With food costs at near-record prices, the idea of growing your own food has never been so attractive. But food production requires space, and space can be a precious commodity — even a rarity — for people who live in urban areas. For decades, communities in cities around the U.S. have created urban farms and gardens. These spaces make use of empty lots to grow low-cost produce or flowers for communities. These urban farms are not always in high-profile or easily accessible places, however. But, what if your urban farm was in a central location? Perhaps your local library? The Cicero Branch of the Northern Onondaga Public Library (NOPL) in Upstate New York has explored precisely this question. In 2011, they created the Library Farm — partly the brainchild of Meg Backus, then the adult programming director and public relations coordinator.
For decades, many on the American left have pointed to the Nordic nations as models that we should be striving towards. One frequent response to this has been to say that, although the Nordic nations have built remarkably equal economies, they lag in other important respects like inventing and implementing new technologies. There is no compelling statistical evidence for this claim, but some version of this idea seems to permanently linger in the US discourse. Recently, various liberal commentators — often rallying under the label of supply-side progressivism — have published articles chastising leftists who frequently point to the Nordic and western European models. According to these articles, such leftists are inattentive to the questions of how to steer the invention and deployment of new kinds of production.
By Shobita Parthasarathy in The Conversation - This year, July 31 marks the 225th anniversary of the first patent issued in the United States. Though the American patent system was designed initially to stimulate innovation, some citizens now argue that it’s actually hurting innovation, limiting access to technology and promoting unethical areas of research and innovation. These critics are making their voices heard through courtroom challenges, legislative hearings and even street protests. This grassroots activism might seem strange. After all, the patent system is a highly specialized technical and legal domain, seemingly of interest only to inventors seeking exclusive rights to commercialize their new technologies for a limited period of time. Why has it become such a controversial site, and what can policymakers and citizens do about it?