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Environment

Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 22 jun 2024

Jenifer Morgan, global editions editor at Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR), says, 'Social innovation isn't just a Western phenomenon.' Nicholas Jackson, Editor-in-Chief of SSIR, explains and cites expamples to put forward a point that local inovation at one place can become a change agent at other places with similar issues and challenges. He tells about SSIR's international partnerships and collaborations for spread of knowledge and social research. He says, 'I encourage you to read widely and to look for solutions and inspiration everywhere, even in unlikely places.' He cites SSIR article 'Who Knows Agroforestry Best?' (Authors: Evelyn R. Nimmo; André E. B. Lacerda; Leandro Bonfim; Joel Bothello), that provides example of Brazilian nonprofit organization CEDErva (Center for the Development and Education of Traditional Erva-Mate Systems) that promotes traditional practices for tending to - and harvesting - the land, as the conventional approaches to sustainable agriculture were not working. Learning from this, other countries such as Bolivia, Laos, Nicaragua, the Democratic Republic of the Congo etc, that are rapidly losing tree cover, can adopt and adapt the CEDErva approahcs to find solutions to their own challenges. Other social innovation examples include - A New Zealand social enterprize 'Take2' is offering job training during periods of incarceration and other paths to job security as a form of rehabilitation; A global team in Czech Republic has brought about a new life for old brick and other building materials, which are being turned into 'green concrete' and used in the development of sustainable architecture. Read on...

Stanford Social Innovation Review: Social Innovation Isn't Just a Western Phenomenon
Author: Nicholas Jackson


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 26 feb 2024

As the internet and websites expand, so does their environmental impact. According to Web Neutral Project website (webneutralproject.com) - Internet accounts for about 10% of global electricity consumption; Internet produces about 2% of global CO2 emissions annually (equivalent to aviation industry); Average web page produces 1.76 grams CO2 per page view; Data centers alone consume an estimated 200 terawatt hours (TWh) of energy. To tackle internet and website pollution it is essential to design sustainable web solutions and reduce web bloat. Gerry McGovern, founder and CEO of Customer Carewords, interviews Vitaly Friedman (web design expert and co-founder of Smashing Magazine) on the issue of this environment waste and sustainable web design. Mr. Friedman says, 'Sometimes if you see developers or designers thinking about accessibility, thinking about design from the perspective of usability, inclusive design, cleanliness, weight, then you have exceptional results, but that is in itself exceptional and rare. Most of the time we just look at the tools in front of us and we build and we design using the tools without thinking about sustainability, often not thinking about performance and sometimes, and this is still quite common, not even thinking about accessibility. So, we just produce visual output and we put it on a server someplace and that kind of works.' Mr. Friedman suggests the need for more conversations around web's environmental impact and sustainable web design, and rethink digital design to work towards sustanability. Read on...

CMSWire: Sustainable Website Design for a Better Environment
Author: Gerry McGovern


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 24 sep 2023

Landscape architecture can be a fruitful career option for those that have interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) and have design and creative abiities. Kona Gray, the president of the American Society of Landscape Architects and a principal at EDSA Incorporated, says, 'A lot of people take our work for granted. But everything around the buildings and between the buildings is designed by landscape architects. There's a landscape you occupy every day. Landscape architects are responsible for the stewardship and design of those spaces. A building occupies a certain space. But the landscape occupies far more.' Roxi Thoren, department head and professor of landscape architecture at Penn State College of Arts and Architecture, says, 'At The Pennsylvania State University, nearly 60 first-year students joined the major this fall...undergraduate programs are generally four to five years...at Penn State, internships aren't required but a study abroad program is. One popular destination to study cutting-edge sustainability work is Bonn, Germany. It's really amazing work with urban renewal, renovation of industrial sites, urban flooding resilience and green roofs...Landscape architecture students might tackle real-world environmental challenges such as designing for fire- or drought-prone areas, or for extreme heat. They also consider design with psychology in mind, such as creating a park where women feel safe after dark or where parents feel comfortable bringing their children.' Haley Blakeman, the associate director at The Robert Reich School of Landscape Architecture at Louisiana State University (Baton Rouge), says, 'The program has about 130 undergraduate and 20 graduate students. BLA students are either direct admit or can transfer from another program. Travel has been a cornerstone of the LSU program since the 1960's. Upperclassmen are expected to attend a weeklong field trip...Coursework includes classes on design and history of design, and a technology series that focuses in part on materials and landforms. The undergraduate program takes five years and students take a semester-long paid internship during their fourth year. We find it incredibly helpful when they come back to school because they have a new skill set once they return. They understand the context of their academic work...another benefit of internships is job offers they get...I do a lot of work in coastal adaptation...Well-designed spaces bring people together. For students, the major is all about problem solving, learning how to talk to community members, and using the design skills they're trained with to come up with solutions.' U.S. Department of Homeland Security recently designated landscape architecture a STEM degree program and international students with F-1 visas whose degrees are on the STEM-designated list may be able to extend their stays in the U.S. According to the Landscape Architectural Accreditation Board, there are 100 landscape architecture programs offered at 74 universities around the U.S., including 47 undergraduate and 53 graduate programs. According to 2022 data by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for landscape architects is about US$ 73000 per year. Read on...

US News & World Report: Consider a Major in Landscape Architecture
Author: Jennifer Seter Wagner


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 30 may 2023

Collaborations between philanthropic community (nonprofits, NGOs, social enterprises etc) and science & technology leaders and organizations can help solve some pressing problems that world is facing like hunger, poverty, disceases, climate change etc. Here are four ways this collaboration is trying to bring necessary change - (1) Fighting 'Legacy' Diseases in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: Example - Bill and Melinda Gates Medical Research Institute (Gates MRI) recently partnered with Calibr, a division of Scripps Research, to study and potentially commercialize a compound that may improve upon current TB treatments. (2) Recruiting Gamers to Advance Medicine: Example - Scientists at Dotmatics, an R&D software development firm that partners with research universities like MIT and the University of Oxford, worked with gaming companies to develop an online video game that recruited thousands of willing 'citizen scientists' to analyze cellular-level changes in patients with COVID-19 and other diseases of the immune system. This took just days instead of weeks and provided reams of data that will be used to make softwares work even faster in future. (3) Growing Sustainable Food Solutions: Example - Good Food Institute (GFI) in partnership with alternative protein developers like Fishtown Seafood and UPSIDE Foods and many others, is working to commercialize and scale cultivated or plant-based meat products and as a result reduce global greenhouse emissions related to agricultural activities and meat production. (4) Electrifying Transportation in Latin America: Example - The Green Climate Fund, a major funder of low-carbon solutions, is partnering with local governments and other stakeholders across Latin America in a large-scale effort to speed the region's transition to EVs (Electric Vehicles). Read on...

Forbes: 4 Ways Technology And Philanthropy Are Supporting Innovation
Author: Serenity Gibbons


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 24 may 2023

Textile industry has become highly globalized, contributes significantly to the global economy and provides employment to millions. The emergence of 'fast fashion' concept has further increased the production level, nearly doubling in the last 15 year period. The present textile industry system works in a linear way - raw material obtained from non-renewable sources, processed and clothes are produced in mechanised factories in large quantities, consumed for a short period and then disposed of in landfil or incinerated. This linear system is negatively impacting humans and environment - Excess of US$ 500 billion of value is lost every year due to clothing underutilisation and the lack of recycling; Total greenhouse gas emissions from textiles production, at 1.2 billion tonnes annually; When washed, some garments release plastic microfibres, of which around half a million tonnes every year contribute to ocean pollution. The project report, 'A NEW TEXTILES ECONOMY: REDESIGNING FASHION'S FUTURE' [Core Project Team: Andrew Morlet, Rob Opsomer, Dr. Sven Herrmann (Lead Author), Laura Balmond, Camille Gillet, Lukas Fuchs], published in 2017, outlines a vision for a system that works, delivering long-term benefits - a new textiles economy based on the principles of a circular economy. It offers a direction of travel on which the industry can agree and focus its efforts. In a new textiles economy, clothes, textiles, and fibres are kept at their highest value during use and re-enter the economy afterwards, never ending up as waste. Circular economy is a systems solution framework that tackles global challenges like climate change, biodiversity loss, waste, and pollution. It is based on three principles, driven by design: eliminate waste and pollution, circulate products and materials (at their highest value), and regenerate nature. HIGHLIGHTS OF THE REPORT - Globally, the US$ 1.3 trillion clothing industry employs more than 300 million people along the value chain. Clothing - the focus of this report – represents more than 60% of the total textiles used and is expected to remain the largest application; The current clothing system is extremely wasteful and polluting. The recent Pulse of the fashion industry report estimated that the overall benefit to the world economy could be about EUR 160 billion (US$ 192 billion) in 2030 if the fashion industry were to address the environmental and societal fallout of the current status quo; Clothing is massively underutilised. Worldwide, clothing utilisation has decreased by 36% compared to 15 years ago. Globally, customers miss out on US$ 460 billion of value each year by throwing away clothes that they could continue to wear; Less than 1% of material used to produce clothing is recycled into new clothing, representing a loss of more than US$ 100 billion worth of materials each year; Today's linear system uses large amounts of resources and has negative impacts on the environment and people. The textiles industry relies mostly on non-renewable resources - 98 million tonnes in total per year - including oil to produce synthetic fibres, fertilisers to grow cotton, and chemicals to produce, dye, and finish fibres and textiles. Textiles production (including cotton farming) also uses around 93 billion cubic metres of water annually; Should growth continue as expected, total clothing sales would reach 160 million tonnes in 2050 - more than three times today's amount; If the industry continues on its current path, by 2050, it could use more than 26% of the carbon budget associated with a 2°C pathway; The Pulse of the fashion industry report projects that, by 2030, fashion brands would see a decline in earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) margins of more than three percentage points, if they were to continue business as usual. This would translate into a profit reduction of approximately EUR 45 billion (USD 52 billion) for the industry; Ambitions For A New Textiles Economy - (1) Phase out substances of concern and microfibre release (Align industry efforts and coordinate innovation to create safe material cycles; Drastically reduce plastic microfibre release). (2) Transform the way clothes are designed, sold, and used to break free from their increasingly disposable nature (Scale up short-term clothing rental; Make durability more attractive; Increase clothing utilisation further through brand commitments and policy). (3) Radically improve recycling by transforming clothing design, collection, and reprocessing (Align clothing design and recycling processes; Pursue technological innovation to improve the economics and quality of recycling; Stimulate demand for recycled materials; Implement clothing collection at scale); Make effective use of resources and move to renewable inputs. Read on...

