September 24th, 2009
Julia Novy-Hildesley of the Lemelson Foundation gives a nice talk here at 9mins 45 sec.
Lemelson is targeting populations where individuals earn <$2/ day.
She highlights projects with:
E+CO – Nonprofit, provided grant and loan. Launched 3 new solar entrepreneurs in Tanzania. 7 new entrepreneurs in 2010.
IDEAAS - in Brazil. Bringing solar home lighting system that worked in more affluent areas to the Amazon. Working in 8 villages with 120 families, all have paid loans on time. Reaching 2000 families by end of next year. Link to Lemelson page.
SELCO – Forprofit. Grant, loan and equity investment. New innovation center to complement existing technologies. Eg. solar headlamps for midwives and for women who were picking roses and tea leaves at night to get the highest price at market. Now reaching 30k people per year in India.
Envirofit – Nonprofit, provided grant. Working in South East Asia – Philippines. Motorcycle taxis emit more than the global feet of cars. A retrofit.
Emergence Bioenergy – For profit, loan and grant. Raised $1.2M in equity, launch in Bangladesh. Village-based power center, 3 entrepreneurs. Sell power to community.
September 2nd, 2009
Click image to enlarge. Legend: Red = Physical water scarcity, Yellow = Economic water scarcity, Blue = Little to no water scarcity, White = No estimates
With the Dead Sea dying, the City of Venice sinking, and Las Vegas’s desert oasis faltering, it’s pretty easy to find examples of our mismanagement of water.
Considering that we are ourselves about 60% water and that the leading cause of death worldwide is water-related, it’s surprising that we don’t devote more time to managing this major natural resource.
In each of the cases listed above, the solution governments are posing seem far more complex than the simple, more direct solution: Draining the Red Sea to fill the Dead Sea (as its tributary, the Jordan River, gets sucked dry for irrigation and drinking water). Build massive water gates to defend against the “rising water” (as the people continue to deplete the underground aquifer for drinking water.) Blah blah.
Usually, the best design solutions are simple. Not to say they are easy. Reaching simplicity is often far greater of challenge.
One thing’s for certain – we are good at changing our environment, but not always to suit our needs.
Water, water everywhere
Nor any drop to drink. – Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
PBS Link on Venice sinking
BBC YouTube video on Dead Sea drying
August 14th, 2009
Vestal long time friend, Holmes Hummel presents a climate change policy lecture.
- Congrats to Holmes, now at the US Dept of Energy!
December 29th, 2007
Kogbox lets users create snippets â€“ small scripts limited to 100 lines and 10 seconds of execution time. Write as many as you like, and combine your snippets with others’ to build simple web tools.
This new project is kind of like a Wikipedia for code… but active code, not code examples. I’ve often come up with ideas for small tools or functions which don’t quite merit an entire website, and which could be easily incorporated into other projects. Kogbox (as its name implies) allows users to create small snippets which all work together to accomplish larger tasks. It’s also a kind of sandbox for experimentation.
You don’t have to take my word for it, take a look at the Kogbox website »
For now it’s invitation only. Contact me for an account.
December 23rd, 2007
Above, Lubov Galkina, an entrepreneur from Ukraine, requests a loan of $1000 to expand her business.
If you are anything like me, you would like nothing more than to avoid throwing yourself into hordes of crazed shoppers, Christmas music, and mindless consumerism this holiday season. You probably also want to get everyone “the perfect gift” and always wait til the last minute to do so, meaning you have missed out on internet shopping due to shipping concerns. Heck! You’re probably even reading this right now to procrastinate! Never fear, we have just the solution for you.
By now, you may have heard about Kiva, the microfinancing organization that has allowed users to give over $15 million in small loans to entrepreneurs in developing worlds. You may not know, however, that they have gift certificates, which, with a Kiva account and a credit card, you can purchase for as little as $25 and print out at home. No shopping. No hordes. This is especially appealing when you consider how you were probably going to throw at least $30 at some stupid bobble head toy that your friend would have laughed at once and then thrown away. Instead, your recipient now gets to pick out which deserving, underprivileged individual the loan goes to and after the loan is repaid, can reinvest or make off with the cash, all the while being reminded again of how awesome you are. Give a gift that keeps on giving and return the meaning of Christmas back to the season all at the same time. Amazing.
Happy Holidays Everyone!
Link, to Kiva Gift Certificates
December 4th, 2007
I’ve been spending some time on my own projects in the last month, and the one I’m most proud of is called ARMSFLOW.
ARMSFLOW is a data visualization which displays arms transactions globally between 1950 and 2006. It was created with data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.
ARMSFLOW includes 14,619 arms transactions (each is a sum of 1 year’s exports) and 228 government entities.
December 3rd, 2007
This was covered by Engadget already, but it is amazing enough that we’re jumping on the bandwagon.
Victor Kaonga points us to Dr. Cedrick Ngalande, a Malawian, who has built a prototype power source made specifically for Africa. It generates power using sugar and yeast for up to 8 hours at a time.
November 25th, 2007
A few months ago we did a small project for ClimateCounts, an organization which tracks climate “performance” of a variety of well-known companies. Wood Turner, who directs ClimateCounts, gave us a lot of freedom to do a design which expresses some of the rich data they track.
The design, above, displays company size (by market capitalization) as relative “tread” size; that is, General Electric and Google are large companies. Color (green,yellow,red) corresponds to climate performance, as does the size of the typeface. Therefore Starbucks, which is a relatively small company, is shown in large text size and with a green colored tread. We did 2 shirts each in 2 color schemes.
The intention is not for users to derive hard numbers from this, but the meaning behind the shirt makes for a good talking point and is a quick way to look up climate performance without looking like a dense table of data. We also wanted to make a shirt which people would want to wear. We’re getting a pile of these on top of our fee so we can strut around wearing our own design.
November 8th, 2007
Happy Usability Day everyone! That’s right: Nov 8th is World Usability Day.
At the Vestal Blog, we try to present you with interesting and useful information every day. Let us know how we’re doing! Please send us your feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org. And do the world a favor today: be useful!
October 25th, 2007
Regular visitors to this blog may remember the massively popular 2005
post on Peter Feigenbaum’s Trainset Ghetto project. Peter, who is a
23 year-old Brooklyn-based artist, musician, illustrator and
architectural designer, has returned with a new set of photographs
taken this past May in preparation for a group show at Gallery Aferro
(Link) in Newark, which is up until November 17.
The multimedia/photography project revolves around a miniature
facsimile of burned-out, grafitti covered 1980s New York City, which
Peter built from model railroad supplies. It touches on themes of
architectural vernacular, teenage suburban fantasy/urban poseurdom,
and uncanny juxtapositions of scale and era.
Additional photos are available at Peter’s website.