Sunday, January 31, 2010

NIMPS - Near Impossible Solutions

Once Walt Disney quotes “it is kind of fun to do the impossible”. Worldwide, there are lots and lots of people making fun by doing the impossible, trying (and sometimes even achieving) to solve problems deemed unsolvable, building the bridge between real life and dreams. The Trans Global Highway, robots working as housekeeper, ultra realistic prosthetic limbs that are able to regain the sense of touch are some of the articles you may find in NIMPS. Surely you will find inspirational content capable to elevate your spirit, widen your horizons, and maybe even solve your near impossible problem.

Know more about NIMPS – Near Impossible Solutions

Saturday, January 9, 2010

State of the art Social Entrepreneurship for Rio Olympics and World Cup

Rio de Janeiro won the vote to stage the 2016 Olympics, becoming the first South American city to host the event. Ruy Cezar Miranda Reis, 63, special secretary for the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games expects 2 million tourists in Rio, proposed investments of $11.1 billion in preparation for the games.

Leia este artigo em português

Billionaire Eike Batista was one of the main responsible for Rio’s achievement. Made the Olympics bid part of his personal quest to become Brazil’s champion of infrastructure development. His EBX Brasil SA group said it donated 23 million reais ($12.8 million) to Rio’s campaign -- about a quarter of the 102 million reais that Brazil’s Olympic Committee invested in the competition with four other campaign donors.

Though, we haven’t seen so far any Social entrepreneurship initiative that could help Rio and Brazil to use this giant opportunity to tackle down poverty and some of our social problems.

A social entrepreneur is someone who recognizes a social problem and uses entrepreneurial principles to organize, create, and manage a venture to make social change. Whereas a business entrepreneur typically measures performance in profit and return, a social entrepreneur assesses success in terms of the impact he has on society as well as in profit and return.

Yan Waligora, 18, architecture student, questioned “What if part of that investment was used to turn Favelas (shanty houses) into the most fascinating hotel complex? - People would safely walk on the streets; local shops would sell Brazilian souvenirs and other Favelas would build house extensions to receive even more tourists, all of this with an exclusive view to the Atlantic, which is amazing from the Favelas heights.

Much of the people that live in Favelas receives very low wages or are unemployed, they could become small entrepreneurs in a nightshift and Waligora has a plan for them.

Rio de Janeiro is not so different from Valparaiso, we could trace a parallel between Valparaiso and Rio de Janeiro with its improvised urban architecture covering the mountains and surrounding the see.

The big difference is that valparaisians are aware about the potential in the region, which conquered the status of UNESCO World Heritage Site upon its improvised urban design and unique architecture. With its magnificent view to the pacific Valparaiso was nicknamed “The Jewel of the Pacific”. In 1996, the World Monuments Fund declared Valparaiso’s unusual system of funicular elevators (highly-inclined cable cars) one of the world’s 100 most endangered historical treasures. Valparaiso also experienced a very well succeed pilot plan for criminality prevention. The Municipality of Valparaiso promotes the safety and good conviviality in the historical center using the concept of participative vigilance. This way, tourists may walk in a considerably safe fashion on the streets.

Being proud of Rio may be difficult for those who live in poverty, surrounded by violence and under one of the worst social conditions in the planet.

Once we overcome this situation, we have another problem to solve - we won’t have time or money to do so.

Maybe “Catadores de Lixo” – Trash catchers and Tetra Pack could help.

The biggest multinational in food processing and packaging is a Swedish company founded in 1951 in Lund, by Ruben Rausing. Tetra Pack is also the leader in recycling is own trash.

Tetra pack unit in Campinas recycle tetrahedral package and the resulting sub-product has wide application in the construction industry.

The package basically made of plastic and aluminum is recycled through the process of drying and grinding in a machine called "hidrapulper", a sort of giant blender, and then extrusion and injection molding. The final result is a material that could be used to produce plastic parts such as shovel, broom, collectors and others.

But, the most interesting process is the one that grinds together plastic and aluminum and presses it all in high temperature, transforming the material into a plate similar to plywood that can be used in the manufacture of partitions, furniture, decorative items and tiles.

The plate could be molded in many different forms and the expressive cost-benefit ratio could be more even better if counting on sponsors. Paint manufacturer such as Suvinil would be in the best place to be seen, turning the Favelas into a beautiful place to look at.

Now that we want to turn Favelas into an architectural marvel, here is another option short excerpt from the article “Social Entrepreneur Branches Out with Tree House Community” by Jennifer:

“If building tree houses for a living sounds absurd, than investing in the construction of an entire community of geodesic, eco-friendly and self-sustaining tree houses in the forests of California must be down right crazy. Dustin Feider – social entrepreneur, Change Agent and Founder of O2 Treehouse – couldn’t disagree more.

As a child building forts and climbing trees in the woods of Wisconsin, Dustin never envisioned his childhood love for tree houses coupled with rock-solid carpentry skills and a passion for sustainability would culminate in a social entrepreneurship career. Dustin is an emerging champion for “living architecture,” a movement fusing art, design and the use of sustainable natural resources for residential and commercial construction.

