Grist List

Climate & Energy

Brazilian inmates can reduce their sentence by providing human-powered electricity

Brazil is pioneering a new sort of jailhouse workout, in which inmates ride bikes instead of pumping iron. The bikes, unlike weightlifting or prison-yard basketball, help power a nearby town.

Cities

New York City shuts down home-brewed community park

The lot at Woodhull and Columbia Streets had sat vacant for 35 years. Around the corner, in Brooklyn’s Carroll Gardens, the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel pours into the Gowanus Expressway. The lot was a mess, a trash bin for the remnants of drug use and a home for rats. Lou Formisano decided to do something about it: He spent his own money to clean up the place, spread it with sod, and install patio furniture and a sprinkler, Patch reports. Two weeks later, the city kicked him out.

Food

These dreamlike landscapes are made out of food

When artist Eszter Burghardt went hiking in Iceland, the geology there reminded her of cake — so she decided to reproduce it using food. The picture above isn’t a tilt-shifted photo of mountains. It’s a picture of a cake Burghardt baked, colored blueish-brown, then brushed with matcha tea powder. (The clouds are wool.) The result is a sort of combination of a bug’s-eye view of food, and an ethereal fantasy landscape.

Pollution

Seriously mindblowing photo of toxic spill damage in Hungary

Photographer Palíndromo Mészáros has a whole series of photographs documenting the aftereffects of a 2010 toxic aluminum spill in Hungary. They’re all pretty staggering, but this one in particular really messed with our heads. This is not a before photo and an after photo stitched together. This is just what this forest looks like now, two years after being flooded with aluminum-heavy sludge that killed underbrush and left a red stain on trees. 

Living

If Park Slope parents suck so bad at contraception, what hope is there for the rest of us?

In fiscal year 2012, the federal budget marked out $610 million for international family planning programs. But perhaps some of that funding needs to be directed inward, to fix the backwards bourgeois parents of Park Slope. Amy Sohn writes in the Awl: You would think people with multiple children would be responsible about contraception because they understand the financial and emotional toll of childrearing. Instead they are as clueless and blasé as teens, teens who really don’t know any better … In the 90s we did “everything but intercourse” because of AIDSphobia. Now we do it because of laziness. As …

Living

This summer’s blockbuster: Tiny House, THE MOVIE

The best cinema taps into our secret dreams, and TINY taps in specifically to our secret dreams about running away to Colorado and building a tiny house. Thus, we think it’s reasonable to assume it’ll be bigger than Avengers. TINY chronicles filmmaker Christopher Smith’s attempt to build a tiny house more or less from scratch. Smith directed the movie and Merete Mueller, who will also live in the house, wrote and produced it. They’re both quite charming, and to get a sense of both their ambitions and their learning process, consider this bit from the blog chronicling the project:

Animals

Meet the parasitic crustacean named after Bob Marley

This little guy, a parasitic coral reef crustacean called a gnathiid, now has something in common with that one dog in that movie and a printer in the Glamour art department: He’s named after Bob Marley.

Living

In the future, your clothes could be made of bacteria poo

The nice way to talk about Suzanne Lee’s garments is to say that they’re “biocouture” — biodegradable clothes that required no animal products in the making. The grosser to way to talk about them is to say that they’re made of bacteria excretion. She explains: You can start with something like green tea, you add sugar as a nutrient and then you introduce another culture which is a living organism and that basically feeds on the sugar and the green tea and it spins threads of cellulose. Basically, these are Kombucha clothes. Those cellulose threads gather at the surface of …

Climate Change

Photos of train tracks and airplane runways melting in the heat

Last weekend’s heat played havoc with transportation in the D.C. area, but at least we got some cool photos out of the chaos. The  heat-buckled highway was just a heat-buckled highway — they’ve been all over the country this summer — but check out this plane sinking four inches into the tarmac at Reagan National Airport:

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