Ellen Macarthur Foundation: A New Textiles Economy: Redesigning fashion's future
Author: NA


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 23 mar 2023

As the world is becoming more divided and tussle-oriented, the usual development strategies with a top-down approach driven by international trade and investments are losing their effectiveness. Prof. Andrew Sheng of University of Hong Kong and Prof. Xiao Geng of The Chinese University of Hong Kong Shenzhen, explain that in such a scenario a systemic bottom-up approach can yield progress. According to them, 'Poverty, inequality, climate change and environmental degradation are complex systemic challenges. Yet prevailing policy approaches focus on devising separate solutions to specific problems, or even specific facets of problems, with little to no regard for how their solutions - and the underlying problems - interact...Only by recognising the interconnected nature of our social, ecological and economic systems, and addressing problems holistically, can we optimise their functioning and ensure human and planetary well-being.' They quote environmental scientist Donella Meadows's definition of a system as 'an interconnected set of elements that is coherently organised in a way that achieves something.' Prof. Sheng and Prof. Geng further elaborate, 'Multilateral action - implemented by nation-states - tends to be even less efficient...What is needed instead are bottom-up strategies underpinned by community-based and non-profit social enterprises.' According to Peter Drucker, successful non-profits, 'dedicated to "doing good"', but also 'realise that good intentions are no substitute for organisation and leadership, for accountability, performance and results.' Authors suggest harnessing the power of already-existing tools and resources. They explain, 'Micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) are far better equipped than their large counterparts to deploy the mission-driven management social enterprises require. MSMEs - 90% of all businesses globally - account for 70-80% of total employment...Yet, MSMEs do not have access to formal capital markets, let alone the holistic policy and institutional framework - including supporting infrastructure and a consistent legal environment - that would enable them to act as effective social enterprises...technology has enabled the creation of a 'global knowledge commons', through which social enterprises can access the knowhow - and, through trusted accreditation, the financing - they need.' Read on...

IPS Journal: A social-enterprise development model
Authors: Andrew Sheng, Xiao Geng


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 21 feb 2023

Industrial designers are involved in the creation and development of many products and services that humans see and use in their life. They influence and contribute in shaping the physical and virtual experiences. Dr. Liam Fennessy, associate dean for industrial design at RMIT (Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Melbourne, Australia), says, 'It's not just tangible products or buildings, it's programs, experiences and digital products and digital interfaces too. Some industrial designers specialize for products in a particular industry while others get involved in projects in multiple and diverse areas. Those involved in consultancy services often work in diverse projects and interdisciplinary teams. Tim Phillips, an industrial designer and owner of Tilt Industrial design, utilizes multidisciplinary approach and focuses on built environment. His team of industrial designers design large-scale, site-specific design features for architects, landscape architects or artists. Explaining the approach in designing the operable façade at UTS (University of Technology Sydney) building where industrial design process is used to achieve architectural goals, Mr. Phillips says, 'The façade delivers a specific environmental function and a unique aesthetic. This combination of impacts is at the heart of what Tilt is trying to achieve in the built environment.' Even though an undergraduate degree in industrial design is generally a basic requirement to pursue a career as industrial designer but experts explain that having diverse and broad skills and excellent communication capabilities are necessary to achieve success. Mr. Phillips says, 'A great industrial designer must be able to deliver an amazing end-user experience and an equally successful commercial project outcome.' Read on...

The Sydney Morning Herald: The people who make everything around us
Author: Sue White


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 nov 2022

Design experts suggest that office design plays a role in employee productivity, creativity and satisfaction. A 2015 research study, 'Does Workplace Design Affect Employee Attraction?' (Authors: Steve Coster of Hassell, Cassie Govan of Empirica), presents unique and compelling evidence that links the physical workplace (i.e. office design) to employer attractiveness and therefore successful staff attraction and retention. Steve Coster, Principal at Hassell, says, 'This study suggests that investing in workplace design and organisational culture can be a more cost effective strategy for talent attraction than offering higher salaries. The way a workplace is designed can impact on the extent to which an employee connects and identifies with their colleagues and the organisation as a whole.' In addition to proper lighting, a flexible layout and biophilic features, better furniture design is an essential requirement for good workspace. Sustainability in furniture design is an important concept to consider (8.5 million tons of office furniture finds its way into US landfills). The C2C certification, based on the concepts derived from the book 'Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things' (Authors: William McDonough and Michael Braungart), is a globally recognized measure for products that are safe, circular and responsibly made. Furniture manufacturers should follow ecodesign principles to incorporate sustainability in all stages of an object's life cycle. Read on...

Arch Daily: Sustainable Office Furniture: Promoting Circular Design in the Workplace
Author: NA


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 31 oct 2022

According to the new report 'Giving in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC): Evolving Towards Stretegic Philanthropy' by University of Cambridge and LGT Private Banking Group, 'Philanthropy and charitable donations by private individuals and families in the Gulf Cooperation Council is estimated at US$ 210 billion and expected to grow...Wealthy individuals and family offices in the region are increasingly deploying capital with a focus on social or environmental impact...As Millenial and Generation Z family members emerge to take the helm of family businesses and philanthropic activities, their aspirations will shape the evolution of the sector in the coming years.' H.S.H. Prince Max von und zu Liechtenstein, Chairman of LGT, says, 'What the study has shown is that there is plenty of opportunity and there is a need to go deeper in this segment.' Professor Mauro Guillén, Dean of Cambridge Judge Business School (UK), says, 'A particularly noteworthy finding is the growing interest in strategic philanthropy, inspired by the view held by philanthropists that more strategic, collaborative and evidence-based approaches can have a greater impact in society.' Read on...

Reuters: Gulf's $210 bln philanthropy pot expected to grow - Study
Authors: Rachna Uppal, Josie Kao


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 26 aug 2022

3D printing is a computer-aided design enabled additive manufacturing process that makes products through extruded materials layer-by-layer. 3D printing types that have developed recently include fused deposition modeling, stereolithography, selective laser sintering, selective laser melting, digital light processing, fused filament fabrication etc. Benefits of 3D printing include cost-effectiveness; time, resource, and energy savings; significantly less material waste; enhanced design freedom etc. In addition to various industries like manufacturing, aerospace, transportation etc where 3D printing has found extensive use, it is now finding application in textile industry. 3D printing can bring more efficiencies in the fabric production and make it more sustainable. It has potential to reduce consumption of resources like water and materials, and substantially eliminate the waste produced that would reduct textile industry's large carbon footprint. Moreover, 3D printing provides ability to manufacture 'smart' fabrics with embedded functionalities and, complex and unique structures. Even though there is potential for 3D printing in textile industry, it also has many challenges that need to be overcome to its widespread use. 3D printed fabrics are more stiff, less flexible giving rise to impediments in their wearibility and comfort level. Scientists have proposed many solutions to 3D printed textiles to impart properties like stretchability, softness, and flexibility. Three approaches towards this goal are printing flexible structural units, printing fibers, and printing on textiles. Read on...

AZoM: How is 3D Printing Changing the Textile Industry?
Author: Reginald Davey


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 27 feb 2022

Climate change and environmental issues are prompting landscape architects to consider carbon as an important aspect in their planning and designing. Landscape practitioners and experts came together at ASLA (American Society of Landscape Architects) 2021 to discuss various approaches and tools that can help in creating a positive impact on environment and reduce carbon footprint of building and construction projects. Pamela Conrad, founder of Climate Positive Design and principal at CMG Landscape Architecture, says, 'Approximately 75% of all emissions are from the urban built environment, with 40% from buildings and 35% from transportation and landscapes. We need to keep warming to 1.5°C. We can only add 300 gigatons of additional carbon to the atmosphere and need to work within this remaining carbon budget. We need to reduce emissions by 65% by 2030 and hit zero by 2040.' Climate Positive Design, ASLA, IFLA (International Federation of Landscape Architects) and Architecture 2030 are collectively committed to attain these targets through the development of Climate Action Commitment and Architecture 2030's 1.5°C COP26 Communiqué. Climate Positive Design's Pathfinder App helps landscape architects find ways to reduce space for carbon-intensive hardscapes and increase carbon-sequestering trees, shrubs, and grasses. Chris Ng-Hardy of Sasaki says, 'We realized we need to consider carbon from the beginning, before the project even starts. Measuring embodied carbon is about 10-15 years behind the curve in terms of measuring operational carbon.' Team at Sasaki developed Carbon Conscience App to help with the preliminary planning decisions that determine a project's long-range carbon footprint. The research at Sasaki led to following conclusions for landscape architects - don't destroy ecosystems; add wetlands, prairies, and forests; minimize hardscapes and concrete; and reduce the use of plastics and metals. Deanna Lynn, landscape designer with Wild Land Workshop, says, 'Soil carbon sequestration is hard to study. But generally, the more life there is in ecosystems, the more carbon is stored in soils.' Underground there is a complex web, made up of tree roots, organic matter, microbes, earthworms, mycorrhizal fungi, and insects. In the book, 'The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate? Discoveries from A Secret World, the author Peter Wohlleben, describes one aspect of this underground world - mycorrhizal fungi - which form a subterranean 'world wood web' that enables trees to share carbon, nutrients, and information across their roots. Soils are complex adaptive systems, and while designing for carbon sequestrian the goal should be to support the self-organizing systems of soil life. Ms. Lynn says that more carbon can be stored naturally in ecosystems and soils if species diversity is increased and suggests that andscape architects can introduce more woody plants; warm season grasses; deciduous trees, which are denser; and nitrogen-fixing plants, which enable the productivity of the entire plant communities. She also advocates the use of native plants, which have deeper roots, are more productive and resilient and therefore will store more carbon over time. She suggests that while designing new forested landscapes it is important to mimick the arrangement of treas and plants that exists in surrounding ecosystem and also planting an understory of plants that tolerate leaf litter, as it helps build carbon in soil. Read on...

