Making sense: are we ready to ditch the disposable economy?
May07

Making sense: are we ready to ditch the disposable economy?

From a surge of interest in repair cafes, to a new wave of workspaces for freelance makers, we explore fresh signs that we’re demanding a new relationship with ‘stuff’ Can possessions ever be positive? asked our feature in 2016 titled True Riches. There are fresh signs that our relationship with consuming is undergoing an overhaul. On 1 January, a tax break bill came into force in Sweden that reduced by half the VAT on repairing items such as bicycles, clothes and shoes, as well as dishwashers and washing machines. The legislation will, it is hoped, encourage people to fix their possessions instead of buying new. In the UK, not only are we consuming less (Office for National Statistics data shows that we each used, on average, 10 tonnes of raw material in 2013 compared to 15 tonnes in 2001) but government figures released in December suggest that we’re also sending less to landfill. The community of makers at Building BloQs in north London includes ‘old dogs’ and young graduates, says co-founder Al Parra. Image: Jon Cardwell/AHEC Digital disruption has been credited at least in part for the change, as consumers buy fewer resource-intensive goods and source things digitally instead. But is it a cultural shift too? Transactions in the UK’s ‘sharing economy’ doubled to £7.4bn in 2015 according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers report, making it the fastest-growing market of its kind in Europe. Support Positive News From just £1 a month you can help fund good journalism about good things. Become a Positive News supporter member Sharing and making are more positive ways to satisfy the innate human need for novelty, believes Ruth Potts, co-author of a manifesto for ‘new materialism’. “Making makes us more adaptable, better able to respond to changing circumstances and better at solving problems.” Making makes us more adaptable, better able to respond to changing circumstances and better at solving problems And a team at the University of Dundee have discovered other benefits. While exploring prototyping, they found that those working in three dimensions created more imaginative solutions than those working on paper or screen. What is more, the process created stronger, healthier teams. This sense of comradery is thriving at the 1,022sq m Building BloQs workshop in Enfield, north London, a suburb that was previously best known for its high rate of knife crime. The social enterprise rents space and tools on a pay-as-you-go basis to freelance makers and designers in wood, metal, textiles, CNC and paint. Demand means it is due to expand within the year, when it will become the largest open access workshop in Europe. ‘People are placing greater value on things...

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Young Neighbor Invites Ailing 89-Year-Old Woman to Move In
Feb13

Young Neighbor Invites Ailing 89-Year-Old Woman to Move In

Even though 31-year-old Chris Salvatore and 89-year-old Norma Cook are vastly different ages, they are the perfect roommates for each other – and the best of friends. The duo first met about four years ago when Chris moved in across the hall from Norma. “After a couple weeks of saying hello through her kitchen window that looked out onto our apartment complex courtyard I decided to knock on her door and enter Norma’s world,” says Chris, who is an actor living in Los Angeles. “I soon learned that she had no family of her own living here in California, was suffering from a long list of health complications, including leukemia and just that week she had to give up her car because she lost her ability to drive.” MORE: Grieving Man Can Sleep Again After Girl Reaches Out in the Grocery Store The two grew steadily closer as Chris continued to volunteer for tasks involving her home and medical care. “I would help her cook meals, drive her to the doctors, banks, pharmacies and even just recently I got the amazing experience to accompany her to vote. We had such a blast these past few years filled with so much joy and laughter.” His assistance was needed more than ever when Norma’s health rapidly started to decline over the last six months. She was hospitalized several times for pneumonia, asthma attacks, and sustaining nasty falls in her apartment. The bleakest news came when doctors said that unless she was given 24 hour care at home, she would be sent to a state care facility. Chris created a GoFundMe page which raised over $75,000 for private care — and, most importantly, invited Norma to live with him so he could look after her and cut her out-of-pocket costs. After the two became roommates, they realized it was a perfect match. “She loves it! I do most of my work at home so I am here most of the time to care for her, so it only made sense to the both of us.” “She is my adopted grandmother, after all, and I am her grandson she never had.” Even though 31-year-old Chris Salvatore and 89-year-old Norma Cook are vastly different ages, they are the perfect roommates for each other – and the best of friends. The duo first met about four years ago when Chris moved in across the hall from Norma. “After a couple weeks of saying hello through her kitchen window that looked out onto our apartment complex courtyard I decided to knock on her door and enter Norma’s world,” says Chris, who is an actor living in...

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Mark Ruffalo’s Inspirational Message to Humanity
Dec19

Mark Ruffalo’s Inspirational Message to Humanity

Short and sweet boost for humanity.Thank you Mark Ruffalo. Source: the young turks via youtube

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100% Self-Reliant Town in the Netherlands Will Live Off-Grid, Producing All of Its Own Energy and Food
Aug15

100% Self-Reliant Town in the Netherlands Will Live Off-Grid, Producing All of Its Own Energy and Food

