Robber fly - Nature photographer Thomas Shahan specializes in amazing portraits of tiny insects. It isn't easy. Shahan says that this Robber Fly (Holcocephala fusca), for instance, is "skittish" and doesn't like its picture taken.

Eye-popping bug photos

Nature by Numbers (Video)

"The Greater Akashic System" – July 15, 2012 (Kryon Channelling by Lee Caroll) (Subjects: Lightworkers, Intent, To meet God, Past lives, Universe/Galaxy, Earth, Pleiadians, Souls Reincarnate, Invention: Measure Quantum state in 3D, Recalibrates, Multi-Dimensional/Divine, Akashic System to change to new system, Before religion changed the system, DNA, Old system react to Karma, New system react to intent now for next life, Animals (around humans) reincarnate again, This Animal want to come back to the same human, Akashic Inheritance, Reincarnate as Family, Other Planets, Global Unity … etc.)

Question: Dear Kryon: I live in Spain. I am sorry if I will ask you a question you might have already answered, but the translations of your books are very slow and I might not have gathered all information you have already given. I am quite concerned about abandoned animals. It seems that many people buy animals for their children and as soon as they grow, they set them out somewhere. Recently I had the occasion to see a small kitten in the middle of the street. I did not immediately react, since I could have stopped and taken it, without getting out of the car. So, I went on and at the first occasion I could turn, I went back to see if I could take the kitten, but it was to late, somebody had already killed it. This happened some month ago, but I still feel very sorry for that kitten. I just would like to know, what kind of entity are these animals and how does this fit in our world. Are these entities which choose this kind of life, like we do choose our kind of Human life? I see so many abandoned animals and every time I see one, my heart aches... I would like to know more about them.

Answer: Dear one, indeed the answer has been given, but let us give it again so you all understand. Animals are here on earth for three (3) reasons.

(1) The balance of biological life. . . the circle of energy that is needed for you to exist in what you call "nature."

(2) To be harvested. Yes, it's true. Many exist for your sustenance, and this is appropriate. It is a harmony between Human and animal, and always has. Remember the buffalo that willingly came into the indigenous tribes to be sacrificed when called? These are stories that you should examine again. The inappropriateness of today's culture is how these precious creatures are treated. Did you know that if there was an honoring ceremony at their death, they would nourish you better? Did you know that there is ceremony that could benefit all of humanity in this way. Perhaps it's time you saw it.

(3) To be loved and to love. For many cultures, animals serve as surrogate children, loved and taken care of. It gives Humans a chance to show compassion when they need it, and to have unconditional love when they need it. This is extremely important to many, and provides balance and centering for many.

Do animals know all this? At a basic level, they do. Not in the way you "know," but in a cellular awareness they understand that they are here in service to planet earth. If you honor them in all three instances, then balance will be the result. Your feelings about their treatment is important. Temper your reactions with the spiritual logic of their appropriateness and their service to humanity. Honor them in all three cases.

Dian Fossey's birthday celebrated with a Google doodle

Dian Fossey's birthday celebrated with a Google doodle
American zoologist played by Sigourney Weaver in the film Gorillas in the Mist would have been 82 on Thursday (16 January 2014)

Monday, January 26, 2015

Home cheap home: Vietnam architect's quest for low-cost housing

Yahoo – AFP, Cat Barton, 25 Jan 2015

Farmer Vo Van Duong rests inside a S-House 2 built in his garden in Vietnam's
 southern Mekong delta province of Long An on December 11, 2014 (AFP Photo/
Hoang Dinh Nam)

Long An (Vietnam) (AFP) - Vo Van Duong's bamboo and coconut leaf house looks much like others deep in Vietnam's Mekong Delta. But unlike them, his seemingly simple abode is designed to withstand typhoons, flooding and earthquakes -- and at a cost of less than $4,000 could herald a new wave of cheap, sustainable housing.

The natural materials on its surface belie the hi-tech internal structure of the farmer's new home, which uses steel struts and wall panels as a defence against the elements in this natural disaster-prone region.

Architect Vo Trong Nghia speaks during 
an interview with AFP in Ho Chi Minh City
on December 13, 2014 (AFP Photo/Hoang
Dinh Nam)
"The new house is safer, I'm not afraid that it will collapse," the 48-year-old papaya farmer told AFP inside the house he moved into nine months ago.

