Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘sustainability’

29 OCTOBER, 2010

KOMAZA: Fighting Poverty Through “Microforestry”

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What 2,000 trees have to do with your weekly mocha frappuccino budget.

Deforestation and poverty are two of today’s most pressing socio-environmental problems, but most people don’t realize they’re closely connected. In Africa, the average dryland farmer will cut down 2,000 trees in her lifetime in order to power her home and farm, a necessity of basic economic survival. KOMAZA, Africa’s first nonprofit forestry company, is an inspired social enterprise that addresses this correlation through “microforestry” — small tree farms that offer profoundly lifechanging sustainable economic opportunities for farmers.

KOMAZA spends less than $1 to plant a tree, and each tree returns at least $20 to the family. That’s over $6,000 from half an acre — you can imagine the powerful impact this income can have on people many of whom live on under $1.25 a day.

Komaza is Swahili for “promote development” or “encourage growth.”

Please consider supporting KOMAZA with a modest donation — think about the negligible cost of going without Starbucks for a week and the remarkable gift this change allocation would be for an Elizabeth.

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28 OCTOBER, 2010

Oil + Water: Posters Printed with Oil from The Gulf

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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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25 OCTOBER, 2010

PICKED: Neighbor Dining

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Living alone and dining alone can get boring, expensive, energy-intensive and, well, lonely. Neighbor Dining, a new social dining concept with Foursquare integration created on spec for European energy company Vattenfall by art director Luong Lu, offers a brilliant solution that we hope to see materialize.

(Thanks, Natalie)

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20 OCTOBER, 2010

Search for the Obvious: A Homage to Everyday Objects

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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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