November 5th, 2013
How do we solve the problem of the suburbs? Urbanist Jeff Speck shows how we can free ourselves from dependence on the car — which he calls “a gas-belching, time-wasting, life-threatening prosthetic device” — by making our cities more walkable and more pleasant for more people.
Jeff Speck is a city planner and architectural designer who, through writing, lectures, and built work, advocates internationally for smart growth and sustainable design. As Director of Design at the National Endowment for the Arts from 2003 through 2007, he oversaw the Mayors’ Institute on City Design and created the Governors’ Institute on Community Design, a federal program that helps state governors fight suburban sprawl. Prior to joining the Endowment, Mr. Speck spent ten years as Director of Town Planning at Duany Plater-Zyberk and Co., a leading practitioner of the New Urbanism, where he led or managed more than forty of the firm’s projects. He is the co-author of Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream as well as The Smart Growth Manual. He serves as a Contributing Editor to Metropolis Magazine, and on the Sustainability Task Force of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. His new book, Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time, is now available in print, digital, and audio format.
August 25th, 2013
Elizabeth Gilbert faced down a premidlife crisis by doing what we all secretly dream of – running off for a year. Her travels through Italy, India and Indonesia resulted in the megabestselling and deeply beloved memoir Eat, Pray, Love, about her process of finding herself by leaving home.
She’s a longtime magazine writer – covering music and politics for Spin and GQ – as well as a novelist and short-story writer. Her books include the story collection Pilgrims, the novel Stern Men (about lobster fishermen in Maine) and a biography of the woodsman Eustace Conway, called The Last American Man. Her work has been the basis for one movie so far (Coyote Ugly, based on her own memoir, in this magazine article, of working at the famously raunchy bar), and Eat, Pray, Love is on the same track, with the part of Gilbert played by Julia Roberts. Not bad for a year off.
Gilbert also owns and runs the import shop Two Buttons in Frenchtown, New Jersey.
August 10th, 2013
To all appearances, Eleanor Longden was just like every other student, heading to college full of promise and without a care in the world. That was until the voices in her head started talking. Initially innocuous, these internal narrators became increasingly antagonistic and dictatorial, turning her life into a living nightmare. Diagnosed with schizophrenia, hospitalized, drugged, Longden was discarded by a system that didn’t know how to help her. Longden tells the moving tale of her years-long journey back to mental health, and makes the case that it was through learning to listen to her voices that she was able to survive.
Eleanor Longden overcame her diagnosis of schizophrenia to earn a master’s in psychology and demonstrate that the voices in her head were “a sane reaction to insane circumstances.”
June 22nd, 2013
The 2007-2008 financial crisis, you might think, was an unpredictable one-time crash. But Didier Sornette and his Financial Crisis Observatory have plotted a set of early warning signs for unstable, growing systems, tracking the moment when any bubble is about to pop. (And he’s seeing it happen again, right now.)
June 10th, 2013
Is there a definitive line that divides crazy from sane? With a hair-raising delivery, Jon Ronson, author of The Psychopath Test, illuminates the gray areas between the two. (With live-mixed sound by Julian Treasure and animation by Evan Grant.)
June 9th, 2013
Birds, a perennial human fascination, entertained medieval homes long before science took them for serious study. “Wisdom of Birds” author Tim Birkhead tours some intriguing birdwatcher lore (dug up in old field journals) — and talks about the role it plays in ornithology today.
June 8th, 2013
People often credit their ideas to individual “Eureka!” moments. But Steven Johnson shows how history tells a different story. His fascinating tour takes us from the “liquid networks” of London’s coffee houses to Charles Darwin’s long, slow hunch to today’s high-velocity web.
June 7th, 2013
What happens when a dream you’ve held since childhood … doesn’t come true? As Lisa Bu adjusted to a new life in the United States, she turned to books to expand her mind and create a new path for herself. She shares her unique approach to reading in this lovely, personal talk about the magic of books.
May 1st, 2013
Over the past few centuries, Western cultures have been very good at creating general prosperity for themselves. Historian Niall Ferguson asks: Why the West, and less so the rest? He suggests half a dozen big ideas from Western culture — call them the 6 killer apps — that promote wealth, stability and innovation. And in this new century, he says, these apps are all shareable.
History is a curious thing, and Niall Ferguson investigates not only what happened but why. (Hint: Politics and money explain a lot.)
April 7th, 2013
There is a corruption at the heart of American politics, caused by the dependence of Congressional candidates on funding from the tiniest percentage of citizens. That’s the argument at the core of this blistering talk by legal scholar Lawrence Lessig. With rapid-fire visuals, he shows how the funding process weakens the Republic in the most fundamental way, and issues a rallying bipartisan cry that will resonate with many in the U.S. and beyond.
December 9th, 2012
When asked how I managed to shed 80 pounds in nine months my first response is always: I stop eating junk food. Watching Emily Bazelon’s presentation on girls with Autism lead me to this quote from Clifford Nass: Our research shows a link between face-to-face contact and good relationships because that’s the best way to […]
November 30th, 2012
People aren’t just cooking anymore — they’re cooking, texting, talking on the phone, watching YouTube and uploading photos of the awesome meal they just made. Designer Paolo Cardini questions the efficiency of our multitasking world and makes the case for — gasp — “monotasking.” His charming 3D-printed smartphone covers just might help.
August 13th, 2012
What should a community do with its unused land? Plant food, of course. With energy and humor, Pam Warhurst tells at the TEDSalon the story of how she and a growing team of volunteers came together to turn plots of unused land into communal vegetable gardens, and to change the narrative of food in their community.
August 10th, 2012
I haven’t watched or posted any TED Talks for a very long time, but over at Civic Commons we’re having a discussion about civil conversation — see the ticker to the right — and in my emails this morning I got my weekly TED Talk listing of a half dozen or so videos under the […]
August 10th, 2012
As web companies strive to tailor their services (including news and search results) to our personal tastes, there’s a dangerous unintended consequence: We get trapped in a “filter bubble” and don’t get exposed to information that could challenge or broaden our worldview. Eli Pariser argues powerfully that this will ultimately prove to be bad for us and bad for democracy.
January 1st, 2012
0645: Antonio Damasio on the quest to understand consciousness
December 1st, 2011
Britta Riley wanted to grow her own food (in her tiny apartment). So she and her friends developed a system for growing plants in discarded plastic bottles — researching, testing and tweaking the system using social media, trying many variations at once and quickly arriving at the optimal system. Call it distributed DIY. And the results? Delicious.