When it opens this week, Granary Square will be one of the biggest public spaces in Europe – a focal point for the regeneration of King's Cross, a neglected part of London. It will be managed in a private estate of 10 plazas and parkland near the rail hub.makes this clear. "Welcome to King's Cross," it reads. "Please enjoy this private estate considerately." Over the past decade, large parts of Britain's cities have been redeveloped as privately-owned estates, extending corporate control over some of the country's busiest squares and thoroughfares. These developments are no longer simply enclosed malls like Westfield in White City or business districts like Broadgate in the City of London – they are spaces open to the sky which appear to be entirely public to casual passers-by. It appears from the scale of the change that privatisation of space is now the standard price of redevelopment. There are privatised public zones across Britain, including Brindleyplace in … [Read more...] about Public spaces in Britain’s cities fall into private hands
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For years self-help gurus have preached the same simple mantra: if you want to improve your life then you need to change how you think. Force yourself to have positive thoughts and you will become happier. Visualise your dream self and you will enjoy increased success. Think like a millionaire and you will magically grow rich. In principle, this idea sounds perfectly reasonable. However, in practice it often proves ineffective. Take visualisation. Hundreds of self-improvement books encourage readers to close their eyes and imagine their perfect selves; to see themselves in a huge office at the top of the corporate ladder, or sipping a cocktail as they feel the warm Caribbean sand between their toes. Unfortunately, research suggests this technique does not work. In one study led by Lien Pham at the University of California, students were asked to spend a few moments each day visualising themselves getting a high grade in an upcoming exam. Even though the daydreaming exercise only lasted … [Read more...] about Self help: forget positive thinking, try positive action
The summer of 2012 was the culmination of a polarising seven years. Swaths of the media, the sporting fraternity and politicians of all stripes celebrated the coming regeneration of the forgotten East End due to the planned Olympic Games. Meanwhile, academics, urbanists and local activists bemoaned the speed at which a patch of east London was transformed, resulting in compulsory purchase orders and displaced businesses. Running up to the Games, there was a conscious effort to avoid the fiasco of Athens 2004, which left a patch of the city dilapidated before anyone had time to get nostalgic for it. Since then, we’ve been obsessed with “legacy”, as well as sceptical about who that legacy might be for. Londoners living in the Stratford area vacated their homes to avoid the crowds – one Waltham Forest resident house-swapped with someone in the Outer Hebrides – but many people’s cynicism popped like a balloon during Danny Boyle’s opening ceremony, … [Read more...] about Legacy, what legacy? Five years on the London Olympic park battle still rages
There’s nothing like a crisis to spur on the search for a solution. Since January, when China stopped accepting our contaminated recycling, Australia has been struggling with a waste crisis. While some local councils have tried to adapt their processes, some have been stockpiling recycling while others are sending it straight to landfill. And there’s still no long-term solution in place. Some of the options discussed so far – such as reforming kerbside recycling or creating a national container deposit scheme – have focused on improving the quality of our recycling. This would bump up its value, reduce the cost and in some cases make it so clean it could sail through China’s strict new contamination rules. But for campaigners, the crisis could be the ideal opportunity to rethink recycling in Australia and shift away from export altogether. Environmentalists, waste companies and the recent Senate inquiry have argued that we need to invest in the recycling … [Read more...] about Rethinking recycling: could a circular economy solve the problem?
Maria das Gracas started collecting her plastic bottles after she saw the body of her neighbour floating past her house, carried along with the pollution that helped cause the deadly floods. She stores them by the front door of her one-story home, which sits on the litter-strewn banks of the Tejipió river in north-east Brazil. When she has enough she will take them to the local storage skip, where a litter collector will pay her two reals for 50 plastic bottles – about 40 pence. She’s not just doing it for the money. She’s doing it to stop the tide of plastic drowning this community. Every day Maria and other residents of Coqueiral, a poor neighbourhood in the city of Recife, feel the impact of the world’s plastic binge. It is visible in the waters of the river that once flowed freely through the area. Fifty years ago when Rildo Wandray was a boy, he would jump into the Tejipió and swim, while his friends fished beside him. Today the river is … [Read more...] about The Brazilian villagers turning plastic pollution into profit