Archive for the ‘Entertainment’ Category


Take Part in a Worldwide Dinner Party for Good

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By Carol Dreibelbis

The Feast, an organization that fosters social innovation for a better future, will be holding a Worldwide Dinner Party for Good as part of its first-ever Social Innovation Week in October. The Feast aims to engage the next generation of innovators and creative thinkers in solving some of the world’s most pressing problems through the Worldwide Dinner Party and other events.

Hundreds of people on six continents have already signed up to host a Worldwide Dinner Party on October 5th (Photo Credit: the Feast)

The Worldwide Dinner Party for Good will take place on October 5, 2012 at 7 p.m. local time. According to The Feast, each dinner party will center on a challenge: “Pick a challenge and by the end of your meal, commit to a project to make the world work better. On the big day, all diners will post their commitments online to create a giant feast on good.” The Feast both provides a number of challenges to choose from and allows diners to define their own.

The Data Challenge—presented by John Sherry, Director of Business Innovation Research at Intel—asks diners to, “design a tool that utilizes the data that is being or could be created in the public and private realms,” to improve people’s lives. Cell phone data, for example, has already been used to help farmers manage their land and animals.

The Open Design Challenge—presented by Beth Comstock, Chief Marketing Officer at GE—asks diners to “use the open tools available today…to empower a new group of people to make something that improves their physical environment.” This challenge comes at a critical time, as climate change continues to alter the global environment, requiring farmers to adapt through innovation.



Playing Games to Save the Planet

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By Laura Reynolds

The Millennium Institute, the Biovision Foundation, and the game company, CodeSustainable, have collaborated to develop a computer game called Game Change Rio. In preparation for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, or Rio+20 in June, this game hopes to educate players about sustainability issues and help shape new policy options for sustainable and equitable development.

Game Change Rio hopes to make the tough policy decisions of Rio+20 engaging and accessible. (Image credit: Game Change Rio)

Game Change Rio is built on the Millennium Institute’s Green Economy Model, which analyzes data and key indicators from the energy, manufacturing, transport, buildings, waste, agriculture, fisheries, water, and forest sectors. The game’s data bank has over 5,000 economic and natural-resource indicators, and 125 policy options that players can choose. There are over 100 million possible outcomes that vary from destroying the environment to saving the planet.

“The target group of the game is not necessarily hardcore gamers, but rather senior high school students, college and university students with some political awareness and an interest the issues discussed at Rio,” writes Hans Herren, president of the Millennium Institute and member of the Nourishing the Planet Advisory Group. “This could include teachers, tutors and lecturers of relevant subjects.”

The best players will be brought to Rio for a final game.

To check out the game, click here.

What other creative ways can people become involved or engaged in Rio+20?

Laura Reynolds is a research intern with the Nourishing the Planet Project.

To purchase State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet please click HERE. And to watch the one minute book trailer, click HERE.


Innovation of the Week: A New Beginning through Film

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By Supriya Kumar

Home to 25 percent of the world’s hungry poor and with an agricultural sector that is heavily dependent on the Monsoon rains, India is precariously positioned on the frontlines of climate change. As the country continues to experience rapid economic growth, the negative effects of climate change, including erratic weather patterns and prolonged drought periods, are becoming more apparent.

Through the use of movies, rural people in India are learning about the negative effects of climate change (Photo credit: EDF)

With only 30 percent of the population living in urban areas, India is predominantly a rural country. Most of the rural population depend on farming for food and income and are especially vulnerable to climatic changes, yet there are limited discussions about global warming among the local communities.

But the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), in partnership with the Hunger Project, is hoping to change that by creating a dialogue between farmers and policy makers. Faced with the challenge of contextualizing climate change and its relationship with food insecurity and water scarcity to the general public, the organizations turned to the industry that reaches out to millions of Indians: Bollywood.

Together, the organizations produced a film, starring an Indian soap-opera actor, to stimulate conversations about climate change and ways that ordinary citizens can take action to address environmental challenges. “Aarohan” or “A New Beginning” has already been shown to more than 400 villages in three states at workshops, where leaders, especially women leaders, watch the film and share personal stories about the impact climate change has on their lives.

Although the movie focuses on the severity of the current situation, the screening of the movie is meant to ignite enthusiasm among the viewers to make changes in their own communities.  As a woman at one of the workshops said, “This is a global problem, but many of these challenges are in our hands, within our control. We can’t wait for others to solve it; we should do what we can with these problems.”

Through the powerful medium of film, EDF and the Hunger Project are helping communities in India become more informed about the risks global warming poses on their livelihoods. More importantly, they are helping communities realize that they have the power to address those risks using local knowledge and technology.

Do you know of other projects that are using films, or other forms of media, to increase awareness?

To read more about innovative ways to spread awareness, see: Innovation of the Week: Using Digital Technology to Empower and Connect Young Farmers, For Sustainable Development, Everyone Plays a Role, Innovation of the Week: Makutano Junction Soap Opera and A Sustainable Calling Plan

Supriya Kumar is a research fellow with the Nourishing the Planet project.



