Saturday, 28 February 2009

Mobile Performance Venue

The Mobile Performance Venue (MPV) will represent Arts Alliance Productions and their performance "ID - Identity of the Soul" worldwide in 2009. ID is a five-screen cinematic performance based on Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen’s epic poem Terje Vigen and Mahmoud Darwish's poem A Soldier Dreams of White Lillies.

The MPV is the largest mobile venue in the world and is making great efforts to cut down its carbon footprint. Conceived by Norway’s Various Architects, the superstructure features an inflatable facade that is 100% recyclable and a collapsible design that makes it completely mobile, fitting into approximately 30 shipping containers. The venue measures 90 by 60 meters and can accommodate up to 3,500 people!

Touring acts tend to generate huge carbon footprints because of the massive amounts of materials that they transport across great distances. This mobile venue approaches the sustainable stadium from a new angle, opting for an ultra lightweight construction to minimize the energy expended to transport it: “Our main goal was to make the structure as lightweight and compact as possible to reduce shipping weight and volume.”

Various Architect’s venue is extremely versatile and has a variety of modular components that allow it to accommodate a range of events and environments. It can be fitted with stadium seats, and optional mesh covers provide protection from sun and the elements. The MPV assembles in just two weeks, and only takes about a week to disassemble. In addition, almost every part of the structure is recyclable, from its bright-white facade to its aluminum support system.

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Water Aid - Providing Safe Water And Sanitation

Something that we take so much for granted - the toilet. Yet, I was completely shocked to learn that 2.5 billion people - 40% of the world's population - do not have somewhere safe, private or hygienic to go to the toilet! This lack of sanitation causes deadly diseases responsible for 2.4 million child deaths a year.

WaterAid is working to raise awareness of the global sanitation crisis. Below you can see one of their short videos, making us think what life would be like without that simple and basic part of our life, the toilet. The video is called Life without loos: Surgeon. For non-UK readers, 'loo' means 'toilet'.

WaterAid is an international charity based in the United Kingdom, whose mission is to overcome poverty by enabling the world's poorest people to gain access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene education. Founded in 1981, with a vision of a world where everyone has access to safe water and sanitation, WaterAid is currently working in 11 African countries and four Asian countries.

Friday, 20 February 2009

Oceanic Eco-Resorts On Reclaimed Oil Rigs

In the recent international design competition Radical Innovation in Hospitality the Houston-based firm Morris Architects won honours for two of their entries.

The Oil Rig Resort, Spa, and Aquatic Adventure won the Grand Prize. It takes one of the 4000 oil rigs in the Gulf Coast and transforms it into an exclusive resort with an eco-luxe experience.

“As the adaptive reuse of an abandoned oilrig,” stated John Hardy, president and CEO of the John Hardy Group - co-sponsors of the competition, “the Rig Resort offers a potentially commercially viable solution to an environmental hazard by providing alternative adventure travel opportunities based on a natural setting, simultaneously creating new jobs previously non-existent in the area.”

The resort will cater to conferences and business retreats as well as luxury travellers. It can also serve as a cruise ship’s main port of call en route to other locations in Mexico and the Caribbean. The hotel will function autonomously through the use of alternative energy.

The firm's other entry Extreme Birding also won an honourable mention. Morris Architects Director of Design Douglas Oliver explained, “There is a strong connection between bird-watching and travel. Up until now, hospitality offerings for birders tended to be ad-hoc. This design proposes to integrate luxury hospitality into the birding experience, creating a methodology that can be adapted for sites around the globe.”

Images: Morris Architects

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Global Food Crisis

At the UN conference on Food Security in Madrid at the end of last month Oxfam, on the opening day, stressed that urgent action was required in order to prevent hundreds of millions more people slipping into hunger as a result of the 3 key factors - economic crisis, climate change and energy and water scarcity.

