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Public art builds civic pride

first_imgWork in progress of skater Dlamini Dlamini, by Skubalisto. (Image and Video: Redbull Amaphiko)Skubalisto produces art in and around the Cape Town township of Langa, whose work has attracted the eye of a renowned photographer.During a Redbull Amaphiko street art sidestream in Langa, his work was noticed by Martha Cooper, one of the first photographers to document New York’s graffiti scene. During the sidestream, a public art activation showing members of the public and other artists what artists were doing in the area, Cooper gave a talk about her forthcoming exhibition on informal recyclers. It was completed in tandem with Brazilian artivist, Mundano.“I loved Skubalisto’s work,” Cooper told Redbull Amaphiko, which describes itself as a “collaborative platform for social entrepreneurs”. “His painting style was fresh and unlaboured but his portraits were serious portrayals of people admired within the community where he was working. I felt his work deserved attention worldwide.”Skubalisto has been painting in the streets of Langa for years and always looks at what will motivate.“Before we paint, we think ‘what should we paint? What will motivate people?’ We’ve gone from murals of the kids we see around on the street to people from Kwa-Langa who are doing something – inspiring figures,” he said. “Themba Bavuma just made the South African team so we figured we’d shine some light on that and inspire young cricketers to keep pushing.”He has also painted a mural of the late musician Brenda Fassie, who hailed from Langa.“I recently painted a mural of Brenda Fassie. It was during her birthday week so I painted a big mural of her with Mundano. We did that on the house of some awesome family who were accommodating enough to let us paint on their walls without showing them what we were going to paint.”IMPACT ON COMMUNITYSkubalisto believes art has a very positive impact on the community. “It brings pride to an area and makes people realise they have something to be proud of,” he said. “If you paint in an area that’s used as dumping site, people’s attention is brought to that area so instead of being a dump site, people start beautifying it.“There’s a spot Gugulethu where I painted murals and tried to do a little garden type thing. It was average. I came back a month later and people (had) put a bench there, they (had) planted trees. It’s a positive domino effect of art that I’ve been seeing.”WHAT IS NEXT?Skubalisto has major plans, which include some inspiring ideas around Langa.“I’m working on some illustrations for a book by the NDP and painting walls like crazy with my brothers from The Crate Collective. I’m also working on some one-off furniture and functional art pieces with Sisonke. We’re also getting ready to open our café/gallery in Langa so we’re building most of the furniture in-house,” he said.PLAY YOUR PARTAre you playing your part to help improve the lives of the people around you or the environment? Do you know of anyone who has gone out of their way to help improve South Africa and its people?If so, submit your story or video to our website and let us know what you are doing to improve the country for all.last_img read more

