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Bridging the gap between compassion and technology


Krista Tippett is a journalist and host of the National Public Radio program "On Being", which explores the great questions of human life, such as what does it mean to be human and how do we want to live? Two years ago he gave a TED talk at the United Nations called "Reconnecting with Compassion". The term "compassion" - typically reserved for the saintly or the sappy - has fallen out of touch with reality. Krista Tippett deconstructs the meaning of compassion through several moving stories, and proposes a new, more attainable definition for the word.

"Compassion is a spiritual technology. Humanity needs this technology as much as it needs all other technologies that have now connected us and set before us the terrifying and wondrous possibility of actually becoming one human race," explains Krista Tippett.

Compassion is often misunderstood in modern society. Although compassion can be similar to empathy and pity, those words are not its synonyms. In fact, compassion goes far beyond simply feeling another person’s misfortune or sharing in one’s suffering. Compassion is a word which is directly related to awareness. One’s awareness of the world gives him or her the opportunity to empathize with other beings… and actually do something about it. Krista Tippett gives the example of Albert Einstein as a person who not only had compassion for other people, but he served humanity through his exploration of technology.

"Compassion is a spiritual technology." - Krista Tippett

Why does technology exist? Some people argue that technology is developed out of greed. There is no real evidence to support that claim. Most technology comes out of one’s compassion to solve problems. This is self-evident in things like the paperclip. The person who invented the paperclip named Samuel Fay must have realized that his invention saved time. As he connected fabrics to tickets which denoted either prices or other product information, Samuel must have realized something. There is a moment in the inventor’s mind where one thinks, “This technological idea has value.” When one decides to share technology with the world, he or she is embarking on a journey of compassion.

"Compassion is kindness, practicing curiosity without assumptions, empathy, forgiveness, presence, generosity, hospitality, and a willingness to see beauty not just what we see in another that needs fixing. Compassion also brings us into the territory of mystery - encouraging us not just to see beauty, but perhaps also to look for the face of God in the moment of suffering, in the face of a stranger, in the face of the vibrant religious other. Compassion is a sign of deeper human possibilities."

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The Story of Solutions


The Story of Solutions, a new video from Annie Leonard, explores how we can move our economy in a more sustainable and just direction, starting with orienting ourselves toward a new goal.

In the current "Game of More", we're told to cheer a growing economy -- more roads, more malls, more Stuff! -- even though our health indicators are worsening, income inequality is growing and polar icecaps are melting. But what if we changed the point of the game? What if the goal of our economy wasn't more, but better -- better health, better jobs, and a better chance to survive on the planet? Shouldn't that be what winning means?

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3D Printers for Peace Contest


A unique contest was held to show that 3D printers could be a tool for peace. Michigan Technological University's Open Sustainability Technology (MOST) Lab and 3D printer manufacturer Type A Machines came up with a contest for designs that encourage peace. The deadline for submissions was September 1, 2013, for a chance to win a fully assembled Type A Machines Series 1 3D Printer for first place. As the contest explains, "Winning open-source designs will discourage conflict. Designers are encouraged to consider: If Mother Theresa or Ghandi had access to 3D printing what would they print? What kind of designs could help reduce military spending and conflict while making us all safer and more secure?"

The examples given of possible designs were low-cost medical devices, tools to help pull people out of poverty, designs that can reduce racial conflict, objects to improve energy efficiency or renewable energy sources to reduce wars over oil, tools that would reduce military conflict and spending while making us all safer and more secure, and things that boost sustainable economic development (e.g. designs for appropriate technology in the developing world to reduce scarcity).

The winners were announced yesterday, and first prize went to John Van Tuyl of Hamilton, Ontario. He created a design for beads that show immunizations, called VaxBeads. The plastic beads act as an immediate immunization record for medical professionals....

First Prize: 3D printed Immunization Records

The contest was organized by Michigan Tech’s Joshua Pearce, an associate professor of materials science, who had become alarmed that 3D printing was known primarily as a technology for making homemade guns. “We wanted to celebrate designs that will make lives better, not snuff them out,” said Pearce, a 3D printing aficionado. “They showcase the ability of the 3D printing community to benefit humanity.”

“What I’m hoping this does is change the conversation to start really thinking about the constructive uses of 3D printers, not just on manufacturing, but trying to solve some of the most pressing problems, particularly in the developing world,” said contest creator Joshua Pearce. “All the open-source entries demonstrated the technical ability and promise of low-cost 3D printers to provide for humanity’s needs and advance the cause of peace.”