The Dirt: Designing with Carbon
Author: Jared Green


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 26 oct 2021

Communication is the key to propagate ideas and concepts. Graphic design is one such communication tool that can send a message across effectively and create an impact through visuals. Dr. Rebecca Green, graphic design lecturer and researcher in the School of Art & Design at the University of New South Wales (UNSW Syndney, Australia), says, 'Understanding graphic design principles is an untapped opportunity in the fight against climate change. Graphic designers have a critical role in helping to address the most crucial problem of our time - by communicating climate change messages through powerful and compelling visuals that resonate. Climate change is also a social problem. It’s caused by humans and can be solved by humans. Communication is how we socialise; it’s how we find the groups we identify with, and graphic design provides the symbols and signs that help us identify these groups or ideas. Dr. Green's research focuses on graphic design and its influence on humans. She tests how graphic design impacts reception, trust, and belief across climate change, as well as other complex issues. Critical components of visual communication, such as colour, imagery, logos and style - all work together to convey meaning, lead to trust (or mistrust) and ultimately influence the uptake of strategic climate messaging. Dr. Green says, 'Using the right combination of elements in the graphic design of climate change communication can not only help boost understanding and engagement with the issue but also build communities. Graphic design language really has the power to unite or divide. So, graphic design needs to be careful to make sure it fosters communities based around the global good, using the right symbols, the right authority, and the right logos.' Read on...

UNSW Newsroom: Graphic design can build trust and community in climate conversation
Author: Ben Knight


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 aug 2021

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is becoming an essential tool for businesses to not only participate in a greater good but also differentiate themselves in a highly competitive business environment. Businesses can utilize CSR as a source of competitive advantage by strategically applying CSR in the communities they work. Companies with serious CSR planning and implementation signify that they operate in ethical and sustainable way and care for the environment and are sincere about their social impacts. Particularly for companies that work in developing world with poverty related challenges, CSR is a great tool to demonstrate that they care and contribute for a better world. Here are few points that represent the value of CSR for businesses in today's world - (1) Creates Greater Job Satisfaction: As per the study published in HBR in 2018, 9 out of 10 workers are willing to earn less income to do more meaningful work. Companies with strong CSR culture can increase employee satisfaction and can attract better employees. (2) Encourages Customer Loyalty: Customers are now more interested in how the companies operate with respect to society and environment. When customers find out about CSR aspects of a company they trust it more and would buy products from them. Millenials as customers are more inclined towards such aspects of companies before they buy products from them. (3) Makes Businesses More Sustainable: When companies apply more sustainable practices then their models become more sustainable too and they will reap the benefits in the long run. Read on...

South Coast Herald: Why Corporate Social Responsibility is Essential for Businesses
Author: NA


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 21 jun 2021

According to the 2019 Reuter's report based on a study by Center for American Progress titled 'How Much Nature Should America Keep', the US needs to set a goal to protect 30% of land and oceans by 2030 to stem the rapid decline of natural areas, which will protect the country from the worst impacts of climate change and wildlife extinction. The report mentioned that the US has lost 24 million acres (9712455.41 hectares) of natural area, between 2001 and 2017 due to agriculture, energy development, housing sprawl and other human factors. This phenomenon is happening worldwide and many countries and cities are working to create open spaces and 'rewild' their communities to combat the global loss of nature. Rewilding restores an area to its original, uncultivated state, shifting away from the centuries-long practice of controlling and managing nature for human need. It incorporates both the old and the new, allowing wildness to reclaim an area and/or incorporating new elements of architectural or landscape design, like growing greenery on the facades of buildings. Rewilding is generally carried out in wild areas that have gone through deforestation. Many rewilding projects aim to restore biodiversity in an ecosystem. But now many cities are trying to rewild. Rewilding in urban areas might include reintroducing native plant species, building parks on empty lots, incorporating more biophilic design when building new structures, or simply allowing nature to reclaim space. A major draw to rewilding in urban areas is the proven positive impact of nature on human health - particularly for city-dwellers with less access to outdoor spaces. Following are the select 8 cities that are significantly embarking upon rewilding - (1) Singapore: The Gardens by the Bay have transformed Singapore from a 'Garden city' to a 'City in a Garden'. 18 'Supertrees' are dispersed throughout the landscape. They are not living things themselves, but these trees are home to over 158000 plants and mimic the functions of regular trees by providing shade, filtering rainwater, and absorbing heat. Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park is also an example of rewilding in Singapore, incorporating elements of water-sensitive urban design and reducing the urban heat island effect in the city. Beyond parks, Singapore maintains more than 90 miles of Nature Ways - canopied corridors that connect green spaces, facilitating the movement of animals and butterflies from one natural area to another throughout the city. Singapore has also developed a City Biodiversity Index to examine and track the progress of biodiversity and conservation projects. (2) Nottingham, United Kingdom: The Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust has proposed a new vision for the empty Broadmarsh shopping center in the city - an urban oasis of wetlands, woodlands, and wildflowers. Replacing these 6 acres of development could set a precedent for how such spaces are redeveloped in the future. (3) Haerbin, China: The city of Haerbin which is the capital of China's northernmost province and which sees 60-70% of its annual precipitation from June-August, has taken a creative approach to address flooding by fostering a wetland in the middle of the city. The Qunli National Urban Wetland provides invaluable ecosystem services - collecting and filtering stormwater into the aquifer, recovering a native habitat vital to the surrounding ecosystem, and supplying a place for recreation in the city with a network of raised paths and viewing towers for visitors. (4) Dublin, Ireland: One-third of bee populations in Ireland are threatened with extinction, so the country has begun retiring their lawnmowers and letting grasses grow high. Dublin created a 2015-2020 Biodiversity Action Plan, aimed at reducing mowing and herbicide use in parks, roadsides, and other green spaces. By letting native plants grow instead of maintaining monocropped, chemical-laden lawns, native insect, bird, and bee populations thrive. 80% of the city's green spaces are now 'pollinator-friendly'. (5) Sydney and Melbourne, Australia: Australia has caught on to the biophilic cities movement - a different design approach that brings nature and urbanites together, welcomes back native species, and makes even the densest cities more 'natureful'. The biophilic One Central Park in Chippendale – a suburb of Sydney – is known for its vertical hanging gardens, which incorporate 35200 plants of 383 different species more than 1120 square meters of the building's surface. Melbourne has also taken similar action with the Green Our City strategic action plan, which outlines how nature can be brought back into the city through green walls and roofs. (6) Hanover, Frankfurt, and Dessau, Germany: As a part of the Städte Wagen Wildnis ('Cities Venturing into Wilderness', or 'Cities Dare Wilderness') Project, Hanover, Frankfurt, and Dessau, Germany have agreed to set aside plots in cities – such as the sites of former buildings, parks, vacant lots, etc. – where nature will be allowed to take over. The resulting wildflower gardens and untamed nature will create new habitats for plant and animal species, and thus will increase the overall biodiversity of these cities. (7) New York City, United States: On the site of a former elevated railroad, the High Line gardens have become a staple attraction of Manhattan. The High Line gardeners work to facilitate the natural processes occurring in this landscape, allowing plants to compete, spread out, and grow/change as they would in nature. a valuable habitat for native butterflies, birds, and insects – and, of course, the hundreds of plant species covering its surface. (8) Barcelona, Spain: After the six-week coronavirus-induced lockdown in April'2020, the population of Barcelona found that the city was bursting with growth. With parks closed, nature had begun to reclaim spaces. In May and June of 2020, the Urban Butterfly Monitor Scheme found significant increases in biodiversity - 28% more species per park overall, 74% more butterflies, and an explosion of plant growth during the spring rains that supplied more insects for birds to feed on. Inspired by these changes, the city is now working to create 49000 square meters of 'greened' streets and 783300 of green open space. Furthermore, beehives and insect hotels have been dispersed throughout the city, as well as 200 bird- and bat-nesting towers to encourage even more biodiversity. Read on...