To Save Transportation Energy, Change Behavior

first_imgAlex is founder of BuildingGreen, Inc. and executive editor of Environmental Building News. In 2012 he founded the Resilient Design Institute. To keep up with Alex’s latest articles and musings, you can sign up for his Twitter feed. Lighten the loadThe more weight we haul around in our cars or trucks, the more energy we use. If you keep sandbags in the bed of your pick-up for winter traction, remove them in the summer. Empty your trunk of those unneeded items you’ve been carrying and never use. Combine tripsWhen you have to drive, try to combine trips. Schedule your grocery shopping when you’re coming home from work, or run some errands when you have to drive the kids to soccer practice. Take public transitMost forms of public transit (busses, light rain, commuter trains) use significantly less fuel per passenger mile than a single-occupancy cars or light trucks. If public transit is an option for you (unfortunately, it often isn’t), take advantage of it. Not only will you save energy and reduce the wear-and-tear on your car, but you’ll also create time to read the newspaper, enjoy a good book, or catch up on e-mail. Remove the roof rackIf you’re not using a roof rack regularly, remove it to cut down on wind resistance. Even a fairly modest roof rack can easily cut your fuel economy by a few miles per gallon. CarpoolCarpooling with another commuter can halve the energy consumption if the two riders live close-by or one rider can be picked up on the drive to work. With three or more riders the savings are even greater. In some places carpooling offers advantages like access to HOV (high-occupancy vehicle) lanes on highways and preferential parking. Getting Around Without Fossil FuelsLocation EfficiencyHouses Versus CarsReduce the Need for DrivingDriving Our SUVs to the BP ProtestsGetting Off Fossil FuelsWhere You Build May Matter More Than What You Build Drive lessLeaving the car at home when you could walk of ride a bike is perhaps the most obvious way to save energy in our transportation. These options aren’t always possible, due to where we live, the weather, or the seasons, but when it is possible to walk or bike instead of driving huge savings are possible — not to mention the health benefits. The same applies at work; if you’re going out to lunch or need to run an errand, consider providing a little extra time and walking. Avoid idlingIf the engine is running and you’re standing still, your fuel economy is zero — and an idling engine usually spews out more pollution than an engine that’s running at higher speeds. Several towns in our area, including Putney, Dummerston, and Brattleboro, now have no-idling resolutions in an effort to discourage the practice. With some vehicles, such as police cruisers and diesel equipment, there may have compelling reasons to keep the engines running, but for cars and light trucks, tuning them off usually makes sense.center_img Slow downIn a car, wind resistance increases at a cubed function of speed. That means that if you double your highway speed, your power requirements will increase eight-fold (2 cubed equals 8). I’ve experienced this pretty directly. One of our cars — a 2003 Honda Civic Hybrid — has a digital mileage gauge. On a number of occasions I’ve noted my fuel economy driving to the airport (when I’m running late and speeding along at 75 mph) and returning when I can putter along at a leisurely 55 mph. I haven’t done actual calculations to test that cubed function equation, but I’ve seen a dramatic difference: getting a little over 30 mpg at 75 mph, as I recall, and about 50 mpg at 55 mph. Consumer Reports has examined this issue more thoroughly. The magazine measured the fuel economy of a 2.5-liter, 4-cylinder Toyota Camry driven at 55 mph to be 40.3 mpg, while at 65 mph the fuel economy dropped to 34.9, and driven at 75 mph it dropped to 29.8 mpg — 26 percent lower than at 55 mph. Try to avoid coming to a complete stop — within reasonYour car uses a lot more fuel when starting from a complete stop so, when you have a choice, avoid coming totally to rest. When approaching a traffic light that’s red, for example, slow down so that you’re still moving when it turns green. Don’t violate laws or put yourself (or others) at risk in doing so, however. This isn’t a suggestion to roll through stop signs, or slow down so much when approaching a light that the driver behind you will try to swerve pass you. Turn off cruise control on hilly terrainCruise control is designed to maintain constant speed, but in hilly terrain a lot of extra fuel is used in accelerating up hills. A more fuel-efficient approach is to hold the accelerator pedal in approximately the same position approaching and going over a hill; your speed will drop but fuel economy will be better. On the downhill, allow your speed to increase (within the speed limit), using gravity to boost your fuel economy. Before the holidays I wrote a blog on how to save energy in the home by changing our behavior. This week we’ll take a look at some of the ways that we can save energy by changing our driving behavior. Below are some simple measures — most cost nothing and some even save money — to reduce your energy use for transportation. Avoid jackrabbit starts and stopsWith in-town driving, gradual acceleration uses significantly less fuel than pedal-to-the-metal starting and stopping. I try to accelerate as slowly as possible (without inconveniencing oncoming cars) and avoid braking whenever possible as I approach a turn or traffic light. Wayne Gerdes, who coined the term “hypermiling” (a sort-of game to dramatically exceed the rated fuel economy of a car) and who has the website CleanMPG website, recommends driving as if you don’t have working brakes. RELATED ARTICLES What are your tips?Most of these strategies are common sense. But that doesn’t mean they always occur to us. Even an energy-efficiency nut like me has to remind myself to follow these practices as I seek to conserve.What recommendations can you add?last_img read more

