Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘sustainability’

22 MARCH, 2012

Plink Plink! Celebrate World Water Day with Vintage Children’s Illustrations circa 1954

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A marvelous mid-century homage to Earth’s lifeblood.

Between 1957 and 1963, The Doubleday Book Clubs published a series of illustrated anthologies entitled Best in Children’s Books. Each of the few dozen numbered volumes contained a mixture of fiction and nonfiction, blending old works by established authors and artists with new works by emerging ones. The series is a treasure-trove of obscure gems by artists who eventually became cultural icons — from young Andy Warhol’s vibrant drawings to Maurice Sendak’s little-known Velveteen Rabbit illustrations.

To celebrate World Water Day today, here is Plink Plink! — an utterly delightful story about water’s all-important role in our world, written and illustrated by Ethel and Leonard Kessler in 1954, and published in Best in Children’s Books Volume 12.

Though the volume — which also features John Tenniel’s original illustrations for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland — is sadly out of print, you can snag a used copy with some dedicated rummaging online.

Thanks, Claudia

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12 JANUARY, 2012

The Hidden Beauty of Pollination

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We’ve already marveled at the macro beauty of pollen, nature’s love-making mechanism. From Louie Schwartzberg’s film Wings of Life — an homage to “the love story that feeds the Earth,” inspired by the worrisome vanishing of the honeybees, nature’s irreplaceable Cupids — comes this stunning montage of high-speed images, revealing the intricate beauty of pollination:

Schwartzberg contextualizes the footage in his talk from TED 2011:

For a related moment of humility, treat yourself to Schwartzberg’s moving and rewarding TEDxSF talk on gratitude — it gets truly extraordinary at around 3:55:

You think this is just another day in your life. It’s not just another day — it’s the one day that is given to you, today. It’s given to you, it’s a gift. It’s the only gift that you have right now, and the only appropriate response is gratefulness. If you do nothing else but to cultivate that response to the great gift that this unique day is, if you learn to respond as if it were the first day in your life, and the very last day, then you would have spent this day very well.”

HT Smithsonian Retina

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09 JANUARY, 2012

How the Dutch Got Their Bike Paths

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What The Netherlands can teach us about child safety and mass protests as effective policy-benders.

We’ve come a long way since the time of Victorian don’ts for women on bicycles as the humble bike has become an agent of economic and cultural change. This fascinating short documentary traces the rise of The Netherlands’ famous bicycle paths and examines the sociocultural factors that enabled it, from mass protests to government policy. A living testament to the “build it and they will come” ethos, these safe cycling paths not only vastly improved the city’s traffic system efficiency, but they also helped address an oil and economic crisis, lower carbon emissions, and reduce child casualties by 350%, all thanks to intelligent and focused policy decisions — something to think about as we head into an election year in the tragically car-centric U.S.

The solution was found in the political will on a national and municipal level, with both decision-makers and planners, to deal with this situation by turning away from car-centric policies and making way for alternative transport like cycling.”

Cycling protest tour, Amsterdam, 1979.

Painting cycle lanes, Amsterdam, 1980

Donating = Loving

Bringing you (ad-free) Brain Pickings takes hundreds of hours each month. If you find any joy and stimulation here, please consider becoming a Supporting Member with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of tea and a good dinner.





You can also become a one-time patron with a single donation in any amount.





Brain Pickings has a free weekly newsletter. It comes out on Sundays and offers the week’s best articles. Here’s what to expect. Like? Sign up.

02 DECEMBER, 2011

Introducing the Regifting API: Free Tools to Destigmatize Regifting

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How to give and receive with honesty, love, and no guilt.

The season of giving is upon us — a time to receive a lot of stuff we don’t really need from people we care about, give them stuff they don’t really need in return, and do it all graciously, dancing a dance of feigned stuff-needing. But what if we could pass that stuff we don’t really want or need along to someone who might? What if we could normalize regifting, remove the guilt that bedevils it, and bake it into the gift-giving process from the get-go as an open and beautiful expression of honesty? Introducing the Brain Pickings Regifting API — a free set of tools that aim to remove the social stigma from regifting, letting your loved ones know that you openly endorse regifting and encouraging them to pay your gift forward if there’s someone in their lives better suited for it than themselves. Here’s how:

STEP 1: DOWNLOAD THE GRAPHICS

I asked the lovely and talented Josh Boston, mastermind behind the current Brain Pickings redesign, to design a regifting icon, pattern, and stencil stamp. These are available as free, shareable downloads under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial (CC BY-NC) license, which basically means you’re welcome to use, remix, and share with attribution for non-commercial purposes.

[ download hi-res PNG ]

[ download vector file ]

[ download hi-res PNG ]

[ download vector file ]

[ download hi-res PNG ]

[ download vector file ]

The stencil font is Bandoleer from indie type foundry Mad Type by designer Matt Desmond. It’s nice, isn’t it?

STEP 2: PRINT OR STENCIL YOUR GIFTWRAP OR CARD

You can use the regifting graphics to make your own giftwrap, either by printing them on paper, or by making a stamp or stencil to use on basic monochromatic wrapping paper. You can also use the stamp or stencil to make your own paper or cardboard greeting card.

Eco Green Crafts has a great selection of vibrant, non-toxic, acid-free ink pads for your stamp and acrylic paints with no or low volatile organic compounds for your stencil.

STEP 3: GIVE AND BE MERRY

That’s it, you’re done. You can now give freely, with love and with honesty, and receive accordingly, guilt-free.

And from my friends at Do The Green Thing, here’s a lovely animated reminder that, sometimes, it might be best to give nothing at all, except of course love.

In 2011, bringing you Brain Pickings took more than 5,000 hours. If you found any joy and stimulation here this year, please consider a modest donation.





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