Building the World

March 6, 2017
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March!

St. Petersburg: price of admission to the new city was one large stone, by order of the tsar. Image: wikimedia commons.

March! It’s a month that begins with a command. In fact, some opine that the fourth day may be pronounced as an imperative. Many great achievements thus began: Cyrene was discovered and built in response to a command of the Oracle at Delphi; the Grand Canal was dug by orders of successive emperors. St. Petersburg was built in stone, by directive of Tsar Peter who set, as price of admission to the new city, one large stone. What commands your attention, and action, to march forth?

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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February 14, 2017
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Where did the Valentine Heart originate?

Coin from Cyrene, 630bce, with image of silphium. Image: Kürt Baty, 2006, wikimedia commons.

Where did the Valentine Heart icon come from? Perhaps Cyrene. When the ancient Greeks were told by the Oracle of Delphi to leave drought-stricken Thera (present-day Santorini), pioneering migrants sailed to Libya, settling in Cyrene because of its moist, fertile land. So fertile, in fact, that a magical plant grew there. Some attribute silphium’s powers to the flowering of culture that Cyrene fostered. Resident Eratosthenes measured the earth’s circumference, opened research into prime numbers, and drew a map of the stars (tallied at 675). Silphium stirred minds, and hearts: legend whispered the plant possessed amatory properties. Silphium drew so many people to the new city, stimulating not only the economy but the populace, that the plant’s heart-shaped seed was imprinted on coins. Cyrene became so famous that Pindar wrote an ode in praise. Was Cyrene the origin of one of the world’s first emoticons?

To hear the music of Pindar’s odes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zB49E2ozEPM

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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September 8, 2015
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Migration

LE Eithne Operation Triton, June 2015. Image: Irish Naval Service.

Our world faces a refugee and migration crisis. What solutions can be found? Greece, now a center of activity, pioneered a new vision when people boarded boats from Thera to found ancient Cyrene. In Australia, from 1947-55, over 75,000 industrious, innovative individuals and families left two dozen European countries to relocate and build the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Power Project, a multi-reservoir hydroelectric system of 16 dams, seven power stations, and 140 miles of interconnected tunnels, pipelines, and aqueducts in the most arid country on earth. Australia remembers: #LighttheDark gathered support for the world’s current migration crisis. Europe has also opened doors to freedom and opportunity. Major infrastructure projects to combat drought are still needed today. Can our world find inspiration in the examples of Greece and Australia to offer opportunity to the industrious, innovative, pioneering migrants and refugees of our times?

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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July 24, 2015
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Classical Greece: Climate Migration and Innovation

 

Classical Greece: inspiration for innovation. Image: wikimedia commons.

Greece may provide one of the first documented instances, in history, of innovation that may attend climate migration. When Thera, now Santorini, suffered prolonged drought, the oracle at Delphi advised pioneers to sail to the shores of Libya, where they discovered a spot known for moist climate. A sacred plant grew naturally on the fertile soil; some credit the herb sylphium in part for the creativity that soon sprouted. Measurement of the earth’s circumference, mechanics for doubling a cube, early research into prime numbers, even one of the first maps of the stars (thought to tally 675) were among the innovations. Cyrene flourished, growing into five cities. Perhaps influenced by experience and freedom, a new constitution was drafted, with expanded definitions of citizenship. Although options for relocation, in our times, may be different, climate refugees might take inspiration from Greece, source of great innovation.

For more:

Litwin, Evan T. “Climate Diaspora.” Master’s Thesis, McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies, University of Massachusetts Boston, 2011.

Schultz, Colin. “Climate Change Is Already Causing Mass Human Migration,” Smithsonian Magazine, January 29, 2014. http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/climate-change-already-causing-mass-human-migration-180949530/?no-ist

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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October 31, 2014
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Innovation and Inclusion

 

“He was Boston,” Secretary of State John Kerry, speaking of Mayor Thomas M. Menino (1942-2014). Image: wikimedia commons.

Thomas M. Menino, Boston’s legendary Mayor (1993-2014), created a legacy of innovation and inclusion. Founding an Innovation District in 2010, Menino and team brought more than 4,000 new jobs and 200 companies to the city. Opening hearts and minds, Mayor Menino also opened the gates of the city to greater inclusion and opportunity, including excellence in public education. Mayors influence success; cities may respond with greater agility to problems and opportunities. What will cities of the future learn, from Tom Menino?

More: http://www.bostonmagazine.com/news/blog/2014/10/31/remembered-tom-menino-week/

http://www.bu.edu/ioc/

http://www.c40.org/

Barber, Benjamin R. “If Mayors Ruled the World: Dysfunctional Nations, Rising Cities.” Yale University Press, 2013.

Hargreaves, Steve. “Most Innovative Cities.” October 7, 2014. CNN. http://money.cnn.com/gallery/news/economy/2014/10/07/greatest-urban-projects/index.html

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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October 4, 2014
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Cities as Destiny

Calgary by night. Photograph by Gorgo, 2006. Image courtesy of wikimedia commons.