We only have one planet, and so we should use it wisely. You know, kind of like that saying about our health. Well, some of you may have heard that one, and if not, I believe you still get the gist of it. Think about this: our planet and its resources are like our body in a way, and so harsh treatment will eventually wear it out… Unless, of course, we change our mindset about almost everything. So, what should we do about it? The Netherlands may have an answer to our predicament. It isn’t a new concept, mind you, but it’s certainly a rather renovated idea. Like the Amish, this project provides the means to be self-reliant, but unlike the simplicity of the Amish, this concept retains high-tech capabilities. Self-sustainability When it comes to being self-reliant, we’re talking about whole villages, not just one home. After all, self-sustainable living can be accomplished more efficiently by working together, family with family, friend with friend. That’s why, a community pilot project, the brainchild of ReGen Villages, a California-based developer, will see its completion in 2017. We will see entire villages which will operate from within! How amazing is that! This concept starts just outside of Amsterdam, but plans are to share these innovations with Sweden, Denmark, Germany and Norway. Power Positive Basically, what I’m getting at, is the off-grid community plan will use the power of modern technology to create and retain self-reliant wants and needs: growing foods, water filtration and the like. ReGen Villages CEO James Ehrlich told Fast Company, “Were really looking at starting off as the Tesla of Eco Villages. We are redefining residential real-estate development by creating these regenerative neighbourhoods, looking at first at these greenfield pieces of farmland where we can produce more organic food, more clean water, more clean energy and migrate more waste than if we just left that land to grow organic food or do permaculture there.” With this idea, ReGen Village can be power positive, able to use its own technology to meet day-to-day needs. It’s more than just depending on your own ingenuity, it’s about having the same amenities as those who live on the grid and yet having the ability to be free from its restraints. What’s more, is that the surplus energy generated in the Villages can be fed back to the nearby electrical grids. It helps many others as well. Ehrlich told Fast Company, “We anticipate literally tonnes of abundant organic food every year- from vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes, fish, eggs, chicken, small animal dairy and protein-that can continually grow and yield in the vertical gardening system...

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The Giant Benches That Make Adults Feel Like Children
Aug05

The Giant Benches That Make Adults Feel Like Children

When US-born Chris Bangle moved from Germany to the tiny Italian village of Clavesana in 2009, he waved goodbye to a 17-year career as Chief of Design for BMW. It was a huge change for him, but his arrival also had an impact on his new neighbours, writes Dany Mitzman. Fed up with designing cars for the elite, Chris Bangle wanted to create something for everyone, and something more in tune with nature. One idea he hit upon was a bench – a giant one, far bigger than a normal park bench – and together with his wife, Catherine, he set up The Big Bench Community Project. Chris BangleImage copyrightMARIAGRAZIA MONCADA The project encourages the installation of colourful benches in publicly accessible spots with breathtaking views. When you sit on one, legs dangling beneath you, you feel like a child again and experience the wonders of the world around you with a fresh perspective – that, anyway, is Bangle’s intention. The benches are also so big that there’s plenty of space to share them, and to interact with friends or strangers. There are now 19 privately financed benches, thanks to the Bangles’ efforts, many in the Langhe, the hilly area of Piedmont, in north-west Italy, where Clavesana is located. But you won’t find an app with a map to guide you to each location – part of the Big Bench experience is to discover them, and the views they offer, like treasure in a hunt. Angelo and DariaImage copyrightMARIAGRAZIA MONCADA Angelo and Daria came from Venice to see the benches, having read about them in the newspaper. “They’re quite hidden and not that easy to find,” says Angelo. “I imagined they’d be closer to the road but this is much nicer because you have to seek them out. “The idea is lovely because you really feel like you become part of the landscape, which is something that doesn’t normally happen. Sitting up here you ask yourself, ‘Why am I so small and out of proportion?’ You know it should be that way but you often take things for granted and think that you drive everything. Up here in this context you question this, and have to admit that you are actually less significant.” Big Yellow BenchImage copyrightMARIAGRAZIA MONCADA Rinalda doesn’t have far to go to get to the Big Yellow Bench as it stands in the gardens of her family-run farmhouse hotel and restaurant, but most of the time she is too busy to clamber up on to it – in fact this is only the second time she has done it. “It’s true what people say: when you...

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Baby Helps Paralyzed Father Walk And Talk Again
Aug02

Baby Helps Paralyzed Father Walk And Talk Again

A young father who became trapped in his own body after suffering a stroke has learnt how to walk and talk again – by copying his baby daughter. Mark Ellis was just 22 when he suffered a stroke and locked in syndrome – a nightmarish condition which leaves the sufferer’s brain still alert but their body paralysed. The sudden stroke in August 2010, just two months after his marriage, left Mark completely helpless and he could only communicate by rolling his eyes. Mark Ellis Having fun: Mark copied many of his daughter’s actions to help him recover Mark, a previously fit and healthy young man, was put into an induced coma soon after his stroke and his shocked family were told it was unlikely he would survive. Devastated wife Amy, 32, had given birth to their daughter Lily-Rose just two weeks earlier. But just eight months after his stroke, Mark amazed doctors when he left hospital and was learning to talk, move and walk again – thanks to mimicking the actions of his baby daughter. Amy said: ‘It’s amazing that they have learned to do things together and now Mark can talk and walk with the use of a frame. ‘There wasn’t much time between him and Lola-Rose both taking their first steps. I think Mark took his first steps a week or two after Lola. ‘They use toys, books, games and the iPad together to learn how to do things and communicate. ‘Doctors didn’t expect him to survive but his youth and mental strength have helped him pull through.’ Just days before his stroke, Mark, from Clay Cross, Derbyshire had been working at a mobile phone shop when he started complaining of severe migraine. He visited the Chesterfield Royal Hospital A&E department before going home to bed with some paracetemol. But as the day progressed, concerned Amy called a doctor out and Mark was sent back to the hospital. Amy said: ‘He was sent to Sheffield Hallamshire Hospital on the Wednesday for an MRI scan on Thursday morning, which showed the stroke had happened on the Tuesday. ‘It was just so hard to take in – we had been married two months and Lola-Rose was just two weeks old when the stroke happened. It was a dream turned into a nightmare. ‘He’s young and healthy, who’s never smoked, taken drugs or drunk excessively so it was hard to understand why and how this happened. ‘The doctors didn’t expect him to survive. They thought that after his stroke, his heart was going to give up. ‘I was asked to sign a consent form to say doctors wouldn’t resuscitate him...

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