In his short documentary, The Mystery of Flying Kicks (above), filmmaker Matthew Bate explores the mysterious urban practice of “shoefiti”: throwing sneakers over power and telephone lines. To collect explanations of “shoe flinging” for the film, Bate started a hotline where people could submit videos, photographs, and narratives with their different interpretations of the international phenomenon. It turns out the hanging sneakers are understood to symbolize everything from bullying (in the United States) to the loss of one’s virginity (Australia), to a demarcation of territory between gangs and the police (Spain).
Israeli architects Yehuda Greenfield-Gilat and Karen Lee Bar-Sinai are creating a puzzle-like mapping tool to help policy makers visualize ways to peacefully separate the Jewish and Palestinian sides of Jerusalem without disrupting the city’s urban landscape. According to Smithsonian.com, the team’s primary focus is to resist the use of barbed wire, machine gun batteries, and concrete walls to divide Jerusalem, and “take big-picture questions about the future of the city and ground them in the nitty-gritty details of what a peace deal would actually look and feel like.”
Los Angeles is home to a rich array of murals, thanks both to L.A.’s significant Mexican-American culture and a rise in global street art in the city. And yet, for the last decade, murals have actually been prohibited in Los Angeles. The city council recently provided initial approval of Councilman Jose Huisar’s order to overturn a ban on murals displayed on privately owned buildings. While displaying murals on private households would not be made legal as part of the ordinance, the city plans to provide ways that neighborhoods can decide individually whether or not they permit murals on houses.
Nairobi National Park (NNP), the world’s only wildlife reserve within a major city, is at risk of demolition due to the creation of highways and developments in the city over the last five years. Migrating animals that used to pass freely through the park now face the threat of poachers as a result of areas of the park being closed off for human settlement. Some argue that Kenya isn’t doing its part to conserve its wildlife and environmental resources; Paula Kahumbu, a recognized conservationist and chair of advocacy group Friends of Nairobi National Park (FoNNaP), states “part of the problem is Kenya’s decision-makers aren’t treating national parks like historical monuments in need of protection.”
Check out this piece on the world’s first town square on wheels—a project by the civic design agency, Spacemakers, in collaboration with Studio Kieren Jones and Studio Hato. The pop-up town square—centered around a mobile, fake brick structure that holds a collection of recycled furniture—is making its way through North London until September 28, transforming underutilized open areas into lively public spaces. The “square” is hosting an array of civic gatherings such as debates, chess championships, tea dances, and other programs that highlight the history of the area.
The village of Bushmills in Northern Ireland is resisting economic decline by masking abandoned buildings and homes with colorful representations of retail storefronts. The public art project—which gained popularity before Northern Ireland hosted a G8 meeting in June—has transformed about 12 vacant buildings into lively scenes of local commerce and activity in an attempt to improve the town’s image. The effort is generating a significant amount of tourism by putting the town on the map for creatively stimulating economic development through public art.