Brain Pickings

Inside Out Project: Street Artist JR’s $100K TED Prize

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What the global importance of women has to do with favela murals and graffiti in Kibera.

Last fall, in a bold and unexpected move, TED granted the $100,000 TEDPrize to shadowy Parisian street artist JR. Known for his large-scale graffiti murals tackling social justice and human rights issues like freedom and identity, the semi-anonymous 27-year-old artist made his most revealing public appearance to date on the TED stage this week, showing some of his truly incredible work and sharing his vision for how the prize will empower his art.

The launch of JR’s Inside Out Project, an ambitious global collaborative art initiative, is a truly inspired experiment in civic engagement through art — a different iteration of something we looked at earlier this week.

If JR’s project tickled your soul like it did ours, here’s how to get involved.

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Worldchanging: An Updated Vision for a Better World

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Since 2003, Alex Steffen’s nonprofit online magazine Worldchanging has been a beacon of sustainability, social innovation and thought-leadership in bettering our planet’s future. In 2006, this essential toolkit for conscious modern living was packaged in Worldchanging: A User’s Guide for the 21st Century — a densely informative 600-page synthesis of the iconic site, dubbed The Whole Earth Catalog for the iPod generation. At the time, sustainability was just a budding meme, which over the past five years evolved into an essential part, and some would argue a bare minimum, for our cultural ethos. This week, Worldchanging is back with Worldchanging, Revised and Updated Edition: A User’s Guide for the 21st Century — a timely compendium of the smartest strategies and most exciting new tools for building a better future.

One of the book’s most valuable aspects for us, given our deep fascination with and passion for urbanism, is its insightful angle on cities as living organisms capable of catalyzing social change.

The first Worldchanging book looked at the most creative and high-impact solutions available for solving the planet’s most pressing problems. WC2.0 takes the same solutions approach, but raises the bar, asking how we can participate as individuals in creating systemic change.” ~ Alex Steffen

From food justice to carbon-neutral homes to alternative transportation, the Worldchanging, Revised and Updated features 160 noteworthy ideas and vital solutions that maybe, just maybe, offer real, tangible hope for a world we’ve cornered into near-hopeless vulnerability.

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The Blackwater Gospel: Haunting Danish Animated Short Film

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It looks like you could put the “Made in America” stamp right on this film. Fire and brimstone preaching, down home American music, a dusty Western setting — these layers of traditional America get captured so well in The Backwater Gospel. And yet the film comes straight out of Denmark.

These nine minutes of grimly wonderful animation come to you courtesy of eight undergraduate students attending The Animation Workshop, located in Viborg, Denmark — an institution known for training fine animators throughout Europe.

Co-creator Bo Mathorne offers artistic insight into the fascinating making of the film, well worth the eight minutes:

Dan Colman edits Open Culture, which brings you the best free educational media available on the web — free online courses, audio books, movies and more. By day, he directs the Continuing Studies Program at Stanford University. You can find Open Culture on Twitter and Facebook

Brain Pickings has a free weekly newsletter and people say it’s cool. It comes out on Sundays and offers the week’s best articles. Here’s an example. Like? Sign up.