The Ugandan Ministry of Health has launched an initiative to digitize the country’s health management systems. Because mobile technology can be the fastest, cheapest means of collecting and analyzing data, especially in rural areas, the Minstry is embracing mobile technology to create a seamless system of health management and early warning techniques across the country. The Ugandan UNICEF country office has developed projects to work with the Ministry’s goal of digitizing the health systems. mTrac and Community Vulnerability Surveillance are two new projects that use SMS to gather and disseminate data and news, with a focus on health and public services.
Posted Oct. 25, 2011, 2:39 p.m. EST by OccupyWallSt
To all those in the United States currently occupying parks, squares and other spaces, your comrades in Cairo are watching you in solidarity. Having received so much advice from you about transitioning to democracy, we thought it’s our turn to pass on some advice.
Indeed, we are now in many ways involved in the same struggle. What most pundits call “The Arab Spring” has its roots in the demonstrations, riots, strikes and occupations taking place all around the world, its foundations lie in years-long struggles by people and popular movements. The moment that we find ourselves in is nothing new, as we in Egypt and others have been fighting against systems of repression, disenfranchisement and the unchecked ravages of global capitalism (yes, we said it, capitalism): a System that has made a world that is dangerous and cruel to its inhabitants. As the interests of government increasingly cater to the interests and comforts of private, transnational capital, our cities and homes have become progressively more abstract and violent places, subject to the casual ravages of the next economic development or urban renewal scheme.
An entire generation across the globe has grown up realizing, rationally and emotionally, that we have no future in the current order of things. Living under structural adjustment policies and the supposed expertise of international organizations like the World Bank and IMF, we watched as our resources, industries and public services were sold off and dismantled as the “free market” pushed an addiction to foreign goods, to foreign food even. The profits and benefits of those freed markets went elsewhere, while Egypt and other countries in the South found their immiseration reinforced by a massive increase in police repression and torture.
The current crisis in America and Western Europe has begun to bring this reality home to you as well: that as things stand we will all work ourselves raw, our backs broken by personal debt and public austerity. Not content with carving out the remnants of the public sphere and the welfare state, capitalism and the austerity-state now even attack the private realm and people’s right to decent dwelling as thousands of foreclosed-upon homeowners find themselves both homeless and indebted to the banks who have forced them on to the streets.
So we stand with you not just in your attempts to bring down the old but to experiment with the new. We are not protesting. Who is there to protest to? What could we ask them for that they could grant? We are occupying. We are reclaiming those same spaces of public practice that have been commodified, privatized and locked into the hands of faceless bureaucracy , real estate portfolios, and police ‘protection’. Hold on to these spaces, nurture them, and let the boundaries of your occupations grow. After all, who built these parks, these plazas, these buildings? Whose labor made them real and livable? Why should it seem so natural that they should be withheld from us, policed and disciplined? Reclaiming these spaces and managing them justly and collectively is proof enough of our legitimacy.
In our own occupations of Tahrir, we encountered people entering the Square every day in tears because it was the first time they had walked through those streets and spaces without being harassed by police; it is not just the ideas that are important, these spaces are fundamental to the possibility of a new world. These are public spaces. Spaces forgathering, leisure, meeting, and interacting – these spaces should be the reason we live in cities. Where the state and the interests of owners have made them inaccessible, exclusive or dangerous, it is up to us to make sure that they are safe, inclusive and just. We have and must continue to open them to anyone that wants to build a better world, particularly for the marginalized, excluded and for those groups who have suffered the worst .
What you do in these spaces is neither as grandiose and abstract nor as quotidian as “real democracy”; the nascent forms of praxis and social engagement being made in the occupations avoid the empty ideals and stale parliamentarianism that the term democracy has come to represent. And so the occupations must continue, because there is no one left to ask for reform. They must continue because we are creating what we can no longer wait for.
But the ideologies of property and propriety will manifest themselves again. Whether through the overt opposition of property owners or municipalities to your encampments or the more subtle attempts to control space through traffic regulations, anti-camping laws or health and safety rules. There is a direct conflict between what we seek to make of our cities and our spaces and what the law and the systems of policing standing behind it would have us do.
We faced such direct and indirect violence , and continue to face it . Those who said that the Egyptian revolution was peaceful did not see the horrors that police visited upon us, nor did they see the resistance and even force that revolutionaries used against the police to defend their tentative occupations and spaces: by the government’s own admission; 99 police stations were put to the torch, thousands of police cars were destroyed, and all of the ruling party’s offices around Egypt were burned down. Barricades were erected, officers were beaten back and pelted with rocks even as they fired tear gas and live ammunition on us. But at the end of the day on the 28 th of January they retreated, and we had won our cities.
It is not our desire to participate in violence, but it is even less our desire to lose. If we do not resist, actively, when they come to take what we have won back, then we will surely lose. Do not confuse the tactics that we used when we shouted “peaceful” with fetishizing nonviolence; if the state had given up immediately we would have been overjoyed, but as they sought to abuse us, beat us, kill us, we knew that there was no other option than to fight back. Had we laid down and allowed ourselves to be arrested, tortured, and martyred to “make a point”, we would be no less bloodied, beaten and dead. Be prepared to defend these things you have occupied, that you are building, because, after everything else has been taken from us, these reclaimed spaces are so very precious.