"Michigan Tech has already saved tens of thousands of dollars using 3D printable scientific and engineering equipment and our labs have developed 3D printable tools to test water quality, recycle waste plastic, and found that 3D printing consumer goods is better for the environment than shipping conventional goods from China."

All the entries are posted on the website Thingiverse.com, which now has over 146,000 open-source designs that can be downloaded for free and printed by anyone with a 3D printer. As Pearce says, "3D printing is changing the world." ...

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Buckminster Fuller Institute has a contest to redraw the Dymaxion Map


The Dymaxion Map is an iconic design that shows accurate information and supports a global perspective. The idea being that if you change the way you see the world, then you can change the world.

Buckminster Fuller's Dymaxion Map

Buckminster Fuller's Dymaxion Map

The Dymaxion Map was created by Buckminster Fuller in the 1940’s to accurately map the earth with no visible distortion to land masses, no political boundaries, and no western bias in its orientation. It was first printed in Life magazine in 1943, where map could be cut out from the printed pages and arranged in numerous ways. Fuller later settled on a permanent configuration, an icosahedron that broke up none of the land masses and showed the planet as one island in one ocean. The final map is a series of 20 interconnected triangles, which can be arranged to produce an icosahedron, reminiscent of Fuller’s geodesic dome geometries.

To celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Dymaxion Map, the Buckminster Fuller Institute launched a graphic design challenge, to take the Dymaxion into a contemporary context. The contest was called DYMAX REDUX, and was an open call to create a new and inspiring interpretation of Buckminster Fuller's Dymaxion Map. The contest was judged by graphic designer Nicholas Felton, artist Mary Mattingly, and Dymaxion Map cartographer and Bucky's close friend and associate, Shoji Sadao. The winner of the DYMAX REDUX contest would have the winning design produced as a poster, and along with the other ten finalists will be featured at an exhibition at the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, in New York City from October 22nd to November 27th, 2013. They received over 300 submissions from 42 countries. "This was the first contest of its kind organized by BFI, and the response and interest has been amazing. We are thrilled to have such a high-level of submissions and look forward to doing more similar initiatives in the future" says BFI Executive Director Elizabeth Thompson.

On August 6th, they announced the winners of the contest. The top design was called Dymaxion Woodocean World. It was produced by Nicole Santucci and Woodcut Maps, from San Francisco, California.  Nicole and her team created a display of global forest densities, an ever-increasing important issue with the continued abuses of deforestation. And an actual woodcut version of the map was made in the process, using the very subject matter as building material, allowing the 2-D version to transform into an icosahedral globe. As BFI Store Coordinator Will Elkins put it, "They went above and beyond our call by creating a powerful display of relevant information using the subject matter itself as a medium. The idea, craftsmanship, and end result are stunning."

Dymaxion Woodocean World

Dymaxion Woodocean World

Dymaxion Woodocean World folded together


The second prize went to the Clouds Dymaxion Map, which follows the spirit of the original map. Anne-Gaelle Amiot used NASA satellite imagery to create this absolutely beautiful hand-drawn depiction of a reality that is almost always edited from our maps: cloud patterns circling above Earth. Anne-Gaelle describes the idea and process, "One of the particularism of Buckminster Fuller's Dymaxion projection is to give the vision of an unified world. From the space, the Earth appears to us covered, englobed by the cloud masses which circulate around it. By drawing a static image, capture of clouds position in one particular moment, the sensation of a whole is created. The result have the aspect of an abstract pattern, a huge melt where it is impossible to dissociate lands, seas, oceans."

And an additional recognition went to Map of My Family, a map by Goeff Chritou. His map traces the geographic history of his family, and by extension all families, utilizing lines of movement around the planet. "This map makes the best use of the Dymaxion projection, by highlighting information that is primarily land-based and allowing for the paths to extend in an unbroken fashion throughout the world," explained judge Nicholas Felton. ...


In these changing times, it's important to always ask... What would Bucky do?

What would Bucky do?



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Musicians unite for peace in Mali


Fed up with the violent conflict that has recently engulfed their country, musicians in the west African nation of Mali have come together to call for peace. More than 40 of Mali's most talented musicians gathered in the capitol city of Bamako to record a song for peace and unity called "Mali Ko" (which means "For Mali"). They collectively call themselves the Voices United for Mali.

The song's lyrics state, "It is time for us artists to speak about our Mali. Malians, let us join hands because this country is not a country of war. Dont forget that we are all of the same blood. The only way out of this crisis is the way of peace." ...

