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AMAZON, PART II: Transit Was the Key in Long Island City

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If Amazon is truly bringing one-half of its new headquarters to Long Island City, New York’s city and state officials have their work cut out for them. It’s not clear year exactly where in the western Queens neighborhood Amazon will put the so-called HQ2. One possible location is the Court Square headquarters of Citigroup on the north side of the neighborhood, which is set to downsize in 2020. Another is on the south side, near the Jackson Avenue-21st Street subway station. Yet another is the as-yet-undeveloped Sunnyside rail yard. Either way, Long Island City will get at least 25,000 people added to its daily workforce. That means 25,000 more people using its subways, buses, and streets. And that’s on top of new residents already filling the thousands of apartments being built there. SIDEBAR: FIND OUT MORE ABOUT AMAZON’S OTHER HQ2 SITE IN SUBURBAN WASHINGTON, D.C. Here’s a rundown of the myriad challenges currently facing the booming neighborhood:

Subways, Buses and the Long Island Rail Road

A high-functioning transit system was one of Amazon’s stated desires when it announced the search for a second headquarters last year. Long Island City is flush with transit options: the 7, G, M, E, N, and W trains — plus no less than 11 local bus routes.

Whether those buses and trains can handle any more riders is another question. The 7 train is notoriously crowded at rush hour, but that should improve once the MTA begins running modern signal technology on the line sometime this year. The G and M trains, meanwhile, have extra capacity, as do reverse-peak 7 trains, Stephen Smith of Market Urbanism noted:

And buses on Queens Boulevard are frequently caught in car traffic, as Clarence Eckerson Jr. pointed out this week.

The good news is also the bad news: the MTA can test a lot of its Long Island City capacity next year, when the Court Square station is expected to handle a surge in riders displaced by the temporarily shuttered L train.

A recent (conveniently timed) report from the city’s Economic Development Corporation, meanwhile, suggests that the city wants to work with MTA to open a new Long Island Rail Road stop at the Sunnyside Yards. The MTA is also acquiring funding for “station enhancements” at Court Square and Queensboro Plaza, the report said [PDF]. Streetsblog has reached out to the agency for more on those station enhancements.

Another transportation wild card — Mayor de Blasio’s proposed Brooklyn-Queens streetcar — might get a boost, though its cost and timeline have already stretched past the city’s initial projections.

Biking and Walking in Long Island City

The city is about to undertake a nearly $40-million reconstruction of the neighborhood’s streets, which have not been touched in nearly a century. The EDC report released last week announced another $10 million for that effort, though it’s not clear what the city plans to do with it.

Spot improvements at dangerous intersections make up the bulk of that work, as opposed traffic-calming or bike infrastructure improvements [PDF]. Still, there are exciting elements: By the Vernon Boulevard-Jackson Avenue subway station, DOT plans to significantly expand pedestrian space, removing the huge swath of parking that’s there at the moment.

Unfortunately, the bike infrastructure plans fall short: While 11th Street provides the most direct connection between the bike lane on the Pulaski Bridge and points north, the agency wants Vernon Boulevard to serve as the north-south protected bike lane connection. The project does not include any safe east-west bicycle connection.

Possible redesigns of the area above the Vernon-Jackson subway station. Image: DOT/DDC
Possible redesigns of the area above the Vernon-Jackson subway station. Image: DOT/DDC

There’s also concern for pedestrians. On Jackson Avenue, arguably the neighborhood’s most dangerous street for walking, DOT’s plan is limited to adding concrete medians. There’s no plan to calm traffic on the street, where 64 people — including 10 cyclists — have been injured in traffic crashes since 2014, according to Crashmapper. But for cyclists, DOT is merely planning to install sharrows.

By and large, the neighborhood’s streets are designed for moving industrial traffic, trucks in particular. They’re just not conducive to large numbers of people walking and biking,LaGuardia Community College professor and Queens bike advocate Joby Jacob said.

“The streets are really focused on moving cars,” he told Streetsblog. “That means that pedestrians have longer waiting times then they should. It also means that cars whip around wide turning radiuses really quickly.”

