Building the World

August 6, 2015
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Suez Canal: Encore!

 

Amneris, in “Aida” by Verdi. Photographer: Marty Sohl, Metropolitan Opera, www.thirteen.org.

“Aida,” the opera by Guiseppi Verdi, was written in honor of the opening of the Suez Canal. Now there may be an encore. Egypt is widening the canal with a second lane. Before, 49 ships transited per day; the improved waterway will accommodate 97. Wider and longer, the new Suez Canal will also be faster, cutting southbound transit from 18 hours to 11. Building the improved canal, at a cost of $8.5bn, is expected to generate revenue of $13.5bn by 2023. Suez commands 7% of all global water-transport business; this expansion caused the Suez Canal Authority to term the achievement a “rebirth.” Built by diplomat-developer Ferdinand de Lesseps in 1869, the Suez Canal was dedicated, by firman Article VI, for “tariffs of dues for passage…always equal for all nations, no particular advantage ever stipulated for exclusive benefit of any one country.” Should projects of connectivity, such as canals and tunnels, be chartered channels of inclusiveness and peace? On August 6, one year after construction began, the new Suez Canal opening is planned. Will there be a new opera? “Aida” had a sister; Elton John wrote a second version. What artists of today might celebrate the current widening of Egypt’s gateway waters? Verdi, and John, might advise such gateways include a budget for the arts.

“Egypt holds trial run on second Suez Canal,” BBC News, 25 July 2015: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-33666314

“Egypt opens new Suez Canal,” BBC video, August 6, 2015:http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-33698736

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.

 

March 4, 2015
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Solving Brazil’s Water Crisis

Dilma Rousseff, President of Brazil: official photo, 2011. Image: wikimedia commons.

Cantareira reservoir, supplying water to 6.5 million Brazilians, is running on empty: 7% capacity in 2014, down from 50% capacity in 2013. Could building canals, like China’s Grand Canal, or France’s Canal des Deux Mers, be the answer? If drought is not solved, there will be energy problems as well: 80% of Brazil’s electricity is hydropower from plants including Itaipu. What actions should president Dilma Rousseff take to solve Brazil’s water crisis?

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.

November 26, 2014
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Voice of the Future: Sustainable Agriculture and Transport

 

"Our goal is to transport durable food goods from Vermont and upstate New York down the Hudson to New York City," Erik Andrus, Voice of the Future 2014. Image courtesy of Vermont Sail Freight Project.

Image courtesy of Vermont Sail Freight Project.

At the core of the project is the idea that individuals within a small community can pool their skills and labor to pull off a project of surprising scope and complexity. As project director, it was very inspiring to be at the center of this, and helped to dispel my fear that we have become a nation of passive consumers of products and answers. Together our team built and launched the “Ceres,” a commercial sail-powered vessel with 15 tons cargo capacity in a handful of months on a tiny budget. Our goal was to transport durable food goods from Vermont and upstate New York down the Hudson to the lower valley and New York City, and in so doing tie together the concepts of sustainable agriculture and sustainable transportation.

Erik Andrus, Founder, Vermont Sail Freight Project

Voice of the Future, 2014

November 24, 2014
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Did a Postage Stamp Change History?

Nic-205var

Image: paperheritage.co.uk.

Did a postage stamp change history? When Phillipe Bunau-Varilla delivered a postal issue featuring a Nicaraguan volcano, thereby swinging the vote, Senator John Spooner immediately proposed an amendment switching the lease to create the Panama Canal. But now Nicaragua may re-emerge in the competition, as a new transitway wider, longer, and deeper has been authorized.  The Nicaraguan route will also feature a bridge to span the waterway, creating more transportation options. However, denizens of the region, where the new waterway is proposed, are raising questions regarding many aspects including effects on the environment. There still may be eruptions: of protest.

For more:

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-30140244

https://blogs.umb.edu/buildingtheworld/2014/07/11/nicaragua-v-panama/

Thanks to Zoe G. Quinn for suggestions on this post.

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.

November 19, 2014
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Voice of the Future, 2014: Erik Andrus

 

“An about-face on the subject of transportation and infrastructure,” Erik Andrus, founder of Vermont Sail Freight Project. Photo above: vessel “Ceres.” Image: courtesy of www.vermontsailfreightproject.com.

Infrastructure. The word implies awesomeness, technical complexity, hard hats, and the oversight of engineers. For those not involved in its planning or creation, our built environment can seem largely the individual’s ability to participate or comprehend. The Vermont Sail Freight Project was conceived as an about-face on the subject of transportation and infrastructure, an attempt to borrow heavily on historical patterns and to utilize public commons to perform a service of contemporary economic relevance, and in so doing to set a mold for an alternate way of transporting and doing business that is more in tune with the limitations of our planet.

