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Urbanization

Baltimore Buried These Streams; An Artist Is Bringing One Back

Listen carefully nearby certain storm drains in Baltimore’s Remington neighborhood, and you might be able to hear the echo of Sumwalt Run, flowing 30 to 40 feet below. The creek disappeared from Baltimore’s landscape in the early 20th century when the city built a new sewer system. Sumwalt Run became a concrete culvert, moving springwater and storm runoff through Baltimore’s sewers into its harbor. It’s one of dozens of “ghost rivers,” as local artist Bruce Willen calls them, in the city: buried streams that still “haunt” the urban landscape and its residents by contributing to downstream water pollution and flooding.

Capitalist Urbanization, Climate Change, And The Need For Sponge Cities

In this fascinating article, first published in Liberation School, environmentalist and author Tina Landis explains the concept of sponge cities: what they are, why they are needed, and China’s leading role in developing them. Tina observes that “the majority of the world’s cities today were built for profit and speculation in mind, with little to no consideration given to negative impacts on either ecology or humanity.” “Vast hardscapes—sidewalks, roads, parking lots, buildings—and gray infrastructure that channels water away as it falls, places these urban centers at odds with biodiversity and the natural cycling of water through the landscape. Green spaces that are created within urban environments are often highly managed areas separate from the rest of the city, filled with non-native ornamental plants and thirsty grasses that require intensive irrigation, synthetic fertilizers, and pesticides, while providing little to no benefit to native species of birds, insects, and others.”

World Poverty Increasing With Urbanization

By Manipadma Jena for Toward Freedom - (IPS) – Rapid urbanization is increasingly shifting the impacts of malnutrition from rural to urban areas. One in three stunted under-five children out of 155 million across the world now lives in cities and towns. Degrading land productivity, deepening impacts of changes in climate, conflict, and food insecurity, poverty and lack of livelihood opportunities are driving mostly the rural poor into towns and cities, with projections that just 13 years from now, 5 billion people will be living in the world’s urban areas. While the urban population is forecast to double within these 30 years (starting in 2000), the area taken over will triple, increasing by 1.2 million square kilometers, says the Global Land Report 2017. Close to 90 percent of urban population and area growth is forecast in Asia and Africa, with the most dramatic changes foreseen in Asia, according to this report from the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). By 2050, 56 percent of Asia’s population will be urban. China crossed the halfway mark in 2012, India will in 2050. This major shifting of the character of a population, the character of its economic activity, from being predominantly rural to becoming urban is seen to catapult – particularly China and India – to global economic leadership. But its urban growth engines could be riding on a huge malnourished rural migrant population.

FCC Will Enable Cities To Create Own Internet Providers

Frustrated with the sluggish speed and high cost of their Internet service providers, the residents of Wilson, N.C., decided a few years ago to take matters into their own hands – they would simply build their own connection. The city council unanimously voted in 2006 to create a fiber-to-home network that today provides affordable high-speed Internet to homes and businesses, connects schools, and even supplies downtown Wilson with free Wi-Fi. Incumbent companies Time Warner Cable and CenturyLink were forced to lower their prices and upgrade their service to remain competitive. Two weeks ago, the Federal Communications Commission announced that it intends to take a close look at overruling such state laws, which restrict the ability of cities and towns to build their own broadband networks in 20 states across the country.

Brazilians Take Back The City

Only the steady flow of men, women and children through a rusted, grey door alert passersby that anyone lives inside the 22-story building. It's covered in graffiti: a small house - bright yellow, with a brown door, window and roof - two women's faces, and the number 911. With an abundance of unused buildings peppering the city, low-income residents of Sao Paulo occupy vacant structures, often with the help of local social and housing rights movements. This is one of them. "We occupy [buildings] to give a social function to the properties and give houses to people without houses," said Maria Silva, one of the residents. In other cases, several families occupy large homes, and each family rents out a single room while sharing other facilities, like bathrooms and kitchens. These structures are known as corticos (boarding houses, or tenement buildings). Unlike the favelas, corticos consist of large, urban apartment-syle buildings shared by several families. In Sao Paulo, rapid urbanisation was linked to a shift from agriculture to more modern industries, and as labourers moved into makeshift communities to be closer to work. While most favelas are in the peripheries of Sao Paulo, many low-income families also moved into the city centre to be closer to basic services
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