Building the World

May 24, 2016
by buildingtheworld
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City as Art

Singing’ in the Rain” with Gene Kelly. Will Boston’s “Raining Poetry” set a new style for the City as Art? Image: wikimedia commons.

Baghdad was designed in three concentric circles drawn in the sand by founder Caliph al-Mansur, who named the new capital “Madinat as-Salam” or “City of Peace.” As Toynbee observed in Cities of Destiny, urban centers possess cultural magnetism. Boston is showering the city in art: poetry appears in the rain. A collaboration of Boston City Hall, the Mayor’s Mural Crew, and Mass Poetry, the project echoes public art along the Greenway. Chicago’s Millennium Park brings public art to a new gathering green downtown. Beijing also uses urban life to uplift: riders on the metro’s Line 4 can access Chinese poetry and philosophy through barcodes posted in passenger cars. China’s Grand Canal standardized written language, facilitating government, and cultural, exchange. Boston’s poems, however, are ephemeral; disappearing ink lasts just a few weeks. But words are, as Roman poet Horace stated, “monumentum aere perennius” – “a monument more lasting than bronze” or as Langston Hughes, whose poem graces Dudley Square, might observe: “Still Here.”

Thanks to Chak Ngamtippan for suggesting featuring Boston’s “Raining Poetry.”

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

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November 18, 2015
by buildingtheworld
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Water of Life

Water is life’s mater and matrix, mother and medium. There is no life without water. – Albert Szent-Gyorgyi. Water Act! may lead the way. Image: www.komendenver.org.

Water is life, some would state. Water resources determined success of some of the world’s greatest cities: Baghdad, London, Rome, Singapore.  Environmental consequences of climate change can be observed in water resources: floods devastate; drought strangles. Earth, the water planet, may be running out of water. Will “Water Act!” convened in Paris by the Fulbright Association produce consensus and action regarding world water?

As water becomes more scarce on earth, the element begins to be discovered in space. Earth’s solar system contains 23 oceans. Europa, Jupiter’s moon, may house a sub-surface ocean “vigorously convecting” with Hadley cells and ice plumes 124 miles high. Water movement on Europa may mean life; circulating from equator to poles, as evidenced by plumes, moving water may create the fertile environment for life. Findings of Krista Soderlund of University of Texas Institute for Geophysics and colleagues may indicate it is more likely to find life in Europa’s ocean than its land surface: water is a life-giving medium. Planetary Resources is aiming to harvest minerals, and water, from asteroids. Finding water in space may bode well for building a better future; perhaps Gerard K. O’Neill’s vision will be realized, guided in part by the United Nations Outer Space Treaty and Unispace.

Meanwhile, on earth, the world seeks to protect and preserve what water we still have. California continues to address change; citizens successfully met Governor Edmund G. Brown’s challenge to reduce water usage 25%. Differentiating water utilization for people, agriculture, building, industry, and technology might be the way of the future, as suggested by Régine Engström, Executive Director of Eau de Paris, proposing “non-potable water systems may help build tomorrow’s sustainable city.” The 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference convening in France will seek goals of ambition, fairness, post-2020 financing, and pre-2020 actions regarding climate change and environment. What should COP21 recommend regarding water?

Special appreciation to Cherie E. Potts for Solar System Water references and suggestions.

On Europa:

Wenz, John. “Jupiter’s Moon Europa is Bursting with Icy Geysers.” Popular Mechanics, 12 December 2013. deep-space/a9830/jupiters-moon-europa-is-bursting-with-icy-geysers-16260205/

On Water in 23 Places in our Solar System:

Wenz, John. “23 Places We’ve Found Water in Our Solar System.” Popular Mechanics, 16 March 2015. http://www.popularmechanics.com/space/a14555/water-worlds-in-our-solar-system/.

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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December 23, 2013
by buildingtheworld
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Baghdad: Madinat-as-Salam

Peace Symbol. Courtesy: wikimedia commons.

Riding a white horse, Caliph al-Mansur lept from his steed, unsheathed his sword, and drew three concentric circles in the sands of the land shining before him, proclaiming: “Here we will build the City of Peace, Madinat-as-Salam.” Calendar year 145 (or A.D. 762) proved auspicious; the Caliph had indeed found advantageous terrain. On the Tigris River, a trade nexus was born, at one time the wealthiest in the world and one of the most beautiful. Since then, the world has known that city under a different name: Baghdad. It is a place now rebuilding: new infrastructure, new water and energy systems, and perhaps a new vision. New Baghdad has an opportunity to claim its destiny of Madinat-as-Salam, City of Peace.

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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January 22, 2013
by zoequinn001
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Hospitality in a Time of Rebuilding

The Republican Palace in Baghdad’s Green Zone, one of the buildings hosting the 2013 conferences, by Jim Gordon.

Rebuilding a city after a disaster, be it natural or man made, is a task that requires the cooperation of government and civilian alike. There is often a great deal of pride involved in attempting to reach a former level of success and beauty. Baghdad is no exception. In the midst of reconstructing the city and government however, Baghdad is demonstrating that it is still a city worthy of international awe by hosting a number of 2013’s international conferences, including the Gulf Energy Forum and an Arab League conference on Palestine. Like with London and the 2012 Summer Olympics, the need to house the international players while presenting the city of Baghdad as a global leader has led to a great deal of improvement within the city.

For more informaiton on the city’s improvements and the conferences being held there, please see: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-20979039.

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Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G. Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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May 9, 2012
by zoequinn001
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Rebuilding Eden

Result of the draining, from bbc.co.uk.

Baghdad is not the only important settlement on the Tigris and the Euphrates. The wetlands of southern Iraq lay claim to being the Eden of Christian faith. Located on the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers, these marshes were home to a large wildlife population and supported whole human villages. Sadly they were drained in the 1990s under Saddam Hussein, an action that quickly destroyed the ecosystem and local communities. Since the fall of Hussein there has been a move to restore the marshes and the ancient way of life with some success. For the whole story please visit: http://news.bbc.co.uk/earth/hi/earth_news/newsid_9364000/9364044.stm

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Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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