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Community / Public space

The town without WiFi, papal diapers and terrible neighbourhood rebrands

Our weekly round-up of stories from around the urban web. 

  • This piece from Good magazine tracks the unlikely renaissance of the US public library. Apparently, their quiet spaces and digital resources are now attracting a new type of visitor:

Taking into account the proliferation of freelancing, the gig economy, and remote-working (also known as ‘technomadism’), the rise of library as community hub begins to make sense. Cities are increasingly attracting location-independent workers, and those workers need space and amenities.

We have a sneaking suspicion that rising prices in Starbucks may also have something to do with it. 

  • Manila, capital of the Phillipines, is due to host a papal visit next week. The city is around 90 per cent Catholic, which is great for the pope, but not so great for the authorities tasked with managing the event. From Quartz:

A chronic shortage of portable toilets has prompted Francis Tolentino, chairman of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, to resort to extreme measures during Pope Francis’ visit to the Philippines next week: Recommending adult diapers for traffic police and many of the millions of people expected to attend an open-air mass in the heavily Catholic country.

Given the choice, we’d probably rather stay at home and look at this picture of Francis kissing the baby Jesus’s feet: 

Image: Getty.

It’s the most fun you can have without soiling yourself in a public square. 

  • As insane as it may sound, there is actually a town without WiFi. Mobile phones are banned. Even bluetooth is forbidden.

These bans in Green Bank, Virginia, are in place because of the presence of a nearby government telescope which relies on “technological silence” to listen for signals of distant stars. This long piece from Washingtonian magazine examines the town and its inhabitants – both long-term residents and those who believe they suffer from “electromagnetic hypersensitivity” and so gravitate towards this low-radiation zone.

  • And finally, this from Londonist marks the beginning of an attempt to track the bizarre names applied to different parts of London. So far, their map includes “Midtown”, “Northbank”, “More London” and the “Luxury London Quarter”.

Prizes go to whoever can get “Even More London” established as a serious nickname for everything to the east of City Hall. Or a NoGo zone above Goodge Street. We could go on.  


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