Happy Friday, dear friends. While most of us on the spiritual path do not particularly celebrate “the holidays” for their traditionsl religious significance, many of us have family that expect us to participate. It can be even more complicated when you have kids, or nieces and nephews, who expect gifts at the holidays.
Things have never mattered to me. I consider myself an experiential person, deriving deep joy from the doing and not the having. I absolutely hate shopping and I always have. This year though, instead of dreading the trek to the mall, I decided to do most of my shopping online. I was so grateful for the opportunity to sit in my own home, with some nice music on, and surf the web for what I desired. With the exception of a few things, which I can luckily get at locally owned small businesses, I finished my shopping in one pleasant afternoon.
I feel deep gratitude for the realization that there are often ways to improve our experience around the things we do not want to do. This year, instead of suffering through the ordeal, I thought on it and figured it out. I have to admit, I can’t stop smiling about it, like it was some trick that only I know. All of us have the opportunity to rethink and revise our experiences to make them better. Nothing is set in stone, and we get to choose how we are going to experience things, which is very cool.
Today we look at some interesting innovations, in what was once thought to be the dying urban landscape. Then we jump around from there.
Cities are turning it around on their own.
Thanks to our dear Andrea Scully for this link. I was born in Brooklyn, New York, but moved to Paumanok when I was five. I remember making the trek, to visit my Aunty and Uncle in a section of Brooklyn, that took us through the poorest neighborhoods. Through the years, the scenery changed from burned-out buildings, to murals painted over boarded up windows, and finally to revitalized neighborhoods, filled with happy people.
Other neighborhoods, like Coney Island, were not so lucky, and suffered extensive damage during the urban renewal period of the late 60’s and 70’s. Entire areas were condemned, and the once bustling urban landscape was slashed and burned. It took many years for Coney to come back, and it will never be the same.
The vibrant spirit of the city is there, in every tired city, and within the hearts of those who call it home. It is just waiting to be reawakened. This beautiful article by Sarah van Gelder recounts her childhood, listening to valiant innovators down in Greenwich Village, New York. She shares how the dreams of these courageous forerunners are coming true in many cities, once left for dead by suburban sprawl.
The world’s first underground park.
Here is a beautiful example of building the new within the space of the old. New York recently reclaimed decaying elevated train lines and turned them into a beautiful park called the High Line. This has inspired other cities to look at ways of reclaiming unique architecture for public space.
The success of the High Line has inspired New York to go one step further and reclaim some underground space. An old underground trolley station was not integrated into the subway mass transit system due to a difference in the tracks. It has lain abandoned underground for many decades.
The city is initiating a recovery project that aims to create an underground park in the space by 2018. Advanced light technology will be used to remotely harvest sunlight and pipe it into the space so photosynthesis can occur within the plants selected for the project. When sunlight is available, no electricity will be required to light the space.
With limited space resources available to major cities, these types of projects turn engineering on its ear to create workable solutions that do not involve the old technique of tearing things down to build something new.
Transformer bus brings good food into under-served communities.
Another beautiful example of innovative design, used to address a city-based issue, is this urban transformer bus. The bus is designed to fold out into a mobile fresh food market, that can travel to city neighborhoods which are considered food deserts. This gives residents more choice in their diets and access to healthier options. The bus can serve multiple neighborhoods in one day, saving on costly building infrastructure. The bus takes the old weekly farmer’s market concept and puts it on wheels to provide good things for more city folk.
A psychological case study reveals that conspiracy theorists are more emotionally balanced than main-stream believers.
In July of 2013, psychologists Michael J. Wood and Karen M. Douglas of the University of Kent in the UK published a study entitled, “’What About Building 7?’ A Social Psychological Study Of Online Discussion Of 9/11 Conspiracy Theories.”
This study evaluated over 2,000 comments related to alternate 9/11 theories on various news websites. The researchers were surprised to find many more comments supporting conspiracy theories. They also found that those who supported conventional beliefs were much more angry and irrational in their comments, than those supporting alternate views.
The conventional individuals seemed to have more personal investment in converting others to their beliefs, and if they could not do so, they lashed out aggressively in subsequent comments. The researchers believe that this behavior could be a fear response, from individuals who are having their deeply-held beliefs challenged by a society that increasingly believes they are being lied to.
While the study pool was small, and related to one topic, the results indicate that many people are having troubling experiences as their beliefs are being called into question. I think it also shows the increased need for compassion, when discussing any alternate beliefs on the internet and in personal communication.
A wonderful choral flash mob in a local grocery store.
When local shoppers at a Bangor, Maine grocery store observed a man, with ear phones on singing out loud, they didn’t think too much of it. When other shoppers started to sing, and musical accompaniment magically appeared, they knew something very special was up!
We rarely see the organization and planning that goes into creating a successful flash mob experience. This grocery store flash mob went viral, and so a local Maine newspaper decided to cover the planning and the amazing reaction to the event.
That’s the news for today. Have an awesome day filled with wonder. I hope to see you back here tomorrow for more news.
Be Well. Be Joy. Be Love!