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Squatter Shacks in Manila: 11 Million People Live Thusly in Greater Manila

In many years shooting photos of buildings, I've developed an appreciation of shacks in squatter settlements. Considering that they're built out of trash by people with no money, some are remarkable. Talk about recycling! I've always been too shy (or scared) to shoot in the slums. There's a settlement in Tijuana on the banks of a toxic-looking gulch I've always admired.

Kevin Kelly just sent me link to a website in Frankfurt of the L.A. Galerie, which is having an exhibition of the photos of Peter Bialobrzeski and Oliver Boberg. The exhibit opens today and runs for 2 months. Here are some of Bialobrzeski's photos.

The following description is from art-in.de website:
Peter Bialobrzeski shot the Case Study Homes series at the Baseco compound (“Bataan Shipyard Corporation Compound”), a squatter camp located at the mouth of the River Pasig near the Port of Manila, in February 2008. This neighbourhood, 300 ha of unsafe, unstable subsoil of a former dump site, is home to an estimated 70,000 people. Around 45 per cent of the more than 11 million inhabitants of Greater Manila currently live in such squatter camps and slums. ... The pictures of this photographic investigation follow a strict composition. The self-made shacks of old slats and posts, covers, roofing cardboard, corrugated metal and all kinds of cloth fill out each picture in its entirety, like in a portrait. In many cases the photographer chose a slanted front view, displaying both the front and one side wall of the house. Pure front perspectives are rare, as are two or more buildings in one picture. ...

Playing For Change: Song Around the World "Stand By Me"

"If you're a fan of world music, then you're in for a treat with Mark Johnson and Jonathan Walls' Playing for Change: Peace Through Music, a film that premiered at the 7th Annual Tribeca Film Festival. It isn't really a documentary as much as a global concert film, recorded on the streets of New Orleans, Barcelona, South Africa, Tibet and elsewhere, as the filmmakers (Johnson being an award-winning engineer and producer) traveled across the globe, finding musicians to record tracks on versions of "Stand By Me" and Bob Marley's "One World" without any of the individual musicians ever having met each other. The purpose of the project which led to the formation of a foundation to help impoverished people in the areas visited is to show how music brings people together regardless of their cultural differences. The project had the duo recording and filming these diverse musicians guerilla style, then editing the film together to create an amazing never-before-seen "music video" of these amazing musicians playing together on these inspirational songs, as well as playing their own music." Above excerpt from flixxy.com: the best videos on the net
Movie sent me by Lew.

Cajun Food in San Francisco

Spotted this place while skateboarding in SF Tuesday morning. This is a wall next to the entrance of The Cajun Pacific Cafe, which is at 4542 Irving. It's received good reviews, good seafood. Subtitle on the sign is "Po Boys and New Orleans Kitchen." I'm going to try it out. I'm a sucker for good graphics.

Robert Harvey Oshatz, Architect

This seems to be my week of far-out architecture. This is the Gibson boathouse/studio, Lake Oswego, Oregon, designed: in 1993, completed: in 1995, by Oregon architect Robert Harvey Oshatz.

Rotating Domes From France

I have many objections to domes, but this French company makes some well-crafted, and (they say), solar powered, revolving domes. They are not geodesic (i.e. polyhedral), so have smooth, rather than multi-faceted shells. They also produce non-revolving prefabricated dome shells. See http://design.spotcoolstuff.com/

Another House in San Francisco

House by beach in SF yesterday morning

3 Houses By The Beach, San Francisco

Caribbean colors near my favorite SF beachside espreswso/wi-fi cafe. Am I glad to be home!

In retrospect, my trip was pretty tough at times. I'm off-balance when I travel anyway, and traveling like I did, too much backpack weight, stress in the cities…there were occasions when I would get depressed being alone and…hey, am I whining?

The trip was actually a rich experience:and it's thrilling to be back; the tough times sharpen perspective at home.

I'm printing out contacts (thumbnails) of all 2500 photos, I swear I have enough for a book: people, places, ocean, jungle, waves, animals, fish, cities, Chilon ajnd Guitar Shorty, Costa Rican Celtic rock and roll, but it will probably end up as a chapter on a book I'll do some year called Trips.

Quote From Obama's Op-Ed of March 24

Today, some 30 newspapers around the world ran an op-ed by Obama, worth reading at Huffingtonpost, short quote: "… we cannot settle for a return to the status quo. We must put an end to the reckless speculation and spending beyond our means; to the bad credit, over-leveraged banks and absence of oversight that condemns us to bubbles that inevitably bust."

Puhleeze don't tell me this guy ain't different. (An American ex-pat solemnly declared to me in a bar in Panama, it didn't matter, the corporations are running the show, it was all rotten, Obama was no different from Bush…I changed the subject to fishing.)

