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Could a Saharan Super-Skyscraper Be the Future of Urban Living?

How self-contained vertical cities can put our utopian ideals into action.

Artistic rendering on the Sand Tower

Earlier this year, the innovative French architectural design firms Nicholas Laisné Associés and OXO Architectes released conceptual plans for something called La Tour des Sables (The Sand Tower). The proposed project is a massive, self-contained, self-sustaining 1,400-foot tall city-tower to be constructed in the heart of Morocco’s slice of the Sahara desert. A mixture of 600 housing units, an equal amount of public green and recreational space, and even more office units (not to mention the hotel, restaurants, bars, and meteorological observatory on top of the tower), it could contain well over a thousand people. While the Sand Tower may be uniquely ambitious, the concept of a self-contained city-structure is a longtime utopian dream, and one that is becoming increasingly more relevant as the pressures of urbanization and environmental degradation become increasingly dire.

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Morocco’s Biker Girl Gangs Featured In Colorful New Doc

Artist Hassan Hajjaj’s “’Kesh Angels” film showcases the badass women that are breaking gender stereotypes in the Middle East.

Kesh Angels, by Hassan Hajjaj. Courtesy of Taymor Grahne Gallery

Images of Middle Eastern women in the media from the last few decades fall into two stereotypes, either dutiful housewives or victims. This cramped worldview, however, leaves very little room for the reality of their rich and vibrant lives. Moroccan photographer and filmmaker Hassan Hajjaj set out to shatter these misconceptions with his celebrated Kesh Angels series, which debuted in 2014 at the Taymor Grahne Gallery in NYC. Through stunning, technicolor images of Marrakesh’s “girl bike gangs,” he paints a more complex vision of contemporary Islamic gender roles. Now, after spending two more years on an accompanying documentary project, Hajjaj will unveil A Day In The Life Of Karima: A Henna Girl at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), as a major feature of LACMA’s ongoing Islamic Art Now programming. In it he follows one of his favorite “angels” Karima, who is known for breezing through Marrakesh on her bike with her vibrant veils and textile abayas and djabellas fluttering in her wake. In addition to being a local icon, Karima is also a normal woman who works eight or ten hours a day. She is also an artist, wife, mother, and graduate of what Hajjaj calls “Jamaa Fena: the university of street life.”

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The Largest Wind Farm In Africa Will Light Up 1.5 Million Homes

The new wind farm will also save Morocco $140 million in oil imports.

A Moroccan windpark. Photo by Flickr user Christoph Kober.

The Tarfaya Energy Farm is located in Morocco, on the country’s southern coast. With 131 wind turbines spread out over 22,000 acres of land, the farm also has the distinction of being the largest wind energy project in Africa. This month, the Tarfaya Energy Farm was finally up and running after more than a year of constuction. Surveyors predict that at full capacity, it will provide clean energy to 1.5 million homes. This energy farm is projected to offset the impact of 900,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions every year, cutting the country’s annual oil imports by an estimated $140 million.

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Teachers Are Awesome: This Bostonian's Running 155 Miles Across the Sahara For Student Laptops

Liz Byron's running the 155-mile Marathon de Sable in Morocco to raise $50,000 for laptops for her sixth grade class.


Boston teacher Liz Byron is really going the extra mile for her students—155 extra miles to be exact. In April 2013 Byron plans to run what's considered the world's most difficult race, the Marathon de Sable, through Morocco's section of the Sahara Desert. Runners carry their own food and supplies, "endure 120 degree heat, sand storms, and run between 26 and 50 miles a day." She's putting herself through such an extreme race to raise $50,000 to purchase a set of laptops for her sixth grade class at Gardner Pilot Academy in Boston.

Right now Byron's students have just four laptops to use, which makes it pretty tough to ensure that they're all digitally literate and able to access the wealth of educational resources available on the web. Given that 92 percent of Gardner's students live at or below the poverty line, it can't be assumed that they'll have access to technology at home, either. "It’s frustrating to know that technology is so embedded in our lives and then you come to school and it’s absent," Byron told local television station WBZ.

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Inside Look: FairMail Helps Global Youth Become Commercial Photographers

One social enterprise brings Fair Trade photos, shot by young people in Peru, India, and Morocco, to the web market.

Many travelers know that handing your digital camera over to a local kid in a place like Mombasa, Bogota, or Jakarta can yield some seriously cool shots. It's also a fact of globalization that this common exchange can serve as the first hands-on experience with digital technology for many young people growing up in developing countries.

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Video: Skateboarding Across Peru and Bolivia in 36 Days

It's hard to resist the lure of a roadtrip: just you, your friends, and four wheels. What if they're really small wheels though?

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P307uzCmNgo&feature=player_embedded

It's hard to resist the lure of a roadtrip—particularly one in a faraway land—just you, your friends, and four wheels. What if they're really small wheels though, and all your gear is on your back? The Cleanest Line found a trio of travelers taking a decidedly stripped down mode of transportation on some very questionable roads. Above is a glimpse into their South American adventure in 2009.

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