Week In Review
Hi! I'm still at Coachella. This is still my view AND Paul McCartney and Neil Young practically killed me last night or they did kill me and that was heaven. In another surreal universal twist, today is John Lennon's birthday (I commemorate it every year by listening to a Lennon song) and Paul McCartney's performance extended past midnight last night which means I commemorated Lennon's birthday this year WITH A BEATLE. I have gathered what very little of my mental faculties I have left to report on the weekly roundup of cool things I read this week. I take no responsibility for the coherence of this post. My mind is rocked and rolled!
Fati Abubakar is using her camera to capture the beauty and joy of the human experience in northeast Nigeria. Her project, Bits of Borno, arose out of her frustration with the media coverage, which focused constantly on the social and political upheaval the region is facing with Boko Haram. She wanted to tell a different story: one of resilience, beauty, and joy. Luckily for us, many of her pictures capture the way people dress:
"I really love cultural attire. I like when I see people who don't really conform with Western dressing. I like very traditional Borno state dressing — the babarigas as they call it. That's the flowing robe. And then the traditional Kanuri caps, the Borno caps that are well known now — embroidered, handmade, very intricate designs. They're very beautiful. When I see very traditional things, I try to stop people and I document them."
As we think about how the fashion images we see influence how we feel we should look- whether from a body image perspective or in terms of how we dress, what is the role of fashion media? I think media plays a huge role, and this experiment from British Vogue caught my attention for just that reason:
"Alexandra Shulman, the editor of British Vogue, said she commissioned the project because she felt strongly that professional women, or women in positions of authority or power, should be able to indulge their interest in fashion without it seeming frivolous. 'In this country, there is still a stigma attached to clearly enjoying how you look and experimenting with it if you are a woman in the public eye and not in the fashion or entertainment business.'"
I've always felt that sustainability should be at the core of good design- whether that's fashion or urban planning or car manufacturing. Designers should be trained to creatively use resources and to make products, buildings, etc, that contribute to stewarding the environment somehow. So, I was thrilled to learn about the Land Art Generator Initiative, which holds a biannual national competition to solicit ideas for aesthetic designs with environmental benefits.
"Gone are the days of clunky, black solar panels. We are in a new age where innovative technology, socially responsible design, and functionality can coexist beautifully, and the LAGI competitions submissions embody this sentiment."
The green light | The Economist
Can the United Nations Green Climate Fund succeed in its mission to make climate funding available for truly transformative environmental projects in developing countries?
"When Vestine Mukeshimana bought electric lights last month from BBOXX, an off-grid solar company, it helped her spot snakes in her garden and stopped thieves making off with her cow. In her Rwandan village she and her neighbours (sic) now cook after dark and their children study in the evenings. They have never heard of the Green Climate Fund (GCF), a UN initiative to bring climate finance to developing countries. But last month such household solar schemes became its first disbursed investment."
The way ahead | President Obama in The Economist
President Obama pens a piece for The Economist about the four key economic issues that the next administration must tackle. Importantly, he writes: "sustainable economic growth requires addressing climate change."
"How has a country that has benefited—perhaps more than any other—from immigration, trade and technological innovation suddenly developed a strain of anti-immigrant, anti-innovation protectionism? Why have some on the far left and even more on the far right embraced a crude populism that promises a return to a past that is not possible to restore—and that, for most Americans, never existed at all?"
I thought this was an important piece because I think our definition of luxury is in need of an overhaul. We'll discuss another time, but for now, renovations just finished at the Rose Reading Room in the New York Public Library's main building. To have such an ornate space also be a public one invited this brief but interesting cultural comment:
"The Fifth Avenue main branch is a luxurious place, and not in the current New York sense of the term, when every new building constructed in the city, from the empty oligarch towers on Fifty-seventh Street’s Billionaire Row to four-story rentals in Crown Heights, come advertised as 'luxury' properties. The word is greedy, used that way, a sales pitch based on the appeal of having something at home that your neighbors don’t. The Rose Reading Room is luxurious in the way that only certain shared spaces can be. Its grandeur attracts its visitors, and is in turn amplified by their presence: the true urban symbiosis."