You don’t need me to tell you that we’re living through a historic and remarkable moment, and the despair I’ve been feeling the last few weeks (months?) has given way to the tiniest ray of actual hope for the future. A large part of that has been the reminder that activism can make a difference, so I wanted to start by sharing a few links about how to keep the momentum going:
This post has a great list of local organizations and causes organized by state
And this Black Lives Matter Google doc is the most comprehensive list I’ve seen of places to donate money, petitions to sign, and public officials to contact.
Also, here are some stories I recommend that explore the intersection of race, justice, and design:
“The viral anti–Black Lives Matter protests in Merrick, New York, stem from Long Island’s history of racist housing policy.”
And now, to switch topics inartfully:
Stay at Home Orders & Indoor Air Quality
There have been a lot of headlines about how the stay-at-home orders this spring have led to dramatic improvements in outdoor air quality. But the opposite seems to be happening indoors, and as we hunkered down at home, the air quality in our buildings likely got worse. As I write in Scientific American:
In March Airthings, an Oslo-based manufacturer of smart air-quality monitors, noticed conditions beginning to deteriorate in many customers’ homes that it tracks. Between early March and early May, levels of carbon dioxide and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) increased by 15 to 30 percent in more than 1,000 homes across several European countries, the company says.
As it happens, the pandemic has spurred us to spend more time engaged in two particular activities that are known to be major sources of indoor air pollution: cooking and cleaning. I also interviewed a chemist who has done some fascinating research documenting how much our own bodies contribute to indoor air pollution.
Our mere presence can change the chemistry of indoor air, too. In a 2016 experiment, researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, found that 57 percent of the VOCs detected in a university classroom had been emitted by its occupants. The most abundant of these compounds were chemicals called cyclic volatile methylsiloxanes, which are commonly found in personal care products, especially antiperspirants. The scientists detected chemicals contained in our breath as well, including acetone and isoprene, plus compounds that are produced when ozone reacts with the oil on our skin. “We also saw even very small amounts of emissions from the microbes that live on your skin,” says atmospheric chemist Allen Goldstein, who was senior author of the study.
Check out the full story for more details, as well as some suggestions for what you can do to help keep the air in your home healthy and clean.
A must-read on “Coronagrifting,” or the way that some companies are courting good PR by racing to roll out half-assed pandemic design “solutions”
“The Road to Reopening America Runs Through the Bathroom” (And another piece on the importance of figuring out how to keep restrooms safe in the time of Covid-19.)
Covid-19 should be a wake-up call: Even when the pandemic ends, we need to pay much more attention to ventilation and indoor air.
“We’ve known how to make healthier buildings for decades.” So why aren’t we?
We just can’t win: Dangerous microbes may be taking up residence in the stagnant plumbing systems of empty office buildings
At least the doomsday bunker market is thriving
What we can learn from the disability community: “All around me, I see academic colleagues adopting disability-led hacks and long-sought accommodations. I wish everyone had thought about these workarounds — and about disabled people at all — earlier. When lockdowns end, we must not forget these lessons, not least because the pandemic will disable people, and the impacts will be felt most by the most vulnerable parts of society.”
“NASA’s isolation experts: Lockdown lessons from space”
This is neat:
Why do so many kids love building forts?
An amazing story about a professor who’s living in a dumpster—by choice
The aesthetics of the TikTok house
These homes incorporate plants in innovative, and absolutely gorgeous, ways
Bonus Interspecies Animal Content