Driftwood Creature Sculpture

Sculpture on Northern California Beach by Bob Demmerle, Zim Croselli and friends

Sculptural Ferro-Cement Seashell House in Mexico City

Sent to us by David Wills. Designed by Senosiain Arquitectos of Mexico City

Small Oregon Town Wins Septic Battle

"…our story of how the 6,500 people living in an unincorporated area in the poorest county of Oregon brought down the special interests won a battle for the little guy."

I wrote an article for the Mother Earth News about a year ago, with my assessment of a huge scam being presently perpetrated on homeowners: that they need to "upgrade" gravity-powered septic systems with high-tech, expensive systems. Article here.
A few days ago I got this letter from people in a small town in Oregon about the article helping them turn things in a more practical (and ecological) direction. I hope the ball keeps rolling and small towns, as well as individual homeowners, push forward with sensible and workable solutions.
Note: An experienced engineer working on a national level with high-tech systems recently told me he estimates that conventional gravity-fed septic systems work in 80% of the soils in America.


Dear Lloyd Kahn,

I just wrote the following letter to the Mother Earth News and I want to send a copy to you as well. Your article was instrumental in our victorious 2 1/2 year battle with Deschutes County in central Oregon. It was a dog fight, but we finally won.!!

Dear Editor,

I am writing as a representative from our Citizens Action Group in La Pine, OR. La Pine is one of four federal Demonstration Project sites that was chosen to study nitrogen in our water supply, and to encourage the installation of complicated, expensive, and for the most part, unnecessary treatment systems. A year ago in your Feb./March 2008 issue, you featured a very informative article entitled "The Truth About Septic Systems" by Lloyd Kahn. Our citizens group had been objecting to these systems for over a year by then. That article helped us to understand the dynamics of the push to mandate the studies and installation of these systems as a money making venture on the part of county staffs and installers of these systems. You very kindly sent us some extra copies of your magazine and gave us permission to quote the article in our organizing efforts. Despite the almost 100% objection of the citizens, the County passed a law they called "Local Rule" to mandate the installation of these systems.
We did not give up. We collected 2,400 valid signatures on a petition to recall the Local Rule and forced it to be a ballot measure to be voted on March 10, 2009. The county staff, the local newspapers, and the big money interests all united against us. We found it impossible to get them to acknowledge the truths so clearly detailed in the Mother Earth article, or even to publish information from the USGS study that countered their arguments. So, we went to meeting after meeting of just about every organization or group we could think of who has an interest in water and the environment.
The votes were counted on March 10 - and we won by a wide margin! The Local Rule was repealed. Now we will be able to work with the Department of Environmental Quality to create a comprehensive sustainable plan to insure the quality of our drinking water in Central Oregon. Mr Kahn's article was very empowering for our grassroots organization, and we are very grateful to him and to your magazine for your support.
Since this recall could have national implications, we are wondering if Mr. Kahn or one of your writers would be interested in telling our story of how the 6,500 people living in an unincorporated area in the poorest county of Oregon brought down the special interests won a battle for the little guy.

If so, just let me know, and we will be as helpful as we can.

Thank you so much.

Pamela Cosmo, secretary of CAG, La Pine, OR.

Green Apartment House in Costa Rica

In San Jose, Costa Rica

I Smell A Rat!

I hadn't been home 24 hours from a 6-week trip before I was made aware of a country homeowner's nightmare: the smell of a dead, rotting animal in the house. It happened about 6 months ago and turned out to be a disintegrating possum under the floor. I won't tell you how much fun it was to remove this object. So this time I again donned my crawl-under-house coveralls, scarf and headlight and went under the house looking. I should add that I so wish I'd followed the Uniform Building Code requirement of 18" crawl apace because I have to wiggle like a worm on my belly to attend to wiring, plumbing or dead animals under the floor. So here I am working my way to the area of the smell and wham! I've hit the 1/2" copper pipe "t" to the kitchen sink and knocked it off and water is gushing out. Shit! I wiggle my way out, turn off the main water line, go back underneath, only to see it's still dripping. Back out, turn off another valve, get my copper plumbing tools, propane torch, white bread to block water while soldering, big flashlight, wiggle in…there's more, but just say I was ecstatic that the joint worked.
Now for the main problem: I couldn't find anything under there, so went to the living room where the smell (getting worse) was strongest, and pried off wood trim so I could start removing the ceiling boards. When I got the first board off, here was a big rotting rat. Yahoo! Way better than if it had been in the middle of the ceiling — lord have mercy! I was thrilled, no kidding, Scrubbed off boards, swept up rat shit, vacuumed dust, burned incense, Hallelujah!