Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘philanthropy’

10 MARCH, 2009

Hungry Planet: How The World Eats, or Doesn’t


What $376.45 and $1.23 have in common, or why we should be embarrassed to even worry about “the recession.”

Data visualization may hold its mesmerism as a tool of illumination, but but even the most original ways of presenting data can fail to make that eye-opening, visceral impact on us — what usually remains in the heart are not scientific analyses and cold facts but emblematic events (Woodstock), inspiring words (Martin Luther King, Jr.) or riveting photographs (D-day bombing).

Which is what makes Peter Menzel and Faith D’Alusio’s Hungry Planet: What the World Eats so powerful — a photographic journey to 24 countries, where the authors stayed with 30 different families for a week each, documenting on paper and film what these families ate and how much it cost.

Each photograph depicts all the family members in their home environment, surrounded by a week’s worth of groceries.

United States: The Revis family of North Carolina

Food expenditure for one week: $341.98

Image copyright Peter Menzel,

Guatemala: The Mendozas of Todos Santos

Food expenditure per week: 573 Quetzales ($75.70)

Image copyright Peter Menzel,

There’s something very special about the photograph and its ability to encapsulate the time’s vibe, condensing big amounts of information — cultural, political, economic — in a commentary that engages us emotionally. The student standing in front of a tank on Tiananmen Square. The Pulitzer-Prize-winning photo of a vulture stalking a starved child. National Geographic’s iconic Afghan girl. Even without the full contextual facts about these photos, they somehow make us get “it.” And Hungry Planet does just that.

Comparing these images makes for some shocking conclusions, both funny and sad — prolific fodder for sociology, economics, and anthropology college papers alike. But to stick to our point here, we’ll seize elaboration and let the photographs speak.

Australia: The Browns of River View

Food expenditure per week: 481.14 Australian dollars ($376.45)

Image copyright Peter Menzel,

Japan: The Ukita family of Kodaira City

Food expenditure per week: 37,699 Yen ($317.25)

Image copyright Peter Menzel,

Egypt: The Ahmed family of Cairo

Food expenditure per week: 387.85 Egyptian Pounds ($68.53)

Image copyright Peter Menzel,

Chad: The Aboubakar family of Breidjing Camp

Food expenditure per week: 685 CFA Francs ($1.23)

Image copyright Peter Menzel,

Grab a copy of Hungry Planet for a pause-giving perspective on a basic human right we’ve come to take for granted.

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25 FEBRUARY, 2009

GOOD Magazine: The Real Stimulus Package


How the best magazine around got better, or why taking a slight financial hit can get you an intellectual grand slam.

We love GOOD Magazine. Always have (well, at least since their launch party in Philly’s Reading Terminal in 2007), always will. And now we have yet another reason to.

goodsub Initially, an annual subscription to GOOD used to cost $20, all of which went to your choice of charity from their list of nonprofit partners — great already. (Ours went to WWF.) But imagine our delight to discover that GOOD is now pushing the innovation front with a pay-what-you-want model – you can subscribe for anything from $1 to $1,000, all of which still goes to a charity of your choice.

Your choice of subscription also gets you various tiers of perks: Anything over $20 gets free admission to Choose GOOD parties (and good they are, take our work for it), $10o or more gets your name immortalized in the magazine, and if you have the good will and appropriate pocket depth to afford the $1,000 subscription, we’re talking lifetime subscription to the magazine, lifetime free admission to Choose GOOD parties, your name printed in the magazine, and a signed, limited edition bound copy of GOOD.


We’ve seen this sort of approach in the music industry, with acts big and small, from Radiohead to Jill Sobule, redefining the traditional business model. But we’re all the more excited to see it in print publishing, an industry struggling to stay afloat in the digital ocean of content.

More importantly, it’s a particularly good metaphor for the broader concepts GOOD stands for: Cultural contribution. Empowerment. Freedom of choice.

choosegood We can’t recommend GOOD enough — they go so far beyond “good enough” in every respect, from the compelling content, to the fantstic design and art direction, to their sustainable choice of paper stock. So go ahead and get your subscription to GOOD — it’s a solid investment, in both your personal growth and in your contribution to causes larger than yourself.

