been a little gay”

Friday, February 7th, 2014

gay olympics sochi

Don’t you want me, baby?

Ad by the Canadian Institute of Diversity and Inclusion.

Via nextimpulsesports.