'Ecosystems and biodiversity' Category

Unprecedented referendum makes Germany’s archconservative heartland a world pro-environment pioneer

One of the greatest electoral victories for the environment in recent history recently took place in the German state of Bavaria, and went nearly unmentioned in the English-language media: voters approved, by a landslide, an extraordinarily strong environmental protection referendum that beggars belief in both its regulatory power and its massive popular support.

It made the first step towards ratification in February, when a staggering 18% of all registered voters in the state made a special trip to their city halls, within a two-week period, during business hours, to have their ID checked and then sign a petition in support – almost double the required minimum of 10%. Many voters had long waits in lines stretching down the street in freezing temperatures – more than 11,000 on the first day at Munich city hall alone. The mayor was the first in line.860x860

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In Indianpolis, inspired public art once connected the public to their overlooked waterways. Then they turned the art museum into an Instagram playground.

The Indianapolis Art Museum once had a fine reputation for challenging and praiseworthy exhibits such as a groundbreaking way to connect the public to their urban streams and rivers. Now that reputation is at risk due to a shift to crass marketing gimmicks, yoga, craft beer, and the “greatest travesty in the art world in 2017”.

 

FLOW 19L

 

Two of the most compelling and pioneering works of site-specific environmental art of recent decades – as much community engagement as art per se – took place in Indianapolis in the mid 2010s. Although they were the work of one of the most important living creators of public and “land” art, little record of them remains online (the most significant source is here) and they have disappeared from the online presence of the Indianapolis Museum of Art, which commissioned it. You won’t find them on the website of this once-esteemed institution ever since its highly controversial rebranding last year, which has been described as “walking away from their mission” and “the greatest travesty in the art world in 2017“, resulting in an “Instagram playground” with “fairgrounds-style attractions”.

The two works, called FLOW – Can You See The River? (2011) and StreamLines (2015), consisted of over 100 giant oversize map pins – with bright red basketball-size pin heads – marking various features of the local urban waterways – such as small dams and sewer outlets – along with a variety of ingenious interactive installations for physically engaging the public and connecting them with their local urban waterways.

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A rare heath ecosystem just outside Berlin

I recently visited the Döberitzer Heath, a twenty-square-mile nature reserve on a former military training ground outside of Berlin. Like many military bases, it served as an unintended nature reserve for many decades before decommissioning because manoeuvres don’t disturb the ecosystem all that much – you need a lot of empty space for firing weapons – and the land was strictly off-limits to visitors and every other possible use. (Click to enlarge)

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