EcoWatch: 8 Cities Rewilding Their Urban Spaces
Author: Linnea Harris


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 26 may 2021

Social entrepreneurs are impacting the world by doing good in various fields. Here is the list of 40 social entrepreneurs that stood out and are to be followed in 2021 - (1) Ruben Harris (Founder of Career Karma): Career Karma is a member of Y Combinator's 2019 class and since then has been helping people that want to become software engineers by matching them with the right coding bootcamp and supporting them throughout their careers. (2) Robert Luo (Founder of Mi Terro): Mi Terro is a biotechnology company that reengineers leftover milk into sustainable fibers that can replace plastic in the fashion, medical and packaging industries. (3) Tiila Abbitt (Founder of Aether Beauty): Aether Beauty is a cosmetics and beauty products company with focus on clean organic cosmetics and sustainable packaging promoting zero waste concept. (4) Bonnie Gringer (Founder of Sharethelovely): Sharethelovely is reimagining wedding shopping through a multi-sided resale marketplace providing consumers and the bridal industry sustainable products and services for fairytale weddings at a fraction of the cost. Through an online concierge resale model with an offline 'try-before-you-buy” shopping option, it is bridging the online and offline shopping experience critical to brides. (5) Topaz Smith (Founder of EN-NOBLE): EN-NOBLE, by using an international network of independent travel suppliers, offers customers the opportunity to experience local cultures, safe in the knowledge that their money is also strengthening those communities: the company pledges 1% of its revenue will be be reinvested with local partners. (6) Quinn Fitzgerald and Sara Dickhaus de Zarraga (Founders of Flare): Flare makes beautifully designed, modern safety jewelry that empowers wearers to get out of uncomfortable situations at the push of a button. Each piece of jewelry has a hidden button that triggers text messages and GPS tracking to friends, a pre-recorded call to your phone, or even connecting with the police. (7) Brendan Brazier and Mark McTavish (Founders of Pulp Culture): Pulp Culture is a healthy alcohol brand that blends alcoholic beverages that use 100% raw, fresh juices that naturally ferment over three months. Called 'wild fermentation', the result is a zero-additive, zero-sugar, bone-dry beverage with 6 billion naturally-occurring probiotics, B vitamins, and 4.9% ABV. (8) Dinesh Tadpalli (Founder of incrEDIBLE): incrEDIBLE is the first company to mass-produce edible cutlery and help alleviate waste from 100 million plastic utensils used every day in America. (9) Alexandre Koiransky (Founder of FAIR): FAIR is a spirit brand on a mission to support farmers in developing economies for the last decade. When you buy Fairtrade certified spirits, it makes sure that workers who grow the crops are paid a fair price. Fairtrade standards promote direct and meaningful impact within key Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) areas. (10) Shireen Jaffer (Founder of Edvo): Edvo is a venture-backed startup in Los Angeles that empowers people with the tools to think better and live better. It provide the tools for a life full of meaningful learning, critical thinking, and better results. (11) Maya Mutalik (Founder of Hope Sews): Hope Sews is an impact-driven fashion brand that creates contemporary clothing made from artisanal fabrics from around the world and provides women entrepreneurs in developing communities with the resources they need to grow their businesses. (12) Garik Himebaugh (Eco-Stylist): Eco-Stylist is an online marketplace for eco-conscious and ethically made men's clothing. Everything at Eco-Stylist is eco-friendly, socially responsible, and ethically sourced. At Eco-Stylist all ethical and sustainable brands are first researched with Remake’s sustainable brand criteria. (13) Laura Alexander and Liza Moiseeva (Founder of Brightly): The Brightly platform focuses on brand + product recommendations, actionable + research content, and authentic community connections to empower people to make a difference for the planet. (14) Abdullah Choudhry (Co-founder of Arbor): Arbor is a platform that brings conscious information to consumers at the forefront of purchasing. Arbor helps users patronize companies that align with their values. (15) David Simnick and Daniel Doll (Founders of Soapbox): Soapbox is a company whose mission is to empower customers with the ability to change the world through everyday, quality purchases. For every product sold, the company gives back through bar soaps, health, and hygiene initiatives in communities both domestically and around the globe. (16) Julia Pennington and Allison Lange (Founder of Hera The Dog Vodka): Hera The Dog Vodka is crafted from 100% organic wheat non-GMO distilled 7 times slow-filtered using gravity through walnut husk carbon distilled. The founders have devised a more sustainable way to raise funds for animals in need and to help these driven, boots on the ground rescue organizations. When they formed the benefit corporation, Animal Spirits, they also created the Animal Spirits Foundation as a separate non-profit entity. A percentage of the funds raised through the sale of Animal Spirits’ products will be donated to the Animal Spirits Foundation to help support rescue groups, sanctuaries and individuals needing help with their four-legged family member through financial grants. (17) Spencer Arnold and Tim Hollinger (Founders of Bathing Culture): Bathing Culture is designed for the adventurous, the design-driven, and the sustainably-minded. Featuring everything that bathing ritual needs, the collection is highlighted by its hero product, the Mind and Body Wash - an organic, biodegradable, all-purpose and concentrated soap. They use plastic bottles made from 100% pre-existing recycled material. (18) Adila Coker (Founder of The Good Tee & Source My Garment): 'Source My Garment' is an essential book written on how to responsibly offshore manufacturing. The Good Tee's mission is to make it easier for any size brand to sell responsibly made products. The Good Tee is a collection of sustainable basics which are a blank canvas for brands to print on. The Good Tee champions responsible manufacturing - slower production schedules, ethical working conditions, and fair deals for all. It has a Fairtrade certification. (19) Kathy Hannun (Co-founder of Dandelion Energy): Dandelion Energy is the largest residential geothermal company in the US. Dandelion transitions homeowners from fossil-fueled to geothermal heating and cooling using their custom geothermal drilling suite and Dandelion Air heat pump. (20) Paul Shapiro (Founder of Better Meat Co.): The Better Meat Co. is creating the future of food sustainability through technology and cellular agriculture. He is the author of the national bestseller 'Clean Meat: How Growing Meat Without Animals Will Revolutionize Dinner and the World'. (21) Dr. Lydiah Kemunto Bosire (Founder of 8B Education Investments): 8B Education Investments is a fin-tech company that aims to facilitate affordable financing to African students in leading global universities. (22) Jonny Crowder (Founder of Cope Notes): Cope Notes sends daily mental health support via text message to the subscriber in order to help train their brain to combat negativity, stress, anxiety, anger, and doubt. All the texts are written by peer support advocates, so these are people with lived experience with hardship or trauma, illness, and loss. (23) Chami Akmeemana (Founder of Blockchain Learning Group and Convergence): Convergence has successfully deployed several blockchain projects in the developing world to connect individuals to simple human rights and create new businesses in areas never thought possible. (24) Priya Prakash (Founder of HealthSetGo): HealthSetGo integrates technology and health care to empower parents, schools, and governments to make data-driven decisions to improve the health and lives of children. (25) Roberto Milk (Co-founder of NOVICA): NOVICA is a marketplace for artisans and features the work of more than 20000 artisans for sale, improving the economic prospects of artists in some of the world's most remote areas. Showcasing their products on NOVICA, offers artisans fair prices, no binding contracts and the freedom to make a success of their craft by building a sustainable business. NOVICA also gives artisans access to no interest microcredit loans that help build their businesses. NOVICA has empowered global artisans through greater access to international customers, freedom to set their own prices, and the ability to focus on their craft, creating a visible and profound impact on the communities around them. (26) Ryan Shearman (Co-founder of Aether Diamonds): Aether is a public benefit corporation that extracts harmful CO2 from the atmosphere and transforms it into valuable raw materials and consumer products. (27) Lucy Ashman (Founder of Tierra & Lava): Tierra & Lava produces skincare products using only purest form of ingredients (aka just whole plants and minerals). It now offers over 70 natural products with no fillers and only natural preservatives. (28) Matt McPheely (Partner of Chapel): Chapel is a 43000 sq ft office, event, and restaurant space in the heart of a mill village community with a mission of changing the way real estate projects are financed, built, and operated, as a force for good in the neighborhoods. Working with the community is the focus and will include job training, investment into local entrepreneurs, providing a safe space for kids, and offering our flex space as a resource for the neighborhood. (29) Chad Hickey (Founder of Givsly): Givsly is a for-purpose company built around the belief that as the world around us evolves, so should our options to create social impact. Givsly turns business meetings into opportunities to support the favorite nonprofits. Givsly platform introduces a portfolio of ways for professionals to give back, while doing business. (30) Ian Rosenberger (Founder First Mile and Day Owl): First Mile has redirected over 96 Million plastic bottles from landfills and the ocean and transformed them into consumer goods for global brands trying to find value in authenticity, transparency, and responsibility. Day Owl is a direct-to-consumer brand that has created a backpack out of First Mile materials that the team feels will prepare everyone to take on the world. (31) Yasmin Grigaliunas (Co-founder of World's Biggest Garage Sale): World's Biggest Garage Sale is activating the circular economy and resource recovery of dormant goods for good, powered by purpose to provide meaningful employment and pathways for disadvantaged youth. (32) Christian Shearer (Co-founder of Regen Network): Regen Network is an ecological agreements platform working to accelerate the adoption of Regenerative Agriculture. The platform is serving to align economics with ecology to drive regenerative land management. (33) Reese Fernandez-Ruiz (Co-founder of Rags2Riches): Rags2Riches's (R2R) focus is on community sourcing, community-based weaving, and sustainable market access. In addition to providing a sustainable livelihood for partner community artisans, R2R has also co-developed an artisan academy, a savings and micro-insurance program, and opportunities for full-time employment. (34) Margaret Andriassian (Founder of Life Originelle): Life Originelle is a shopping platform where women can shop from beautiful small businesses, and support a cause, all in one transaction. As an impact based shopping website, Life Originelle donates 10% of their proceeds from each order to their cause of the season. Read on...

CauseArtist: 40 Social Entrepreneurs to Watch for in 2021
Author: NA


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 30 nov 2020

Nonprofits are facing challenging times during COVID-19 pandemic and they need any kind of help to pursue their mission. Laura Plato, chief solutions officer at VolunteerMatch, says, 'Traditional in-person volunteering has dropped off precipitously since the pandemic began, while need has only grown. Our nation's nonprofits are having to really get creative and reinvent what volunteering looks like.' Research on teens and adults finds that volunteering has many benefits like for example reduced rates of depression and anxiety, and meaningful improvements in life expectancy. Akua Boateng, a psychotherapist, says, 'But for children volunteering can also be a positive component of their developmental process - helping them understand their place in the social fabric - and is associated with a higher sense of self-esteem.' Prof. Peter Levine of Tufts University's Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life cautions that how parents frame volunteering is important and suggests, 'It's crucial to talk about social inequity in the right way with children to avoid communicating a sense of superiority.' Karen Daniel, VP of programs at Youth Service America, says, 'We have a project ideas database on our website...We really believe in helping kids start with something they love so that the project is fun for them, too.' Pandemic has lead to the mainstreaming of work from home culture and kids can volunteer along with their parents. There are also programs to help kids reach out to military personnel and first responders, or to write letters and cards to older people separated from their loved ones. Moreover, kids can also help by informally volunteering within their local community. Virtual volunteering can also be a good volunteering aveneue for kids. According to Katie Stagliano of Katie's Krops, a nonprofit that helps children start gardens across the United States, community gardening can continue in the colder months with winter crops such as cabbage, carrots, kale, turnips and collard greens, which can then be distributed to families struggling with food insecurity. Lydia Elle, a writer in Los Angeles, and her 10-year-old daughter, London, have started partnering with organizations in 2019 to donate books to children in need. Ms. Elle says, 'During the summer, because we couldn't get out and distribute books in person like we normally would have, we made a huge donation of books to our local food bank instead.' Read on...

