ThinkingShift good news story

April 15, 2007 at 3:00 am Leave a comment

photo taken by Kim in NamibiaRegular readers of the ThinkingShift blog may have noticed that I am pretty interested in anything to do with future trends. Alas, what I usually find points to a darkening world of increasing social unrest, class struggles, terrorism, flash mobs and a totally stuffed climate. So I’ve decided to introduce a ThinkingShift good news story every week – mainly to cheer myself up :)- feel free to leave a comment if you also find a good news story.

This week I found two stories. The first is about a very shy, rare rabbit – the Sumatran striped rabbit. It has only been photographed 3 times: in 2007, in 2000 and in 1998. Before this, our elusive friend had been spotted way back in 1972. Fifteen specimens of the Sumatran striped rabbit exist in museums but they all date from pre-1929 and the rabbit is now listed on the endangered species list. But the recent photograph of the striped rabbit as it hopped out of an Indonesian rainforest, indicates that proof of its continued existence is a good news story indeed. And what timing: our hippity hop friend made his appearance over Easter, although he left no Easter eggs:)- This good news story also highlights the importance of maintaining the ecosystem this rabbit inhabits. You can check out the cute bunny here.

The second story is about creativity arising out of a squatter city. The squatter or shadow city has been the subject of recent books, including a good one by Robert Neuwirth. Here’s a link to his blog. Squatter cities dominate the developing world and are vibrant networks of people who, for various reasons, are illegal squatters. I saw my first squatter settlement (Alexandria) in Johannesburg in 2003; and the Brazilian squatter settlement of Racinha in 2004. First impressions don’t always lead you to think that creativity can arise out of such squalid conditions. That’s why I think Neuwirth’s book does such a great job of humanising the often maligned shadow city.

And so does our second good news story. This is the tale of a passionate, young Venezuelan, Gustavo Dudamel, who has just been announced as the next music director for the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, replacing 48 year old Esa-Pekka Salonen who is stepping down after 15 years as music director. Salonen instinctively knew the 26 year old Venezuelan wonderkind was his natural replacement when he saw Dudamel make his US debut in 2005 conducting the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

Why is this such a good news story? Because Dudamel is the successful product of a pioneering programme in Venezuela that offers children from the slums a route out of poverty and crime through a classical music education. Out of the squalor and violence that is the life of South American slums arises a creative talent. Love the photo of Dudamel – you can see the passion he has for music with his hair flying everywhere!

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Entry filed under: Endangered species, Environment, Good news story, Squatter cities.

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