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Posts Tagged ‘earthquake’

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Photo: Fathul Rakhman/Mongabay-Indonesia
The traditional homes on the island of Lombok have survived several earthquakes over the years. Concrete homes crumble.

Often there is wisdom in the old ways. That’s what residents of an Indonesian island in the Ring of Fire learned after a series of earthquakes created havoc with modern concrete structures.

Fathul Rakhman has a report at Mongabay.

“Jumayar’s house fell early on Aug. 5, as the second of four large earthquakes in the span of three weeks ripped through the Indonesian island of Lombok, clobbering his village of Beleq in the process. …

“Although Lombok, which is next to Bali, sits squarely on the quake-prone Ring of Fire, heavy, concrete homebuilding is the norm. These rigid structures became death traps during the earthquakes. Only the handful of wooden traditional houses in Beleq, with their lightweight, flexible designs, emerged unscathed. …

“Though elements like floor height or wall width may vary in different parts of the island, all traditional Sasak homes employ the same basic design: Thatched bamboo walls enclose dirt floors, connecting them to roofs of woven reeds. … Wooden homes can sway, or ‘breathe’ when earthquakes strike, concrete houses cannot; they have no flex and topple easily.

“In North Lombok, the epicenter of the damage, 70 percent of the houses collapsed or were severely damaged. Rebuilding will require hundreds of millions of dollars, according to government estimates.

“In Beleq, families in traditional houses ran outside like everyone else, fearing for their lives. Not a single one of their traditional structures fell, even as the concrete homes around them crumbled.

‘If the government offers to rebuild here, we will reject the [construction of] concrete homes,’ said Sahirman, the Beleq village head. ‘We want to go back to our ancestral homes.’ …

“ ‘The ancestors bequeathed to us an architecture that is in harmony with nature,’ said Lalu Satriawangsa, chairperson of the provincial AMAN [the country’s largest indigenous rights nongovernmental organization] chapter. …

“The Indonesian government has typically looked upon the traditional houses as ‘slum dwellings,’ an indicator of poverty. But Lalu says the government should support the construction of traditional houses. Not only are they cheaper, but as the recent disasters proved, they are infinitely safer.

“For too long traditional homes have been seen to mark the persistence of poverty rather than the preservation of culture, ignoring their instrumental value, Lalu said.

“ ‘Now is the time for us to campaign for [the rebuilding of] homes that are more in tune with nature,’ he said. …

“As rebuilding plans take form, Sahir, the Beteq village head, believes the community should look to the past for inspiration.

“ ‘I don’t want to sleep in a concrete house ever again,’ he said.”

More at Mongabay, here.

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6Photo: Fondazione Manifesto
Poggioreale, Sicily, one of the towns destroyed by a 1968 earthquake. A public art project has helped to heal the region’s survivors, many of whom were still suffering from depression decades later.

I’ve blogged a lot about the healing power of various arts in various contexts, but I think this is the first post about what art can do for a traumatized region after a natural disaster. The story takes place in Sicily, where a 1968 earthquake flattened an already impoverished region.

Patricia Zohn writes at artnet news, “On a recent day this summer, I [descended] into the rural, arid Belice Valley. I was accompanied by Zeno Franchini of the Fondazione Manifesto, an advocacy group that leads tours of the region, which was devastated by the 1968 earthquake in Sicily. …

“More than the number of people who died (approximately 400), or the number rendered homeless (approximately 100,000), the earthquake exposed grave fissures in the socioeconomic and political fabric of one of Italy’s poorest regions — disparities that linger to this day.

“While thousands of earthquake victims lived outside Gibellina, an isolated agricultural community, in two shanty towns with barebones infrastructure, in 1970, the National Institute of Social Housing in Rome, determined, after numerous plans for reconstruction were abandoned, to build an entirely new city, a Gibellina ‘Nuova’ for the victims at a site 11 miles from the ruins. …

“By 1979, scant progress had been made due to government corruption, the Mafia influence, and red tape, and victims were still living in dire conditions. That’s when Gibellina’s flamboyant, powerful gay Mayor, Ludovico Corrao, invited a number of leading Italian and German artists and architects to participate in a rescue mission. …

“Though there was no budget for art or culture, Corrao had already begged and borrowed to found the Orestiadi performance festival, just outside the ruins of Gibellina, with the help of performers like John Cage and Philip Glass. Emilio Isgrò, an artist and dramatist, described a wind-chilled night of 1983

‘where artisans, sheep farmers, housewives, anti-Mafia judges and theater directors and personalities from all over Europe sat together to watch’ his performance in the festival. …

“The concrete Utopian city of Gibellina Nuova [became] an open-air laboratory for assessing the healing capabilities of public art. Today, 50 years since the earthquake struck, many look back on Corrao’s radical experiment in civic engagement, rehabilitation, and unification as a cautionary tale. But new efforts are now underway to realize a more pragmatic version of [his] utopian dream.