12 JANUARY, 2009

Illustration Showcase: 5 Artists to Watch


Shapes, colors, textures, and a whole lotta lovable monsters.

We love illustration. We love innovation. And we love these 5 incredibly innovative illustrators.


Kansas City designer Tad Carpenter‘s character illustrations are what one would call “unique” — the bold colors, crisp lines and subtle 2D texture, combined with the expressive minimalism of the characters’ faces, make for a signature style you couldn’t mistake for another.

Tad Carpenter

Monster Mix-Ups Tad’s work spans across posters, identity, installations, packaging, painting, and more. Between his day job at Design Ranch and his personal work, Tad also co-runs Vahalla Studios, a top-notch screen-printing shop.

Tad recently collaborated with a few other artists on a philanthropic project — after visiting 9 orphanages in Vietnam to help paint some murals, they got inspired by the kids’ drawings and paired each kid with one of the artists, who later did his own version of the kid’s drawing. (Remember Child Art for Grown-Ups?)

They then set up an auction for the work, benefiting, of course, the orphanages.

Giving It Back to Kids

Check out Tad’s blog for more about his work, his inspiration, and his rather exciting artist life.

via grain edit


Designer and motion graphics artist Christopher Lee, a.k.a. “The Best Is Back,” has some pretty impressive commercial gigs to his credit: Lucas Arts, TBWA, Disney Consumer Products, Vodafone and Honda, to name but a few.

TBWA: Carbon Figthers

In 2004, Christopher started a conceptual pet project dubbed The Urbanites — a friendly bunch of characters that are almost like the rest of us:

Populated together in that tight knit community you’ve grown to love and hate. Filled with best friends, mortal enemies, summer popsicles, freshly cut lawn, gossip, laughs and the obligatory robot factory.

Except they’re monsters.

The Urbanites: Sketches

Eventually, Christopher developed The Urbanites into lovable characters, each with a unique personality and back story.

The Urbanites

In 2006, Christopher moved to Southern California to look for new inspiration. And we think he’s more than found it.


Christopher now lives in Sacramento and works as an Art Director at motion graphics get-up Buck.


Chicago-based artist Matthew Woodson is the kind of illustrator who doesn’t fall for the latest grunge or “2.0” or magna fad. His minimalistic traditionalism of simple, meticulous pen and brush work somehow creates rather powerfl, almost haunting images.

Something about his ghostly illustration seems to strike a chord with the cultural and commercial A-listers — from nonprofits like UNICEF, to for-as-much-as-possible-profits like American Express, to an impressive lineup of media powerhouses: BusinessWeek, ESPN Magazine, Glamour, Randomhouse, and Wired (which, as you probably know by now, we’re completely obsessed with.)

Check out Matthew’s blog for a glimpse into his creative process.


Designer Alberto Cerriteño is an enviable master of texture, shape and color, whatever medium they dwell in.

The Helium Adventure

His artwork creates nothing short of a whimsical alternate reality, sucking you in one lovable monster at a time.


Born in Mexico City, Alberto is now a Senior Art Director at a Portland-based design shop. His work spans nearly every frontier of design imaginable, from print to motion graphics to apparel and more.


Follow Alberto’s global adventures on his blog for some insight into the fuel of that incredibly imaginative mind.


Honduras-based freelance illustrator Wilmer Murillo‘s artwork is brimming with that rare blend of the bizarre, the delightful and the introspective, all tied with a bow of fantastic aesthetic execution.

Don Pedro Buenaventura

His latest collection, The Messenger of Love Is Old and Tired, juxtaposes the endearing, almost cartoonish nature of the characters with the profound sadness of the conceptual message.

A Walk With a Hot Dog

Wilmer is only 21, which absolutely floors us. Keep your eyes peeled for this guy as he takes the design world by storm in the next couple of years.

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