Who’s Paying for All This?

All those transportation improvements aren’t going to pay for themselves. Ideally, Amazon will help the city cover its costs, but there’s no guarantee. The city and state have already committed to providing tax subsidies to Amazon, the Times reported yesterday, and there’s no way to know what they are. Those deals are made entirely in secret.

“The fact that public funds can be committed in complete secrecy is really, completely appalling and undemocratic,” said John Kaehny of the good government group Reinvent Albany. “They say, ‘No taxation without representation,’ but these are our tax dollars going to potential subsidize one of the largest companies in the world.”

By and large, research has shown that government subsidies are a minimal factor in attracting companies like Amazon to cities. NYC’s transit system alone was likely enough to lure Amazon here, Kaehny said — the subsidies are just the “icing on the cake.”

“The public investment that needs to happen is in the subways and buses, and walkability,” Kaehny said. “The things that make Long Island City appealing to Amazon are the [past] investments that New York made to make itself a walkable city.”

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lizamu
40 days ago
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Interesting how this could be like the infrastructure investment boom that came from the NYC Olympics bid. Whether or not HQ2 comes to LIC, stuff has already been happening/allocated based just on the fact that we bid for it to come here.
New York, New York
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Beads Become Clouds: The Art of Liza Lou

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Beads Become Clouds: The Art of Liza Lou

The newest beaded sculptures by L.A. artist Liza Lou are on view at Lehmann Maupin Gallery in New York this month. These may be the most intricate and mesmerizing contemporary artworks this fall… and that’s before you find out how they’re made.

Nacreous, 2018. Photo by Matthew Herrmenn

Nacreous, 2018 (detail). Photo by Matthew Herrmenn

Pyrocumulus, 2018

Pyrocumulus, 2018 (detail)

Each work is made from multiple sheets of hand-sewn white glass beads that are often painted and stained with color. From a distance, they resemble used “paint rags” or old paper towels – that get exponentially more beautiful the closer you look. My (very rough) estimate is that each 14-inch square hold around 20,000 beads. The completed works are composed of a grid of many squares, often layered 2 or 3 sheets deep.

Noctilucent, 2018 (detail)

Noctilucent, 2018

Noctilucent, 2018 (detail)

To achieve the veil-like patches, Liza smashes and crushes sections of the work, breaking the glass beads and revealing the thread matrix. In other words: to create the most beautiful effects, hours of labor had to be destroyed.

Artist Liza Lou. Photo by Mick Haggerty

Artist Liza Lou. Photo by Jason Schmidt

Liza has been recognized for her beaded sculptures and installations since the mid-90s that often resemble real objects: a full-size kitchen, a mile-long rope, and a chain link fence – all made from beads. This new direction was inspired by the differences in cloud formations between her two home bases: Los Angeles and Durban, South Africa.

Liza Lou, Classification and Nomenclature of Clouds. Lehmann Maupin, New York, 2018

The largest work in the gallery is the wall-filling “The Clouds” (2015-2018)- a grid of 600 squares measuring a total 50 feet wide by 23 feet tall. The scale literally fills your field of view, which truly does feel more like an atmosphere than an object.

Drawing Instrument II, 2016-2018

Drawing Instrument II, 2016-2018 (detail)

In addition to the beading, Liza also makes drawings that resemble thousands of beads. The greatest surprise of the exhibition is hidden in the basement (take the elevator – open to the public) – a video work titled “Drawing Instrument” which records and remixes her unique drawing practice of singing while she works. With every stroke of her pen, Liza makes a sound effect with her voice. The video combines multiple layers of tracks to create hypnotically beautiful music compositions while you watch her mark-making. I captured this short clip on my iPhone to give a hint of just how magical it is.

Lichenform I, 2018

Lichenform I, 2018 (detail)

And there’s MORE! Two blocks south, at Lehmann Maupin’s 22nd street location, a small room is dedicated to a different body of Liza’s work. Unlike the “cloud” works that are made from identical-sized white beads, these sculptures were created using different-sized beads that warp and push the structure into forms that resemble lava formations or growths of moss.