~ Erik Andrus, Founder, Vermont Sail Freight Project

Voice of the Future, 2014

Voice of the Future

 

 

November 3, 2014
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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.

July 11, 2014
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Nicaragua v. Panama

Panama and Nicaragua will both offer canals. Image: wikimedia.

Nicaragua, once intended site for a canal that changed location due in part to a postage stamp, has announced the building of a waterway that will challenge the Panama Canal. The controversial decision weighs benefits of employment and commerce with environmental and other concerns. What might Nicaragua learn from Panama and Suez?

For more on the proposed Nicaraguan canal:

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-28206683

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/14/nicaragua-canal-repercuss_n_4445707.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.

 

May 3, 2014
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Horse that Changed History

Kentucky Derby winner, 1912. Image: wikimedia.org.

When friends pitched their tent against a high wall to shelter from winds, during their reunion expedition, campfire conversation soon accelerated to boasts and dares. To prove his point, one of the group jumped upon his steed, prepared for a gallop and jumped the wall. No one else dared attempt such a feat. The party’s organizer offered the horse-rider anything in his power to grant. The answer: permission to build the Suez Canal. It was thus that Mohammed Pasha al-Said of Egypt gave authorization to Ferdinand de Lesseps to build the Suez Canal. Many years later, a very different story resulted in a very different canal, Panama. First envisioned by Sesostris, used by the Egyptians in 1380 BCE, connected to the Red Sea a millennium later by Ptolemy Philadelphus, the Suez Canal opened to great fanfare in 1869. Verdi’s opera “Aida” was commissioned to celebrate the waterway.

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.

April 15, 2014
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Wedding of the Waters

DeWitt Clinton pours water from Erie Canal into Atlantic Ocean, marking “the wedding of the waters.” Artist: C.Y.Turner, 1905. Image credit: eriecanal.org

Connecting Lake Erie with the Hudson River, the Erie Canal created a trade route from the Great Lakes region to the Atlantic coast. The waterway facilitated development of the Midwest and accelerated leadership of New York City, located at the mouth of the Hudson on the Atlantic Ocean, as a world urban center. Credit for building the canal goes to DeWitt Clinton, political leader who served as a state senator, U.S. senator, and mayor of New York City, before becoming governor of New York State. On April 15, 1817, the New York State Legislature provided funding for Navigable Communications between the Great Western and Northern Lakes and the Atlantic Ocean. How does the Erie Canal link to Atlantic Studies and to the Atlantic Rim Network, whose mission serves “global issues, local solutions, and regional connections?” What other areas of the world, with powerful lakes and rivers that could be connected to oceans, might arrange a beneficial “wedding of the waters?”

For more on the Atlantic Rim Network:

James H. Barron, Jessica C. McWade, “Toward a New ‘New Atlanticism’,” Parallax: Journal of International Perspectives, Vol. No 1, Fall 2003, pp. 75-89.

On the Erie Canal:

eriecanalmuseum.org

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.

April 2, 2014
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45.3N x 34.4E: Power of Ports

The Crimea. Image courtesy of wikimedia.

Popular with the ancient Greeks, who called its main river Borysthenes, favored by the Romans, Bulgars, Goths and Huns, the Crimea offers port access on the northern border of the Black Sea, with the advantage of also being on the western shores of the Sea of Azov. In medieval times, the Crimean Khanate united the area, but later it became the Taurida Oblast in 1783, and still later the Soviet Crimean Oblast, transferred to Ukraine in 1954. Finally, in 1991, the Autonomous Republic of Crimea was born, only to be challenged in 2014. Why so many changes ? Advantageous port territory, milder winters, access to the Dnieper River (fourth largest in Europe). Today operating more than 12 seaports, the Crimea demonstrates the power of ports. The importance of waterways and ports can also be seen in the Canal des Deux Mers and the Erie Canal. Another famous port,  St. Petersburg, once the capital and Russia’s largest seaport, still carries the cultural imprint of its founder, Czar Peter the Great, in 1703. Can present day Crimea take inspiration from aspects of St. Petersburg’s success, including business monopolies? Perhaps in partial explanation of why the game’s greats are often Russian, St. Petersburg was once the only source of chessboards. What strategies for economic and cultural success should the Crimea envision for coordinates 45.3N by 34.4E?

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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