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Showing posts from 2009

Istanbul in an Urban Age

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For someone who loves cities like I do, it was nothing short of fascinating to spend two days listening to the big thinkers -- architects, planners, academics, and activists from around the world -- that Urban Age brought to Istanbul this past week for the ninth in its series of globe-trotting conferences on the future of the planet's mega-cities.

(The stunning, Bosphorus-side setting at the Esma Sultan Yalısı, a thoroughly modern interior re-imagining of a gorgeous wreck of an old mansion into an airy event center, didn't hurt -- nor did the decadent amount of tasty food served.)

The event also marked my writing debut for the local English-language newspaper the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review, for which I filed two stories, an overview of the conference ("The future of cities in an Urban Age") and a look at some imaginative architects' ideas for re-envisioning parts of our often chaotic and under-planned city ("New design visions for Istanbul neig…

The cost of 'virtual water'

A presentation by Arjen Y. Hoekstra of the Water Footprint Network was one of the most interesting I heard at the World Water Forum this spring, prompting all sorts of questions about water footprints vs. carbon footprints and when it might not be best to produce goods locally -- subjects that I could barely give a glancing look in a short news piece for the latest issue of Sierra. Working on it certainly piqued my interest in the topic further; hope it does the same for readers.

Read my article on water footprints, "Fluid Measures," in the July/August 2009 issue of Sierra magazine.

Bright ideas from the 'Dark Ages'

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Stumbling across a short news item last summer about the opening of an "Islamic Science and Technology Historical Museum" in Istanbul's Gülhane Park led me deep into the history of the Muslim world in the Middle Ages -- and led to an assignment for Wired magazine to write about some of the invaluable scientific discoveries that date to that era.

Read my article, “Fathers of Invention: What Muslims Gave the Scientific World,” on Wired's website, or download a jpg or pdfversion as it appeared in the magazine's June 2009 issue.


Underground adventures

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Writing a short travel piece for Sierra about a trip I took some time ago to New Zealand brought back great memories. It's a long flight, of course, but well worth it for the amazing scenery, fantastic food and drink, and potential for adventure.

Where else can you hike across an active volcano, kayak secluded coastlines, and go inner-tubing in caves filled with glow worms? And we didn't even get far enough south to hit the glaciers.

Read my "Explore" piece on New Zealand's Waitomo Caves in the May/June 2009 issue of Sierra.

World Water Forum in Istanbul

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I spent the past week at the 5th World Water Forum, held here in Istanbul this year, attending sessions on traditional cultural uses of water, migration and conflict, and women's issues, among other topics that jumped out from the thick catalog of panels and presentations.

It was a productive week, as I filed daily dispatches from the conference for TreeHugger.com and wrote my first piece for The National, an excellent English-language newspaper based in Abu Dhabi.

My complete conference coverage for TreeHugger:
Day 1: What is this 'Big Water Meeting'?Day 2: Linking Water, Conflict, Gender, and MigrationDay 3: Accounting for Every DropDay 4: Images of InundationDay 5: Understanding the Sacred Value of Water Day 6: 'Another Water Management is Possible'Day 7: Is Water a 'Right' or a 'Need'?
UPDATE: The article I wrote for The National is no longer available on their website, but you can read it after the jump.

Now 'tweeting'...

Count me among those who don't know exactly what the Twitter fuss is all about, but I've been hopping on Web bandwagons since 1996, so I'm not going to miss the chance to try and post some amusing observations and thought-provoking articles in 140 characters or less... Don't worry, I'll go light on what I ate for lunch.

Green amid the grime

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Though it would be premature to call Istanbul an "eco-city," there are plenty of green discoveries waiting to be made amidst the urban sprawl. I sought out organic markets with friendly farmers (right), vegetarian restaurants, public-transportation options, parks, running groups, and eco-friendly souvenirs for a PlanetGreen.com "Green City Guide" to my adopted home.

UPDATE: This article is no longer available online. Read my "Green City Guide: Istanbul" as a jpg or download as a pdf.