The Washington Post: Volunteering can give kids purpose in uncertain times - and there are still ways to do it
Author: Connie Chang


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 25 oct 2020

According to the new research by doctoral student Sweta Iyer at University of Borås (Sweden), luminescent textiles can be created by using a bioluminescent reaction system. The study was conducted using enzyme immobilization and eco-technology methods such as plasma treatment. The luminescent materials have wide range of applications in areas like biomedicine, biosensors, and safety to architecture and aesthetics. These materials have multifunctional properties such as UV protection and antibacterial properties. Ms. Iyer's doctoral thesis is titled 'Luminescent Textiles Using Biobased Products - A Bioinspired Approach'. Ms. Iyer says, 'Bioluminescence phenomena in nature and their reaction mechanisms have been extensively studied in biology and biochemistry, but previously not applied to textiles. The important research question was to understand the bioluminescent reaction mechanism that exists in different living organisms and the selection of the reaction system. This was important in order to make it possible to use the luminescent effects in textile.' Read on...

University of Borås News: Biobased products can create luminescent textiles
Author: Lena Carlsson


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 25 sep 2020

COVID-19 lockdowns, with stay at home norm and confinement, has brought about more emphasis on gardens, balconies, backyards etc, as they became refreshing and relaxing spaces. The pandemic will impact the future of garden design and following are some ways to consider while designing outdoor spaces in future - (1) More Emphasis On Optimizing Outdoor Spaces: Before outdoor space has often been considered a luxury but the pandemic brought about its essentiality to the home. In future it will become an integral part of the home design. Landscape designers have to make use of every inch of space and make it more usable. (2) Gardens As A Fifth Room: As open spaces become essential more importance will be given to their design. They will be updated more often and will be reorganized to adapt to different usages throughout the day. 'Transterior' (term used by Jamie Durie and Nadine Bush in their book 'Living Design' to describe the space where the interior and exterior of a home merge) spaces will be more in demand in the future. (3) Bigger Focus On Sustainability And Self-Sufficiency: Urban farming saw a boom during lockdowns as more people took to growing their own fruits and vegetables. The trend has been around, but now it will continue with more urban produce growing spaces. The greater focus on sustainability will also influence building materials used in landscaping. More emphasis will be on durable, natural materials like reclaimed wood, hard-wearing garden tiles and natural stone. (4) A Need For Mindful Outdoor Areas: Health benefits of green open spaces is well known - reducing stress and anxiety, and also promoting mindfulness. Use of homes to create a sense of security and wellness will continue and open green spaces are an important part of it. Garden design in the 'new normal' will be about using outdoor areas to evoke a sense of calm and serenity through thoughtful design. Read on...

Total Landscape Design: The world's 'new norm' and what it means for garden design
Author: Suhayl Laher


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 26 jun 2020

COVID-19 has brought to the fore the issue of medical textiles as masks, gowns and other personal protective equipment (PPE) are necessary for safeguarding healthcare workers against virus infections. The use of mask specifically became more widespread among general public and the debate centered around the type of material of the fabric that can minimize spread of the virus from person to person and also be affordable. As the demand for PPEs rose the challenge for the scientific and manufacturing community has been to find a way to provide better protection while allowing for the safe reuse of these items. Team of researchers from University of Pittsburgh - Anthony J. Galante, Sajad Haghanifar, Eric G. Romanowski, Robert M. Q. Shanks, Paul W. Leu - has created a textile coating that can not only repel liquids like blood and saliva but can also prevent viruses from adhering to the surface. Their research titled, 'Superhemophobic and Antivirofouling Coating for Mechanically Durable and Wash-Stable Medical Textiles', was recently published in the journal ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces. Lead author of the paper, Mr. Galante, who is the Ph.D. student in industrial engineering at Pitt, says, 'Recently there's been focus on blood-repellent surfaces, and we were interested in achieving this with mechanical durability.' The coating is unique as it is able to withstand ultrasonic washing, scrubbing and scraping. Prof. Leu, co-author and associate professor of industrial engineering, says, 'The durability is very important because there are other surface treatments out there, but they’re limited to disposable textiles. You can only use a gown or mask once before disposing of it. Given the PPE shortage, there is a need for coatings that can be applied to reusable medical textiles that can be properly washed and sanitized.' Prof. Romanowski, Research Director at Charles T. Campbell Microbiology Laboratory, says, 'As this fabric was already shown to repel blood, protein and bacteria, the logical next step was to determine whether it repels viruses. We chose human adenovirus types 4 and 7, as these are causes of acute respiratory disease as well as conjunctivitis (pink eye)...As it turned out, the adenoviruses were repelled in a similar way as proteins.' Prof. Shanks, Director of Basic Research in the Department of Ophthalmology at Pitt, says, 'Adenovirus can be inadvertently picked up in hospital waiting rooms and from contaminated surfaces in general. It is rapidly spread in schools and homes and has an enormous impact on quality of life - keeping kids out of school and parents out of work. This coating on waiting room furniture, for example, could be a major step towards reducing this problem.' The next step for the researchers will be to test the effectiveness against betacoronaviruses, like the one that causes COVID-19. Read on...

University of Pittsburgh News: Pitt Researchers Create Durable, Washable Textile Coating That Can Repel Viruses
Author: Maggie Pavlick


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 mar 2020

According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor's (GEM) 2019-20 Global Report, more than 40% of entrepreneurs in 35 of 50 countries agree or strongly agree that their motivations to launch a business are to make a difference in the world. Fifty economies participated in the GEM 2019 Adult Population Survey (APS) and more than 150000 individuals took part in extended interviews as part of the research. Entrepreneurs are trying to blend profits with social good and environmental sustainability, giving rise to innovative business models. In 2006 a company called TOMS popularized social entrepreneurship with a 'One For One Model' to provide a free pair of shoes to someone in need for every pair purchased. Jake Strom, co-founder of TOMS, now invests in and consults companies that intend to incorporate social business models into their existing businesses. He termed this as 'Profit + Purpose Model' that encourages for-profit ventures with deeply woven social benefits. Following are key takeaways from this approach - (1) Create Evangelists, not Customers: Company's story is key branding element. Emphasize the social good aspect to inspire customers to become brand champions. It eventually becomes a competitive advantage. (2) Popular Perception Has Shifted: The idea that a for-profit business could do well and do good at the same time has become substantially acceptable. Profit + Purpose model will further grow in future. (3) Purpose-Driven Brands Can't Take Shortcuts: Effective business planning is essential. Do whatever is needed to provide best products and services and work to gain profits. Purpose would provide added motivation. (4) Think Long-Term: Balance the demands of Profit vs. Purpose. Making a sincere effort to put people, planet and long-term sustainability before short-term gains. (5) There is Never a Perfect Timing: The great idea to do good shouldn't wait. Start with whatever knowledge, resources and expertise is available. Keep learning, growing and evolving along the way. Scale-up when the concept is proven in the market. Read on...

Entrepreneur: 5 Takeaways From an Entrepreneur's Profit + Purpose Social Business Model
Author: Jared Polites


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 25 mar 2020

Landscape architects can utilize sustainability and environmental design while providing beautiful landscapes. This showcases sensitivity towards the larger ecosystem. Cheryl Brown and Holley Owings, landscape architects at Earth Design, share a landscape design process for better outcomes - (1) Determine your Goals: Create a list of likes and dislikes. Get photo example, property's sitemap or survey for planning. (2) Define your Style: Ms. Owings says, 'We look at a landscape from an environmental and ecological standpoint which supports a range of styles.' She suggests natural, low maintenance landscapes. Outdoor elements include moss gardens, permeable hardscapes, raised beds for vegetable gardens and cut flowers, and she-shed garden cottages. (3) Seek Professional Guidance: Ms. Brown says, 'Many times, we have to think outside the box to meet a homeowner's specific goals and budget.' Landscape architects have the skills to provide creative solutions for difficult landscape challenges. (4) Landscape Assessment: Assessing the present condition of the property is the start of the design process. Ms. Brown says, 'We're taking into account sun, shade, location, and water and looking at what the landscape wants to be. We don't want to go against nature.' An assessment reveals design challenges, as well as identify some of the most common problems. (5) Selecting Plants: Good design is about form, texture and layering, and good landscape design hinges on choosing and grouping the right plants in the right place. Ms. Owings says, 'Your outdoor space should be a sanctuary. It should attract the things that bring you joy, such as birds and butterflies, so plant choices are important.' (6) The Master Plan: Ms. Brown says, 'A landscape project should be looked at as a whole...a master plan is such an important investment. It includes everything in one place, even if it's installed in stages.' Read on...

Greenville News: Building Your Dream Landscape
Author: Renata Parker


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 11 jan 2020

Food security problem is a global concern. Everyone should become a part of the solution. Technologies like drones, data analytics, blockchain etc can assist in solving some of the issues related to farming and agriculture. This is what Agriculture 4.0 is all about. It is a new age of food production that leverages digital technology and the Internet of Things (IoT) to cater more precisely to the needs of crops, farmers and consumers. The coming together of - farming communities, researchers and policy makers; farm equipment and machinery, biotechnology, computer and telecommunication companies - can bring agriculture to a new state of success. Multinational agriculture and biotech companies are competing in the race to achieve the technological breakthroughs and expand their businesses and profits. Advocates of Agriculture 4.0 believe that it will solve the food security problems of the future. While critics on the other hand caution that without proper regulation few big companies will attain huge monopolistic power in global agricultural decision-making that will adversely affect small producers. According to the 2018 report Agriculture 4.0 by World Government Summit, approximately 800 million people currently suffer from hunger and by 2050 we will have to produce 70% more food to feed the world. Juanita Rodríguez, Vice-Chancellor of Innovation at Ean University (Colombia), says, 'Even though it's still not widely known, this fourth revolution in agriculture has been agile and its benefits are beginning to show, helping farmers maximise crop yields and developing ways to stop the epidemic of waste that destroys 45% of our supply.' In Mexico, Mexican engineer Julio López and German economist Manuel Richter, have created a platform helping producers to manage their crops using drone and satellite technology. Mr. Richter says, 'There is a huge potential to make the work more efficient, reduce agro-inputs, improve water use, lower environmental impact and create more economic sustainability for the farmer.' Big data use and privacy are other areas that are part of Agriculture 4.0. In 2018, North American companies spent almost US$ 20 billion on third-party data, 17.5% more than in 2017. Silvia Ribeiro, Latin America director of the Action Group on Erosion, Technology and Concentration (ETC), says, 'Companies have a huge amount of data at their disposal. They can convert it into another business. What lies behind this is the generation of new profits.' Gabriel Cuéllar, an AI researcher, says, 'Data is the new oil. Companies today need data to make their systems more powerful.' Big data and analytics has positive side in agriculture and can assist farmers in effectively detecting pests, spotting failures in agricultural processes, or understanding market demands. The question with data is not only who is collecting it, but who can analyse it, and who wins or loses as a result. In the report 'The Unsustainable Agriculture 4.0 - Digitization and Corporate Power in the Food Chain', Pat Mooney of ETC explains his concerns on big data in agriculture. He believes that the concentration of power in agricultural data collection could result in a few companies controlling seed patenting data, pesticides, fertilisers and machinery, leaving little or no option for farmers and workers to choose what they buy. In recent times many multinationals have been drawn into controversy regarding Agriculture 4.0. According to Ms. Rodríguez, there is also a significant hacking risk associated with Internet of Things devices. Dennis Escudero from UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) says, 'The profile of the farmer is changing. It is more digital. You have to understand the new tools. They don't threaten farmers, they empower them.' Read on...