Aggregate: Mushroom, 2018

Liza Lou, Classification and Nomenclature of Clouds. Installation view, Lehmann Maupin, New York, 2018

Liza Lou’s “Classification and Nomenclature of Clouds” is on view until the end of October. My only suggestion is to plan on staying a few minutes longer than you think you’ll need, because you won’t want to leave.

What: Liza Lou: Classification and Nomenclature of Clouds
Where: Lehmann Maupin Gallery, 501 W 24th Street and 536 W 22nd Street, New York, NY
When: September 6 – October 27, 2018

All photos by Joshua White unless otherwise noted. Courtesy the artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York, Hong Kong, and Seoul.

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lizamu
76 days ago
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Saw a part of this in Sydney, mesmerizing
New York, New York
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Who is Eligible for an Echoing Green Fellowship?

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Echoing Green is excited to kick off the search for the 2019 Fellows! In anticipation of the Fellowship application opening next month, we are re-posting this article for prospective applicants to review beforehand. Stay tuned for additional application guidance materials and resources in the coming weeks.

Ready to join our community of leaders? Applications for our 2019 Fellowships open October 9, 2018. Before applying, make sure to familiarize yourself with our eligibility requirements below. For more information about the application process and timeline and criteria for applicants and organizations, please visit our Apply page.

General Eligibility

In order to be eligible for an Echoing Green Fellowship, the applicant must be over 18 years old, fluent in English, and able to commit a full 40 hour work week to their organization.

In order to be eligible for an Echoing Green Fellowship, the organization must be the original idea of the applicant(s), in its start-up phase (usually within the first two years of operation), and independent and autonomous.

An organization can be either a nonprofit, a for-profit, or hybrid. An organization does not only have to be run by one individual. Partnerships can apply for a Fellowship. Organizations still in the idea phase are eligible.

Types of organizations that are not eligible to apply include students, scholarships, or research projects; lobbying or faith-based organizations; and existing organizations which have grown past their start-up phase.

Common Questions

How does Echoing Green define a "startup"?

A general rule of thumb is that the organization cannot be up and running with full-time staff longer than two years and still be considered a “startup.” There is some flexibility on the two-year rule. For example, some organizations spend much more time on research and development of their program model. They may have operated for quite some time in research mode, or the management team may have only been able to commit to working on their program part time while holding down another full-time job.

We believe that any organization that is being built to thrive should have a well-defined program model (and possibly a pilot initiated), an initial strategic plan, basic organizational infrastructure, a staffing plan, initial funding sources, and an established and functioning board of directors within two years of launching. If you do not yet have those things in place, you may still be in your startup phase and eligible to apply for Echoing Green.

I’m not sure if my proposal meets your criteria. May I schedule a personal interview or phone call to review my proposal before I decide whether to apply?

Echoing Green has a small staff, so we cannot offer personal interviews, either over the phone or in person, to any applicants. Please do not contact our office requesting an appointment for a personal interview. However, you are welcome to contact us with specific questions about our process if you do not find the answer here on the website.

If I applied for the Fellowship in the past, may I reapply?

Yes. If you applied for an Echoing Green Fellowship in the past, you are welcome to reapply as long as your organization meets our eligibility criteria.

My project is based outside the US, and I'm not an American citizen. May I apply for a Fellowship?

Yes, as long as you meet our other eligibility criteria. We encourage applicants of all nationalities, working in any country, to apply for the Fellowship. The only limitation on work location is that if your project is based in the United States, then you must have American work authorization (i.e., citizenship, permanent residence status, or a work visa). Echoing Green does not sponsor American work permits for any foreign nationals.

My project is structured as a for-profit organization. May I apply for a Fellowship?

Yes, as long as you meet our other eligibility criteria. Echoing Green seeks applications for innovative organizations creating high-impact social change, regardless of profit structure.

Cash stipends awarded to for-profit organizations, or to hybrids that include a for-profit, are structured as “recoverable grants,” meaning that you agree to pay back your stipend if your organization becomes financially successful. Recoverable grants also apply to any nonprofit organization that becomes a for-profit or hybrid during the course of their Fellowship. 

