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Mountain Villagers in traditional clothing, at the Q'eswachaka bridge festival, Peru.
29th October 2017

The GOOD List #37

This Sunday the clocks go back. Although that ultimately means dark mornings and even darker evenings, there is light: this Sunday we’ll get a whole extra hour in bed. Here’s some more GOOD news to keep a spring in your step.

Katie’s GOOD news

Recently I was catching up on the BBC's Mountain Life at the Extreme, a series that documents the life in the Andes mountains and shows how animals and humans survive in some of the toughest conditions. There was one scene that completely blew my mind. A village grouped together to make rope from grass. The endeavour took days as the rope had to be thick enough and strong enough to replace the bridge Q'eswachaka they'd made from grass the previous year. The whole series is incredible, filled with breathtaking scenery and inspiring stories. | Find pictures and more information from the series here.

An elderly villager crosses the Q'eswachaka rope bridge in the peruvian Andes.

Dorothy’s GOOD news

This week, I lost 10 minutes of my life finding out '”which words are most hip hop”. Someone has gone through 308 hip hop artists and compared the language which each of them use. Using the data, the website’s author has grouped the artists lyrically (for instance rappers from similar regions used the same language), found out which words are most overused (stunting) and underused (broken), and made some all round very clever graphs. It's completely pointless, but a really cool use of maths and apparently uses advanced statistical concepts, which I'm sure I'll never understand. The website is really cool and past topics it has studied include “The 2,452 Wikipedia Pages on which Miles David is mentioned” and “Analyzing the Gender Representation of 34,476 Comic Book Characters”. I've now signed up to its newsletter to get a visual essay every week. | Discover for yourself here.

Have you ever asked yourself - what words are most hip hop?

Anya’s GOOD news

Last week I finally got around to visiting the Alexandra Road Estate, a modernist social housing complex designed by architect Neave Brown in the 1970s. The concrete estate, purposely overgrown with lush terraced planting, has just won 88-year-old Neave the RIBA Royal Gold Medal and is well and truly deserving. Brown believed that every home should have its own front door that opens directly onto a labyrinth of streets, as well as its own private outdoor space, opening to the sky in the form of a roof garden or terrace. Every single one of the 500 homes of the Alexandra Road Estate boasts these features. The complex also houses a community centre, special needs school, children’s centre, a care home for young people with learning difficulties and a public park. Remember, this is social housing.

There’s also a fascinating story behind the estate – it was over budget, beyond schedule and subject to a public inquiry which ended up killing Neave’s career. Now aged 88, Neave has long stepped away from the architecture industry. His response to winning the award is truly humbling.

“It is an absolutely dumbfounding surprise,” he says, eyes wide with shock. “I’m in a state of tiswas about it. I stopped following architecture years ago, so I had no idea there was this renewed interest in my work until recently. I thought my buildings were a curiosity of the past that people had largely forgotten about.” | Read more about the project here.

Alexandra Road housing estate in Camden, London. Photograph: Alamy

Jodi’s GOOD news

My GOOD news this week is Caitlin Ryan's response to M&C Saatchi creative chief Justin Tindall's comment on diversity. Justin Tindall sparked controversy for a recent comment in Private View about being "bored of diversity being prioritised over talent".

Caitlin, who is the executive creative director at Cheil UK, responded with this letter.

Caitlin Ryan

Sabine’s GOOD news

This week, the Guardian published an article on “toxic masculinity”. It’s a fantastic article expertly written by a guy I've come to know called Jordan Stephens. It’s not necessary to give the article much of an introduction; it's just a delicate, powerful and articulate window into Jordan’s heart and mind. Everyone should read it.

Jordan Stephens is one half of hip-hop duo Rizzle Kicks

Amy’s GOOD news

I’ve just learnt about the amazing Gravity Light from The Gravity Light Foundation. The light addresses the problem of the dangerous, polluting and expensive use of kerosene lamps by the over 1.2 billion people globally who have no access to electrical lighting.The Gravity Light is operated by the user simply dropping anything heavy object – rocks or a bag of sand are its example –  into a kinetic system that powers a generator as the weight slowly falls to the ground. Genius!

Laura’s GOOD news

It’s a good week when you discover that a book you’ve always hypothetically wanted to read actually exists. For me Under My Thumb: Songs That Hate Women and the Women Who Love Them is one such title. Released this month by top left-leaning published Repeater, the book is a collection of essays by women exploring misogyny in music and how they square their feminism with an appreciation for artists that doesn’t share their progressive values. As a huge hip hop fan, enjoying the work of musicians that implicitly or explicitly disrespect women has been something I’ve struggled with since I was a teen. Sorry sisters, but sometimes a beat is just so good that I can’t help love it, no matter how problematic it is. It’s thorny. I LOVE footwork, but some of the lyrics are shocking, perpetuating stereotypical male/female dynamics that I want nothing to do with. I’ve even had men tell me I’m a “bad feminist” for a semi-ironic love for super-saccharine pop hit Yamaha by The Dream. 

Knowing that there’s a book filled with essays echoing my own mental gymnastics around gender politics and music, plus how it intersects with race, class and sexuality has filled me with excitement. The book arrived yesterday and I can’t wait to get stuck in. | Find out more about Under My Thumb and Repeater here.

Under My Thumb: Songs That Hate Women and the Women Who Love Them. Edited by Rhian E Jones and Eli Davies.
Want more GOOD news? See what we were shouting about last time here.

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