Duong is testing a prototype by an award-winning Vietnamese architecture firm looking for low-cost housing solutions for communities vulnerable to climate change.

His S-House 2 was free, but if rolled-out on a wider scale could be sold for less than $4,000.

"There was water coming down from the roof in my old house. Sometimes, when there was a strong wind, I was so afraid the house wouldn't survive," Duong said, adding his new home was the envy of his neighbours.

The eco-home is the brainchild of Vo Trong Nghia, who joins other architects around the world in trying to fill a demand for cheap and easy to assemble housing -- from flat-pack refugee shelters to shipping-container homes for tsunami victims.

He says all architects have a duty to help the poor.

"What about those with low income, billions of them, how can they live?" Nghia told AFP. "They have the right to live in comfortable, functional places."

But he wants to go further, creating a home residents can take pride in.

"I don't want people to be looking at it as 'cheap houses' but as resort-quality accommodation close to nature, so (residents) can live a life of the highest quality."

Farmer Vo Van Duong in the garden of a S-House 2 in Vietnam's southern Mekong
delta province of Long An on December 11, 2014 (AFP Photo/Hoang Dinh Nam)

Flat-pack homes

The design is still being refined by his team, who are eventually aiming to create a flat-pack home. The newest version, S-House 3, can be built by five people in three hours.

"Our goal for S-house is for the owner to construct it by themselves," said Kosuke Nishijima, a partner at the firm.

The latest design also allows for multiple houses to be tacked together, a function that could allow, for example, the construction of a storm-proof school easily transportable to remote areas or a larger family home.

Nghia has already been approached by NGOs in disaster-prone Bangladesh and the Philippines, but is not yet ready to supply the house commercially.

From saline-intrusion and flooding in the Mekong Delta to typhoons along the central coast, Vietnam is also home to communities living in high risk areas.

For decades, Vietnamese families have adapted their houses themselves, many building ad hoc mezzanines to avoid flooding.

In more recent years organisations including the Red Cross and Women's Unions, as well as local authorities, have been trying to help people develop more resilient housing.

A bedroom inside an ecologically conscious traditional Vietnamese tube house
 designed by architect Vo Trong Nghia's company, in Ho Chi Minh City on 
December 12, 2014 (AFP Photo/Hoang Dinh Nam)

But in order to ensure such projects are successful, "private architects' support is critical", according to Boram Kim, an urban specialist with UN-Habitat in Vietnam.

"State and local government authorities are well aware that such houses are needed for the poor, but have little technical knowledge for realising their ideas," she told AFP.

"Architects have technical knowledge for reducing the housing construction cost while making it storm proof," she said, cautioning that it was important for designers to listen to the needs of local communities.

Architect for the poor

Nghia's firm found that one of the problems facing rural Vietnamese living in traditional bamboo shacks or stilted river-bank dwellings is the costly upkeep they require to withstand increasingly extreme weather.

Although the S-House 2's outer casing of coconut leaf may need replacing every four years, the structure itself should require no expensive maintenance, said engineer Lien Phuoc Huy Phuong.

A series of concrete slabs and gaps filled
 with plants in the facade of an ecologically
 conscious traditional Vietnamese tube house
 designed by architect Vo Trong Nghia's 
company, in Ho Chi Minh City, on December
12, 2014 (AFP Photo/Hoang Ding Nam)
"It can last a long time, the structure is sound," he told AFP during a tour of the small building. 

Despite its solid exterior, the house is spacious and airy inside, with large windows and doors to bring residents closer to nature.

"We tried to design this house with the best ventilation system, with spaces by the roof and windows for better air flow," Phuong said, pointing out strategic gaps that should reduce the need for electric fans.

Architect Nghia, who used bamboo as a key element in Vietnam's country pavilion for the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai, has long sought to incorporate natural and local materials into his work.

One of his first projects in Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh City was an ecologically-conscious take on a traditional Vietnamese tube home, known as Stacking Green house.

Built in 2011 for around $150,000, the building is made of a series of concrete slabs and gaps filled with plants to provide privacy while still allowing plenty of air and light.

Nghia is in strong demand for high-end projects from hotels to private houses, but said the low-cost S-House is his personal obsession.

"I want to live in S-House. If my family will agree," he said.

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