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  1. These Are A Few of My Favorite Words!

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    When I was in middle school, my writing teacher asked me to compose a list of favorite words. "Why?!" I asked, equally intrigued as perplexed by the task. "Because it will be the backbone of all other things you write from now on," she told me. "You should begin one today, and add to it for the rest of your life." It was a suggestion I took to heart, and I've been keeping that list ever since. At first, it was a mindless task, and some of my early choices reflect the pleasurable busywork of their pursuit: crush, pumpkin, cavernous, languish. Years later, though, List maintenance evolved into a very real and fascinating meditation on the meaning and diversity of language. My List became very important to me, but it never occurred to me that other people might think it was important, too — might even keep their own List, in fact!

    Enter The Favorite Words Project, a publishing experiment that collects people’s favorite words and publishes them on bumpers stickers and T-shirts. Shape & Nature Press, the design collective behind the idea, call their project a "living installation," and hope to facilitate an engaged dialogue between different people through the framework of their favorite words. Since launching in April, the project has attracted hundreds of participants, with favored vocabulary ranging from the happy-go-lucky (peace, silly, etc) to the possibly befuddling (rippy, furkids, and floccinaucinihilipilification !?) to the, erm, slightly sinister (espionage). What emerges from the resulting word-cloud is a distinct portrait of people speakingabout their hopes, their fears, and their dreams. It's an experience neatly summed up by the creators themselves: "People are masters at using words, and all of us people are an interesting group..."

    With that in mind, we have to ask: what's your favorite word? Tell us in the comments below!

  2. Guest Post: Around the World With Makeshift Magazine

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    Makeshift Magazine is a new print and online publication that's combing the world to find creativity in unexpected places. For some, creativity is a matter of survival as much as it is about making something innovative and beautiful. As the maker movement grows across the globe, it's become all the more important to look at the different ways in which creativity emerges within different cultures and contexts. Steve Daniels of Makeshift sent us some incredible images and stories from the inaugural issue to share with you. Check them out below! Support the project here.

    Armenia, Colombia — In Colombia, the yipao, or Jeep, has surpassed the mundane label of “all-terrain vehicle” to become a full-on cultural icon. Locals use Jeeps as a unit (“un yipao de maíz, por favor”) and host annual yipao parades, in which participants are rewarded for the most fully loaded vehicles and those with the most harmonious arrangements. Photo credit: Turismo y Cultura de Quindio

    Guatemala City, Guatemala — Mayapedal founder Carlos Marroquin builds bicimaquinas, or bicycle-powered machines, out of scrap parts. His creations harness human pedal power for a range of tasks, including water pumps, grinders, threshers, tile makers, nut shellers, and blenders. Mayapedal works with local organizations in Guatemala to implement community-based projects. Photo credit: Anthony Siracusa

    Lilongwe, Malawi — After dropping out of school due to steep fees at age 14, William Kamkwamba began tinkering using parts from a local scrap yard to recreate windmills he had seen at the local library. Piecing together a bicycle wheel for bearings, a car battery for energy storage, a stereo’s magnets for a circuit breaker, and a bicycle dynamo for a generator, he eventually constructed a functional windmill that powered lights in his home. He has since built two more windmills and a water pump. Photo credit: Tom Reilly


    Manila, The Philippines — Even in areas with access to electricity, slum dwellers often can’t afford to use it. Isang Litrong Liwanag (A Liter of Light) collects soda bottles, fills them with purified water, and seals them into rooftop holes. The result is passive solar lighting equivalent to a 50 Watt bulb. Because the technology is so simple and replicable, over 15,000 solar lights have been installed throughout the Philippines since they introduced the technology four months ago. Photo credit: Joey de Leon

    Mexico City, Mexico — By day, Abel Carranza uses homebrewed backpack speakers to hawk pirated CDs on Mexico City's chaotic metro.  Back at home, his passion is creating portable carts to blast quality cumbia and salsa tunes off souped-up carts. Called diablos, or devils, the carts utilize a variety of stereo parts, cables and power regulating units.  Each one is unique from the next — some with blinking lights, some with incredible volume, all with gritty style. Photo credit: Myles Estey

    Beijing, China — Previously a rural farmer, Yu Wulu now devotes his time to his lifelong obsession—making robots. His collection of “sons”, as he refers to them, include both fanciful biomimetic creations, and practical tools, such as his rickshaw and corn husker bots. After years of tribulations, including driving his family into debt and burning his house down, his luck turned when he was invited to showcase his work at the Shanghai World Expo. Photo credit: Reinhard Krause (Reuters)

    Nairobi, Kenya — Kenyan maker Simon Kimani developed an SMS-controlled home automation system, through which he can send text messages to his home to trigger security systems or make tea. His work exemplifies a new breed of invention celebrated at the Maker Faire Africa, a festival held in a different African city each year. Photo credit: Erik Hersman

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