Tuesday 29 March 2016

Inclusive Design - Universal Design - Design for All

- Inclusive Design
Defined in 2000 by the UK Government as "products, services and environments that include the needs of the widest number of consumers". It has a history stretching back to the social ideals in Europe that materialised after World War II. These include healthcare and housing for everyone. Inclusive Design is used within Europe and goes beyond older and disabled people to focus on other excluded groups to deliver mainstream solutions.

- Universal Design
This term originated in the USA and is now adopted by Japan and the Pacific Rim. It started with a strong focus on disability and the built environment. Driven by the large number of disabled Vietnam War veterans, it was modelled on the Civil Rights Movement that promised "full and equal enjoyment … of goods and services". It has been a driving force in establishing American legislation regarding older and disabled people.

- Design For All
Closely related to Inclusive Design, Design for All started by looking at barrier-free accessibility for people with disabilities but has become a strategy for mainstream, inclusive solutions. As highlighted by the European Commission, it is about ensuring that environments, products, services and interfaces work for people of all ages and abilities in different situations and under various circumstances. This term is used in continental Europe and Scandinavia. There are other terms that are sometimes used with varying relevance to Inclusive Design. A few include Co-design, People-centred Design, User-focused Design and Transgenerational Design. Please see the Glossary for further information.

definitions literally via Inclusive Design, photos (Superstudio) via and via and via

Saturday 26 March 2016

"You know that I have fun."

"The first ten years of my life were wasted. And then I discovered skateboarding. My life has been downhill ever since."
Victor Earhart

"You know that I have fun."
Victor Earhart

Skating legend Victor Earhart has been "bombing San Diego's hills on his favourite longboards since 1954 - and he shows no signs of slowing down." (via) Watch this marvellous clip:

"If someone were to ask you to describe being old, it's doubtful that the words athletic, cool and beautiful would top your list. And you wouldn’t be alone; in our Western, youth-obsessed culture, ageing is inevitable but seldom enviable."

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image via

Thursday 24 March 2016

Prendi in casa uno studente

"Take a student home" is a project organised by the non-for-profit organisation MeglioMilano in the city of Milan. Retired citizens who can take care of themselves, live alone and would like to temporarily share their flat with a student have the possibility to let a room to a young person who has come to Milan to study. Currently, there are about 400.000 people living in Milan who are over 65 years of age.

This intergenerational project helps both, the young and not-so-young. Students do not have to pay high rents (Milan is the most expensive city in Italy) and only spend about 250 to 280 euros for the shared household (food etc.). Retired persons are not alone and get some support with daily work where needed. Both get to know a person they may get along with very well who is not from the peer group. The organisation knows the participating pensioners and how they live and makes sure to get to know the students well before making arrangements. Once it is settled who will live with whom, MeglioMilano asks for feedback from time to time (via).

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photo Milano, Piazza Meda by Franco Gremignani) via

Monday 21 March 2016

Young in age, old in experience

"I wanted to show the outside world what I see every time I meet these children, their stunning eyes and their tough life standing together in front of my lens. I want these beautiful children to be remembered by their names not as displaced Afghan refugees."
Muhammed Muheisen

Laiba Hazrat, 6 years old

Muhammed Muheisen, two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and Time Magazine Best Wire Photographer of 2013, spent three years taking photographs of Afghan refugees living in camps in Pakistan (via), "the largest and most protracted refugee population in the world" (via). About 1.6 million registered Afghan refugees are living in Pakistan, about one million live illegally there - a legacy of continuous conflicts in the past decades (via).

Hasanat Mohammed, 5 years old

"They are so young in age but, unlike most children they are old in experience and know how to persevere."
Muhammed Muheisen

Madina Juma'a, 4 years old

According to UNICEF, one in five Afghan children will die before reaching the age of five, 600.000 children sleep in streets, more than two million are orphans (via, 2011).

Top: left: Hazrat Babir, 7 years old; right: Gullakhta Nawab, 6 years old
Bottom: left: Zarlakhta Nawab, 6 years old; right: Abdulrahman Bahadir, 13 years old

Early recruitment of children in Afghanistan is a serious problem. In 2013 alone, at least 97 boys were recruited into armed groups, some were as young as 8 years old (via).

Hayat Khan, 8 years old

photographs via and via and via and via and via and via and via

Friday 18 March 2016


"Freedom is when you are free to go wherever you want."
Child in wheelchair

About a week ago, the project "Gondolas4all" was launched by Alessandro dalla Pietà: gondolas that are accessible to people using wheelchairs.

