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SEPTEMBER 22, 2012

Mapping The Future Of Education Technology If it’s true that 65% of today’s grade school students will work in jobs that don’t exist yet, then we better get ready for some drastically different learning environments. Add this massive infographic to the recent discussion of futuristic dorms and what education will look like in 2020--and beyond. Designed by Michell Zappa’s Envisioning Technology (which also created that fantastic interactive infographic mapping the future of technology), this chart maps innovations in education technology for the next few decades.


U.S. Cities Unify Their Data To Make All Cities Smarter has opened up a new section for municipal data, so you can find out how much money mayors make or, more helpfully, create apps or programs to help make city life easier. Chicago, Seattle, New York, and San Francisco are now in one place., the federal government’s warehouse for public data, has opened its doors to America’s major cities at  READ MORE...

Give a seed. Grow a community.

Empower Africa! Imagine on June 14, 2012

We’re raising $20k to help rural communities in Zambia grow moringa crops so they can earn money and improve their nutrition. Moringa is a superfood and regarded as the most nutritious plant on earth, it can help eliminate malnutrition in developing countries and LOTS of health-conscious people and sports enthusiasts in the First World also want to get their hands on some because it has loads of health benefits!  READ MORE...

In Praise of Slums

Charles Kenny on Sept/Oct 2012 There is something viscerally repulsive about urban poverty: the stench of open sewers, the choking smoke of smoldering trash heaps, the pools of fetid drinking water filmed with the rainbow color of chemical spills. It makes poverty in the countryside seem almost Arcadian by comparison.

The rural poor may lack nutrition, health care, education, and infrastructure; still, they do the backbreaking work of tending farms in settings that not only are more bucolic, but also represent the condition of most of humanity for most of history. With life so squalid in urban slums, why would anyone want to move there?


Center for Digital Storytelling Introducing StoryLab September 10, 8:49 PM

StoryLab is a new hub for innovation with a big aim: to radically improve public conversation in the U.S. and around the world. Everybody talks about it, but CDS actually knows how to do it. To change the world, you first have to change the story. StoryLab is a new hub for innovation with a big aim: to radically improve public conversation in the U.S. and around the world.


Public Space for Children in Ghana on August 19, 4:11 AM In Africa’s rapidly growing cities, the pace of development has left few safe play areas for children. The Mmofra foundation works to foster creative and capable change-makers in Ghana and Africa as a whole, with a strong focus on informal space and child-centered design. Based on the belief that childcentered design can promote urban vitality, their work builds resources for other growing African cities as well, serving as a model of frugal and effective international collaboration.

Outdoor play in Ghana (from 1962 photo essay Playtime in Africa)

Ghana’s population has a median age of 21, with 40 percent under 15 years old. Its burgeoning cities are not equipped with sufficient public space for children, who make their own play areas in often unsafe or unsuitable environments. In response to these conditions, Mmofra started the Playtime in Africa initiative to turn a two-acre plot in Accra’s Dzorwulu neighborhood into a sustainably designed children’s park.

An Interactive Infographic Maps The Future Of Emerging Technology

They have used social media, word of mouth and a growing number of like-minded global collaborators (architects, planners, engineers, educators and artists) to develop ideas and tools for concrete action.Last May, Mmofra collaborators — from international specialists to local teenagers and community leaders — gathered in Ghana for a charrette aimed at drafting a plan for the Dzorwulu site.

When will you get your robot butler? When will we first set foot on Mars? These and countless other questions about the future are answered in this amazing chart of where technology is headed in the next 30 years. Can speculation about the future of technology serve as a measuring stick for what we create today? READ MORE...

The well-documented event resulted in a practical template that can be used in other African cities as well. It includes brainstorming sessions on parks and play with local youth, mapping ideas onto the physical site, integration of remote

contributions, and strategies for sustainable use of resources. Project leader Ralph Sutherland is now working on a masterplan based on charrette work with Architecture for Humanity fellows and students from the Ghana-based KNUST School of Architecture. Open documents, along with Mmofra Pinterest and Delicious sites, serve as knowledge repositories and sources of inspiration. With the masterplan underway, the next stage begins with a call for partners and supporters to help realize the project. Design Through Discovery, a team of 6 students from the Technical University of Delft, will visit Accra this fall to collaborate with Mmofra in designing tools and equipment for the park. The Playtime in Africa initiative offers practical lessons in distributed collaboration. I am inspired by Mmofra’s ability to make even bit-part collaborators like me feel welcome, and by the way they effectively communicate and document their process.

Young participants design charrette.








You can learn more about the Playtime in Africa initiative and how to participate at Mmofra Ghana or Friends of Mmofra. Mmofra is especially interested in partnerships related to ideas and skills, equipment and labour, purchases and donations, and support and feedback. They look forward to working with anyone interested in getting involved.

Healthy Happy Meals with Toys Steer Kids from Junk Food

Ontario researchers suggest fast-food chains use promotional toys to push nutritional options. The Canadian Press, posted on August 13, 2012 10:59 AM ET Children are far more likely to pick a healthier fast-food meal when promotional toys are offered only with those menu options and not with less nutritional fare like burgers, fries and a pop, according to a Canadian study. The researchers set out to see which McDonald’s Happy Meals that kids age six to 12 would choose when toys were included with healthier menu combinations, but not with standard offerings that are typically higher in fat and salt.

McDonald’s and other fast-food chains include promotional toys with their children’s meals, and a new Canadian study has found offering playthings with healthy alternatives may be one way to cut the amount of foods they eat that contain more fat and salt. (Ted S. Warren, file/ Associated Press)

The researchers found the children were three times more likely to opt for a healthier Happy Meal containing apple slices with caramel sauce and water instead of fries and pop when a toy came only with the more nutritional boxed meals. “Overall, our findings suggest that toys have a strong influence on children’s food choices,” said Erin Hobin, a postdoctoral fellow in the school of public health at Ontario’s University of Waterloo, who led the study published Sunday in the Canadian Journal of Public Health. “And actually, we also found that the toys have a stronger influence on boys than girls.” The study was conducted over a six-week period in August 2011 and involved more than 330 children attending YMCA summer day camps in the Waterloo region.

Study‘as naturalistic as possible’

For their lunch on the study day, each child was asked to pick a Happy Meal from an order form that showed photos of each meal combination and the toy, if included. The kids were randomly assigned to one of two groups. Those in the study intervention group were offered the choice of four meals: *Two more nutritional combinations with a toy and two less healthy meals without a toy. READ MORE...

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