The Globe as you know it is changing.
Coming June 2019

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  • Member engagement with our journalists

To understand more about why you are so important to our member-supported initiative, we encourage you to read the following from our managing editor ~ Read more

The Globe as you know it is changing.

Since 2007, Southeast Asia Globe has been a space for some of the region’s best writers and photographers to take our readers behind the headlines into the stories that shape people’s lives. Every month, you could expect to pick up our latest print edition and find high-quality journalism, analysis and artwork waiting on every page. And since 2007, we’ve fought to uphold our promise of quality and independence to you, our readers.

But, like we said, the world is changing. Print publications just aren’t reaching the audiences they need to fulfil their promise of informing, educating and entertaining the public. Advertisers continue to invest in digital platforms while printing costs creep ever higher. Print may not be dead, but it’s fighting for its life. And we’re tired of waiting by a sickbed for its condition to improve. We want to be present at the birth of something new.

That’s why Southeast Asia Globe is relaunching as a member-driven platform featuring daily long-form features combining world-class journalism with enthralling art design and data-centered tech. Through our core pillars – Power, Money, Life and Earth – we are focusing in on the central issues that our readers have always engaged with most, with the same in-depth coverage of politics, business, social affairs and the environment that you’ve come to expect since 2007.

But leaving print behind us doesn’t just save our backs from lugging stacks of magazines across Southeast Asia. It opens up a global readership who don’t just want to read the news, but have a say in the stories that we tell and the way that we tell them. We’re not asking you to take out another magazine subscription – our stories are open to all. What we’re offering our members is a space where they can pitch and vote on the stories that they think deserve to be told. We want to inspire an engaged and active community of members who vote for, comment on and contribute to the stories that matter most to them. We want to work with our members to curate the way they engage with the news – not just as readers, but as an active extension of our editorial team.

That’s how we’re changing to bring you great stories. Here’s how we’re not.

We’re independent. Always have been, always will be. We’re not owned by any corporation or aligned with any state. We choose the stories that we tell, and the way that we tell them.

We’re creative. We’re not interested in churning out breaking news stories on the hour, every hour. We believe that the best stories are the ones that come alive on the page, digging deeper into the issues that shape Southeast Asia – and bringing you along for the ride. From our dedicated designers to our new software development team, our commitment is to constantly challenge ourselves to find new ways of reaching out to our readers.

We’re open. Challenging governments, NGOs and businesses to be transparent with the public means nothing if we keep our own readers in the dark. That’s why we will be completely open about why we tell the stories that we tell – and how we pay for them. Work with us to build something that endures where many media fail, and decide with us exactly where that money is going.

Above all, we’re optimistic. And yeah, we know what you’re thinking. Faced with impending climate collapse, the rise of right-wing authoritarian governments across the world, widening wealth and income inequality and deepening divisions rooted in race or gender or creed, it’s hard not to open the papers and feel the weight of the world pressing down. But we wouldn’t be doing this if we didn’t believe that when people work together, they can make their little corner of the world a more just, open and equal place.

And that’s why we can’t do this without you. We believe that across the globe is a community of people who care deeply about social justice, environmental action and press freedom – and who will join in to help make those ideals a reality. We’re not just holding our hand out – we need your voice to play a vital role in building Southeast Asia Globe into a leading space for progressive causes in the region. Tell us what stories the mainstream media is missing. Share with us the causes that matter most to you, and how we can champion those causes not just across Southeast Asia, but the world.

Our vision is clear. By 2025, we want to be recognised for building a great space for outstanding journalists from across the region to explore new ways of telling Southeast Asia’s most vital stories. Let’s bring together a community of engaged and loyal members who want to help reshape the media rather than just read it. And we want to reach a point where our readers, not advertisers, are the ones working to support our shared vision of an inclusive media.

We can’t do this without you. Let’s get together and build something that we all believe in.

If you’re interested in joining us, sign up to our newsletter, like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter. And watch this space.

Earthship landing

By: Rubén Cortés and Dene Mullen - Posted on: September 12, 2014 | Philippines

Led by renegade architect Michael Reynolds, Earthship Biotecture is trying to change the way people think about building by repurposing the world’s leftovers. They hope their current project will help rejuvenate a small Philippine village that was ravaged by typhoon Haiyan

 

By Rubén Cortés and Dene Mullen   Photography by Federica Miglio

Michael Reynolds has beeeen called a lunatic, a garbage warrior and “a disgrace to the architectural profession”. His marriage broke down due to his passion for his work. But the creator of Earthship Biotecture hasn’t let such minor mishaps dampen his enthusiasm.

Get on board:  Take me to your leader: Michael Reynolds, creator of Earthship Biotecture, gets down and dirty while constructing one of his organisation’s creations. Photo: Federica Miglio
Get on board: Take me to your leader: Michael Reynolds, creator of Earthship Biotecture, gets down and dirty while constructing one of his organisation’s creations. Photo: Federica Miglio

“We’re constantly evolving, but we’re starting to have success at having people replicate – and that’s the idea. We try to make a life for people that doesn’t require diesel fuel and all kinds of sewage being dumped into rivers,” said Reynolds. “Our buildings encounter the environment all over the planet and they help people make a life for themselves in harmony with that environment.”

