Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘activism’

28 OCTOBER, 2010

Oil + Water: Posters Printed with Oil from The Gulf


What dirty coastlines have to do with graphic design and talking trees.

The Gulf oil spill may well be the greatest environmental disaster of our time and we’re yet to feel the full impact of its aftermath. Cleaning up the mess is one slow but important step towards recovery and creative outfit Happiness Brussels — they of social media talking tree fame — are making a lovely effort towards it. They’ve created Oil & Water Do Not Mix — a limited edition of 200 posters screen-printed with oil from the Gulf disaster, collected on the beaches of Louisiana’s Grand Isle and benefiting the region’s restoration.

Each poster is signed by London-based designer Anthony Burrill and all proceeds go to nonprofit Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana.

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27 OCTOBER, 2010

PICKED: We All Good People


The greatest tragedy of ethnic conflict is that its ingroup-outgroup economy creates abstract others, stripping people of their inherent humanity and lumping them into a faceless, almost inanimate cohort so much easier to deny empathy to. The Israel-Palestine conflict is one of modernity’s greatest and longest-running conflicts, devastating and disrupting millions of lives with intolerance and a consistently high level of violence since the 1940s.

From filmmaker and photographer Grant Slater comes a wonderful effort to peel away at the complex and multifaceted points of tension surrounding the conflict and instead reveal the raw humanity of the people involved. We All Good People is a poetic two-part short film exploring that human tenderness.

The lovely music, a true cherry on top, comes from Jerusalem-based band Jack In The Box, composed of Itay Shani, Ori Alboher, Itamar Toussia Cohen and vocalist Yael Birnbaum.

For a richer look at the Israel-Palestine conflict, we recommend Sandy Tolan’s The Lemon Tree: An Arab, a Jew, and the Heart of the Middle East — a fascinating adaptation of Tolan’s 1998 NPR documentary, revealing the deeply human scale of the conflict through the intertwined lives of a Palestinian refugee named Bashir Al-Khairi and a Jewish settler named Dalia Eshkenazi Landau.

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20 OCTOBER, 2010

Search for the Obvious: A Homage to Everyday Objects


A quest for ordinary brilliance, or what sewers, eyeglasses and famous writers have in common.

The brilliance of problem-solving lies in solutions so seamless they become invisible. That’s exactly the premise of Search for the Obvious — a wonderful new initiative from our friends at Acumen Fund, the global nonprofit venture fund investing in business models that support access to water, shelter, healthcare, energy resources and agricultural technology in the developing world. Search for the Obvious is out to find everyday objects and ideas that have dramatically improved our quality of life, collecting submissions ranging from asphalt to zippers. They are then asking a jury of cross-disciplinary judges — including writer Daniel Pink, Swiss Miss founder Tina Roth Eisenberg, designer Daniel Burka, writer Alain de Botton, Design Observer founder Bill Drenttel, writer Steven Johnson and, erm, yours truly, plus a handful more to be announced over the coming weeks — to select the most compelling examples.

Once these are identified, Acumen Fund launches challenges to the community to creatively show the world why that topic is indeed critical through anything from “the most retweetable tweet of all time” to a New-Yorker-worthy essay to a stride-stopping poster. The first challenge is inspired by sewers, the obviousness chosen by Daniel Burka, and focuses on sanitation — a basic human right the lack of which is among the most critical issues in the developing world today.

Submissions — in the form of tweets, essays, videos, or anything at all — are due by November 21 and winners will be chosen by the judges on November 30. The winning entires will be spotlighted by the challenge’s media partners, Design Observer and GOOD, and will be featured on the YouTube homepage for 24 hours. (We’re supporting them too with a bit of pro-bono ad space to get the word out about the challenge — look over on the right.)

So go ahead and submit an idea or get busy with the an open challenge. And in the meantime, use this as a reminder to appreciate all the wonderful objects and ideas we’re surrounded with, whose role in our daily well-being we often forget.

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