Secret city design tricks manipulate your behaviour
When Selena Savic walks down a city street, she sees it differently to most people. Whereas other designers might admire the architecture, Savic sees a host of hidden tricks intended to manipulate our behaviour and choices without us realising – from benches that are deliberately uncomfortable to sculptures that keep certain citizens away.
Modern cities are rife with these “unpleasant designs”, says Savic, a PhD student at the Ecole Polytechnique Federerale de Lausanne in Switzerland, who co-authored a book on the subject this year. Once you know these secret tricks are there, it will transform how you see your surroundings. “We call this a silent agent,” says Savic. “These designs are hidden, or not apparent to people they don’t target.” Are you aware of how your city is manipulating you?
In 1999, the UK opened a Design Against Crime research centre, and authorities in Australia and the US have since followed suit. Many of the interventions these groups pioneered are familiar today: such as boundary marks painted around cashpoints to instil an implied privacy zone and prevent “shoulder surfing”.
San Francisco, the birthplace of street skateboarding, was also the first city to design solutions such as “pig’s ears” – metal flanges added to the corner edges of pavements and low walls to deter skateboarders. These periodic bumps along the edge create a barrier that would send a skateboarder tumbling if they tried to jump and slide along.
Indeed, one of the main criticisms of such design is that it aims to exclude already marginalised populations such as youths or the homeless. Unpleasant design, Savic says, “is there to make things pleasant, but for a very particular audience. So in the general case, it’s pleasant for families, but not pleasant for junkies.”
Preventing rough sleeping is a recurring theme. Any space that someone might lie down in, or even sit too long, is likely to see spikes, railings, stones or bollards added. In the Canadian city of Calgary, authorities covered the ground beneath the Louise Bridge with thousands of bowling ball-sized rocks. This unusual landscaping feature wasn’t for the aesthetic benefit of pedestrians walking along the nearby path, but part of a plan to displace the homeless population that took shelter under the bridge.
So next time you’re walking down the street, take a closer look at that bench or bus shelter. It may be trying to change the way you behave.
I remember about 25 years ago reading an article that claimed that the landscaping of UT Austin had been changed in the 1970s and 1980s to better facilitate riot and protest control, including the erection of lots of labyrinthine retaining walls.
When osprey fish, they soar above the water until they spot their prey. Then they dive talons-first into the water, often submerging themselves completely.
After making a catch, osprey will adjust their grasp on the fish so that it faces forward. This aligns the fish with their direction of movement to make flying away more efficient.
Mountain Spirit, leader of the Mountain Spirits, your body is holy.
By means of it, make him well again.
Make his body like your own.
Make him strong again.
He wants to get up with all of his body.
For that reason, he is performing this ceremony,
Do that which he has asked of you.
Long ago, it seems you restored someone’s legs and eyes for them.
This has been said.
In the same way, make him free again from disease.
That is why I am speaking to you.
Tools of the trade
Chamalongos, tobacco pipe, wee oil lamp for when I want to burn a specific oil during a work. The chamalongos where a pain in the ass to make, mostly because they were a first experiment of mine. They work fantastic; my Tata is making a set for me and teaching a specific ritual to empower them from our Rama. As an excercise in growing the communication between myelf and my Nkisi (Lucero), I created these and empowered them using instruction gained from him subtly. Very interested to see what differences there will be between the inspired method and the traditional method. I suspect there will be few.
Most Paleros use cigars when working with their Nkisi—I prefer the pipe. A cigar is used up in working it, but the pipe is permanent and can become nkisi in it’s own way, a powerful ritual tool with a living spirit. This is a traditional work as well, and there are mambos that honor the pipe and the nganga who uses it.
There are different approaches to drawing the pati mpemba within the Palo community. In my own Rama, the approach is primarily inspirational; we begin with the understanding the basic principles behind the lines, circles, crosses and arrows that we use.
Circles: Represent un-manifest and…
So, headaches suck. They suck a lot. In Palo Mayombe we have many natural tools for addressing this sort of ailment, and we should refer to those natural tools First if we’re to build up the kind of trust and understanding necessary for complicated herbal-magical cures to…