“ ‘The city needs to really become an Art Town,’ says Alessandro La Grassa, president of the Center for Social and Economic Research of Southern Italy, the organizational heir to the early activist efforts. He envisions it as a place ‘where artists live or stay and where empty buildings and spaces start to find a new function.’ …

“Today the region is a symbol of hope. A newly revitalized combination of social activists, municipal agencies, educational institutions, and private support is finally bringing the unique art interventions of more than five decades in the Belice Valley — and especially the city of Gibellina — to the attention of a wider public. …

“Tours of Poggioreale, Burri’s Cretto, and Gibellina Nuova are available until November 14 through fondazionemanifesto.org.” More here.

I wonder how public art might by employed to rebuild after a hurricane like Michael. Something for art leaders in Florida to think about.

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Photo: Safira’s Journey
Safira, an Indonesian blogger, visits the Teletubbies village to learn about earthquake-resistant housing.

I like the WordPress blog Safira’s Journey, by a young woman from Indonesia. In a July post, she visits an unusual village and takes pictures.

“My sister needs to make a report about Teletubbies Village in Yogyakarta. So, she asks me to take her to the place as I’m more familiar with Yogyakarta. It’s one of unique village or kampong in Yogyakarta.

“It is made for replacing the public’s house which ruined because of the earthquake in 2006. It was big earthquake and the victims about 6.234 people. It’s occurred at 5.55 in the morning for 57 seconds with moment magnitude of 6,2.

“Teletubbies domes village is from Domes For The World Foundation. It’s unique house and it can resist the earthquake. My sisters interviewed the people who living in one of the domes. She said, it’s comfortable and people are happy to live there. The domes village is one of the memorial from the earthquake.

“They even have annual even to memorizing the earthquake. They make the Teletubbies figures as the icons as you can see from my pictures. Who is that in the costumes? LOL”

More photos at Safira’s Journey.

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For architecture buffs everywhere, an article on a collaboration between Hariri Pontarini Architects and Gartner Steel and Glass that has led to an unusual place of worship in South America.

Lisa Rochon writes in Toronto’s Globe and Mail that starting last September “at the Gartner Steel and Glass testing facility in Bavaria, Germany, translucent panels of cast glass [were] mocked up. Artisans at Toronto’s Jeff Goodman Studio, working in close collaboration with Toronto’s Hariri Pontarini Architects, produced the thick, milky glass for a Baha’i temple on the edge of metropolitan Santiago, Chile.

“The protective embrace of the domed temple, to be defined by nine petals (or veils), will be fabricated of myriad shapes in cast glass, with 25 per cent of them noticeably curved. Luminous and white is what design lead Siamak Hariri had in mind; seen up close, they look like streams of milk frozen in place.

“It took years of testing and the rejection of hundreds of samples at the acclaimed Goodman Studio (which typically makes chandeliers or small-scale screens of glass) to arrive at the 32-millimetre-thick cast glass with matte finish. ‘That the design is finally being mocked up in Germany represents a major milestone,’ says Hariri. …

“The project is unique in the world, says Gartner’s managing director, Armin Franke, from his office in Germany. Hariri’s exacting specifications have presented many challenges. For one thing, the architects want only the most minimal silicon joints between the heavy cast-glass panels. The panels – made from countless glass rods laid on a sheet and baked at Goodman Studio – are stronger than stone, according to tests, to satisfy a Baha’i requirement that the building endure for 400 years, and to survive one of the most active earthquake zones in the world.”

I love how many players around the world are collaborating on the innovations behind this project.

Lots more on the project here and at the Baha’i website, here.

Photograph: Hariri Pontarini Architects. A computer-generated rendition of the Baha’i House of Worship under construction in Santiago, Chile.

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Being in the middle of an earthquake just now (a baby one), I got the urge to post about a cemetery.

Peter DeMarco wrote in the Boston Globe a while back about a lovely dance performance in the famed Mount Auburn Cemetery.

“The 100-member cast of ‘A Glimpse Beyond: A Unique Celebration of Life and Death’ leaves no one out: dancers, musicians, poets, puppeteers, sopranos, jazz singers, gospel choirs, and actors — some garbed as masked ‘spirit owls,’ others portraying the recently departed — join to make audiences ponder what lies ahead in the great beyond.”