Diálogo Chino: Agriculture 4.0 promises to transform food production
Authors: Emilio Godoy, Alejandra Cuéllar


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 09 jan 2020

Tackling climate change and protecting environment is critical for the better future of our planet. Current agricultural practices and economic policies that surround it have substantial impact on the natural environment. Prof. Benjamin Houlton, director of the John Muir Institute of the Environment at the University of Califoria at Davis and champion of the One Climate Initiative, says, 'Agriculture might just be the single most important industry on the planet for creating negative carbon emissions under current economic policy. Carbon farming is the key to help solve climate change. Farmers and ranchers can capture carbon and store it in the soil. They can create negative emissions, which means the amount of greenhouse gases that are going into the air from their industry is lower than the amount that they're drawing out of the air.' Prof. Houlton plans to further develop the carbon farm project through One Climate. He explains, 'The One Climate vision is about transforming society in a way that is sustainable, produces the jobs we need, trains the next generation of leaders and creates a climate-smart workforce. And one of the centerpieces of One Climate is creating the world's most innovative carbon farm.' Carbon farming involves using resources such as compost, biochar and pulverized rock, and using enhanced weathering - basically, accelerating Earth's natural processes - to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Explaining about biochar, Prof. Houlton says, 'We've teamed up with industry partners to use biochar, which is taking organic carbon like trees, vegetation and manure, and burning it slightly at a high temperature. It becomes more resistant to breakdown and helps with water and nutrient use, while also storing carbon for longer periods of time.' In California, biochar can reduce wildfires by removing trees that could be a fire risk and putting it into the soil. Similarly, compost deposits green waste or food waste into the soil to create a carbon sink. Read on...

UC Davis Magazine: How Can Agriculture Be a Part of the Climate Solution?
Author: Ashley Han


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 14 nov 2019

Achieving global food security is a challenge that requires all humanity to participate and work together. It is imperative to improve food production and distribution, tackle environmental degradation and climate change, alleviate poverty and resolve conflicts through peaceful means. Prof. Miguel Altieri of University of California at Berkeley focuses his research on the concepts of agroecology. His group's research and publications aid in the emergence of agroecology as the discipline that provides the basic ecological principles for how to study, design, and manage sustainable agroecosystems that are both productive and natural resource conserving, and that are also culturally-sensitive, socially-just and economically viable. He explains that urban agriculture has potential to enhance food security in US cities. According to him, 'I believe that raising fresh fruits, vegetables and some animal products near consumers in urban areas can improve local food security and nutrition, especially for underserved communities.' US Dept. of Agriculture estimates that for 1 out of 8 citizens food insecurity is a near-term risk. The current food distribution system in cities of Califormia, where large population resides, requires enormous amounts of energy and generates significant greenhouse gas emissions. Prof. Altieri says, 'The food it delivers fails to reach 1 of every 8 people in the region who live under the poverty line - mostly senior citizens, children and minorities. Access to quality food is limited both by poverty and the fact that on average, California’s low-income communities have 32.7% fewer supermarkets than high-income areas within the same cities.' In the past 30 years, urban farming has grown by more than 30% in the US. Moreover, it is estimated that urban agriculture can meet 15 to 20% of global food demand. But, it is yet to be seen what level of food self-sufficiency it can realistically ensure for cities. There are limitations and challenges. According to a survey, 51 countries do not have enough urban area to meet a recommended nutritional target of 300 grams per person per day of fresh vegetables. Moreover, it estimated, urban agriculture would require 30% of the total urban area of those countries to meet global demand for vegetables. Land tenure issues and urban sprawl could make it hard to free up this much land for food production. Prof. Altieri explains, 'Although urban agriculture has promise, a small proportion of the food produced in cities is consumed by food-insecure, low-income communities. Many of the most vulnerable people have little access to land and lack the skills needed to design and tend productive gardens.' Cuban model of urban farming can be applied, where local urban farmers were trained to use well-tested agroecological methods to cultivate diverse vegetables, roots, tubers and herbs in relatively small spaces. In Cuba, over 300000 urban farms and gardens produce about 50% of the island's fresh produce supply, along with 39000 tons of meat and 216 million eggs. Most Cuban urban farmers reach yields of 44 pounds (20 kilograms) per square meter per year. Access to land and unaffordable water for irrigation are critical challenges for urban farming in US. Discounted water rates and land reforms specifically for urban farming can provide a boost to the concept. Prof. Altieri says, 'Cities have limited ability to deal with food issues within their boundaries, and many problems associated with food systems require action at the national and international level. However, city governments, local universities and nongovernment organizations can do a lot to strengthen food systems, including creating agroecological training programs and policies for land and water access. The first step is increasing public awareness of how urban farming can benefit modern cities.' Read on...

The Conversation: How urban agriculture can improve food security in US cities
Author: Miguel Altieri


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 24 oct 2019

Concrete is a preferred material, second-most used (about 22 billion ton annually), in the building and construction industry. But, it is also second-largest emitter of Carbon dioxide, as cement manufacturing accounts for 5-7% of annual emissions. According to Lucy Rodgers of BBC News, 'If the cement industry were a country, it would be the third-largest emitter in the world - behind China and the US.' In order to meet the requirements of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, annual cement emissions must fall by 16% by 2030. This situation brings concrete at the cusp of innovation, encouraging architects and scientists to experiment with concrete and help evolve its greener variants. Most innovations in this regard focus on reduction of cement in the concrete mix. MIT researchers developed an experimental method of manufacturing cement while eliminating CO2 emissions. Researchers at Lancaster University in the UK unveiled a novel approach of using nanoplatelets extracted from carrots and root vegetables to enhance concrete mixes. Dr. Sandra Manso-Blanco's approach of 'bioreceptive concrete' has structural concrete layered with materials to encourage the growth of CO2-absorbing moss and lichen. Another alternative mixture becoming mainstream in construction is GFRC (Glass Fiber Reinforced Concrete). The material consists of a mortar made of concrete, sand, alkali-resistant glass fiber and water. Plasticity is one of the main qualities of GFRC, enabling the molding of thinner and thus lighter façade pieces. Another novel approach to concrete used by Zaha Hadid Architects is 3D-knitted shell. Termed as KnitCandela, it is inspired by Spanish-Mexican architect and engineer Felix Candela's inventive concrete shell structures. The knitted fabric for KnitCandela was developed at ETH Zurich. ETH Zurich has been at the forefront of a number of innovations concerning concrete. With the intention of maximizing available space and avoiding steep construction costs, researchers from ETH Zurich's Department of Architecture have devised a concrete floor slab that with a thickness of a mere 2 cm, remains load-bearing and simultaneously sustainable. The institute also showcased the potential of robotically 3D printed concrete. Read on...

ArchDaily: What is the Future of Concrete in Architecture?
Author: Niall Patrick Walsh