Artist Highlight: The Blockbuster Mastery of Steven Spielberg

first_imgSteven Spielberg is more than just the master of the summer blockbuster. He’s one of the greatest storytellers of this era.Top image from ThingLinkWithout question, Steven Spielberg is one of the most influential filmmakers of all time. To take it a step further, he’s one of the great storytellers of this era. For myself, as a filmmaker, there has been no greater influence than Spielberg. This is true for many filmmakers. Modern visual storytellers like J.J. Abrams, David Fincher, and Peter Jackson have credited Spielberg with influencing them to get behind the camera.So, in this Artist Highlight we’ll look at the storytelling evolution of Steven Spielberg and his uncanny ability to visually tell a story in a way that is entertaining to all.Getting Started EarlyWhen he was seven years old, Spielberg’s father took him to see Cecil B. DeMille‘s 1952 film The Greatest Show on Earth. This was the film that ignited a passion in Steven that would lead him to the world of filmmaking. At the age of twelve, Steven shot his very first film, The Train Wreck. This was followed by Escape from Nowhere and his first feature film, which he shot at the age of 16, Firelight.Video from schmalfilm magazinSteven eventually attend Cal State Long Beach where he was able to garner an internship at Universal Studios. His 26 minute short film, Amblin, impressed Studio Vice President Sidney Sheinberg so much that he offered Spielberg a long-term contract with the studio. Through Universal he was able to direct the TV movie Duel and The Sugarland Express starring Goldie Hawn.His big break came when he was selected to direct the film Jaws, based on the Peter Benchley novel. With Jaws, Steven begins to really cement his visual storytelling style. You can see evidence of this in this iconic scene from the film where he uses a track-in shot.Video from MovieclipsTechniques of a Master CraftsmanSpielberg has many techniques that he employs from the masters of cinema. Among them are long tracking shots, track-ins, close ups, wide-angle shots, dramatic pans, and layered framing along with connecting action. One in particular that he is known for is the framing of faces.Video from Fandor KeyframeNext to framing faces on camera, Spielberg is known for tracking action or the track-in technique. In fact, Spielberg he has a long history of capturing long takes.Video from Tony ZhouYou can see each one of these techniques used throughout the various film we will discuss. But he doesn’t just rely on his techniques alone… he also utilizes various themes and lessons from filmmakers that came before him. For more on that, here is a great video essay on his themes and techniques.Video from Steven BenedictFamily Dynamics and a Sense of Childlike WonderThe most widely used theme in Spielberg’s work is the theme of family dynamics their effects on children and the childlike wonder that grown-ups tend to forget. So, after the huge success of Jaws, Spielberg was able to begin developing his own projects. With these projects came these very ongoing themes.The first of those projects he would craft would be the classic Close Encounters of the Third Kind. In Close Encounters, we see the breakdown of the family dynamic after Roy’s encounter, but we also see the childlike wonder the encounter creates for him and others. This breakdown and childlike theme can be seen in the following moment from the film where Spielberg introduces the scene from a child’s perspective.Video from MovieclipsHis next massive hit was Raiders of the Lost Ark, which was influenced by the classic action tropes of early serial films from the 30s and 40s.  Interesting fact: Indiana Jones only came about after Spielberg’s request to direct a James Bond film was rejected. Luckily for us, Spielberg’s Bond dreams were denied and now we have great scenes like the iconic opening temple sequence.Video from Movieclips Coming SoonNext up for Spielberg is quite possibly his best film, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial. Here Steven is really honing his techniques in terms of framing, movement, and connecting action on screen. He’s also continuing his ongoing theme of family and childlike wonder.J.J. Abrams said it best in his TED talk that E.T. wasn’t about so much about meeting an alien as it was about divorce and the needs of Elliot to find a connection to help him deal with that. This is why Spielberg is such a great storyteller. He’s able to combine hard subject matter with a sense of wonder, as seen in the classic “across the moon” scene from the film.Video from MovieclipsSpielberg would develop several great films after E.T. (including two more Indiana Jones films) like The Color Purple, Empire of the Sun and Hook. Aside from Indy, each one of these films revolves around some type of family dynamic or crisis, and each instills a sense of wonder in the audience.But nowhere is that sense of wonder on better display than in 1993’s Jurassic Park.Spielberg’s realistic dinosaur action taps into the wonder of children everywhere. He was able to perfectly blend a sense of wonder with the harsh reality of the world around the characters. In the “They’re Flocking This Way!” scene from the film, we can clearly see the sense of wonder on Tim’s face as he watches dinosaurs run past him, as well as when the T-Rex hunts them.Video from MovieclipsThe Grown-Up DirectorAfter Jurassic Park, Spielberg grew tremendously as a filmmaker. He began to move away from the starry-eyed wonder of his previous work and turned toward the harsh historical realities of the world. The first of these was 1993’s Schindler’s List. Spielberg artfully and respectfully presented the horrors of the Holocaust to audiences.In this scene from the film, we see Oskar Schindler looking down at the horrors of the ghetto and the little girl in the red dress. It’s here that Schindler begins his journey toward one of the themes of the film: redemption.Video from MovieclipsSteven would direct the sequel to Jurassic Park and Amistad before taking on the subject of World War II again in 1999’s Saving Private Ryan. One thing that Spielberg did better than any other director up to that point was to show the raw horrors of war in vivd detail, especially in the opening sequence. We also can see themes such as sacrifice, courage, manhood, and honor throughout.Video from MovieclipsSteven has continued his run at retelling historical dramatic pieces over the last decade with films such as Catch Me if You Can, Munich, War Horse, Lincoln and the upcoming Bridge of Spies. Though there are signs that he may return to the childlike wonder of his younger years with the announcement that he will direct the films BFG, based on the book by Roald Dahl, and Ready Player One.The Epic Producer and CollaboratorAs a producer, there are very few who are as prolific as Steven. Currently he has a total of 152 producer credits to his name. These  film and television productions include Back to the Future, Gremlins, Poltergeist, The Goonies, The Land Before Time, Band of Brothers, Men in Black, Transformers, True Grit, Jurassic World and Halo… just to name a few. But above and beyond all of this, he has been a great collaborator with other filmmakers.One steady and ongoing collaboration is with his close friend George Lucas, with whom he created the Indiana Jones franchise. However there is one collaboration that many don’t really know about. When Lucas began working on closing out the Star Wars prequel trilogy, he called upon Steven to guest-direct portions of the film, including the final fight sequence on Mustafar between Obi Wan and Anakin.So, it should be no surprise that out of the generally panned prequels, Episode III is generally seen as bright spot.Video from Apprentice FactsPersonal Reflection on the Master StorytellerOne last word on the legendary director before we close this out. Growing up in a very small town, there wasn’t much for me to do other than wander the open landscape or watch movies. While I did plenty of exploring, I was also fortunate enough to have a mother that noticed my passion for film at an early age.One summer in the late 80s, she came home with four VHS tapes for me to watch while on summer break. Three of these films were E.T., Close Encounters, and Raiders of the Lost Ark. I played these films over and over and I studied them.As with many filmmakers, Steven Spielberg has and continued to inspire and teach many of us how to tell great stories using the medium of film. He is still able to talk about hard subjects, but within the context of wonderment. This is something very few filmmakers can achieve. As a filmmaker and as a human being, he is a goal… a person that we look toward and an artist we strive to emulate.This is what makes him legendary.What do you think of Steven Spielberg’s work? Love it, hate it? Who would you like to see us highlight next? Let us know your thoughts in the comment below.last_img read more

