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Saturday 20 December  
The Banfer-Harrison family, Vauban, Germany

Earth Beat - Privilege

On air: 20 January 2012 3:00 (Photo: Ashley Bristowe)

More about:

Earth Beat, 20 January 2012. We look at alternative ways of enjoying the high life. From sustainable foie gras to a state-of-the-art low-impact suburb. And things you wouldn't think of as a privilege, like clean air or the chance to cross your home city. Comment on the show.

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Leopoldo Kram Schoen, Director of Mass Media, American University, Mexico City
Leopoldo Kram Schoen
Desperately seeking fresh air

When Leopoldo Kram Schoen was a boy Mexico City was a fun place to grown up; life evolved round the park and the streets, biking and playing football. But when it came to bringing up his own children, things were dramatically different. The increase in population brought an onslaught of cars and pollution with it. The air once was so bad that schools were closed and children kept indoors.

Leopoldo tells host Marnie Chesterton about moving his family to the US - where at least they could stroll outdoors - and then moving back to Mexico. He gave his city a second chance, and boy was it worth it. More photos below.

Foie gras from La Patería de Sousa
Foie gras from La Patería de Sousa
Cruelty-free foie gras?

It’s the ultimate extravagance for food lovers, but the force-feeding of geese to produce foie gras has animal rights campaigners up in arms.

So the foodies on the Earth Beat team were delighted to hear about Eduardo Sousa, who’s producing the stuff sustainably.

He told Marnie his geese live a life of luxury in the wild, where they feast on figs and nuts until they’re killed.

And his product doesn’t leave a nasty taste in the mouth.

Re-homed pony at the Dunsink Horse Club, Dublin
Re-homed pony at the Dunsink Horse Club, Dublin
Rounding up Dublin’s abandoned ponies

In many countries, having a horse is seen as a status symbol. In Ireland, though, it’s a bit like having a dog – everyone has one. At least, they used to. Until recently in the capital Dublin, it wasn’t that unusual to see ponies prancing down the street.

Then in 2007 the financial crisis crippled the country’s economy and, as people started to lose their jobs, they started abandoning the horses in public parks.

John Murtagh tells Marnie how he’s trying to help solve the problem. More photos below.

Samuel Mbewe's footbridge, Lilongwe, Malawi
Samuel Mbewe's footbridge, Lilongwe, Malawi
Bridge-building in Malawi links a city sliced in two

Malawi’s capital city Lilongwe is split down the middle by a major river, and until recently there was just a single bridge linking the two sides. But a group of entrepreneurial market traders took matters into their own hands and built several more.

Correspondent Wallstone Sangala explains why what we in the West see as a simple crossing is a privilege for the people of Lilongwe.

Compulsory green living, or paradise?

The new-ish suburb of Vauban in the Black Forest of southern Germany has received a lot of press for being Germany’s most sustainable neighbourhood, and one that restricts car use. It was built from nothing, by citizens who sent the city a plan for sustainable, collectively-built housing.

Solar roofs, Vauban, Germany. These houses produce more energy than they consume
Solar roofs, Vauban, Germany
But to those on the outside, Vauban has a reputation for compulsory green living, and we wanted to find out if that was the case, and how the people who live there feel about it, ten years in.

Earth Beat producer Anik See went to find out how a group of citizens (with the help of a city) built their own suburb, and how it’s all turned out. More photos below.

Read Anik's blog entries from Vauban: The Noise of Humans and A Walk in the Woods.

  • Leopoldo Kram Schoen, as a child in Mexico City<br>&copy; RNW -
  • Mountains surrounding Mexico City<br>&copy; RNW -
  • John Murtagh<br>&copy; RNW -
  • Ponies are feed on lettuce and pears from the local market<br>&copy; RNW -
  • Vauban residents Harald Mueller and Barbara Braun show energy &#039;bills&#039;, which prove that they consume less energy per annum than their house creates, and show a net earning based on the excess energy being fed back to the grid<br>&copy; Ashley Bristowe -
  • Vauban trolley, heading downtown. Black Forest in the distance.<br>&copy; Ashley Bristowe -
  • Pedestrianised zone, Vauban, Germany<br>&copy; Ashley Bristowe -
  • Kids in playground, Vauban, Germany<br>&copy; Anik See -
  • Side street, Vauban, Germany<br>&copy; Anik See -
  • Bike lane, Vauban, Germany<br>&copy; Anik See -
  • Wall mural, Vauban, Germany<br>&copy; Anik See -
  • View of street, Vauban, Germany<br>&copy; Anik See -


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radio 14 May 2014 - 1:29pm / india

Experts around the world are available to comment on the new features and events. I like to see what you think about new features, stats and events. The blog is a bit different from other community blogs. Keep updating with the new events. Thank you for the post. Keep updating.

Roger Christie 26 January 2012 - 12:47am / England

I enjoy your thought-provoking programme frequently - usually via WRN. Please suppose that any lack of comments on my part means that your reports are, so far, generally accurate and entirely satisfactory. However, although I am pleased to hear about Eduardo Sousa's natural foie gras, it is not something new as you imply. I was in France five years ago where I enjoyed foie gras pate from free range geese that had not been force-fed; a far superior product too (as you say).

user avatar
Earth Beat 26 January 2012 - 9:33am / Netherlands

 Hi Roger

Thanks very much for your comment about Eduardo Sousa's foie gras. I was the producer on the story, glad you enjoyed it! I had also heard of other places making this kind of foie gras but the reason we focused on him was because he's become well-known internationally. Apologies if this gave the impression he was the first. Please do keep sending us feedback on the show, it's much appreciated and of course we always want to know what listeners think of it.
Best wishes, Marijke 

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