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 sep 2019

To tackle complex issues facing the world like environment protection, peace building, human rights, poverty, hunger etc, requires coming together of people, organizations and governments to find solutions through sharing diverse ideas, collaborative efforts and pooled resources. Around the world various platforms are developed to provide just that. At Stanford Social Innovation Review's (SSIR) Nonprofit Management Institute 2019, leaders and experts from diverse fields converged to address the economic and emotional anxieties facing civil society leaders and shared advice for moving forward with confidence. Prof. Tyrone McKinley Freeman of Indiana University said, 'We must pull more people into the philanthropic circle.' Mayor Libby Schaaf of Oakland said, 'We have got to think big and be less afraid of losing something through collaboration.' Jeffrey Moore, Chief Strategy Officer of Independent Sector, said, 'We have to co-create everything with community.' Charlotte Pera, President & CEO of ClimateWorks, said, 'We have to work together in and across philanthropy, civil society, government, academia.' Mayor Michael Tubbs of Stockton said, 'Change in collaboration really only moves at the speed of trust.' Bradford Smith, President of Candid, said, 'Building those relationships will take more than nice memos about teaming up - try joint projects.' The event had various sessions and here are the highlights - (1) THE CHANGING FACE OF AMERICAN PHILANTHROPY: Kim Meredith, Executive Director of the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society, and Prof. Tyrone Freeman of Indiana University and co-author of 'Race, Gender, and Leadership in Nonprofit Organizations', discussed common myths of modern philanthropy, the true history of giving by minority groups in the US, and ideas on how to better connect with givers in anxious times. (2) MOVING FORWARD - MERGERS AS A GROWTH STRATEGY: David La Piana, Managing Partner of La Piana Consulting, Rinku Sen, a racial justice activist, author, and strategist, and Bradford Smith, President of Candid, discussed the upsides and risks of nonprofit mergers.' (3) VITAL BALANCE - INNOVATION AND SCALING FOR IMPACT IN THE SOCIAL SECTOR: Christian Seelos, co-author of the best-selling book 'Innovation and Scaling for Impact and co-director of the Global Innovation for Impact Lab at Stanford PACS, examined various 'innovation pathologies' that can derail organizations and 'innovation archetypes' - case study-based models that sidestep these threats, blending innovation with scaling. (4) LEVERAGING TALENT - THE POWER OF SKILLS-BASED VOLUNTEERING: Danielle Holly, CEO of Common Impact, Cecily Joseph, former VP of CSR at Symantec, and Greg Kimbrough, Lead Director of executive development at the Boys & Girls Club of America, shared insights gleaned from their experiences with volunteer programs. They talked about how can skills-based volunteering engage and strengthen your teams amid transitional, high-anxiety, or crisis situations. (5) ACHIEVING GREAT THINGS - THE ART AND SCIENCE OF ASPIRATIONAL COMMUNICATION: Doug Hattaway, President of Hattaway Communications, explored the best ways to use strategy, science, and storytelling to connect with an audience. (6) WORKING TOGETHER - HOW PUBLIC SECTOR AND NONPROFIT LEADERS CAN COLLABORATE TO TACKLE TOUGHEST CHALLENGES: Mayors Libby Schaaf of Oakland and Michael Tubbs of Stockton spoke with Autumn McDonald, Director of New America CA, about the best ways to build successful, mutually beneficial partnerships between local government and nonprofits. (7) TRUST, POWER, EQUITY - TELLING BETTER STORY TO OURSELVES AND THE WORLD: Jeffrey Moore, Chief Strategy Officer of Independent Sector, examined trends with the potential to restore the nonprofit sector's self-confidence and bring back the public's trust in it. (8) WEATHERING THE STORM - LESSONS ON EFFECTIVELY MANAGING THROUGH TOUGH TIMES: Maria Orozco, Principal of The Bridgespan Group, explored lessons from the last recession and drew from her organization's work in the years since to share insight on surviving and thriving in difficult times. (9) ACTIVATING AUDIENCES - PARTNERING BEYOND THE 'USUAL SUSPECTS' TO SPOTLIGHT SOCIAL ISSUES: Jessica Blank, a writer, director, actor, lecturer, and social innovator, Nicole Starr, VP for social impact at Participant Media, Marya Bangee, Executive Director of Harness, and Prof. Courtney Cogburn of Columbia University, discussed how storytelling can expand and accelerate social change and provided advice on how to wield narratives. (10) LEADING WITH PURPOSE - ACCEPTANCE, MINDFULNESS, AND SELF-COMPASSION: Leah Weiss, lecturer at Stanford GSB and the author of 'How We Work', described how to lead with acceptance and resilience using proven self-compassion and mindfulness techniques. (11) CLIMATE CHANGE - THE POWER OF TRANSCENDENT ISSUE TO MOTIVATE AND AFFECT REAL CHANGE: Larry Kramer, President of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and Charlotte Pera, President & CEO of ClimateWorks Foundation, discussed the impact of climate change on society and nonprofits. Read on...

Stanford Social Innovation Review: The Speed of Trust in an Anxious Era: Recap of the 2019 Nonprofit Management Institute
Authors: M. Amedeo Tumolillo, Barbara Wheeler-Bride


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 27 sep 2019

In the closing speech of United Nations Climate Action Summit 2019, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said, 'You understand that climate emergency is the fight of our lives, and for our lives. I thank young people around the world for leading the charge – and holding my generation accountable. We have been losing the race against climate crisis. But the world is waking up. Pressure is building. Momentum is growing. And - action by action - the tide is turning.' Not so long ago, Ernest Hemingway (Novelist and Nobel Laureate) said, 'The world is a fine place and worth fighting for and I hate very much to leave it.' And now the stern remarks of Swedish teenager, Greta Thunberg, in the UN Climate Summit resonated around the world and were call to action for governments, businesses and all those responsible. Although all humans have responsibility to maintain the environment, but along with governments, businesses have extra responsibility towards the upkeep of environment, particularly those that use natural resources or have direct impact on natural environment. So, what it takes to be a sustainable business? The answers are many and approaches different. In 1987, the United Nations Brundtland Commission defined sustainability as 'meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.' For businesses to be sustainable would require change in current practices and they come with a cost. They have to evolve strategies towards sustainability by taking all the stakeholders on board. Moreover, one's move to sustainability may impact the environment in some other way. So, there are challenges to attain sustainability. Here are 4 reasons why it's hard for businesses to be sustainable - (1) THERE IS NO SINGLE DEFINITION OF 'SUSTAINABILITY': UN's Mr. Guterres in the recent Summit sets the goal to completely transform the world's economies to be more sustainable and find solutions to climate change. A daunting task considering the slow pace governments and businesses have been moving in that direction so far. Geoffrey Jones, a business history professor at Harvard University and the author of 'Profits and Sustainability: A History of Green Entrepreneurship', says, 'There is a crippling vagueness about what sustainability means. While carbon emissions are receiving much of the focus because of climate change, deforestation, water shortages and soil erosion are also serious problems that should not be ignored.' Lack of clear definition translates to lack of accountability. At present few companies can provide hard evidence that their businesses are not negatively impacting environment. Socially responsible investment funds (Environmental, Social & Governance - ESG) often include oil & gas companies, and also those that have plastics as an essential component of their business model. Businesses are tryig but it is a long way to go before they become truly sustainable. (2) DETERMINING THE VALUE OF SUSTAINABILITY: Switch to sustainability is costly for businesses. Bruno Sarda, President of the Carbon Disclosure Project North America, says, 'Someone can come up with a cost of doing something different much more quickly than determining what is the value to the business.' Sustainability solutions can be complex and expensive. (3) CONSUMING LESS CAN REDUCE PROFITS: Experts suggest that less consumption is road to sustainability. But, it is contrary to the basics of businesses - more consumption, more profits. There are exceptions though. Doug Freeman, COO of Patagonia (an outdoor clothing and gear company), says, 'We hope our existing customers do indeed buy less. But we hope to attract more customers that are interested in our message: to build the best product, to reduce our impact and cause the least amount of environmental harm.' (4) CLIMATE SOLUTIONS REQUIRE COLLECTIVE ACTION: 'Tragedy of the commons', an economic problem, creates a situation of competitive consumption of natural resources thereby depleting them. To overcome this, collaboration and cooperation, is imperative. Companies are now teaming up with each other and with environmental nonprofits. Joanne Sonenshine, CEO of Connective Impact, says, 'By working together, companies gain more leverage in the national and global marketplace and legitimacy in the eyes of consumers. If you have a group of very respectable nonprofits or research agencies saying we are working with this company because we believe they can make a change, that puts a lot of credence behind what they are trying to do.' Read on...

PBS: 4 reasons it's hard to become a sustainable business
Author: Gretchen Frazee


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 aug 2019

According to Wikipedia, 'Place branding (including place marketing and place promotion) is a new umbrella term encompassing nation branding, region branding and city branding. Place branding is the process of image communication to a target market. It is invariably related to the notion that places compete with other places for people, resources, and business...A place brand is a network of associations in the place consumers' mind based on the visual, verbal, and behavioral expression of a place and its' stakeholders. These associations differ in their influence within the network and in importance for the place consumers' attitude and behavior (Erik Braun, Sebastian Zenker; 2017). It therefore aims to affect the perceptions of a place and position it favourably in the minds of the target groups. Place branding can even be considered as a governance strategy for projecting images and managing perceptions about places (Erik Braun, Jasper Eshuis, Erik-Hans Klijn; 2014).' Bill Baker, veteran place brander and author of the recent book, 'Place Branding for Small Cities, Regions and Downtowns: The Essentials for Successful Destinations', while speeking with Bobby McGill, founder and publisher of Branding in Asia, shares insights based on his long experience in destination marketing and tourism development. Mr. Baker says, 'Tourism can play a very positive role as part of an economic development strategy. However, locations around the world are recognizing that there is the need for a tourism masterplan to balance the marketing of the destination with the need for sustainable and harmonious development to meet community values and aspirations while meeting the needs of external audiences.' Explaing some of the mistakes in place branding, he says, 'The most common mistake or weakness that we see in place branding very often relates to positioning. Defining the brand position for a city, downtown or region is, without a doubt, the most important and trickiest part of the entire process. If they don't get this part right, everything else will miss its mark, since it's the positioning and its relevance to target audiences that informs and shapes all other elements of the brand. Compounding this is the challenge of dealing with the many competing voices of stakeholders.' He also cautions, 'Place branding can be a perilous journey. Some do a great job with defining their brand identity, but soon falter or fail when it comes to deployment and brand management, and the consistency needed to follow the agreed strategy. Others are unable to sustain the leadership, funding, personnel, and partner enthusiasm required to succeed...Our experiences have shown that a lack of understanding about branding, particularly among key decision-makers can be the Waterloo or graveyard for a place branding initiative. Unless staff and committees can get beyond thinking in terms of logos and taglines, or mistaking a snappy campaign theme, then their efforts to define and deploy a genuine, unifying place brand will likely fail.' Regarding the book, he says, 'The focus of my book is on smaller cities and regions, and their focus may not be on tourism alone. Instead, their brand development may be centered on an overarching brand to embrace tourism, economic development, education, relocation and inward investment. Developing an overarching brand often brings to the table many participants who may not be familiar with branding, or in some cases, marketing.' He suggests, 'A multitude of stakeholders will be, or at least should be, involved in revealing a city or downtown brand, and this will depart from the accepted path for branding corporate products and services. One reason for this variation is the composite nature of places. They are a compilation of many independent and competing businesses, products, and experiences that are owned and managed by many different entities. There's no single custodian or owner of the brand. Community leaders who are aware of the differences in branding places and consumer goods are in a much better space to adapt to these challenges when they become evident...One of the leading determiners regarding who will lead the effort comes down to who is funding the project. Place branding frequently involves a single source of funding...Economic development organizations and DMOs (Direct Marketing Organizations) are usually the best-situated entities to plan, coordinate, and manage a place branding initiative...Determining the lead organization can involve balancing acts...Hence, the calls for DMOs to broaden their roles within communities and bring all parties together.' Read on...

