The Sanskrit term Bodhisattva is the name given to anyone who, motivated by great compassion and wisdom, has generated bodhichitta, a spontaneous wish to attain Buddhahood for the benefit of all sentient beings. What makes someone a Bodhisattva is her or his spontaneous and limitless dedication to the ultimate welfare of others.
(May we suggest that you view this at least two times? Get comfortable.)
It’s not the destination, it’s the voyage. It’s the way in which this public space is suddenly shared. Happily shared.
Somebody organizing a conference in the coming months on the future of transport in cities called in this morning to ask me, for the nth time in the last two decades, why is it that what appears to any thinking person as an excellent, even more than that, vitally necessary concept such as sustainable development in all of its many forms is proving so notoriously ineffective — to the extent that despite all the articles and books published, conferences held, agencies created, university programs, scientific progress, and even convincing real-world innovations, actions and projects, the bottom line indicators of our gross UNsustainability (greenhouse gas production, climate change and its devastating impacts, continuing mindless resource bulimia, etc.) continue to progress steadily in the wrong direction. By many indicators we seem to be getting smarter, at least at the leading edge. So why are we losing the war?
I hesitated to roll this around in my mind and then told my respected colleague that I would have to have a second cup of coffee and stare out into space a bit, and promised to ring back in an hour or so if that was okay by her. (It was.)
Like it or not, however, English is an awful choice for an international language, not least because its spelling and pronunciation abide by no rules. How much easier it would have been for the world, if we had, say, taken Italian as our shared language where every clearly pronounced word is immediately and impeccably spellable. However fate wished otherwise, so today we are condemned to work with what we have, English. But here are a few words of comfort for those who are often confused about the awful slip between the spelling and the pronunciation, and vice versa. Hopefully it will cheer you up. As you will see, if you are at times baffled you are not alone.
Asking the mayor of Freedonia to walk the talk
Freedonia City Hall, 20 June 2015.09:00. The mayor is comfortably seated at his imposing desk, looking fondly at an unlit cigar. After a lengthy wait and a nod from the imposing receptionist, the editor of World Streets knocks lightly and waits timidly at the door, entirely drenched and more than a bit disheveled. Not a pretty sight.
The Mayor: Well sir, you are a fine mess. Careful there, you are dripping on my favorite chair. Continue reading
Charles Montgomery digs into his book “Happy City: Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design” in this 19 minute TEDx talk, and explains to us how happiness can be not only a wish or dream, but can be approached by policy makers and city builders as a measurable and achievable goal.
Author Charles Montgomery Talks “Happy City” with Mark Gorton, Philanthorpist and public servant
A Short History of Social Mobility in five small frames – from a collection of drawings and pastels that first appeared in the edition “Nothing is easy” (Rien n’est simple) by Jean-Jacques Sempé, published a half century ago in 1962. And even back then the message was howlingly clear. Amazing to think of how little it is understood two generations later in most cities around the world, rich and poor, even though the indisputable proof is right before our eyes. If only we choose to look. (From World Streets Archives)
– William Butler Yeats. Irish poet. Literary and political activist. 1865– 1939
The power of images. The power of perspective. It’s pretty clear by now that we are going to need a lot more than walls of words, thick reports and endless expert conferences to turn the world toward sustainability. So to help our cause we invite our readers to jump in and share with us striking their “social space” graphics which illustrate in telling ways the world’s streets and all that takes place thereon in many places and in many ways. To get a feel for how this works out using our challenging 980 x 150 pixels format, read on — or if you are in a hurry click here to go direct to the photo gallery. Continue reading
Sustainability is not a four letter word
(but maybe it should be)
The fourth annual Haiku Sustainability Slam is being organized by World Streets and its friends as an ecumenical pagan celebration to the coming Rite of Spring, in part inspired by the exhilarating French annual speak-out program The Springtime of Poets (Le printemps des poètes) opens this year from 5 to 20 March. A few words of background to set the stage for what we hope will be your own valiant poeticizing efforts.
Some fine people in Australia remind us today in a blog entitled Gizmodo about one of the many historic predecessors of the Car Free Day movement, more formally launched at an international conference in Toledo Spain in 1992 (see Thursday: A breakthrough strategy for reducing car dependence in cities) . We need to keep an eye on those Dutch. They seem to be on to something.
Car Free Sunday, Netherlands, 1973
This for your weekend viewing pleasure just in from Clarence Eckerson, Streetfilms, NYC:
When I first got started making NYC bike advocacy and car-free streets videos back in the late-1990s on cable TV, I didn’t know who William “Holly” Whyte was or just how much influence his work and research had on New York City. A few years later I met Fred and Ethan Kent at Project for Public Spaces. I got a copy of Whyte’s 1980 classic, The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces, which in its marvelously-written, straightforward style is the one book all burgeoning urbanists should start with.
Recently, I read it again. With all the developments in video technology since his day, I wondered: How might Whyte capture information and present his research in a world which is now more attuned to the importance of public space? What would he appreciate? Are his words still valid?
So I excerpted some of my favorite passages from the book and tried to match it up with modern footage I’ve shot from all over the world while making Streetfilms. I hope he would feel honored and that it helps his research find a new audience.
Sustainability is not a four letter word
(but maybe it should be)
The second annual Haiku Sustainability Slam is being organized by World Streets and its friends as an ecumenical pagan celebration to the coming Rite of Spring, in part inspired by the exhilarating French annual speak-out program The Springtime of Poets (Le printemps des poètes) opens this year on the 23rd of March. A few words of background to set the stage for what we hope will be your own valiant poeticizing efforts.
lend me your arms
fast as thunderbolts
for a pillow on my journey
when trying to write
haikus on mobility
you have to stand still
– Khoo Salma, Penang Heritage Trust
the candle still burns bright
can you feel the fluttering breeze
– – > http://wp.me/psKUY-2Mv