"War has never been a solution," the lyrics say. "We don't want war! Not in our Mali! War destroys everything in its path. We want peace. Peace in Africa! Peace in the world!"

Cultures of Resistance attended Mali's legendary Festival in the Desert in 2009, and produced a short video called "Playing for Peace in the Sahara". They describe how "in the Malian desert, musicians meet to build mutual respect by sharing cultures. Artists share their music and dance to emphasize what they have in common, rather than what separates them. This short film highlights the event's approach to promoting cross-cultural expression as a means of overcoming the threat of divisive conflict."

"When you have peace, you have everything."

The 2013 edition of the Festival in the Desert will be a touring Caravan of Peace, called the Festival in the Desert in Exile. It will be a caravan of artists promoting peace and national unity in Mali, travelling from Mauritania to Mali and onto the Tuareg refugee camps in Burkina Faso. The caravan will last from February 7th to March 6th 2013....

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The world's largest festival

The largest gathering of humanity is taking place in northern India, a unique event that blends religious and cultural features, in an atmosphere saturated with the scent of burning incense, and the sound of chiming bells, Vedic hymns and mantras, and the beating of countless drums. More than 100 million people are expected to attend the two month festival and bathe in the waters of the Ganges River. For more than 2,000 years, the festival has been the main meeting point for the Hindu sadhus or holy men, giving people the opportunity to meet with the devotees of the various religious orders, and learn from the many religious teachers and spiritual masters....

In 2001, the last time the Kumbh Mela took place, more than 40 million people gathered in an area smaller than 7.7 sq. miles (or slightly larger than San Francisco). This year they are expecting over twice that number, making it the largest gathering of humanity ever held. Yet in spite of all the people and chaos, it is a peaceful event.

Psychologists from St. Andrews, Dundee, and Lancaster Universities in the UK, along with several Indian institutions, completed a study in 2007 into Kumbh Mela in Allahabad. What they found along the banks of the Ganges River overturned many long-held beliefs about crowd behavior. Professor Steve Reicher, of St. Andrews, stated that "the mela is much more than a wonderful spectacle. It promises to unlock the secrets of how large communities can live together in harmony".

The Kumbh Mela brings together the equivalent of over 20 times the population of the entire Bay Area in one place, yet there is virtually no disorder, crushes, or rioting. And even though people at the festival came from very different castes and social backgrounds, there was a strong sense of common identity. This positive outlook stemmed from a lack of the "them-and-us psychology" which is often at the root of social conflict.

Dr. Clare Cassidy, from St. Andrews University, explained that "many people argue crowds are bad for you. But in the Mela we found that people become more generous, more supportive, and more orderly rather than less. This is the opposite of a 'walk-on-by society', it is a community where people are attentive to the needs of strangers."...

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21st century art festivals


"Twenty-first-century arts festivals ask the audience to be a player, rather than a passive spectator," says David Binder, a Tony award-winning theater producer. In his TED Talk earlier this year, he explains the new face of arts festivals, which break the boundary between audience and performer and help communities express themselves, something we've been doing for 13 years, with the 21st century festival we call How Weird. The How Weird Street Faire is an experiment in creating peace, in bringing strangers together and enabling them to form a common bond of understanding and appreciation.

"Festivals promote diversity, they bring neighbors into dialogue, they increase creativity, they offer opportunities for civic pride, they improve our general psychological well-being." As Binder explains, "Artists are explorers. Who better to show us a city anew?"


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A United Nations of Music

What happens when you bring together 32 musicians from 21 countries on 5 continents, almost equally divided between men and women, to write, produce and record original music and take it on the road for American audiences? That was the idea behind OneBeat, a new international cultural exchange that celebrates the transformative power of the arts through the creation of original, inventive music, and people-to-people diplomacy....

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Diplomacy Through Music

"Some might ask 'What difference can a folk singer from the Blue Ridge Mountains make in a tortured place like Afghanistan?' It's a valid question — partly answered by one of the State Department officers who said our visit did 'more for diplomacy between Afghanistan and the United States than any diplomat had done, more then any road that was built, or any power plant that was constructed in the last year.' Because of music we were reaching people at a level you don’t usually reach," explains Peyton Tochterman, the U.S. folk singer who became an unlikely cultural ambassador.

"If nothing else, we are returning home reassured that music really is a universal language that can unite diverse peoples. We have proven to ourselves and others, there are no borders for good music. We are all connected through music and we must continue to celebrate this connection, this language that is so important not just to our own culture, but also to cultures around this fascinating world of ours." ...