Women’s team in dark about match schedule

first_imgIt was only recently that the Indian women’s cricket team had one of its most famous victories when they defeated England in the first Test they played in eight years. But already that triumph has receded to the recesses of the fans’ mind space.Two of the stalwarts of the team – skipper Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami – blame it on lack of international games.”We have returned after such a significant victory, but we don’t know what our next international fixture will be,” Mithali told MAIL TODAY on the sidelines of the India Today Mind Rocks Youth Summit 2014.”The men’s team benefits from playing matches on a regular basis. But in our case, a five-month inactive phase after such a big victory means momentum is lost.”Jhulan said facilities for women’s cricket have improved since it came under the BCCI umbrella, but a lot still needs to be done.”The spaced-out calendar means fans don’t know too much about the team or the players. We have a set domestic calendar, but the same cannot be said about our international commitments,” the seam bowler told MAIL TODAY.”There is only so much training a player can do. To improve, one needs to test oneself against the best.”But even at the domestic level, the number of age-group tournaments has come down. “We only have under-19 tournaments which serve as a feeder system for the national team. Previously, we had an under-16 level which brought young girls into the system,” Mithali said.advertisementBCCI is the richest cricket Board, but its commitment to the women’s game has often been questioned.”BCCI can do more. More matches will mean the players will become popular which will result in more revenue,” Mithali said.The skipper also pointed to the lack of central contracts. “It will take time. Central contracts provide financial security and encouragement and allow players to focus on the game.”last_img read more