Imbe: Africa’s Queen of Fruits

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By Kim Kido

With sap that makes arrow poison, leaves that contain antibacterial compounds, and fruit as tasty as its cousin mangosteen, the uses of imbe (Garcinia livingstonei) are as varied as the places visited by its namesake David Livingstone. One of about 400 varieties of Garcinia, imbe is the best known relative of the mangosteen in Africa.


Imbe fruit. (Photo credit: Wikipedia Commons)

The fruit is eaten raw, cooked with porridge, seeded and dried, or crushed like grapes to create a drink. The fruit can also be fermented to make a purplish wine or soaked in alcohol and mixed with syrup to make liqueur.

Although the fruit is tasty, the plant is more often used as an ornamental in landscaping than a source of food. The tree decorates Mozambique’s capitol and can be seen near Victoria Falls in Zambia and Zimbabwe. Hardy, somewhat salt-tolerant, and drought-resistant, the tree occurs naturally in landscapes as varied as the sand dunes of Tana Delta in Kenya, open woodland of South Africa, the Okavango Delta of Botswana, and termite mounds in Zambia. The tree provides forage for wildlife like elephants and canoe-building material, although the latex produced by the tree can make the wood difficult to carve.

In one of few studies regarding imbe, an antibacterial compound was isolated from the leaves. The bark and root of imbe is currently used in Namibia to treat various ailments from Cryptococcal meningitis to tuberculosis, and the fruit contains compounds with potential anti-cancer effects.

The tree is also potentially a good candidate for intercropping with other species, and its drought-tolerance and attractiveness to insects and birds may make it useful in ecological restoration of degraded landscapes. Despite its potential and current uses, the tree has yet to be domesticated. Little documentation of production under cultivated conditions exists, and virtually no studies have been done to try to improve plant characteristics through genetic selection.

What foods have you tried that can’t be found in a typical supermarket?

Kim Kido is a research intern with the Nourishing the Planet project.

To purchase your own copy of State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet, please click HERE. And to watch the one minute book trailer, click HERE.



In Case You Missed It: The Week In Short

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We’ve had another exciting week in Johannesburg, South Africa, meeting with NGOs, journalists, and development organizations. Next week we’ll be heading to New York City.


(Photo credit: Bernard Pollack)

Here are some highlights from the week: This week’s episode of Nourishing the Planet TV research intern Kaia Clarke discusses how cell phones are becoming just as important to farmers as the seeds, soil, and water needed to cultivate food for the table and to sell at the market. From five-day weather forecasts and new techniques in planting to up-to-date information on current market prices, the more farmers know the more they can benefit. And as cell phones become more prevalent worldwide, farmers are gaining even more access to the information they need.

Check out this blog about Carolina for Kibera (CFK) with an interview with the organization’s founder, Rye Barcott. CFK is based in Kibera in Nairobi, Kenya—one of the largest slums in sub-Saharan Africa and it works to prevent violence and conflict by empowering young slum dwellers to become community leaders.

Don’t miss this slide show put together by the Mail & Guardian, featuring images from thirty of the innovations that nourish the planet that are highlighted in State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet.

This week’s innovation features a recently released report, Making Integrated Food-Energy Systems Work for People and Climate, from the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) that suggests that small-scale farmers who grow crops for food and fuel can help reduce both food and energy insecurity.

Now it’s your turn: What were your favorite posts from the week? What do you hope we’ll write about next week? Let us know in the comments!

To purchase State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet please click HERE. And to watch the one minute book trailer, click HERE.


What Works: Media for Agricultural Innovation and Empowerment in Kibera

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By Amanda Strickler

This post is part of a series where Nourishing the Planet asks its readers: What works? Every week we’ll ask the question and every week you can join the conversation!


Voice of Kibera is part of the Map Kibera media initiative. It works to connect members of the poorest community in Nairobi by hosting events, posting news, and disseminating information. (Credit:

The Nourishing the Planet team has cited several success stories in agriculture coming from Kibera—the largest slum in Nairobi, Kenya. Residents in the slum are finding creative approaches to urban livestock and crop production. Dissemination of these innovations is critical to developing sustainable food production systems. But as many development practitioners know, a lack of communication systems can hinder scaling-up efforts.

As part of the Map Kibera project, the Voice of Kibera is an interactive community news and event website. Project operators use YouTube, Twitter, maps, calendars, and photos to empower citizens through access to participatory social networks. To encourage attendance at community events, the website offers times, dates, locations, and event descriptions.

Although Voice of Kibera provides broad coverage of community events, one sector receiving attention is agriculture. (more…)


In Case You Missed It: The Week In Review

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We are writing after a very busy week that includes the very successful launch of State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet in Pretoria, South Africa.


