Green Light-Year was founded in 2016 by Helen Huan Ni with the goal of develop a variety of public environmental education programs and promote low carbon lifestyle in Shanghai and China in general. Read more.

Green Light-Year. Shanghai, China

Spreading a low-carbon sustainable lifestyle in each neighborhood

Description

In China, 69% of electricity production is based on coal: the country is the largest CO2 emitter in the world.

China is also the world’s largest producer of solar panels, yet few private citizens are equipped by misunderstanding or lack of knowledge.

Green Light-Year was founded in 2016 by Helen Huan Ni with the goal of develop a variety of public environmental education programs and promote low carbon lifestyle through the cooperation with communities, schools and businesses. They organize many experiential and interactive events to make sustainable concepts and actions visible, accessible and spread them throughout the city.

Results

  • Youth research camp, experiential courses, Consulting and Research
  • +1600 people signing up for their activities (eco tours of Ni Huan’s courtyard and local solar projects, workshops on kitchen waste composting, building DIY air filters and how to upcycle old clothes) since 2015
  • +6000 visitors from around the world since 2015
  • +20 kids trained as “little volunteer explainers”
  • Eco Innovator Award, in GGEF Women Eco Game Changer Awards 2018
  • “Social Impact Award” under “2017 Study UK Alumni Award” by British Council

Did you know?

It all started with a private project of maintaining a low-carbon and sustainable lifestyle: in 2014, Helen Huan Ni started using composters, an electric car and set up the first CIGS Solar distributed plant for civil use in mainland China. She spread the idea in her neighborhood and opened her house for visitors to come and learn. The demand became so great that in 2016 she transformed her initiative into an organization, Green Light-Year, to expand her work and cope with the ever-increasing flow of visitors.

Sustainability and Replicability

To develop private solar panels, China has developed a policy supportive of the renewable sector: the state subsidies to spur the implantation of distributed solar rooftop installations. Besides, many cities offer additional subsidies.
Helen’s installation meets 90% of her household electricity needs and helps power her hybrid vehicle.

Lessons learned

It only takes one person initiating a movement and communicating about it to spread a sustainable lifestyle: triggering a ripple effect from one person to a community, a neighborhood, and slowly but surely to a whole city.

Take action

Get informed about Green Light-Year and be inspired to replicate this initiative in your house, your community, your neighbourhood and finally your whole city.

Exhibition in Barcelona: How Would You Improve Your City?

Towards the Human City: How Would You Improve Your City?

After two years traveling the world, Paula and Fernando are back in Barcelona before hitting the road again to document the final part of the project, which will cover southern Europe.

While in Barcelona, the couple took the chance to present the project to the local community, launching the exhibition “Towards the Human City: How Would You Improve Your City” at Barcelona’s SmartCityWeek on November 12th. The exhibition was housed at the city’s urban innovation hub, Ca L’Alier, and was open to the public until December 3rd.

The expo also served as an interactive platform to get new voices to the project: attendees were asked to share their opinion about Barcelona’s urban challenges and propose innovative ideas to make the city more human. From mobility to housing and security, citizens offered interesting suggestions to improve the urban experience and make the city more livable. This video compiles some of these voices and will hopefully inspire citizens and local governments to bring about change in their own urban context.

After two years traveling the world, Paula and Fernando are back in Barcelona before hitting the road again to document the final part of the project, which will cover southern Europe.
While in Barcelona, the couple took the chance to present the project to the local community, launching the exhibition “Towards the Human City: How Would You Improve Your City” at Barcelona’s SmartCityWeek on November 12th. The exhibition was housed at the city’s urban innovation hub, Ca L’Alier, and was open to the public until December 3rd. Read more.

There’s a paradox in our big crowded cities: more and more people live together but feeling more and more isolated and lonely.
The Islibrary Project was founded in 2009 in Guangzhou, and it is more than a simple library. Read more.

Islibraries. Guangzhou, China

Encouraging dialogue and reducing prejudices through libraries

Description

There’s a paradox in our big crowded cities: more and more people live together but feeling more and more isolated and lonely.
The Islibrary Project was founded in 2009 in Guangzhou, and it is more than a simple library: it is a community interaction platform aiming to create dialogue and closer bonds through books and libraries. People can come just for read, but also participate to the different activities proposed: the idea, eventually is promoting communication between the members.

Results

  • +300 Islibraries in +100 cities in Asia
  • +5,500 members and +4,000 volunteers
  • +100,000 visitors per year
  • +300 activities and events
  • Honored mentioned, Austin Electronic Art Prize in Digital Community 2014
  • 1st prize, Social Innovation Venture Competition 2013
  • Best Social Enterprise, Shanghai SE Forum 2013

Did you know?

Islibrary comes from Isolated Library.
One of the activities organized by Islibrary is Human Library: someone represent a book, and 5 to 10 persons around are its readers: the human book shares his story and in return the readers can ask anything. The idea at the end is to create a living human library, and through that, to achieve the purpose of mutual communication, enhancing understanding and removing prejudice.