Echoing Green created recoverable grants from a desire to “recycle” funding from financially successful for-profit organizations to fund future Echoing Green Fellows. While nonprofit Fellows are awarded grants, since 2011, for-profit Fellows receive recoverable grants, which are designed to be risk tolerant and inexpensive capital. In addition, if a Fellow creates a for-profit company that Echoing Green determines works toward the same mission as its original funded project or nonprofit organization, their grant will become a recoverable grant. As these Fellows' for-profit businesses achieve certain valuation or revenue thresholds, it triggers payback. If the organization does not hit the thresholds, then they do not pay us back.

The recoverable grant will trigger payback of the Fellowship cash stipend if the Fellow’s for-profit company achieves either USD 2 million in revenue during a fiscal year with positive net income, or is valued at greater than USD 5 million. The recoverable grant does not include any voting rights or control rights in the company. The recoverable grant repayment term applies during the two-year Fellowship and three years after. That is, as of when a Fellow signs the Fellowship contract, should their for-profit company hit the recoverable grant repayment triggers within 5 years, then the for-profit company must pay Echoing Green back. If the for-profit company does not hit one of the triggers within 5 years, the for-profit company does not need to pay the stipend back to Echoing Green.

What types of projects are not eligible for an Echoing Green Fellowship?

Echoing Green funds new ideas for creating sustainable organizations; we do not fund established projects (those past the startup phase) or discrete projects (projects with set beginning and end points). There are several types of projects that are not eligible for an Echoing Green Fellowship regardless of their stage of development. These include:

• Research projects or school tuition

• Books, films, plays, or scripts

• New projects within existing organizations

• Faith-based initiatives (your organization cannot be associated with a religious institution or promote a specific faith. If your work has a spiritual, non-denominational element you may be eligible for consideration)

I am currently a full-time student. May I apply for a Fellowship?

Yes. You may apply for our Fellowship Programs while you are a full-time student in a degree program. However, you must have completed your studies by July at the beginning of your Fellowship period. If you are awarded an Echoing Green Fellowship, you are agreeing to make your organization your full-time employment. If you are working toward your doctorate degree, please know that Echoing Green does not provide scholarship money or fund research projects.

I currently have a full-time job and have been running an organization on the side. Am I eligible to apply for a Fellowship?

Yes. If your program meets all eligibility criteria and you are prepared to resign from your current full-time employment if you are selected as a Fellow.

Please note that if you are awarded an Echoing Green Fellowship, you are expected to commit no less than 40 hours per week to your organization. In other words, you will not be able to continue in your current full-time employment if you accept an Echoing Green Fellowship.

I am creating a new project within an existing organization. The new project will be completely under my control and direction. Am I eligible?

No. To be eligible for consideration for an Echoing Green Fellowship, the program must be independent and autonomous. It cannot be under the management of another organization. It cannot depend on another entity for funding or access to funds.

Does Echoing Green require that it is the sole donor of my organization?

No. We understand and encourage applicants to continue to seek funding throughout the application process and during their Fellowship if selected. However, funding from Echoing Green should qualify as a significant early investment in your organization.

My organization has a fiscal sponsor. Am I still eligible to apply?

Yes. Echoing Green requires Fellows to lead autonomous organizations. However, as fiscal sponsors generally only provide support and do not exert control over organizational decisions, you are still eligible for a Fellowship so long as this applies to your situation.

Do I need to have 501(c)(3) status before I can apply for a Fellowship?

No, you do not need to establish 501(c)(3) status or register your organization before you apply.

I have never run a social enterprise before. May I still apply for your program?

Yes. Echoing Green believes in identifying and supporting talented, yet unproven, social entrepreneurs.

I have more than one idea for an innovative new program. May I submit both ideas?

No. Echoing Green only allows one submission per applicant per year. Submission of multiple applications, whether for multiple ideas or for a single idea, in a given year, will result in removal from further consideration for a Fellowship.

My organization was founded by more than two people. Can we all apply for the Fellowship?

