Around the World in Five Minutes

Week of July 2 — People, Nature, and Place. Each Friday the team at sociecity finds all the news you might have missed this week, and compiles it into a short column you can read in five minutes. Don’t miss it! Sign up to get Around the World in Five Minutes in your inbox each week!

Europe
Olympic City is Topping Up

Although it’s less than half the height of the world’s tallest building, London’s new 95-story tower dubbed The Shard is unveiled this week, making London home to the tallest building in Europe, just in time for the summer Olympic Games. The crown will be short lived however, as Russia is planning to finish the taller Mercury City Tower by the end of the year.

Asia
South Korea to Raze Organic Farm for Theme Park
Farming club member Suhee Kang stands overlooking the fields of Dumulmeori Organic Farm in South Korea. The farm is set to be bulldozed for a theme park. (photo: Patrick Lydon | sociecity)

Farming club member Suhee Kang stands overlooking the fields of Dumulmeori Organic Farm in South Korea. The farm is set to be bulldozed for a theme park. (photo: Patrick Lydon | sociecity)

At the head of South Korea’s main Han River is a small piece of land which has seen agricultural use for thousands of years. This week, after a multiple-year battle, and despite winning court cases against local and Federal governments, the farmers were handed eviction notices.

The Dumulmeori farm, part of the riverside Paldang Organic Farming area is being bulldozed in favor of a development backed by South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, who wishes to turn the river into a concrete-lined canal complete with a theme park on the farmland. Although an international cast of activists — sociecity included — attempted to work out more balanced and educational alternatives for the land, the Governmental leadership has not swayed from their position.

Sweaters Coming off in Hong Kong Malls

It may be hot, sticky, and wet outside during the typical Hong Kong summer, but inside the city’s indoor malls it has always been a ‘bring your sweater’ kind of affair. Until this week, when ninety shopping malls promised to raise indoor temperatures to save energy, says Secretary for the Environment Wong Kam-sing.

As The Standard reports, Wong told the Legislative Council yesterday that malls have pledged to lower indoor temperatures from 26 degrees Celsius to 24 degrees. Wong addd that “Through this scheme, people will learn how to use air conditioners in a greener and more effective way”.

Africa
Playground of Trash Offers Commentary, Inspiration

“I shifted from doing artwork to just hang on walls, having little influence on society, to doing art that solves community needs,” says Ugandan eco-artist Ruganzu Bruno Tusingwire. GOOD reports this week that, after winning a $10,000 prize in the TED-sponsored City 2.0 Awards, Tusingwire is using a large chunk of the winnings to create a theme park for children made out of old plastic bottles which permiate the landscape (and landfills) in the small community.

“It’s helped me realize my value to society,” the artist adds. We think Tusingwire’s project is perhaps a bit more inspirational than Lee Myung-bak’s  aforementioned theme park in South Korea. The artist will also use part of the prize to help inspire the local community, expanding a loan program for female eco-artists.

Australia
Lighting Up the Australian Desert with Solar Art
Bruce Munro's 2008 installation "Field of Light" at the Eden Project in Cornwall (photo courtesy of the artist)

Bruce Munro's 2008 installation "Field of Light" at the Eden Project in Cornwall (photo courtesy of the artist)

Installation artist Bruce Munro announced plans to embark on his largest installation to date, reports the Huffington Post – a quarter million solar powered stems of light to cover one square kilometer of land in the heart of the Australian red desert at Uluru (Ayer’s Rock).

The display will make the desert “bloom with gentle rythms of light,” says the artist. More than an installation, the fiber-optic light field also hints at what is possible when nature and technology combine to transform our landscapes.

North America
America sees Industrial Opportunity in Quake-Ravaged Haiti

Two and a half years after the earthquake, Haiti remains mired in a humanitarian crisis, with 390,000 people languishing in tents, reports the New York Times. Yet the showcase project of the reconstruction effort — recently celebrated by recovery commission Co-Chair, former President Bill Clinton — is a large industrial park for foreign clothing manufacturers, all of it erected in an area unaffected by the quake.

Out of the 4,500 homes which American relief efforts have promised to build, the majority are currently not being erected in the earthquake-affected area, but instead as part of the industrial complex. Families here will have a 365 square foot concrete box to live in, which according to experts, violates “numerous principles inherent to sound urban design”.

Patrick Lydon

Author:Patrick Lydon

Patrick is an interdisciplinary artist and writer who works to ignite unconventional, critical dialogues at the intersection of culture and ecology. He is Co-Director of FinalStraw.org, a documentary and active community dialogue about food, earth, and happiness. He holds a BA from San Jose State University and an MFA with distinction from The University of Edinburgh's "Art, Space & Nature" program.

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