(Photo credit: Bernard Pollack)

The event that was hosted in partnership with the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN). Dr Lindiwe Majele Sibanda, FANRPAN Chief Executive Officer, and Danielle Nierenberg, Nourishing the Planet co-Project Director, joined local agricultural experts—including Sithembile Ndema, State of the World 2011 contributing author and FANRPAN Program Manager—to discuss agricultural innovations that are working to alleviate hunger in South Africa and across sub-Saharan Africa.

Other highlights from the week include: This week’s episode of Nourishing the Planet TV research intern Kaia Clarke discusses how with the increased prevalence of cell phones worldwide, farmers are gaining even more access to the information they need to improve their harvests and get a fair price for their crops at local markets.

Check out this interview with Ronnie Coffman, Cornell professor of plant breeding and genetics and the director of Cornell University’s Durable Rust Resistance in Wheat (DRRW) project. DRRW has recently been awarded a $40 million, five-year grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the United Kingdom’s Department of International Development (DFID) to address the threat of the fungal infection known as rust that is especially devastating to wheat harvests.

This week’s innovation features he new comic book series “ShujaazFM” which means ‘heroes’ in Sheng, a combination of Swahili and English. The free monthly insert in the Saturday Nation newspaper, a daily syndicated FM radio and TV program, is teaching youth about sustainable agriculture practices from protecting chickens from New Castle disease to fish farming.

Did you have a favorite post this week? What do you hope we’ll write about next week? Let us know in the comments!

To purchase State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet please click HERE. And to watch the one minute book trailer, click HERE.


Innovation of the Week: Teaching Sustainable Agriculture Through Comics

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By: Kaia E. Clarke

Young Kenyans are excited about the new comic book series “ShujaazFM” which means ‘heroes’ in Sheng, a combination of Swahili and English.  Through a free monthly insert in the Saturday Nation newspaper, a daily syndicated FM radio and TV program, youth are learning sustainable agriculture practices from protecting chickens from New Castle disease to fish farming. Lessons from DJ B or DJ Boyie the main character, along with characters Malkie, Charlie, and Maria Kim, are expected to reach approximately 12 million readers a month.


The RIU ShujaazFM Youth Communication Initiative is impacting many youth on innovative and sustainable agricultural practices. (Photo Credit: Bernard Pollack)

According to a  recent United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) report, ShujaazFM distributed more than 5 million copies that carried an agricultural story. The comic has 10, 000 Facebook fans, over 500 followers on Twitter, and receives up to 2, 000 SMS messages a month. Paul Peter Kades, the voice of the popular character DJ B, says, “I’m excited, I’m proud, I’m honored to be part of this team.”

This comic series may not feature the traditional comic superheroes like, Batman and Robin or Superman, but in developing countries where agriculture is essential to survival, ShujaazFM is a hero.  Each edition of the comic book includes a story about an innovative agricultural technique along with an illustrative step-by-step guide that is helpful for all ages. The ShujaazFM story lines are seasonal and give tips on fruit drying, improving crops, and seed selection. One reader told DJ Boykie, Hi DJ Boyie, I learned and planted sukuma (kale) in a sack and it has provided us with food during the dry season.”

The ShujaazFM Youth Communication Initiative is one development from the Research into Use (RIU) project funded by the DFID. It is a partnership between Farm Input Promotions Africa Ltd. (FIPS-Africa) and Well Told Story, a Nairobi-based communication company. Rob Burnet, from Well-Told Story developed the comic book and uses real research from FIPS-Africa to create the agriculture story lines.

As the Director of Research into Use, Ian Mauldin’s goal is to improve lives in the developing world by encouraging researchers to make use of “those dusty volumes of scientific journals.” (more…)


Nourishing the Planet TV: The Barefoot College

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This week’s episode features the Barefoot College in Tilonia, Rajasthan in India. Media intern Mara Schechter explains how the college, founded by Bunker Roy in 1972, recruits women from around the world to come to the campus for six months, where they learn simple skills in solar engineering. Students are given the time to learn, practice, and perfect their knowledge base before returning home to their villages where they pass on their valuable new skills to their entire community.


To read more about the Barefoot College, see: Barefoot College Empowers in More Ways than One.

To purchase State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet please click HERE. To watch the one minute book trailer click HERE.


Meet the Buckminster Fuller Challenge Nominees: Ecosistema Urbano

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The Buckminster Fuller Challenge recognizes innovative strategies with the potential to solve humanity’s most pressing problems. Each year, a distinguished jury awards $100,000 to the winning strategy to support further development and implementation. This week, we’re featuring the 21 semi-finalists currently under consideration for the 2011 award


Ecosistema Urbano, an architectural firm based in Madrid Spain, created a low-cost, small-scale wastewater treatment system that blends seamlessly into an urban setting while reducing city CO2 emissions. Their prototype installation, Plaza Ecopolis, utilizes a macrophytic lagoon to convert grey and black wastewater from a nearby kindergarten to irrigation water for the surrounding park. Coupled with a social software platform, the project seeks to involve the local and global community in water conservation efforts, a cause the firm is passionate about since 40 percent of global water consumption occurs in buildings.

To purchase State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet please click HERE. And to watch the one minute book trailer, click HERE.