No. Only two founders may apply per organization. As a result, please choose two, at most, to represent your organization to Echoing Green. However, you do not need to change your leadership structure to suit Echoing Green. Even if only two founders can be Echoing Green Fellows, you can have as many people leading your organization as you see fit.

Is there a difference in stipend for partnerships?

Yes. The Echoing Green Global, Black Male Achievement, and Climate Fellowships are two-year programs with stipend amounts of $90,000 for a partnership and $80,000 for an individual Fellow.

Are there age requirements to receive an Echoing Green Fellowship?

Yes. All applicants must be of age 18 or older at the time their application is submitted to be eligible.

Black Male Achievement Fellowship

Do I have to be a black male to be eligible?

No. While your organization must focus on issues affecting black men and boys, Black Male Achievement Fellows are not required to be part of this population and will be chosen regardless of race, gender, or ethnicity. We do expect all applicants to be able to articulate clearly why they feel a deep and long-lasting commitment to making change in this particular community.

If I am applying for both the Black Male Achievement and Global Fellowships, do I need to submit two separate applications to be considered for both?

In our application process, a majority of the application is the same content across Fellowship Programs. However, if you opt-in to consideration for the Black Male Achievement Fellowship, you will receive additional questions pertaining to that Fellowship exclusively. Applicants do not need to write their application to be competitive for both – our questions prompt you to be specific to the Black Male Achievement Fellowship when needed.

Can an applicant win both Fellowships in the same year? If not, how does the review committee decide? Can I communicate my preference?

No, an applicant cannot win more than one specific Fellowship in the same application cycle. Our review process will determine which Fellowship seems the best fit for you and your organization, and if you qualify, we will invite you to participate in the appropriate Final round.

If I am applying to both the Black Male Achievement Fellowship and the Global Fellowship, how do I write my application so that it is competitive for both Fellowships?

In this first stage of our application process, our review criteria are identical across Fellowship Programs. While Black Male Achievement Fellowship applicants will need to demonstrate passion and commitment for positive life outcomes for black men and boys, we would expect all Fellowship applicants to demonstrate a similar passion for whatever issue or community their application addresses. More application advice can be found on the Apply page.

Am I eligible for the Black Male Achievement Fellowship if black men and boys are a key target audience, but not the only focus?

We expect that both your primary personal passion and the primary focus of your organization be on ways to support positive life outcomes for black men and boys in the United States. As long as you are able to demonstrate this passion and focus, it is acceptable to have other beneficiaries.

Am I eligible for the Black Male Achievement Fellowship if my project focuses on black men and boys in the US but also in other countries?

We expect that both your primary personal passion and the primary focus of your organization be on ways to support positive life outcomes for black men and boys in the United States. As long as you are able to demonstrate this passion and focus, it is acceptable to have other beneficiaries.

Climate Fellowship

Is Echoing Green supporting a specific approach to Climate Change?

No. For the Climate Fellowship, we are interested in applications from social entrepreneurs interested in the full spectrum of mitigation and adaptation responses.  This can be anything from a US-based technological solution to a developing world-based community organizing solution. In all cases, however, applicants must meet the standard eligibility criteria for all Echoing Green Fellows.

If I am applying for both the Climate and Global Fellowships, do I need to submit two separate applications to be considered for both?

In our application process, a majority of the application is the same content across Fellowship Programs. However, if you opt-in to consideration for the Climate Fellowship, you will receive additional questions pertaining to that Fellowship exclusively. Applicants do not need to write their application to be competitive for both – our questions prompt you to be specific to the Climate Fellowship when needed.

Can an applicant win both Echoing Green Global and the Climate Fellowships in the same year? If not, how does the review committee decide? Can I communicate my preference?

No, an applicant cannot win both Fellowships in the same application cycle. Our review process will determine which Fellowship seems the best fit for you and your organization, and if you qualify, we will invite you to participate in the appropriate Final round.

If I am applying to both the Climate Fellowship and the Global Fellowship, how do I write my application so that it is competitive for both Fellowships?

In this first stage of our application process, our review criteria are identical between all Fellowships. While Climate Fellowship applicants will need to demonstrate knowledge and passion around the effects of climate change, we would expect all Fellowship applicants to demonstrate a similar passion for whatever issue or community their application addresses. More application advice can be found on the Apply page.

