Swiss Vote to Ban Minaret Construction

Posted in Racist Worldviews on December 9, 2009 by Karen Keddy

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“Swiss voters on Sunday adopted a referendum banning the construction of minarets, seen by some on the far right as a sign of encroaching Islamism.”

This article on was given to me by Majdi Faleh.


Real Bad Arabs: Hollywood’s relentless vilification of Arabs

Posted in Racist Worldviews on December 9, 2009 by Karen Keddy

The documentary illustrates how the image of a nation was vilified by Hollywood, creating different types of stereotypes (from Bedouin bandits and submissive maidens to sinister sheikhs and gun-wielding “terrorists”). The idea of over time has served to naturalize prejudicial attitudes toward Arabs and Arab culture, in the process reinforcing a narrow view of individual Arabs and the effects of specific US domestic and international policies on their lives.

It makes comparisons to how Nazi Germany was able to build upon the “economic threat of the Jews” to create widespread hatred of Jews. I always find these illuminations full of insights about insidious racism (this research finds that 25% of Hollywood movies demean Arab men and women) which is apparently acceptable in our culture.

Thanks to Majdi Faleh for showing this to me.

Guerilla Knitting

Posted in Graffiti, Protests, Public Art on December 8, 2009 by Karen Keddy

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In response to stereotypically masculine graffiti, urban knitters beautify environments with nondamaging art.  Click here to read the article.

Nickelsville, Seattle

Posted in Citizenship, Protests, The Homeless on December 6, 2009 by Karen Keddy

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These links discuss a “tent city” of homeless Seattlites that was started in 2008.  The Girl Scouts of America donated pink tents for the community.  They ususally set their tents up on property owned by the city.

The residents named their settlement “Nickelsville” as a dishonor to Seattle’s Mayor Greg Nickels.  They claim Nickels repeatedly asked police to “drive people out of their encampments and to destroy their property.” (Mustard Seed House)

By banding together, the homeless can stay warmer and be more organized.  Often there encampments have included dumpsters and port-a-potties.

When the mayor sent a representative to give the Nickelodeons their eviciton notice, she would tell them that the city would provide beds in shelters for the displaced homeless.

But the residents said that the mayor was lying.  There weren’t enough beds in the homeless shelters to accommodate all of the city’s homeless.  They said that the representative was really offering to kick-out 14 residents from the shelter for one night and let 14 Nickelodeons stay there.  But after that night, they would be back on the streets again.

Question:  Do the tents provide a sense of privacy and “ownership” of personal property that the shelters cannot provide?  (E.g., Some residents have said that couples and families can stay together in the tent – which is better than their options of single beds at the shelters.)

To include multiple perspectives, I have also included links to the Mayor’s website, and a page that included complaints from homeowners who lived nearby the encampments.

Nickelsville’s Website

Nickelsville Asks Court ot Block Eviction

Eviction at Nickelsville

Mustard Seed House

Interviews on Democracy Now

Mayor’s Official Website

Complaints from Neighboring Homeowners

Homeless Protest by Camping Outside Mayor’s Home

Futuristic Bus Stops for Florence

Posted in Bus Stops on December 6, 2009 by Karen Keddy

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MIT’s SENSEable City Lab designed these bus stops for Florence, Italy.   The stops include LED and touch screen displays which can display information like Florence’s Air Quality, Real-time locations of the buses, and silent moving advertisements.  iPhone owners might also be able to download an application which works with the bus stops – and lets them know when the bus is running late.

Here are three websites that discuss the stops:

Planetary Gear

The Design Blog

Information Week

Donating Socks and Shoes

Posted in The Homeless on December 6, 2009 by Karen Keddy

This page is a part of the “End Homelessness” portion of  It highlights the importance of donating shoes and socks to the homeless.  Because of all the walking they have to do, their shoes can get worn out quickly.

Posted in Citizenship, The Homeless on December 6, 2009 by Karen Keddy

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 On, Valerie Street has written an article about Mark Horvath.  Horvath goes around the country interviewing homeless people.  Street’s article discusses the path that led him there.  It notes how social networking sites like twitter and facebook can help bring an awareness to these types of social issues.  Click here to read her article.

Also, if you want to see some of Horvath’s interviews, I strongly recommend you check out Horvath’s website ( or his youtube channel.  (The videos download a little faster on youtube.)