October, 1967: Arnold Toynbee published “Cities of Destiny” exploring elements that, when blended in an urban environment, may foster innovation and greatness. Cyrene set a trend: the ancient Greek city-state created a new culture where sciences, arts, education flourished. Singapore illustrates the power of a city to make its own laws, taxes, policies. Cities use – and therefore can save – significant energy; C40, an organization of the world’s mega-cities, may show the way forward to a better environment. Will the proposed Global Parliament of Mayors, convening 600 city leaders around the globe, forge a new direction for progress? Over half of our world lives in cities. Cooperative leagues of cities may shape the world’s destiny.

For more:

Hargreaves, Steve. “Greatest urban projects of all time,” CNNMoney, October 7, 2014. http://money.cnn.com/gallery/news/economy/2014/10/07/greatest-urban-projects/3.html

C40 Cities, Climate Leadership Group: www.c40.org

Global Parliament of Mayors:

http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-29352004

http://www.globalparliamentofmayors.org/

Barber, Benjamin R. “If Mayors Ruled the World.” (Yale University Press, 2014). www.ifmayorsruledtheworld.com

Toynbee, Arnold. “Cities of Destiny.” (Thames & Hudson, 1967)

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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September 5, 2014
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City as Demo-graphic

Norris, Tennessee was built for TVA worker housing as a way to showcase uses of electricity. Image: Library of Congress.

Build it and they will come, perhaps thought Senator George W. Norris of Nebraska, United States, a proponent of public energy. Known as “father of the TVA,” Norris championed use of a new source of energy: hydroelectricity.Taking advantage of the necessity for Tennessee Valley Authority worker housing, Norris built a new town, designed around electricity. It was a success: people liked refrigerators, especially in the summer. The vision of “city as demo” may have been part of a swerve to an electricity-centered culture that created new industries, such as entertainment and home appliances, computers and smart phones, all things plug-in. Another example of city as demo might be Cyrene, where silphium silphium grew so popular the government put the plant’s image on currency; coins circulated, drawing people to the region. Does the city as demo still hold promise? Currently, many urban centers face expensive upgrading of aging infrastructure: why not take a leap into the future? Another opportunity might be building new capitals (with advanced systems including transport, energy, water) in areas vulnerable to earthquake. As urban landscapes are upgraded, or built anew, might some cities choose to be centers of smarter technologies, for a better environment?

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 26, 2013
by buildingtheworld
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Benghazi: ancient city, modern future?

Flag of Libya. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Benghazi was one of five cities, the Pentapolis, of Cyrene, known for achievements in science, art, and culture. Founded in 630 BCE by Therans migrating from drought-plagued Santorini, who may have been among the first climate refugees, Cyrene extended Greek culture to Libya. Measurement of the earth’s circumference, mechanics of doubling a cube, early ideas about prime numbers, a timeline of world history — all these advances in knowledge originated in Cyrenaica. Astronomers drew the first map of the stars, tallied at 675 at the time. Second largest in Libya, the city has had many names: Berenice, Hesperides, Euesperides, Barneeq, Marsa ibn Ghazi, and finally Benghazi. Can modern day Libya, and specifically Benghazi, take inspiration from Cyrene’s impressive history? Will the land that produced Eratosthenes and Apollonia give the world another great scientist or poet?

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 25, 2012
by zoequinn001
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Herotodus and Cyrene

Herodotus, from The University of Adelaide, at adelaide.edu.au.

Herotodus was arguably the first historian. His only work, The Histories provide accounts of sixth and fifth century BCE life in his homeland (modern Turkey, under Greek rule at the time), as well as places he visited.  In total there are nine books, but book six has some interesting discussion of the founding of the city of Cyrene: “Grinus (they say), the son of Aesanius, a descendant of Theras, and king of the island of Thera, went to Delphi to offer a hecatomb on behalf of his native city. On Grinus consulting the oracle about sundry matters, the Pythoness gave him for answer, “that he should found a city in Libya.” When the embassy returned to Thera, small account was taken of the oracle, as the Therans were quite ignorant where Libya was. Seven years passed from the utterance of the oracle, and not a drop of rain fell in Thera: all the trees in the island, except one, were killed with the drought. After a while, everything began to go wrong. Ignorant of the cause of their sufferings, they again sent to Delphi to inquire for what reason they were afflicted. The Pythoness in reply reminded them reproachfully “that if they and Battus would make a settlement at Cyrene in Libya, things would go better with them.”

For more of the translated work regarding Cyrene and more please visit: http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/ancient/630cyrene.asp

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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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April 17, 2012
by zoequinn001
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The Oracle at Delphi

Temple of Apollo, Delphi, from Sweet Briar College, at sbc.edu.

The Oracle at Delphi is credited as having told the Greeks to settle at Cyrene, among many other prophesies, but who was the Oracle? She has most traditionally been associated with Apollo, but her beginnings were more humble than that. Her powers were actually discovered by a shepherd and his sheep. The shepherd noticed his sheep near a chasm and acting rather strangely; when he went to investigate, he was overcome with a fit. The vapors coming from the cavern that caused the strange behavior in the shepherd and his sheep were the source of the Oracle’s powers.

The Oracle fell from favor with the introduction of Christianity to the area, but she did not fall from interest. More recently a group of scientists studied the prophetic vapors, and discovered that they have a narcotic effect on people, and in large concentrations could send one into a trance similar to that of the Oracle.

To read more please visit National Geographic

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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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