Am I eligible for the Climate Fellowship if addressing climate change is an important part of my project, but not the only focus?

We expect that both your primary personal passion and the primary focus of your organization be on ways to address climate change. As long as you are able to demonstrate this passion and focus, it is acceptable to have other impact areas.

Entrepreneurship

Sign up for updates, and get more information on our search and selection process and timeline here.

A version of this article was originally published September 2017.

2016 Fellows Rebecca Hui, Alex Peay, Nicholas Flanders, and Kathryn Finney at their New Fellows Retreat.
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lizamu
98 days ago
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Applications open in October! Read and share.
New York, New York
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Google Dataset Search now in public beta

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Datasets are scattered across the web, tucked into cobwebbed corners where nobody can find them. Google Dataset Search aims to make the process easier:

Similar to how Google Scholar works, Dataset Search lets you find datasets wherever they’re hosted, whether it’s a publisher’s site, a digital library, or an author’s personal web page. To create Dataset search, we developed guidelines for dataset providers to describe their data in a way that Google (and other search engines) can better understand the content of their pages. These guidelines include salient information about datasets: who created the dataset, when it was published, how the data was collected, what the terms are for using the data, etc. We then collect and link this information, analyze where different versions of the same dataset might be, and find publications that may be describing or discussing the dataset.

I’m always a little wary of dataset search engines. They never seem to live up to their promises, because they always require that those with the data do a little bit of work, such as publish metadata that makes indexing easier. But this is Google. I’ll have to give it a go the next time a curiosity pops in.

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lizamu
98 days ago
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Wary, yes. Excited, also yes.
New York, New York
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How America uses its land

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Dave Merrill and Lauren Leatherby for Bloomberg visualized land use for the conterminous United States using a pixel-like grid map:

The 48 contiguous states alone are a 1.9 billion-acre jigsaw puzzle of cities, farms, forests and pastures that Americans use to feed themselves, power their economy and extract value for business and pleasure.

Using surveys, satellite images and categorizations from various government agencies, the U.S. Department of Agriculture divides the U.S. into six major types of land. The data can’t be pinpointed to a city block—each square on the map represents 250,000 acres of land. But piecing the data together state-by-state can give a general sense of how U.S. land is used.

The above map is the full aggregate, but be sure to click through to see the comparisons across categories. Using a scrollytelling format, the graphics are a hybrid of grid maps and square pie charts. States serve as a point of reference. They’re the banana for scale. I like it.

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lizamu
129 days ago
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Wow!
New York, New York
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Space Between Space: A NASA-Inspired Collection by Azmy Anything

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Space Between Space: A NASA-Inspired Collection by Azmy Anything

Driven by his fascination with space travel innovation, London-based Adam Azmy ,of design studio Azmy Anything, designed a five-piece collection inspired by NASA and space exploration. The Space Between Space collection includes two pieces of storage furniture that go beyond function with beautifully clever methods of opening and closing them. The remaining three are a trio of globes – Moon, Mini Moon, and Jupiter – that are perfectly sculpted wooden spheres.

The Drinks Cabinet front door pays homage to the Lunar Rover’s innovative tires which had a similar chevron tread pattern. All it takes is a simple touch and the door easily slides down while the cabinet rises for access.

The Record Cabinet stores vinyl behind its solar array inspired door, which has four different ways of opening.

The Moon globe is made from solid Sycamore with a steam bent walnut frame that’s outfitted with LED lights. The carved craters are based on NASA photo maps of the moon’s surface.

Also in solid Sycamore, the Mini Moon rests atop a solid walnut base that features inlaid LED lights.

The Jupiter globe comprises four different, locally-sourced British woods – oak, ash, elm, and sycamore – suspended with a brass spindle on a steam bent walnut frame.

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lizamu
160 days ago
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Oh man, I want that moon globe...
New York, New York
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1 public comment
chrisrosa
164 days ago
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yes to all of this. #Azmy
San Francisco, CA
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