I often travel to different countries chasing stories. It’s hard for me, let alone my credit card issuers, to predict where I’ll be at any given time. This summer, for example, I moved from Madrid, Spain, to Oaxaca, Mexico, and in November I made quick trips to both California and Nicaragua. Confused by my unpredictable spending patterns, my credit card companies often block my legitimate transactions. Continue reading
A busy street climbs a hill on the edge of Oaxaca de Juárez, the capital of the state of Oaxaca in southern Mexico. Up one flight of stairs in a fresh-painted white residential building you’ll find the FabLab community fabrication center and Oaxaca’s first locally-produced 3D printer and plastic extruder.
See also my magazine feature on this project for PBS NOVA Next: “Building a New Economy on Soda Bottles and a 3D Printer.”
On a steep road on the outskirts of Oaxaca de Juárez, Mexico, a low buzz and plastic fumes emanate from a white house. A ribbed white paper tube snakes out of a window on the building, exhaling a light smoke which mixes with fumes from nearby open-air cooks and the sooty exhaust of rumbling, unmuffled bus engines. Inside, the tube is attached to a machine that’s gobbling plastic flakes—which can come from used drink bottles—through a funnel also made from a plastic drink bottle. At the other end of the machine, a spinning wheel draws out the fresh-melted polymer into a black filament just three millimeters wide and value hundreds of times what it was worth in in bottle form.
Gardeners making their rounds through Barcelona’s Parc del Centre del Poblenou these days are as likely to carry tablets as trowels. The city recently moved 178 of its irrigation points to an Internet-controlled system. While it is handy to manage watering at the keyboard instead of turning a knob on a pipe, much of the advantage is in the data that the new system sends back to a central software system the city has built. Continue reading