Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘sustainability’

09 JANUARY, 2012

How the Dutch Got Their Bike Paths


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

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02 DECEMBER, 2011

Introducing the Regifting API: Free Tools to Destigmatize Regifting


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:


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?


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.


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.

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.

15 NOVEMBER, 2011

Meat the Future: An Animated Case for In-Vitro Meat


Petri dish to plate, or how to feed the world of 7 billion without starving the planet.

To anyone who’s read Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma or seen Robert Kenner’s Food, Inc., the wretched state of the meat industry and its noxious impact on the environment is no news. Meat the Future proposes an intriguing alternative to the traditional meat industry that neither requires you to become a granola-crunching vegetarian nor holds the foolish expectation that meat companies will suddenly take responsibility. And while that alternative might not seem appetizing at first, this beautiful and compelling animated short might just make you see the issue with new eyes.

In theory, a single cell from one animal can be used to feed the entire global population, without stressing the environment.”

The film ends with an emphasis on the need for publicly funded science, something we’ve made a case for before.

The project is the brainchild of Afshin Moeini, Christian Poppius and Kim Brundin from Sweden’s Beckmans College of Design.

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.