Sustainability and Replicability

Islibraries can be created in coffee shops, community centers, libraries, hostels, bookstores, unused spaces in residential communities, saving thus the costs of renting. Most of the books are donated by readers, and the management is assumed by volunteers: the whole community owns the library and can organize activities and hold events (reading groups, day manager, living library…)

Lessons learned

The paradox of loneliness in very crowded cities is a challenge that needs to be tackled. Using a shared interest is one easy, reachable and effective way to create and encourage communication amongst those who are not used to meet and start conversation.

Take action

Be inspired by this kind of initiative and do the same in your neighborhood. 

Famous for its traditional arts and crafts: Noh, Gold leaf, the tea ceremony, pottery or dyeing, but also its 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa is a very rich cultural city that combines traditions and modernity. Read more.

Kanazawa Culture. Kanazawa, Japan

Promoting the alliance of traditional arts and modern culture as a sustainable driver to economic development

Description

Kanazawa has been the economic and cultural centre of the Hokuriku region since the Edo period, during which the feudal lords supported and encouraged the development of culture and handicrafts. Fortunately, Kanazawa escaped destruction during World War Two, so parts of the old town remain in good condition today.
Since the old days, traditional Japanese culture has been very much a part of daily life in Kanazawa and Ishikawa Prefecture. Famous for its traditional arts and crafts: Noh, Gold leaf, the tea ceremony, pottery or dyeing, but also its 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa is a very rich cultural city that combines traditions and modernity.

Results

Since 2009, Kanazawa is part of UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network: placing creativity and cultural industries at the heart of its development, as strategic factors for sustainable urban growth, the city have significantly contributed to improving people’s daily lives.
Inaugurated in 2004, the 21st Century Museum for Contemporary Art receives over 1.5 million visitors per year.

Did you know?

The UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN) was created in 2004 to promote cooperation with and among cities that have identified creativity as a strategic factor for sustainable urban development. The 180 cities which currently make up this network work together towards a common objective: placing creativity and cultural industries at the heart of their development plans at the local level and cooperating actively at the international level.

Sustainability and Replicability

Government is aware of the value of culture: they foster young artists and enhance and disseminate this value, through exposure at international level, with tourism and cooperation with other cities.
It’s not only about conserve and preserve traditions and techniques but to turn towards future and integrate modernity, by building bridges with innovation and new technologies.

Lessons learned

The generational clash between tradition, heritage and modernity can lead to new ways of thriving: forsaking heritage is not binding to enter competitive market. On the contrary, tradition can be a valuable vector for strong economic development and a healthy inclusive city.

Take action

In 2005 the restoration work of the Cheong Gye Cheon stream, uncovering it and devoting its shores to the citizens, was successfully completed, unifying the city and giving back its centre to the inhabitants. Read more.

Cheong Gye Cheon. Seoul, South Korea

Tearing the concrete down for a more human oriented city

Description

Seoul is a rather new city, that has strongly developed from the 60’s until the 90’s, from a 2.4 million population to 10 million in the 80’s. To face this growth and lack of infrastructures, Seoul Metropolitan Government build many roads, expressways and highways to connect the city.
In the 60’s, in order to improve the aesthetic and conditions around it, the stream Cheong Gye Cheon running through the city was covered with concrete and, in 1976, an elevated highway was built over top, dividing the city in two parts.
In the 90’s, the growth stabilized and the government switched policy from development to preservation and environment: hence in 2003, the Mayor of Seoul engaged in the restoration of the stream, uncovering it and devoting its shores to the citizens
On October1, 2005 the restoration work of the Cheong Gye Cheon was successfully completed, unifying the city and giving back its centre to the inhabitants.

 

Results

  • + 76% pedestrian activity
  • – 4.5% urban heat island effect
  • – 45% in vehicle volume
  • 64,000 visitors daily
  • Improved air, water and life quality
  • Reconnection of the two parts of the city previously divided by road infrastructure.
  • Increased property value around

Did you know?

The Cheong Gye Cheon is a stream running through central Seoul from west to east and that has always punctuated the life of the city and been considered as a symbol of the nation’s development and growth: during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), housewives did the laundry in the stream. From 1900s until the Korean War (1953), migrants from rural areas build their houses alongside the stream. Thus the Cheong Gye Cheon covering in the 60’s also faded the symbol.

Sustainability and Replicability

The project was initiated through local election: in 2002, the mayor elected proposed this project, supported by almost 80%. Central government didn’t help financially, but helped with its implementation and reaching general public.
This project that had a ripple effect, inspiring other similar projects around the world.

Lessons learned

Governments and elected representatives can be the strong instigators of deep environmental and social changes, while keeping healthy economy in mind for a city and its inhabitants: the choice of a human oriented city eventually pays off for all.

Take action

Learn more about Cheong Gye Cheon and be inspired by this kind of initiative to imagine and shape your city.