::: Here is a short clip (Italian with English subtitles) that shows how they work: WATCH/LISTEN

photographs of Paul Newman via and Gary Cooper via

Wednesday 16 March 2016

Poems That Make Grown Men Cry

"Poetry is a gender-free zone."
Ben Holden

In 2014, the father-and-son editing team Anthony and Ben Holden compiled an anthology of emotive poems chosen by 100 famous men - such as Nick Cave, Salman Rushdie, Colin Firth, Richard Dawkins, Kenneth Branagh, John le Carré, Stephen Fry and Daniel Radcliffe - introducing male readers to unfamiliar works ... and emotions. "Poems That Make Grown Men Cry" is a collection designed to raise money for Amnesty International by breaking down traditional ideas of so-called manhood defined as an "emotion-free zone"(via and via).

"Gender stereotyping is dangerous because it represses ability and ambition, encourages discrimination and upholds social inequalities that are often a root cause of violence. We hope that this anthology will encourage boys, in particular, to know that crying - and poetry - isn't just for girls."
Kate Allen, British director of the charity

But in this fascinating anthology, one hundred men - distinguished in literature and film, science and architecture, theatre and human rights - confess to being moved to tears by poems that haunt them. Representing twenty nationalities and ranging in age from their early 20s to their late 80s, the majority are public figures not prone to crying. Here they admit to breaking down when ambushed by great art, often in words as powerful as the poems themselves."
Amnesty International

This month there was the follow-up: "Poems That Make Grown Women Cry".

While my son Ben and I were compiling our 2014 anthology, Poems That Make Grown Men Cry, we already knew we wanted to follow it up with a sister volume for women. But how would the male book fare? Would any publisher be interested in a sequel? When it received the warmest of welcomes, even basking awhile in the bestseller lists, we knew we had liftoff.

It even seemed logical that, yes, a father-and-son team could co-edit a book by women about women for… no, not just women, but anyone to read. Anyone, that is, who is interested in the human condition as uniquely observed and distilled by poetry.

The male title had been deliberately provocative, if leavened (or so we liked to think) by a hint of self-satire. Clearly, it challenged the hoary stereotype that grown men don’t cry – or aren’t supposed to – whether in private or in public. Its built-in argument was that men should these days be much more open about their emotions than in the bygone, stiff-upper-lip days of empire. So we were delighted when this proved the main topic of discussion in numerous media and festival interviews, apparently finding approving echoes around the nation.

For all my alternative suggestions, Ben insisted that the female title had to repeat the same formula. I was more concerned about the currency of the phrase “grown women” than the dim, uncomprehending charges of sexism that had in some quarters greeted the first book – reeking, to me, of an all too familiar sense-of-humour failure.

“Good, it’s working!” thought Ben when some female commentators found the 2014 title at best gimmicky, at worst sexist. When one of our contributors, John Carey, mentioned our (then forthcoming) book while plugging his own on Radio 4’s Midweek, the presenter Libby Purves said she would “hurl a book with a title like that across the room”.

Reviewing the anthology in the Telegraph, the poet Wendy Cope was also annoyed by its title, which “seems to imply that it takes a really special poem to make a man weep, whereas women will shed tears over any old rubbish”. My assertion in the Observer that we were planning a female version looked, she said, like “a defensive move”. If we were really planning such a book, she wrote, she hoped we would ask her to be in it. Which, of course, we have; she has chosen Tennyson’s Charge of the Light Brigade.

While I was making approaches for contributions, however, the old stereotypes were again turned upside down. Many more women than men told me they didn’t weep at anything; I received more polite refusals from eminent women than from their male counterparts. The vast majority who did respond, however, have made a wonderful variety of choices – far indeed from “any old rubbish” – striking notes sometimes interestingly similar to the men’s, sometimes intriguingly different. Collectively, they again meet my definition of the aspiration of both anthologies: to introduce new readers to the wonders of poetry while surprising the cognoscenti with less familiar marvels. (...)

“This project would not only allow us to explore this symmetry but also – we hoped – prompt people to read poetry. We wanted to provoke, with the help of inspirational contributors, some complex conversations: about freedom of expression, literacy, emotion and – of course – gender identity.”

The fundamental truth, of course, is that men and women respond to poetry in exactly the same way – as complex human beings. As Sebastian Faulks explains in his afterword (Nadine Gordimer, since you ask, had the last word in the male book): “Poetry speaks to a vestigial part of the mind that was more active at the time Homo sapiens was becoming what she/he is… When we respond to poetry we engage a part of our being that is more primitive and in some way purer than the consciousness available minute-by-minute to our busy left-side brain.” (...)