All of O2 Treehouses are made from sustainable materials and are eco-friendly.
Dustin’s vision for changing the way we build is touching lives across the country. Guided by Buckminster Fuller’s social entrepreneurship and his 100% percent for humanity idealism, an idea based on the thought all people in the world should enjoy nature and architecture, Dustin is building an entire community of green tree houses in California’s Redwood and Doug Firs forests. The O2 Treehouse project relies on eco-friendly and sustainable practices that would pass muster with any bona fide treehugger. Not one hole is drilled into the trees to build these breathtaking, practical structures Dustin designs as backyard retreats, vacation cabins and eco-adventure resorts.

The eco-friendly building process protects trees from restricted growth.

Dustin is nailing down the basics for the Redwood project, which includes finalizing the details for a prefab location in Oakland, where he can pre-build the tree houses, and finding investors.

While Dustin irons out the final details for the Redwood tree house project, he is working on a Venice bamboo structure, which will include two hanging platforms, a catwalk, bamboo sanctuary and rope ladders. He’s prefabricating the structure in the backyard of the Permacultre East house in Mar Vista which has a rich history of improving sustainability and reducing waste.” See more Social Earth

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Mayan message of doomsday is not in the calendar Part II

Maya success Despite the so called “Maya decline” Mayan culture never really vanished. Differently from many other cultures like the Rapa Nui and Egyptians, we could still see Maya people talking in their natural idiom, playing “Juego de Pelota” ( Mayan ballgame), elders’ council still decide de fate of tribes, etc.

As we have seen in the first article The Mayan message of doomsday is not in the calendar, the doomsday of 2012 comprises a range of eschatological beliefs which affirm that cataclysmic or transformative events will occur on December 21 or December 23, 2012, which is said to be the end-date of a 5,125-year-long cycle in the Mayan Long Count calendar. These beliefs may derive in part from numerological constructions, archaeoastronomical speculation, alternative interpretations of mythology, or alleged prophecies from extraterrestrial beings. Thought, we could interpret the message of doomsday in other directions. Some Maya tribes took advantage from lessons that they have learned from the effects their own mistakes, and from mistakes of the others to prosper, one good example is Milpa agriculture.

We have also seen that deforestation coincided with a dramatic drop in the Mayan population, but they have learned one of the most advanced and simple form of agriculture – The Milpa

Milpa agriculture - A Milpa is a field, usually but not always recently cleared, in which farmers plant a dozen crops at once including maize, avocados, multiple varieties of squash and bean, melon, tomatoes, chilis, sweet potato, jícama, amaranth, and mucana, Milpa crops are nutritionally and environmentally complementary. maize lacks the amino acids lysine and tryptophan, which the body needs to make proteins and niacin; beans have both lysine and tryptophan, squashes, for their part, provide an array of vitamins, avocados, fats. The Milpa, in the estimation of H. Garrison Wilkes, a maize researcher at the University of Massachusetts in Boston, "is one of the most successful human inventions ever created.

To understand the concept of Milpa, we have to understand the concept of four based Mayan cosmography. A traditional Maya house is constructed over four sticks or columns, each column represents a cardinal direction – north represented by the white maize, south the Yellow maize, east the red one and west the black one. The firmament is supported by the same four columns. The city of Uxmal for example, represent the basis that support Orion constellation. Number four is constantly used, even in Milpa agriculture, they believe that the period of eight years is perfect for the earth to be fertile again. They divided this period in four bases of two years. By the first period of two years an area of forest is selected, and the vegetation is cut and allowed to dry after some period of time, the residual dry vegetation is burned. After two years starts the second period in which they plant Maize crop. After two years the start to plant beans in the same field, the last period of two years they permit the forest to grow up again.

These brand new techniques such as Milpa were transmitted by word of mouth from city to city. The city of Cancuén which means place of serpents, was located in the region of Pasión river subregion of the central Maya lowlands in the present-day Guatemalan Department of El Petén. The Mayan city-state is notable for having one of the largest palaces in the Maya world. It was a major trade center, specializing in jade, pyrite and obsidian. Its strategic position on the Río Pasion helped it dominate trade in the region.

They have coordinated commerce and information. Trading commodities as obsidian they had to deal with the elite of their time, and they discovered that high quality information that arrived from elite could be a very important asset.

Cancuén was at the top of its prosperity, Taj Chan Ahk, one of the city's most powerful Ahaus (Mayan political, religious and military leaders) built the city's palace in 770 A.D.

By that time, Ahaus use to attack neighbor cities and capture enemies alive for later rituals of sacrifice in order to consolidate their power. The destiny of the enemy was often decided in a “Juego de Pelota”, the loser and even the winner (we still don’t know why) had his body painted in blue and was sacrificed. This sort of war or invasion used to have pre-arranged dates and hours to occur. A massacre occurred in Cancuén around 800 A.D, Investigations have shown that the bodies, including the city's ruler at the time, Kan Maax, had been executed and dumped in a cistern,

As traders were no more able to use Passion River as trade route, they start to use other routes and took their knowledge to other cities such as Tulum and Xcaret (the original name of Xcaret was p'ole', from the root p'ol that means "merchandise" or "deal of merchants", which gives an idea of the economical relevance of the site).

After that, Maya culture survived Hispanic colonization, deceases brought by Europeans and truism in the region. Today’s Maya culture adopted Milpa as a way to live in harmony with nature and many directors of archeological sites are Maya descendents. Prophecies of 2012 doomsday could mean the end of Maya civilization through erosion caused by westernization and intermarriage. Their cultural purity and way of life could be under a threat. But this is not the first time they face that sort of menace, Mayan know how to survive and shine.

Blemya Search