Sunday 30 November 2014

May The Force Be Around You ; Snakes and Ladders to recycle, NYC Subway car as a living space & Three dimensional audio for blind people.

In our neighbourhood, we're given multiple dustbins ( refuse bins) for all our waste. There's a green one for foliage and grass clippings, a blue topped one with dividing inserts for recyclables and a standardised, black topped bin for everything else.

All of the aforementioned are 'wheelie bins' ( two wheels on the base, for you to lift and manoeuvre), and are collected by the city waste contractors in a weekly arrangement; blue and green one week and the black the next. Whilst it wasn't an easy thing to initially adapt to after years of an 'all in one' bin system, it's now part of a regular and unobtrusive routine. More importantly, it helps contribute to the environment by means of easier separation at the rubbish dumps/ tips. 

There are noticeably more cycle lanes in our vicinity, too and although I don't own a bicycle, I can still ride one. It's odd how you never forget how to ride and control a bike once you've learned how to do so and it's a marvel of our design as human beings that we can contain this in our memories at a subconscious level. 

It's also a healthier way of getting around, with plenty of physical benefits from the action required to keep moving. Particularly so in warmer and sunnier climes, where the ( hopefully) fresher outdoor air is also doing you a world of good. And of course, parks and recreational areas have designated cycle tracks and lanes for you to savour and take along family and friends with you as well.

So it's only inevitable that someone somewhere would come up with a way to champion the cause of pedal power :-

Clever New Version of Chutes and Ladders Helps Cities Promote Cycling

If you click on the board image and have a detailed look , there's a lot of detailed factoids, which arent  getting into the realms of becoming sanctimonious and dogmatic. All in all, a fun way to get a valuable message across. 

Other than bikes, the alternatives to the car are trams and trains. Subway systems are prevalent in many of the larger cities, and they help deal with a lot of pedestrian traffic that would normally be logjammed into a near-chaotic system of overground traffic.That is, taxi's and relatively slow moving vehicles, such as buses. 

In new york, the subway system is quick and easy to use. The amount of footfall that passes through each train and subway car can be phenomenal, with some stops being absolutely jam packed with commuters getting on and off. So it was a surprise to see that someone managed to pull of a feat like this, without anyone documenting the set up stage :- 

Cardboard furniture turns NYC subway car into an apartment, sorta 

Note the cigar and ashtray as part of the set up. It's almost enough to let you feel, even if only momentarily, that you can pull up the chair and take a quick nap. Cosy, is an apt word to describe it. 

Getting around a large city, or indeed any city environment can be challenging, as already discussed. But imagine having to do all that, and be partially sighted as well. The constant changes, such as footpath repairs, roadworks and so on, can make even regular trips haphazard and cumbersome. But one company has put their thinking cap on, to alleviate a problem that no one else has attempted to tackle and kudos to them for this :- 

Microsoft pilots 3D audio technology to help blind people navigate 

This has trully made my week, and I sincerely hope that they refine and perfect the technology to a very affordable price point for it's potential user base. It might even be an idea for microsoft to run workshops and trial runs of it, when it's in full beta. That's not as obvious as it sounds, as the workshops can be for others to attend, such as friends and carers, in order to get a better understanding of how this great piece of innovative technology is helping others to help themselves. 

That's where effectively, all of our thoughts and processes carry the most benefit. Helping ourselves and helping others in the process is a real win-win situation. Productivity and systems thinking and technologies are heading in that direction, with more time and energy available to us all.

But we have to be more willing to think more globally and ecologically, even if at a smaller local level, for this to bear long term fruit. I think we can do it, cause a little bit here and there, can and does go a long way. 

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