On this edition of MetroFocus, it’s been a year and a half since Superstorm Sandy hit the Northeast region and the search for innovative solutions is still underway. Now the U.S. government is getting help from the Netherlands, where managing water is a way of life.
Henk Ovink, the Netherlands’ acting director-general of Spatial Planning and Water Affairs, is now a senior advisor to HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan and the creative force behind “Rebuild by Design,” a competition for architects, engineers, planners and community leaders to come up with ways to protect and plan for future storms and rising sea levels. “I think you have to…change the perspective on the future and not say a disaster is something you can solve,” Ovink tells MetroFocus host Rafael Pi Roman. “We want to live with water and embrace that culture of uncertainty.”
Can animals be legal persons? Animal rights lawyer and author Steven Wise says yes, and he and his Nonhuman Rights Project are working their way through New York state courts in a campaign to win personhood for animals. The New York Times Op-Doc “Animals Are Persons Too” follows Wise and his team as they choose their first plaintiffs, four chimpanzees living in New York.
The Op-Doc is from a new documentary film “Unlocking The Cage,” currently in the making by directors Chris Hegedus and D.A. Pennebaker. After the Op-Doc, guest host Jack Ford interviews Wise about this first-of-its kind court battle. Wise says, “They are autonomous beings. They can determine their own lives.”
And multimedia producer Marisa Wong shows us the wonderful world of little free libraries. Wong takes us to the Two Bridges neighborhood on Manhattan’s Lower East Side to see community leaders, children and architects bring one of the little libraries back from a winter break.
Architectural designer Chat Travieso designed the library for a spot outside a mixed-income affordable housing tower in the neighborhood as part of a project by The Architectural League of New York and the PEN World Voices Festival. Children flock to the library and Travieso says, “It functions on an honor system. If someone steals a book, they steal a book. What’s the worst that can happen? …someone’s reading the book.”