Building the World

June 3, 2016
by buildingtheworld
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Flood Gates of Hope

“The Louvre Museum with its Glass Pyramid.” Photographer: Hteink.min, 2012. Image: wikimedia commons.

The Louvre Museum, situated on the banks of the River Seine, closed its doors today in the height of the visitor season. Reason? the river is flooding, six meters above normal, endangering artworks in the path of possible impending inundation. On Friday, 3 June 2016, the venerable Louvre barred entrance while staff moved art. France declared a state of natural disaster. More than 25,000 people are without electricity; in Nemours, 3,000 evacuated their homes. Europe’s rains affected Germany, where at least 10 people perished; Romania, where 2 lost their lives; France, where 2 others succumbed; and Belgium, where a beekeeper trying to save hives was swept away.  In the future, can seasonal rains be addressed by systems such as that pioneered by Baghwati Argrawal and Sustainable Innovations? Or perhaps following the example of the Dutch coastlines protected by water defense? Is there a need for a version of the dike army apart of the European Erasmus program? Could the Charlemagne Prize, bestowed upon Pope Francis in 2016, be awarded to the most promising innovation for catching and keeping flood water, to use in alternating times of drought, for a continent united by its rivers? Will other areas of the world, suffering from less or excess of water, find ways to open the flood gates of hope?

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 6, 2016
by buildingtheworld
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Mine the Gap

A year might make a lifetime of difference. Image: peacecorps.gov.

When a first daughter decided upon a gap year, the world voiced opinion. Some worried that a year off assumed privilege; others expressed admiration for benefits of time in the ‘real world’ of work, experience, travel, service, or specialized training. Balancing gown and town, in 1209, King John hired a French engineer and cleric who “in a short time hath wrought in regard to the Bridges of Xainctes and Rochelle, by the great care and pains of our faithful, learned and worthy Clerk, Isenbert, Master of the Schools of Xainctes” to build London Bridge. Charlemagne’s engagement with Alcuin, or the Netherland’s institution of the Dike Army (“ende alman sal ten menen werke comen op den dijc“), are examples of study and service. The medieval guilds combined learning, doing, and regional travel; Erasmus today is reminiscent. City Year Americorps offers options with college scholarships; Tufts 4+1 includes a Bridge Year. Roebling, builder of the Brooklyn Bridge, discovered a new idea when hiking in Bamberg on a student vacation. The University of Massachusetts Boston offers support for travel and scholarship to nations and locations featured in Building the World, through the Building a Better World Fund. Many ‘gap’ programs involve travel: Frank P. Davidson, whose early experience in Mexico has been cited as forerunner to the Peace Corps, suggested an interplanetary year. To fulfill the global vision of the Paris Agreement COP21, environment, governance, and industry may transform through engaged education.

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 3, 2014
by buildingtheworld
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Swan Boats on Comm Ave?

 

Boston’s Swan Boats. Image: wikimedia commons.

Rising sea levels may encourage coastal cities, like New York, Miami, or Boston, to consider letting the waters in — via the building of canals. Much of Boston’s land was reclaimed from the sea originally. Now, the Urban Land Institute, in a report on environmental change, suggests that everything old may be new again. What innovations might result if Boston were the new Amsterdam? Will Swan Boats soon sail on Commonwealth Avenue?

For more: http://boston.uli.org/news/uli-report-makes-waves/

Thanks: Joe LaRosa, Evan Litwin and Zoe Quinn for suggestions.

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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March 20, 2014
by buildingtheworld
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Special Economic Zones – SEZ

Canal des Deux Mers. Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Historians might trace the first SEZ to 1666, citing the Canal des Deux Mers or Canal between the Two Seas. Connecting the Atlantic to the Mediterranean, the Canal was an economic success; using a medieval model, Pierre-Paul Riquet worked with the French government to make the route an independent fief. Special Economic Zones (SEZ) in more recent times must include Puerto Rico in 1942, and economists point to Shenzhen as the very important first SEZ in China; once a village, Shenzhen grew rapidly when advantageous business and tax laws were granted in the 1980’s to promote commerce. Recent research by the World Bank explores SEZ success factors. It must be noted that many Special Economic Zones involve water locations. The Canal des Deux Mers is not just an economic but also an environmental achievement, preserving and enhancing a waterway that today is a World Heritage Site. Can France’s Canal des Deux Mers inspire new forms of environmentally wise SEZ development? Might the Dutch success of protective dikes and land reclamation be emulated in coastal environments?  Will Frank Davidson and Ernst Frankel prove visionary in proposing a free-trade zone enhanced by artificial islands or reclaimed land from the sea offshore Israel and Jordan?

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 16, 2013
by buildingtheworld
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Disappearing Coastlines

Amsterdam, a city that knows how to build upon water. Image: wikimedia commons

Amsterdam, named for a dam built in the Amstel River, was once the richest city on earth. Dutch prosperity and success may have developed because of urban ports, but waterfront harbors bring challenges of land erosion, flooding, pollution, and other environmental challenges. The Dutch have been protecting their sinking coastline since Pliny wrote about their ingenious methods, many still in use today, as they manage the intermittent overflows of the rivers Meuse, Rhine, and Scheldt, as well as the sea. With a coastal defense safeguarding 65% of the land surface, the system of protective dikes and land reclamation of the Netherlands might offer answers to today’s disappearing coastlines, from the Maldives to Manhattan.

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 15, 2013
by zoequinn001
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An Army of Peace?

Aerial view of the dike system in the Netherlands, from NASA, at nasa.gov.

Dikes not only saved the Netherlands from floods, but perhaps from war as well. The thousand-year-old dike army can be regarded as an authentic progenitor of the concept of “an army enlisted against nature” as proposed by William James in the essay “The Moral Equivalent of War.” Around the year AD 1100, west-Friesland had built an enclosure dike (omringkijk). At the same time, the Frisians established a “dike peace” or strongly enforced consensus that whenever a dike was endangered, family feuds must cease forthwith so that all available manpower could be mobilized to reinforce the dikes.

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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 1, 2012
by zoequinn001
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Schiphol Airport

The name, Schiphol, means “ships’s hell.” The spot where Amsterdam’s airport lies is the drained lake bed of Haarlemmermeer (Lake of Haarlem). This lake had increased over centuries and regularly flooded, to the detriment and damage of Amsterdam and Leiden. In the seventeenth century, 170 windmills were estimated to be needed to drain the lake but the project was dropped due to expense. In 1836 when floods once again assaulted Amsterdam and Leiden, the central government began the effort to drain the lake using three steam-driven pumps. Amsterdam’s airport is now on the site, named after a lake where many ships were wrecked. Hopefully, the name bears the exact opposite for predictions regarding ships of the sky.

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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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