By way of concluding then, our only real advice to you is to continue, keep going and do not stop. Occupy more, find each other, build larger and larger networks and keep discovering new ways to experiment with social life, consensus, and democracy. Discover new ways to use these spaces, discover new ways to hold on to them and never givethem up again. Resist fiercely when you are under attack, but otherwise take pleasure in what you are doing, let it be easy, fun even. We are all watching one another now, and from Cairo we want to say that we are in solidarity with you, and we love you all for what you are doing.
Comrades from Cairo.
24th of October, 2011.
Canon 5D Cake
(On Conover Street btwn Reed & Beard Streets in Red Hook, Brooklyn)
Conover Street on a freezing February evening is a cold, dark, lonely place to be. Or at least it is until you see this, one of my favorite neon signs in New York. If you can see that sign, you must be within spitting distance of Sunny’s, and that is a very happy place to be. If the sign is lit, better still—it must be after 8 o’clock on a Wednesday, Friday, or Saturday, which is when Sunny’s is open (originally it was Fridays only). ”When you enter Sunny’s,” as my friend Paul describes it, “The rest of the world just falls away, and suddenly there is no other place but This Place.”
It happens to be a place that’s bit of a hike from the not-always-reliable G train, so I cajoled Paul into driving last night—though that’s not exactly a hard sell for anyone acquainted with the charms of this Brooklyn institution. If you ever hear someone say Sunny’s is the best bar in the world, you shouldn’t contradict them, you should just go.
You might think I failed to focus properly when taking this photo—nope, the blur is from the steamy window, caught between the outdoor chill and the indoor warmth. Neon in a steamy window entirely makes up for the fact that the neon is in a window in the first place—not a configuration I usually prefer since the glow has nowhere to go. But the steam not only showcases the glow, it shows you that there is a warm refuge on the other side. When we arrived shortly after opening last night there were only a couple of people there, which you can tell just looking at the window then. By the time we left, though, things were in a Sunny’s kind of low-key full swing, and the window had steamed up nicely.
I love this sign not only for being a beacon for a warm, inviting place, but also for its design. The colors are great—I never noticed until I photographed it that the dolphin (is that a dolphin or a stylized whale?) has a green nose. Nice. The shape of the anchor, the curves of the fishy thing—it’s all graceful but simple, tough but welcoming, and totally appropriate for the waterfront location down the street from where stevedoring still happens. And for the price of a couple of beers I got to admire the glow of the sign and the warmth behind it.
Russ & Daughters
(on Houston Street between Allen & Orchard Streets in the Lower East Side)
Do you know what is delicious at Russ & Daughters? EVERYTHING. Also, there’s this excellent neon sign out front, featuring frolicking fish, and a great ampersand (that you might recognize from a certain alphabet poster) tilting forward just enough to make you want to rush in to get some smoked fish. So last night shortly before closing I did. I splurged on a tiny amount of wild Western Nova — a Northwest childhood means I choose wild pacific salmon whenever the opportunity presents itself. King salmon is not generally my first choice (I prefer either sockeye or coho), but still: this stuff is delicious. The merest sliver of it transforms any breadstuff into an oily, fishy feast. My omega-whatsits are now fully stocked.
Back to the sign, though: sitting on Houston Street more or less half-way between Katz’s and Sunshine Cinema, and a block below Gringer, Russ & Daughters might still be my favorite in the neighborhood. Sure, it’s not as riotous as Katz’s (which sports an excellent apostrophe) or as understated as Sunshine, but something about the brace of blue & yellow fish, with their yellow eyes and perfectly outlined tails is just the perfect enticement for the treasures within. Pair that duo with the classic green & pink name in clear san-serif lettering, and you have a truly iconic sign for a delicious New York institution.
Welcome boatload of new followers & subscribers! If you have questions, they may be answered here, or on one of the other pages linked from the top of the Project Neon main page. If not, you can email me. And if you’re in New York, you can see some neon photos (and neon) in person at the City Reliquary, Saturdays & Sundays from noon until 6p.
Hey, will you be coming to the opening of the Project Neon photo show on Friday the 23rd? Please do! If you like neon signs, if you like New York, if you like the fantastic City Reliquary, or if you’re just curious about any of the above, you should definitely come.
And you guys, I have SO MUCH work to do between now and then. I have to finish a bunch of stuff for the app tonight, send out the last few Kickstarter rewards over the next couple of days, do show planning over the next week, print & trim photos, install, etc. etc. It would be a great favor if you could help me spread the word. Thanks!
The photo above is a fantastic neon sign provided by Project Neon sponsor NeonSigns4U.com. It’s the sign (which is about two feet in diameter) sitting on my kitchen table. It’s so bright! And the lightning bolt and light rays coming off of it can flash (or be steady). I had a very busy weekend following up on a previous project, so I just now got to unpack it and plug it in. Very cool!
You can see the sign in person at the show—it’ll be hanging in the window. I hope to see you there!
Introducing “Gestures”, a proof-of-concept for front-end gesture recognition on iOS and Android devices. There is nothing particularly revolutionary going on here, I simply re-tooled the $1 Unistroke Recognizer to accept mobile safari and android touch screen device input. I was surprised to…
I took advantage of some free time over the Jewish holidays to reflect seriously on the last year of my career at MTV Networks. What came out of that was a very long opus on the evolution of social media, social viewing and social TV. I make some declarations and predictions and perhaps stir up a…
Last week, I walked the streets of Carroll Gardens to find the most interesting person in the neighborhood, Vinny Tallercio. Vinny owns the Smith Union Market which has been operating in the same location since 1945.
In my search, I talked to the Italians, a couple of cafe owners, my wonderful hosts, and Sam at the laundromat. You can listen to all of these characters in the podcast.