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Environment

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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