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Billboards Highlight Art, Not Ads, in Tehran

Tehran becomes an open-air art museum, thanks to the city’s culturally-minded mayor.

Image by Facebook user Babak Karimi.

In an effort to promote the city’s museums and cultural institutions, the mayor of Tehran exchanged 1,500 of the city’s billboard ads with works of art by local and international artists. The billboards, which line many of Tehran’s busy streets and highways, now feature images of paintings by the likes of 20th century Iranian artists Sohrab Sepehri and Mahmoud Farshchian, as well as pieces by Spanish painters Pablo Picasso and the French artist Henri Matisse.

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Even in Oil-Rich Iran, Green Transit Ideas Are Catching On

Finding lessons in how green transit can survive and thrive in an unlikely place.

Tehran is not an obvious place for sustainable transportation ideas to thrive. Gas used to cost next to nothing—about 38 cents per gallon—until December, when the government quadrupled the price to about $1.50 per gallon for a monthly ration of about 16 gallons per car, and closer to $3.00 for any amount past that. With gas so cheap, it's no wonder people choose to drive rather than take the train or the bus. In Tehran, in 2008, just over a quarter of all trips were in private and shared taxis, and another 27 percent were in private cars, according to data from the city. Tehran has been designed for cars, too: freeways slice through the city, cutting off neighborhoods from each other.

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Video: Iran Protests Immediately Turn Violent

Iran's protests have already left one dead, and protesters aren't hesitating to attack police.

Less than a week after Egyptian protesters forced dictatorial President Hosni Mubarak out of office after 30 years in power, demonstrators in Iran took to the streets to demand the ouster of their autocrats, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Unlike their Egyptian counterparts, however, the Iranian protests turned violent almost immediately.

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The GOOD 100: Tehran Bureau

This past summer, as Iran was gripped by street protests and violent government crackdowns, the reporting in the U.S. media left much to be desired.

A Case Study

This past summer, as Iran was gripped by street protests and violent government crackdowns, the reporting in the U.S. media left much to be desired. How do you get news out of a country that barely tolerates reporters? For many, the answer was the Tehran Bureau, a scrappy website run by Kelly Niknejad that published reports from Iran alongside commentary from knowledgeable sources. Soon, the site was being quoted and cited across the news media, traffic was rising-and then the site was mysteriously disabled during the most intense days of postelection conflict (its been back up since). While Iran may have faded somewhat from the forefront of the news, it seems destined to have a key role to play in international events, and we'll need the Tehran Bureau more than ever.

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