Anthony Holden

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A selection:

::: Introduction by Anthony and Ben Holden: LISTEN/WATCH
::: Richard Dawkins reads A. E. Housman: LISTEN/WATCH
::: Vanessa Redgrave reads Wilfred Owen: LISTEN/WATCH

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photographs of Sylvia Plath (1932-1963) and Edward James "Ted" Hughes (1930-1998) via and via

Monday 14 March 2016

Leonard Nimoy on what he would say upon being the first man to set foot on the moon

“I’d say to earth, from here you are a peaceful, beautiful ball and I only wish everyone could see it with that perspective and unity.”
Leonard Nimoy

photograph via

Friday 11 March 2016

Quoting Gene Roddenberry

“Star Trek was an attempt to say that humanity will reach maturity and wisdom on the day that it begins not just to tolerate, but take a special delight in differences in ideas and differences in life forms. […] If we cannot learn to actually enjoy those small differences, to take a positive delight in those small differences between our own kind, here on this planet, then we do not deserve to go out into space and meet the diversity that is almost certainly out there.”
Gene Roddenberry

"I had insisted on half women on board [the Enterprise]. The network came to me and said, 'You can't have half women. Our people say it will make it look like a ship with all sorts of mad sexual things going on -- half men and half women.' So we argued about it like a poker game and they finally said, 'Okay. We'll settle for one-third women.' I figured one-third women could take care of the males anyway."
Gene Roddenberry

"I was pleased that in those days when you couldn't even get blacks on television, that I not only had a black, but a black woman, and a black officer [on 'Star Trek']."
Gene Roddenberry 

"It is important to the typical 'Star Trek' fan that there is a tomorrow. They pretty much share the 'Star Trek' philosophies about life: the fact that it is wrong to interfere in the evolvement of other peoples, that to be different is not necessarily to be wrong or ugly."
Gene Roddenberry

"If man is to survive, he will have learned to take a delight in the essential differences between men and between cultures. He will learn that differences in ideas and attitudes are a delight, part of life's exciting variety, not something to fear."
Gene Roddenberry

photographs of Eugene Wesley "Gene" Roddenberry (1921-1991) via and via

Tuesday 8 March 2016

International Women's Day: From the Glass Ceiling to a Carpet of Shards

As a boy growing up in post-war Korea, I remember asking about a tradition I observed: women going into labour would leave their shoes at the threshold and then look back in fear. “They are wondering if they will ever step into those shoes again,” my mother explained.

More than a half-century later, the memory continues to haunt me. In poor parts of the world today, women still risk death in the process of giving life. Maternal mortality is one of many preventable perils. All too often, female babies are subjected to genital mutilation. Girls are attacked on their way to school. Women’s bodies are used as battlefields in wars. Widows are shunned and impoverished.

We can only address these problems by empowering women as agents of change.

For more than nine years, I have put this philosophy into practice at the United Nations. We have shattered so many glass ceilings we created a carpet of shards. Now we are sweeping away the assumptions and bias of the past so women can advance across new frontiers.

Confucius taught that to put the world in order, we must begin in our own circles. (...)

On this International Women’s Day, I remain outraged by the denial of rights to women and girls – but I take heart from the people everywhere who act on the secure knowledge that women’s empowerment leads to society’s advancement. Let us devote solid funding, courageous advocacy and unbending political will to achieving gender equality around the world. There is no greater investment in our common future.

Ban Ki-moon

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photograph via

Monday 7 March 2016

Albert Einstein on Minorities and Majorities

"As long as I have any choice in the matter, I shall live only in a country where civil liberty, tolerance and equality of all citizens before the law prevail."
Albert Einstein

In 1930, "father of social science" and editor-in-chief of The Crisis W.E.B. DuBois contacted Albert Einstein while he was living in Berlin and asked him for a contribution to the official journal of the NAACP.
I am taking the liberty of sending you herewith some copies of THE CRISIS magazine. THE CRISIS is published by American Negroes and in defense of the citizenship rights of 12 million people descended from the former slaves of this country. We have just reached our 21st birthday. I am writing to ask if in the midst of your busy life you could find time to write us a word about the evil of race prejudice in the world. A short statement from you of 500 to 1,000 words on this subject would help us greatly in our continuing fight for freedom.
With regard to myself, you will find something about me in “Who’s Who in America.” I was formerly a student of Wagner and Schmoller in the University of Berlin.
I should greatly appreciate word from you.
Very sincerely yours,
W. E. B. Du Bois
Albert Einstein replied two weeks later:
My Dear Sir!
Please find enclosed a short contribution for your newspaper. Because of my excessive workload I could not send a longer explanation.
With Distinguished respect,
Albert Einstein
DuBois translated Einstein's short essay (original in German) and introduced the following "Note form the Editor":

The author, Albert Einstein, is a Jew of German nationality. He was born in Wurttemburg in 1879 and educated in Switzerland. He has been Professor of Physics at Zurich and Prague and is at present director of the Kaiser-Wilhelm Physical Institute at Berlin. He is a member of the Royal Prussian Academy of Science and of the British Royal Society. He received the Nobel Prize in 1921 and the Copley Medal in 1925.