According to DeMarco, the show was designed so that audience members could walk along, following the narrative as it unfolded “across the various graves, groves, and lush contours of America’s first garden cemetery.”

Bree Harvey, the cemetery’s vice president of external affairs, told the reporter that the performance was suited to Mount Auburn because “ ‘it’s a place of peace and tranquility, a place to commemorate the dead and console the bereaved and celebrate the lives of those buried here.’ ” More.

“Glimpse” reminds me of “When the Saints Go Marching in” and the New Orleans jazz parades that commemorate a life.

Back to the earthquake: John retweeted  prompt info from @NewEarthquake on twitter: “4.5 earthquake, 6km SSW of Lake Arrowhead, Maine. Oct 16 19:12 at epicenter.” It took NewEarthquake only four minutes to report. In case you haven’t gotten into twitter yet, it is truly the place to go for breaking news.

Photograph: Pamela Joye
“A Glimpse Beyond: A Unique Celebration of Life and Death” brought a 100-member cast onto the grounds of Mount Auburn Cemetery

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I went to the concert of an oboe-playing friend Sunday. The 3 p.m. event coincided with the anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami that took place a year ago in Japan. My friend, of Japanese heritage, was moved by the music he was playing, and so was I. The modern pieces really sounded like an earthquake to me. I had visions of Poseidon, the Bull from the Sea, rising up in anger against humankind, and later of hope dawning.

The Charles River Wind Ensemble, where my friend plays, has a new conductor. I liked Matthew Marsit’s energetic style and his explanations of the pieces. Marsit, a clarinetist himself, is also a conductor at Dartmouth College, where he practices his belief in music outreach to lower-income communities.

“An advocate for the use of music as a vehicle for service, Matthew has led ensembles on service missions in Costa Rica and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, collecting instruments for donation to schools, performing charity benefit concerts and offering workshops to benefit arts programs in struggling schools.  His current work at Dartmouth allows for outreach projects in the rural schools of New Hampshire and Vermont, working to stimulate interest in school performing arts programs.” Read more.

I think musicians can be very giving people. Indian Hill Music in Littleton, Massachusetts, offers scholarships and more. Someone I know on the board tells me that Indian Hill has “a program to bring music instruction to schools in the region that have cut out music due to budgetary constraints. They also offer free concerts, a Threshold choir (music for dying patients), and a number of other outreach efforts.”

In Providence, Rhode Island, Community MusicWorks demonstrates how music builds community and teaches social responsibility. You can read about this and other innovations in Rhode Island’s creative economy here.

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Back in the day, I was a great fan of Mary Renault. I took her every word as gospel, down to the conversations Theseus had with Ariadne, because the stories generally meshed with what I knew from studying ancient Greek.

The Bull from the Sea was about the sea god Poseidon, who also is the god of earthquakes. I remember Renault’s description of the eerie stillness in the air before an earthquake and the strange behavior of the creatures.

So I am not at all surprised to read in the Washington Post that animals at the National Zoo knew before this week’s earthquake actually quaked that something was about to happen.

“The zoo documented a broad range of animal behavior before, during and after the tremor … . For example, a gorilla, Mandara, shrieked and grabbed her baby, Kibibi, racing to the top of a climbing structure just seconds before the ground began to shake dramatically. Two other apes — an orangutan, Kyle, and a gorilla, Kojo — already had dropped their food and skedaddled to higher turf. The 64 flamingos seemed to sense the tumult a number of seconds in advance as well, clustering together in a nervous huddle before the quake hit. One of the zoo’s elephants made a low-pitched noise as if to communicate with two other elephants. And red-ruffed lemurs emitted an alarm cry a full 15 minutes before the temblor, the zoo said.

“During the quake, the zoo grounds were filled with howls and cries. The snakes, normally inert in the middle of the day, writhed and slithered. Beavers stood on their hind legs and then jumped into a pond. Murphy the Komodo dragon ran for cover. Lions resting outside suddenly stood up and stared at their building as the walls shook. Damai, a Sumatran tiger, leaped as if startled but quickly settled down. Some animals remained agitated for the rest of the day, wouldn’t eat and didn’t go to sleep on their usual schedule.” Read the full story.

And while we’re on the subject, please read about 96 percent of a certain kind of male toad abandoning their breeding ground five days before the 2009 L’Aquila, Italy, earthquake! (That lead came via Andrew Sullivan’s blog.)

 

 

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