Rebellious Group Splices Fruit-Bearing Branches Onto Urban Trees


The trees that line most city streets are pretty to look at, but they're not good for much else. Flowering trees that would normally bear fruit like pears or cherries are usually modified before being planted in urban areas. This saves city workers the hassle of potential clean-up by ensuring there’s no fruit to fall and rot. On the off-chance that you do come across a fruit-bearing tree on a city sidewalk, you might have an underground group to thank.

Since 2011, the Guerrilla Grafters have made it their mission to transform San Francisco’s sterile saplings into sustainable food sources. They achieve this by taking branches from fruit-bearing trees and grafting them to cuts made on host trees by using tape. They then assign locals to care for the trees and combat potential issues like pests or fallen fruit. 

The organization claims to have grafted about 50 trees in the Bay Area, with each effort being executed in secret. Though what they’re doing is technically illegal, the Guerrilla Grafters believe the benefits of their mission greatly outweigh the risks. “Guerrilla Grafters see a missed opportunity for cities to provide a peach or a pear to anyone strolling by,” the group says on their Facebook page. “The project may not resolve food scarcity, but it helps foster a habitat that sustains humans as well as non-humans.” For anyone looking to join the cause, an instruction manual [PDF] and a crowd-sourced map of trees that can be grafted are available on their website. 

[h/t My Modern Met]

New Website Lets You Sift Through More Than 700,000 Items Found in Amsterdam's Canals

Amsterdam's canals are famous for hiding more than eight centuries of history in their mud. From 2003 to 2012, archaeologists had the rare opportunity to dig through an urban river that had been pumped dry, and now 99% Invisible reports that their discoveries are available to browse online.

The new website, dubbed Below the Surface, was released with a book and a documentary of the same name. The project traces the efforts of an archaeological dig that worked parallel to the construction of Amsterdam's new North/South metro line. To bore the train tunnels, crews had to drain part of the River Amstel that runs through the city and dig up the area. Though the excavation wasn't originally intended as an archaeological project, the city used it as an opportunity to collect and preserve some of its history.

About 800 years ago, a trading port popped up at the mouth of the River Amstel and the waterway become a bustling urban hub. Many of the artifacts that have been uncovered are from that era, while some are more contemporary, and one piece dates back to 4300 BCE. All 700,000 objects, which include, toys, coins, and weapons, are cataloged online.

Visitors to the website can look through the collection by category. If you want to view items from the 1500s, for example, you can browse by time period. You also have the option to search by material, like stoneware, for example, and artifact type, like clothing.

After exploring the database, you can learn more about its history in the Below the Surface documentary on Vimeo (English subtitles are coming soon).

[h/t 99% Invisible]

The 10 Most Affordable Cities for Living Abroad

Picking up your life and moving abroad is expensive, but just how expensive depends on where you choose to make your new home. Mercer's latest Cost of Living Survey reported by Travel + Leisure lays out which cities around the world are most affordable for expats, and which are the priciest.

For the report, Mercer compared more than 375 cities across over 200 metrics including cost of food, coffee, clothing, housing, gas, and public transportation. If you want to live abroad, the cheapest city to move to is Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan. It's followed by Tunis, Tunisia in second place and Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan in third.

The Cost of Living Survey also looked at the least affordable destinations for expats. Hong Kong is the most expensive, with Tokyo, Japan at No. 2 and Zurich, Switzerland ranking No. 3. Cities in Asia account for six of the top 10.

If you can afford it, there are plenty of reasons to spend time living outside your home country: Research has found that people who live abroad exhibit increased creativity, communication skills, and even earning potential. When planning your next long-term trip, consider these budget-friendly destinations.

1. Tashkent, Uzbekistan
2. Tunis, Tunisia
3. Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
4. Banjul, The Gambia
5. Karachi, Pakistan
6. Blantyre, Malawi
7. Tbilisi, Georgia
8. Minsk, Belarus
9. Tegucigalpa, Honduras
10. Managua, Nicaragua

[h/t Travel + Leisure]


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