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The power of music


A new documentary called Alive Inside explores the healing power of music. The film, which premiers this week in New York City, looks at the mysterious way music functions inside our brains and our lives.

Alive Inside follows Dan Cohen, executive director of the non-profit Music and Memory, as he brings iPods to a nursing home. The transformation in barely responsive, seemingly lost patients was remarkable. As seen in the clip below, the music worked like a jolt of electricity for patients, transporting them back in time and even allowing them to speak energetically after the music had ended....

"Music gives me the feeling of love."

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Friends Without Borders


The direct exchange between Israelis and Iranians reminded me of the work of Friends Without Borders, a peace campaign created to encourage cross-border friendships in conflict zones, building connections directly between people. It's original focus was a massive letter writing campaign between children in India and Pakistan, which became the largest peace effort in both India and Pakistan's history. As they explain, "Children have a natural instinct toward friendship and will jump to reach out and create new friends, when given the opportunity. The simple act of writing a letter leaves deep and lasting impressions that help to humanize 'the other.' These are the seeds that promise to mature into a safer, friendlier world."

Here is an inspiring short film about the history of Friends Without Borders and the enormous impact it has had both in India and Pakistan. It serves as a model for building peace, using the natural goodness of children and the power to connect through letters and the internet...

Friends Without Borders is a new approach to world peace. All across India, tens of thousands of children have been writing heartfelt letters to the students in Pakistan. And all across Pakistan, tens of thousands of children are replying with heartfelt letters back. New connections are being made. New friendships are being formed. It's an amazing story, which features the World's Largest Love Letter and an epic peace concert on the border of India and Pakistan....

Countries have borders, friends don't.

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Loving the "enemy"


"To the Iranian people, to all the fathers, mothers, children, brothers and sisters, for there to be a war between us, first we must be afraid of each other, we must hate. I'm not afraid of you, I don't hate you. I don't even know you."

That was the beginning of a letter to the Iranian people by two Israeli graphic designers. Fed up with the growing hysteria over a possible war between their countries, Ronny Edri and Michal Tamir, a couple from Tel Aviv, decided to take matters into their own hands and reach out directly to the Iranian people on behalf of the Israeli people. The Israeli people do not want a war, as recent polls have confirmed, and it appears that the majority of Iranian people do not want war either.

It all started when Ronny and Michal partnered with a small preparatory design school called Pushpin Mehina, and uploaded posters to its Facebook page of themselves with their children above the message, "Iranians, we will never bomb your country, we love you."...

"So I thought, Why not try to reach the other side; to bypass the generals and see if Iranians really hate me?"

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Free energy

"Free Energy" is the first release of a series of viral music videos produced by Elevate, featuring the conscious hip-hop band Luminaries. The series intends to bring awareness to globally significant issues and solutions. "Free Energy" was produced in conjunction with Pachamama Alliance. Elevate’s mission is to utilize the awesome power of art and media to celebrate and elevate the human experience....

It is "time to gather round. The moments now!
How will it all turn out?"

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Peace Through Literature


Raul Lemesoff, an artist from Argentina, converted a former military vehicle into a mobile library whose weapons are books. The modified 1979 Ford Falcon holds around 900 books and resembles a tank. His "Weapon of Mass Instruction", or "Arma De Instrucción Masiva" (ADIM) in Spanish, became very popular. Raul often cruises the streets of Buenos Aires and other towns and villages, as well as travelling throughout the country, sometimes visiting areas with no access to education or books. He has built a second vehicle, and a third which he brought to The Hague in Holland.

The Weapon of Mass Instruction contributes to peace and understanding of people through literacy.

On his website, Raul explains that the Weapon of Mass Instruction is a mobile sculpture that carries books and gives them away for free. The ability to transport allows them to receive donations of books from anywhere and bring them to anywhere. Small quantities of donated books are added to the vehicle, while large quantities are given to schools and communities throughout South America. Raul describes the vehicle as a "contribution to peace through literature." ...

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Remaining awake through a great revolution

The following is from a sermon by Martin Luther King that was delivered at the National Cathedral, Washington, D.C., on 31 March 1968. It is even more relevant today...

There can be no gainsaying of the fact that a great revolution is taking place in the world today. In a sense it is a triple revolution: that is, a technological revolution, with the impact of automation and cybernation; then there is a revolution in weaponry, with the emergence of atomic and nuclear weapons of warfare; then there is a human rights revolution, with the freedom explosion that is taking place all over the world. Yes, we do live in a period where changes are taking place. And there is still the voice crying through the vista of time saying, "Behold, I make all things new; former things are passed away."...

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