My Uzi Weighs A Ton

Posted in new paradigms

photo via: herr schulze

I love the incongruity of artist Oliver Schulze’s giant timber skateboard deck. It’s completely, and intentionally absurd, yet at the same time, I think that a lot of the good ideas that our world needs to solve problems are going to come from visions that seem absurd at first, and yet, are so different that they suggest new ways of looking at our problems and different means for finding solutions.

I also think that artists, in general, are incredibly valuable at generating the ideas and objects that force us to take another look at our world, and beyond that, creating sustainable value and values for the places where they work and live. Feed the artists and you feed the world? That sounds like a good idea to me.


Posted in green world, new paradigms

photo via: olle cornéer

I love Swedish artists’ Olle Cornéer and Martin Lübcke project to turn the grooves of a plowed field into the grooves of an enormous record.

Check out the sound it makes:

At first the sound is squeaky and annoying but if you can keep listening it takes on a distinct mysterious character – a communion between man and earth that is very interesting.

Regardless of whether or not the actual sound works for you, I think it is valuable to go beyond just looking at our earth, and try to listen to the song she sings.

Gift Card Giver

Posted in charitable giving

Gift cards have turned into a $60 billion dollar industry. Approx 10-15% of gift cards are never redeemed – that’s $600-$900 million dollars that is not being spent – a gift back to the gift card issuers, which is probably why they love them! is an effort to harness that unspent money for good causes. Send your unused or partially used giftcards to them, and they’ll ensure your gift card gets to people who can really use it.

You’ll probably get 1 or 2 gift cards this holiday season. If you do, check through your wallet to see if you have any old gift cards, and send them off to

It’s a good idea.

The Living Principles

Posted in green world, sustainable design, towards a better world

The Living Principles is a comprehensive site that aims to “co-create, share and showcase best practices, tools, stories and ideas for enabling sustainable action across all design disciplines.”

It’s got a nice resource section, and overall seems like the “go to” place if you are starting out in sustainable design (particularly as a graphic designer), and a helpful and supportive community for growth if you are already involved in the field.

Edible Walls

Posted in green world

Interesting overview of developments and progress in “edible walls” – vertical planting systems that can be used to grow food in the tight environs of outdoor urban space, and often provide added benefit of providing insulation to a building that can reduce heating and cooling costs. I am all for ideas that make the urban environment (literally) greener.

The Perfect Box

Posted in green world

I love this idea – designer Patrick Sung has developed a Universal Packaging System that allows pre-scored cardboard to be folded into just the shape you need to pack your goods without wasting space or packing material. A perfect invention for a world where shopping is increasingly being done online.

[via fast company]

Pee Poop

Posted in health, the developing world, towards a better world

photo via: design observer

Design Observer has a nice write-up on the “Pee Poop” bag – a “single-use, biodegradable container for human waste”.

Sanitation is one of the largest problems for the world’s poor. According to the statistics provided on the peepoo website a child dies every 15 seconds due to contaminated water- this field-tested bag provides a US$.05 cent solution. Which is probably too expensive for most of the world’s poor, but perhaps government subsidies could bridge the gap.

Two great things about the bag: 1. It doesn’t smell for 24 hours after use, so you have time to get it to a place for final disposal, and 2. The liner has a thin layer urea treated gauze which in the course of four weeks turns the waste into useable fertilizer.

On the minus side, it also brings good typography into normally chaotically vernacular third world settings which is bound to have the unintended consequence over time of bag users associating clean and hygenic sans serif typefaces with shit and piss.

One also wonders if a government might choose the relatively inexpensive bags over the proper sanitation system, and thus delay a long term solution via this short term fix.

Every time you solve one problem, a new one pops up.

Urban Vertical Parks

Posted in green world
aerial image of namba parks in osaka

Namba Parks - Osaka, Japan

I love the idea of parks infiltrating the heights and densities of the urban environment – it’s wonderful to imagine that an individual on the 10th floor of a nearby skyscraper could look over and see trees growing at and even above his eye level.

Right now, skyscrapers are both protective shells and complex life support system for human beings that spend most of their day far above the ground. Wouldn’t it be great if various design and ecological imperatives encouraged making tall buildings into exterior life support systems as well?  Imagine structures that could act like enormous trellises and niches that would  allow the rest of the urban green ecosystem to begin ascending the same heights business people and birds have long shared.

I wonder if the simple act of looking at trees everyday, and birds, and other greenery might increase the relative importance of ecological considerations when making economic decisions?  It just seems that it is easier to ignore or forget these considerations if all one sees looking out one’s office window is glass, steel, concrete, and asphalt.

At the least, vertical parks such as 2009’s Namba Parks (shown above) have the potential for increasing the commercial value and  attractiveness of  properties.  It will be interesting to see if they prove viable over the long run from both an economic and ecological perspective.