Einstein is a genius in higher physics and ranks with Copernicus, Newton and Kepler. His famous theory of Relativity, advanced first in 1905, is revolutionizing our explanation of physical phenomenon and our conception of Motion, Time and Space.

But Professor Einstein is not a mere mathematical mind. He is a living being, sympathetic with all human advance. He is a brilliant advocate of disarmament and world Peace and he hates race prejudice because as a Jew he knows what it is. At our request, he has sent this word to THE CRISIS with “Ausgezeichneter Hochachtung” (“Distinguished respect”).
It seems to be a universal fact that minorities, especially when their Individuals are recognizable because of physical differences, are treated by majorities among whom they live as an inferior class. The tragic part of such a fate, however, lies not only in the automatically realized disadvantage suffered by these minorities in economic and social relations, but also in the fact that those who meet such treatment themselves for the most part acquiesce in the prejudiced estimate because of the suggestive influence of the majority, and come to regard people like themselves as inferior. This second and more important aspect of the evil can be met through closer union and conscious educational enlightenment among the minority, and so emancipation of the soul of the minority can be attained.

The determined effort of the American Negroes in this direction deserves every recognition and assistance.

Albert Einstein

photographs by Philip Halsman (1947) via and via, information via

Friday 4 March 2016

The -ism Series (26): Afrofuturism

"Afrofuturism is a literary and cultural aesthetic that combines elements of science fiction, historical fiction, fantasy, Afrocentricity, and magic realism with non-Western cosmologies in order to critique not only the present-day dilemmas of people of color, but also to revise, interrogate, and re-examine the historical events of the past." (via)

In 1992, Mark Dery coined the term "Afrofuturism" to describe a certain kind of passion for technology, innovation and mysticism in black culture, i.e. in art, film, music, and literature. Afrofuturism pioneers such as Sun Ra and Octavia Butler had not come into touch with the label (via).
According to Ytasha L. Womack, Afrofuturism is an intersectional, non-linear, fluid and feminist way of looking at alternate realities through a black cultural lens blending the future, the past and the present, exploring "race as a technology". It allows "black people to see our lives more fully than the present allows – emotionally, technologically, temporally and politically." (via)
"To me, a tenent of Afrofuturism deals with black people being told they must adhere to divisions which don’t exist, and only accept a limited number of stories about ourselves, such that we have an extremely limited concept of what material reality can be. Racism can give black Americans the impression that in the past we were only slaves who did not rebel; that in the present, we are a passive people beaten by police who cannot fight back; and that in the future, we simply do not exist." Steven W. Thrasher
A few minutes of "Space is the Place": WATCH

images of Sun Ra via and via

Wednesday 2 March 2016

Ditch the Label. Your World. Prejudice Free.

Ditch the Label is one of UK's largest award-winning anti-bullying charities. It supports young people between 13 and 25 years of age.

The non-profit organisation is based in Brighton and was founded by then 21-year-old activist Liam Hackett in 2012 who had experienced emotional and physical homophobic bullying at school and was even hospitalised one time (via). Ditch the Label works with schools, colleges, charities and young people in general who experience bullying (via). Since 2013, it has been releasing the Annual Bullying Survey, the "largest annual benchmark of bullying trends in the UK" every year (via). Here are some key findings (literally taken from the 2015 report, n = 3023 from 73 different establishments):
Appearance is cited as the number 1 aggressor of bullying, with 51% saying they were bullied because of attitudes towards how they look. 26% said their weight was targeted, 21% body shape, 18% clothing, 14% facial features, 9% glasses and 8% hair colour. 23% a females with ginger hair cited their hair colour as the bullying aggressor. Overall, 47% of young people want to change their appearance. 48% want teeth whitening, 17% breast implants, 6% liposuction and 5% botox. 40% of respondents reported being bullied for personal appearance 36% reported being bullied for body shape, size and weight.
Highest risk to bullying were the following groups: all types of disability, LGBT and low income backgrounds.

- Ditch the Label website - link
- The Annual Bullying Survey 2015 - download

images via and via and via and via