Sunday, November 16, 2014

Orange is the new tawny

How can one predict what will be trendy ? Could "Meme, Myself, and Irene" ever go viral as a T-shirt slogan ?

IBM's "Birth of a Trend" project studies the science behind predicting online trends that can revolutionize an
industry. Researchers analyzed six years of social media data to study "Cycle Chic," the fashion/transportation
movement dedicated to cycling in stylish street clothes, often atop classic bicycles. Read more about this.

A biking movement called Slow Roll aims to revitalize neighborhoods within bigger cities. It was founded in Detroit
by Jason Hall, who stars in a cool iPad commercial. If inspired to roll your own Slow Roll someday, get approval

In recent years the Gravel Grinder movement - events featuring unpaved roads - has sprouted in the US. Learn
more about this hot new trend in cycling here or here. Or start training for a local event to be held next March 21.
In the Chianti area of Tuscany, preserving the heritage of the white gravel roads has inspired a vintage-bicycle
race that has grown to more than 5,000 participants. L'Eroica, which means "the heroic" in Italian, takes place 
each October. The race was conceived to help prevent the gravel roads from being resurfaced with asphalt. Since 
its 1997 debut, the event has evolved into a model for environmental sustainability.  NYT article: A Race Against Time

As of 2013 there is a sister L'Eroica event in Japan, located near Mount Fuji and Lake Kawaguchi. Video clip.

      "The theme of the event is to preserve the slow lifestyle of the past and enjoying nature, 
      community and sports within this lifestyle; and to promote sustainable tourism and international
      cooperation and exchange."            

More recently, there has been expansion to the UK with L'Eroica Britannia last June, branded as 
"the most handsome bike race in the world".  Getting right into the spirit of it, the official video, or
read a nice article about the UK's vintage cycling movement. 

Whereas the ethos of the UK-based Eroica references "sustainability" only once, the philosophy of the
Tuscan prototype mentions it 3 times. I'm not sure whether this imbalance is due to macadam pavement
having been invented in the UK, or the Slow Food movement having originated in Italy. There also appears
to be some amount of fast food wordplay going on, with reference to "hero" sandwiches rather than "grinders".

The Slow Food movement has as its logo an orange snail, as used by this restaurant in Belgrade. An orange
item is an important prop in the wonderful 2-minute video "Rolling" by NYC's Transportation Alternatives. But
as explained by this SF-based color consultant, the color of sustainability is not just orange, or even green. In
any case, the movement continues to grow in the central part of the Garden State.
Brian Eno, co-composer of the music used in "Rolling", coined the phrase "The Long Now" two decades ago.
It "refers to the idea that in some cultures the word 'now' refers not to the immediate moment, as it does in 
our culture, but to a day, a year, or even 10 generations backward and forward. A project, The Clock of the Long
Now, aims to build a monumental, super-slow astronomical clock - to embody the idea that "sustainability begins with 
taking a long view of our past and our future and adjusting current activities in accordance". Princeton alumnus
Jeff Bezos is funding the project. Details on how the ingenious movement within the 10,000 Year Clock is synchronized
to the sun can be found here.

Meanwhile, around here there's no stupendous techno-marvel, only an iconic sundial. Downtown restaurants dedicated
to Slow Food include the newly-opened and vibrant Jammin' Crêpes at 20 Nassau. There remain several nice unpaved 
stretches of road nearby. Plus you can literally take the long view by biking along Longview Drive ! For sustenance, there
are no heroes or grinders, only hoagies. 

But we can be heroes: a map showing a slow, loopy 8-mile bike ride in search of local colors and such is online here.



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