They have published a report, A Billion Hungry People, on addressing the issue of the 1 billion hungry people in the world that need help immediately. The UK think tank Chatham House has also just published their report The Feeding of the Nine Billion: Global Food Security for the 21st Century. The latter predicts that demand for food will increase as the world's population grows by 2.5 billion to 9.2 billion by 2050, also noting the UN prediction that climate change will increase the number of undernourished people worldwide by between 40m and 170m.

The Food Crisis in figures, as published by Oxfam, is quite an eye-opener.

  • One in six of the world’s population is hungry, almost a billion people.
  • 13 million children are born annually with intrauterine growth restriction meaning that stunting sets in even before children are born due to the hunger experienced by the mother.
  • Between 50 and 60 % of all childhood deaths in the developing world are hunger related.
  • The risk of death is 2.5 times higher for children with only mild malnutrition than it is for children who are adequately nourished.
  • The proportion of overseas development assistance spent on agriculture has fallen from almost a fifth in 1980 to just 3 per cent today.
  • Poor people are particularly vulnerable to changes in food prices with many spending up to 80 per cent of their income on food.
  • Even before the recent crisis:
- More than 24,000 people died of hunger related causes every day.
- Five million children under the age of 5 died every year of hunger related causes.
- 16,000 children died every day of hunger-related causes – one every five seconds.

Below is a short spot which Sean Penn recorded as an appeal for the World Food Program. It's very short, but very much to the point.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Prem Rawat Speaks In Sicily And Israel

Prem Rawat (see my previous post) was invited to speak in Sicily last week and in Tel Aviv, Israel this week.

Every year Agrigento in Sicily celebrates the Festival of the Almond Blossom. A 'torch of friendship' is lit at the ancient Greek temples outside the town and is followed by folk dances. This year Prem Rawat was invited to speak and to light the Torch of Friendship and Brotherhood. Because of the rain, this had to be done indoors.

After he spoke, he was awarded the honorary citizenship of Agrigento. Two days later he was awarded the honorary citizenship of the nearby town of Mazaro Del Vallo. After the award, he answered questions from local high school students.

At the bottom of this post you can see a short video of Italian TV coverage of the event in Agrigento.

This week, Prem Rawat spoke at a meeting in Tel Aviv, Israel of around 900 people who came to hear him for the first time. The audience was a mixture of Israelis and Palestinians.

To find out more about Prem Rawat's message and work, you can visit the following sites - TPRF and Prem Rawat - Man Of Peace.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

First Earth Charter Pilot Lesson in Tajikistan

On January 24th the first Earth Charter pilot lesson was held in Tajikistan at a local secondary school. Approximately 40 students, mostly Tajiks, met with Earth Charter representatives, who brought with them Earth Charter posters and brochures with the Earth Charter text, translated and published earlier this year. A special video and DVD were also used.

The teachers of this and other schools in the region had previously received and studied the Earth Charter Guidebook for Teachers, which they had translated into Tajik and published for teachers' training and use.

The students found the text inspiring and insisted that the duration of the lesson should be doubled by adding another hour.

The Ministry of Education of Tajikistan plan to have 16 Earth Charter lessons, one per week, with one Earth Charter principle at a time.

For more information on the Earth Charter, vist their site The Earth Charter Initiative.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

One Laptop Per Child

A few years ago, Nicholas Negroponte started his One Laptop Per Child campaign. This organisation manufactures the XO ( the "$100 laptop"), a wireless internet-enabled, pedal powered computer costing roughly $100. The idea is to put millions of these devices in the hands of the children in the developing world by 2010.

The Mission Statement of his organisation reads as follows: To create educational opportunities for the world's poorest children by providing each child with a rugged, low-cost, low-power, connected laptop with content and software designed for collaborative, joyful, self-empowered learning. When children have access to this type of tool they get engaged in their own education. They learn, share, create, and collaborate. They become connected to each other, to the world and to a brighter future.

This is a short video clip of a talk that he gave at TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) last year on taking laptops to children in Colombia with the aid of Colombia's Defence Department.

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