Branding in Asia: Q&A: Insights from Veteran Place Branding Guru Bill Baker
Author: Bobby McGill


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 26 aug 2019

Research study, 'Onboard Evolution of Understandable Swarm Behaviors', published in Advanced Intelligent Systems by researchers from University of Bristol (Simon Jones, Sabine Hauert) and University of the West of England (Alan F. Winfield, Matthew Studley), brings development of a new generation of swarming robots which can independently learn and evolve new behaviours in the wild a step closer. Researchers used artificial evolution to enable the robots to automatically learn swarm behaviours which are understandable to humans. This could create new robotic possibilities for environmental monitoring, disaster recovery, infrastructure maintenance, logistics and agriculture. This new approach uses a custom-made swarm of robots with high-processing power embedded within the swarm. In most recent approaches, artificial evolution has typically been run on a computer which is external to the swarm, with the best strategy then copied to the robots. Prof. Jones says, 'Human-understandable controllers allow us to analyse and verify automatic designs, to ensure safety for deployment in real-world applications.' Researchers took advantage of the recent advances in high-performance mobile computing, to build a swarm of robots inspired by those in nature. Their 'Teraflop Swarm' has the ability to run the computationally intensive automatic design process entirely within the swarm, freeing it from the constraint of off-line resources. Prof. Hauert says, 'This is the first step towards robot swarms that automatically discover suitable swarm strategies in the wild. The next step will be to get these robot swarms out of the lab and demonstrate our proposed approach in real-world applications.' Prof. Winfield says, 'In many modern AI systems, especially those that employ Deep Learning, it is almost impossible to understand why the system made a particular decision...An important advantage of the system described in this paper is that it is transparent: its decision making process is understandable by humans.' Read on...

Engineering.com: Robots Learn Swarm Behaviors, Aim to Escape the Lab
Author: NA


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 13 aug 2019

Social enterprises tackle societal and environmental issues utilizing business concepts for the larger interest of the society and reinvest profits back to sustain themselves. They support in building inclusive economy. According to the most recent statistics, there are around 5600 social enterprises in Scotland with an economic contribution of around £2 billion, ranging from community co-operatives to housing associations, enterprising charities and more. Duncan Thorp, policy and communications manager at Social Enterprise Scotland, explains how social enterprises are contributing to Scotland's economy and advocates collaborations between them and private sector for greater economic and social benefits. He explains why engaging social enterprises with private sector is win-win - 'Firstly, social failure is bad for business. Unemployment, homelessness, drug addiction and other issues negatively impact on businesses. People without work and opportunity don't have money to spend on goods and services. Social enterprises work at the frontline to solve these social problems. Private sector businesses should also engage with social enterprises because they bring real benefit in terms of opening up new markets and new business opportunities. Joint bids for public contracts and similar partnership working are options too. Businesses can contract social enterprises into their supply chains. This could be a catering contract, graphic design, meeting space hire or something else. It's also about private sector employees volunteering in social enterprises, in a skills exchange, for learning and personal development.' He advocates three key areas of partnership work - consumer demand, supply chains and contracting and procurement. He suggests that building mutually beneficial relationships between social enterprises and private sector businesses paves the way for knowledge exchange, positively influencing business culture and build an economy that benefits all. Read on...

The Scotsman: Social enterprise is good for business - Duncan Thorp
Author: Duncan Thorp


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 09 jul 2019

Landscape design needs to be both functional and artistic. Landscape professional should work towards embodying these elements for beautiful gardens and lawn creations. Here are few ideas to bring art and aesthetics in landscape design - Irrespective of the size of landscaping, massing serves an artistic purpose. Massing is basically grouping of one kind plant species in one big section. It provides good visual impact and also brings balance and proportion to the landscape. Massing plants together helps create texture, form, larger pops of color and it can reduce maintenance in some situations. Incorporating vertical and horizontal layers can provide unique look to massing. Proportioning is also a critical component of garden design if the space has a pool, patio, outdoor kitchen or other similar structure, as their size must fit accordingly with the size of the house; While working with smaller spaces accentuate long views across the garden, as this will help add a greater sense of depth to the area. Instead of creating paths that haphazardly wind around, consider keeping the pathways in one continuous, straight line, as this will help emphasize the garden's length and create more dramatic focal points at each end; Experts suggest use of native or indegenous plants as they would be more resistant to pests and more durable; Landscape lighting also plays an important role as gardens can be utilized in evening. Eliminate hot spots as these will make the lighting look unnatural. Utilize lighting to highlight features in the landscape that should be accentuated, which will also let less important aspects fade into the background; For tiny garden area go vertical. Smaller gardens will feel larger if eyes can be drawn up and over the neighboring fence. Take advantage of vertical gardens along the fence line, running up an arbor or trellis or stretching upward on a brick wall/side of the house. Read on...

Total Landscape Care: More than meets the eye: The artistry behind landscape designs
Author: Beth Hyatt


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 20 mar 2019

Financial crisis of 2008 in US became a catalyst for the 'Tiny House' movement. Environmental considerations are also reasons for the popularity of the concept. Tiny house is typically 100 and 400 ft². Modular housing is also gaining ground in the construction world driven by lower costs, more predictability, and a shortage of construction workers. Italian architect Beatrice Bonzanigo is preparing to showcase her miniature house 'Casa Ojalá' in April. Casa Ojalá is a self-contained modular home design, measuring only 27 m² (290 ft²). The circular home can be arranged in 20 different ways by adjusting wooden partitions and fabric walls with built-in ropes, pulleys and cranks. Ms. Bonzanigo says, 'It’s designed to have a minimal impact on the environment around it, and the woods and fabrics used in its manufacture can vary depending on where it is built, for maximum sustainability. Explaining her design she says, 'Ojalá is a word that summarizes the concept of infinite possibilities, hopes related to emptiness and absence, intuition, a key of a door not yet open, a new field of existence, a telescope that brings together and moves horizons, a space of different possibilities and, therefore, a wish that comes true.' Read on...

Engineering.com: Self-Sufficient "Micro-Home" Will Join Milan Design Week
Author: Emily Pollock


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 11 feb 2019

According to the research by Prof. Elizabeth A. Minton from University of Wyoming, Prof. Kathryn A. Johnson from Arizona State University and Prof. Richie L. Liu from Oklahoma State University, 'Religiosity and special food consumption: The explanatory effects of moral priorities', published in Journal of Business Research, people with strong religious beliefs are more likely to buy fat-free, sugar-free or gluten-free foods than natural or organic foods. The research could influence the marketing of those specialty food products. Prof. Minton says, 'Religion is the deepest set of core values people can have, and we wanted to explore how those values impacted the market choices people make. We found religiosity influenced the selection of more diet-minded foods...' The study was carried out online and included responses from over 1700 people across the U.S. Prof. Johnson says, 'Often, people make intuitive decisions about food that could require more careful thought. People might make choices based on a cultural narrative or their religious and moral beliefs, without giving measured thought to whether there is a better option.' According to the research, the moral foundation of care drives the choice of sustainability-minded food products, and the moral foundation of purity is behind the choice of diet-minded foods. Prof. Liu says, 'The findings from our work can directly help businesses promote food products to specific groups of people without potentially alienating customers by including religion.' Read on...

University of Wyoming News: UW Researcher: Religion Affects Consumer Choices on Specialty Foods
Author: Chad Baldwin


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 15 jan 2019

According to the recent report published by the British Council and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), 'Developing an Inclusive and Creative Economy: The state of social enterprise in Indonesia', millenials are leading a surge in the creation of business that are working to create positive social and environmental impact. More than 70% of a surveyed sample group mentions that the social enterprises started in the last two years and about 50% of the social entrepreneurs are aged between 25 and 34 years. The reports estimates that there are more than 342000 social enterprises in the region. In Indonesia more than 1/5th of social enterprises work in the creative industries, contrary to other countries in Aisa-Pacific region, such as the Philippines, Sri Lanka and India, where agriculture, education and health dominate. Ari Susanti, a senior program manager for the British Council in Indonesia, says, 'Many young people want to work in an area where they can make change, not just earn a salary.' According to the World Bank, Indonesia is an emerging middle-income country that, over the last 20 years, has seen growth in GDP at the same time as poverty has been cut in half. These conditions are enabling the growth of social enterprises. Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, executive secretary of UNESCAP, says, 'UN body would support the development of social enterprise as a key means of building an inclusive and creative economy. Social enterprise is an opportunity for Indonesia...This report provides a solid evidence base to inform future policies and strategies.' These social enterprises mainly support and benefit local communities, women and young people. Moreover, they have also become a substantial source of employment - the number of full-time workers employed by social enterprises increased by 42% from 2016 to 2017. The rise in social enterprises is also proving good for gender equality - the social enterprise workforce is estimated to be made up of 69% women and is responsible for a 99% increase of full-time female employees in 2016-17. Government, corporations and universities have all come together to offer their support to social enterprises. Bambang P. S. Brodjonegoro, economist and the Minister of National Development Planning of Indonesia, wrote in the introduction of the report, 'The government aims to be an active partner of social entrepreneurs and is committed to continue building and nurturing the social entrepreneurship ecosystem.' Read on...

Pioneers Post: Millennials lead social enterprise surge in Indonesia
Author: Lee Mannion


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 sep 2018

There are many components of exterior and landscape design for buildings. One such component is the retaining wall with the basic purpose of holding back earth. In addition to functionality, they also expand the usable surface area. Aesthetics of these walls is also an important aspect. There are mainly two things to be kept in mind while designing retaining walls. One is the type of material to be used and the other is the use of the land. Traditional materials used were railroad ties, found stone and treated landscape timber. But nowadays bricks, concrete blocks, poured concrete and steel are added to the list. Environmental friendliness is also important while choosing materials. Aesthetics and functionality should go hand in hand. Design of the front of the wall should be in line with the overall exterior design of the building and land should be effectively and beautifully used with each element appropriately fitted. Garden wall, also called screen wall, is a type of retaining wall used to enclose a garden. It is often used to created a tiered or terraced garden. There are multipe ways in which a garden wall can be designed to provide an elegant addition to home design - wall of flowers and shrubbery, next to a pool or patio, outside a home's garden window etc. Read on...

myAJC: Choosing the right retaining wall for your landscape
Author: NA

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