An earthship is a solar building made of natural and recycled materials including tin cans and old tyres, and provides features such as a comfortable temperature without heating or air-con systems, potable water from rain and snow, clean energy and grey water to grow food. To get a good idea of where the organisation is coming from, Earthship’s mission statement includes its intention to “take small, believable steps towards slowing down and ultimately reversing the negative impact of human development”.

In the frame: one of the aerodynamic wings of an earthship begins to take shape. Photo: Federica Miglio
In the frame: one of the aerodynamic wings of an earthship begins to take shape. Photo: Federica Miglio

That Reynolds was treated as something of a madman for espousing such ideas in the 1970s is perhaps no surprise. But in today’s more enlightened times, his approach is not written off so easily, especially given that Reynolds ensures that his designs meet the stringent building codes in his native US. Earthships can currently be found from Canada and the Netherlands to Mexico and Georgia, but they might have the greatest impact in Asia. According to the Asia Business Council, every year more than half of the world’s new buildings are constructed in Asia, yet developers rarely implement efficient designs or take into account environmental impact. According to the Asia-Pacific Energy Research Institute, final energy consumption in Asia increased at a rate twice the global average between 1971 and 2004. 

Southeast Asia’s first earthship was built in the Andaman Islands following the 2004 tsunami, and it was another humanitarian disaster that prompted the construction of the organisation’s most recent project. When typhoon Haiyan ripped through the Philippines in November last year, it displaced 660,000 people and devastated many small communities. Among them was Batug, a tiny village on Leyte island, close to Tacloban.

Pillar of the community: a support column  containing recycled cans is built. Photo: Federica Miglio
Pillar of the community: a support column containing recycled cans is built. Photo: Federica Miglio

“It’s very important for this place that our building will not get blown away during their typhoon season,” said Phil Basehart, lead builder at Earthship Biotecture. “The locals told us they get about 20 typhoons a year of varying degrees, but the last one… just blew everything away. So we are trying to offer security right here.”

The organisation swept into Batug in February with 50 volunteers and, in a departure from their usual designs, completed the first phase of what has been dubbed the ‘Windship’. It will function as an aerodynamic storm shelter and school building for the community and will be finished in February, when the Earthship team will return to complete the building’s finishes and install the power and water systems. 

Here we are: a map of the earthship site on Leyte island, an area devastated by typhoon Haiyan. Photo: Federica Miglio
Here we are: a map of the earthship site on Leyte island, an area devastated by typhoon Haiyan. Photo: Federica Miglio

“Shortly after the typhoon hit I was sat at my kitchen table making sketches on napkins of something that would withstand a typhoon,” remembered Reynolds. “Things fell together and people fell together and we ended up with 50 people here so the structure’s 95% done. It is a fortress against the wind and it’s got some new features because of that wind factor. It looks like something that we’ll be using all over the Middle Earth, 15 degrees north and south of the equator – this is a really good design for the tropics.”

Indeed, there has already been much interest from Philippine government officials in the replication of the Windship throughout the country in the hope of eventually providing a slew of typhoon-resistant, multi-use community buildings. Basehart feels that, in the Windship, the organisation has created not only a model for the Philippines, but one that has been tailored to many of Southeast Asia’s special requirements.

Stacks on: the Windship incorporates an aerodynamic storm shelter and school building that should minimise damage and casualties caused by typhoons. Photo: Federica Miglio
Stacks on: the Windship incorporates an aerodynamic storm shelter and school building that should minimise damage and casualties caused by typhoons. Photo: Federica Miglio

“This building is obviously not trying to get solar energy for heating. Quite the opposite; it’s trying to give shade and create spaces that will cool themselves and stay cool,” he said. “We have to look at cooling design aspects for this region. Just as important though, is to provide simple ways to filter drinking water. The quality of water that people drink is what eventually limits longevity. 

“Water quality improves as you contain and treat wastewater so it doesn’t leech down into the water table. I doubt their wells are very deep here in Batug. They might even be hand-dug, so there’s not a lot of earth filtration happening. Therefore containing sewage and providing water filtration is definitely a big point – not just here but in many parts of developing Asia.”

Group effort: in Batug, volunteers from a group of 50 construct the first phase of the Windship back in February. Photo: Federica Miglio
Group effort: in Batug, volunteers from a group of 50 construct the first phase of the Windship back in February. Photo: Federica Miglio

Certain Asian governments are already being forced to import water from neighbouring countries and, according to the Asian Water Development Outlook 2013 report, 37 out of 49 countries assessed in Asia-Pacific have low levels of water security. With almost every social and economic trend indicating continued growth across Southeast Asia, the demand for water, sanitation, housing and affordable energy will continue to rise. This is where Reynolds feels Earthship comes in.

Thirsty work: a local volunteer cleans some plastic bottles to be used in the windows of one  of the Windship’s main rooms. The material ensures the structure has a source of natural light. Photo: Federica Miglio
Thirsty work: a local volunteer cleans some plastic bottles to be used in the windows of one
of the Windship’s main rooms. The material ensures the structure has a source of natural light. Photo: Federica Miglio

“The elements are always there. The sun is in Cambodia just like it’s in New Mexico,” he said. “At Earthship, we simply relate to the sun in a different way in each part of the world – we look at all the phenomena and adjust to wherever we are. The designs need to be tweaked but they are all the same concept: Sun and wind make electricity. Biology treats sewage. Water falls from the sky. This happens all over the planet. It’s simple.”

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