UP: The Umbrella Project, created by Pilobolus in collaboration with the MIT Distributed Robotics Laboratory, premiered on Friday, October 12th at PopTech in the Camden Harbor Amphitheater in Camden, Maine. Functioning as individuals in a group - or pixels on a screen - participants wielding umbrellas fabricated with multi-colored LED lights, created a performance piece together that was projected in real time on a large screen.

Starring the PopTech conference attendees and the Camden community, this Pilobolus piece, like all of the modern performance company’s work over the last 42 years, was borne out of its proven method of collective creativity.

“If 20 percent of the land goes under water, which may happen in the next 10 to 20 years, where will these people go? We don’t have enough space, enough land. People have to live on the water in some way.”

Climate change is exacerbating flooding in waterlogged Bangladesh. Already, hundreds of schools get wiped out during the monsoon season. Mohammed Rezwan builds floating schools, healthcare facilities and libraries. 

treehugger:

Architecture for Humanity Chicago helps improve food access and eating habits in inner-city areas by buying up an old Chicago Transit Authority bus and retrofitting it into a single-aisle grocery store. Dubbed the Fresh Moves Mobile Produce Market, it travels through the Windy City’s “food deserts,” selling fresh produce and offering classes on cooking and nutrition.

See more smart ideas for fixing cities: 12 Innovative Ways to Rethink Our Cities. 

Mobile participatory budgeting helps raise tax revenues in Congo

In a world awash in data, connected by social networks and focused on the next big thing, stories about genuine innovation get buried behind the newest shiny app or global development initiative. For billions of people around the world, the reality is that inequality in resources, access to education or clean water, or functional local government remain serious concerns.

South Kivu, located near the border of the Democratic Republic of Congo, has been devastated by the wars that have ravaged the region over the past decade.

Despite that grim context, a pilot program has born unexpected fruit. Mobile technology, civic participation, smarter governance and systems thinking combined to not only give citizens more of a voice in their government but have increased tax revenues as well. Sometimes, positive change happens where one might reasonably least expect it. 

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A freshly painted colourful street by members of a market community initiative in Athens, Greece. 

With their most recent project, they hope to inspire others to reclaim the beauty of pedestrian streets of the degraded downtown and historical center of Athens.

Watch now: Consumer psychologist Simonetta Carbonaro implores us to think differently about consumption. A consumer-hungry outlook for cheaper and faster has gotten old. We now know that consuming and producing less, in fact, creates more jobs, more free time, and more happiness.

There’s always something brewing in the PopTech community. From the world-changing people, projects and ideas in our network, a handful of this week’s highlights follows.

  • This week D-Rev: Design Revolution, which is run by 2011 PopTech Social Innovation Fellow Krista Donaldson, was highlighted in Fast Co.Exist. D-Rev bringing state-of-the-art, user-centric products to empower the lives of the four billion people living on less than four dollars a day.
  • In food tech news, 2011 Social Innovation Fellow Erica Block's Local Orbit was featured on Xconomy.com. Local Orbit provides one-stop-shopping with an online platform that provides customized websites with e-commerce, management, and marketing tools to help streamline the local food supply chain.

If you’d like to receive a stream of these updates (and more) throughout the week in real time, follow us on TwitterTumblrFacebook, sign up for our newsletter, and subscribe to the PopTech blog.

Image: Simon Rankin

Inspiring start for the Wangari Community Gardens in Washington, DC.

There’s always something brewing in the PopTech community. From the world-changing people, projects and ideas in our network, a handful of this week’s highlights follows.

  • On Thursday, PBS’ Media Shift blog profiled community builder and PopTech 2011 speaker Milenko Matanovic. Matanovic uses collaboration to transform communities nationwide.

If you’d like to receive a stream of these updates (and more) throughout the week in real time, follow us on TwitterTumblrFacebook, sign up for our newsletter, and subscribe to the PopTech blog.

Image: James Vaughan