3 acres in Detroit

12 minutes

Gardening with Nietzsche

8 minutes

Steve is undocumented

10 minutes

You and the thing that you love

12 minutes

Should computers run the world?

36 minutes

Farming in the middle of the Motor City – a patch of green in the Rust Belt

Decades of industrial decline and urban flight have made Detroit the poster child for the deterioration of cities in the United States’ Rust Belt. Between 1950 and 2010, the city’s population fell 60 per cent from 1.8 million to roughly 714,000. But among the thousands of abandoned homes and decaying neighbourhoods, two novice farmers, Donnie and Fred, have been trying to bring about a different kind of revival than one might expect in the capital of US auto-making – agriculture. The French director Nora Mandray’s short documentary 3 Acres in Detroit follows the hardworking duo as they attempt to transform an abandoned home on a three-acre plot into a small farm and greenhouse, finding seeds of hope in the troubled city’s urban blight and overgrowth.

Director: Nora Mandray

Producer: Hélène Bienvenu

Website: Detroit, je t’aime

Amid the chaos of being, Nietzsche believed that plants offer us inspiration for living

Aristotle thought that plants possess what he called a ‘vegetative soul’. Centred on growing and reproducing, this primordial, unthinking state of being was encompassed and far surpassed by the ‘rational soul’ of humans. Friedrich Nietzsche, however, believed that, in the overwhelming confusion of considering how we might live, there was much we could learn from plants – deeply rooted in the ground and yet limitlessly expressive as they are. Borrowing from some of Nietzsche’s lesser-known writings, this short video essay might just inspire you to look at a plant growing through a crack in the ‘inhospitable ground’ – and perhaps even Nietzsche himself – in a new light.

Video by The DOX Channel

Writer: Zoe Almon Job

Animator: Theo Garcia

Meet the British bouncer in LA on an expired visa who has no time for immigrants

Steve is a former weightlifter who still keeps up with quite a few hobbies: fitness, heavy metal music, clay sculpture, bikes, motorcycles, and lots and lots of weapons. He works as a bouncer outside a Los Angeles nightclub, making small talk with the (often over-served) young patrons, and throwing out troublemakers. And, as he’ll tell anyone who’ll listen, he hates what immigration is doing to the country – despite being a Brit who’s overstayed his own US visa by 25 years. Steve Is Undocumented captures him at a moment of transition, preparing for a move back to England with his wife, who is pregnant with twins. With their stylish and often wry profile, the directors Michael Barth and Kauai Moliterno build a complex portrait in just 10 minutes, capturing the many intricacies and blaring hypocrisies of Steve’s life and worldview.

Directors: Michael Barth, Kauai Moliterno

Producer: Nathan Truesdell

After losing his sight, a skateboarder takes an unexpected path to realising his dreams

Nick Mullins fell in love with skateboarding as a teenager and, rather quickly, became quite skilled. As one of the best young skateboarders in the Detroit area, he was putting together a video to catch the attention of sponsors, when, after taking a rough but mostly innocuous fall, he scraped the side of his body and contracted a staph infection. He would barely escape with his life, and after waking up from a medically induced coma, realised he had gone blind. Believing he had no prospects – in skating or in life – he fell into a deep depression. The short documentary You and the Thing That You Love retells how Mullins would eventually realise his dreams, albeit by taking a very much unanticipated path. Capturing Mullins’s story with kinetic style, the US filmmaker Nicholas Maher avoids cliché to create a standout portrait of perseverance and love of craft – and one that can be savoured even if you don’t know your ‘blunts’ from your ‘fakies’.

Director: Nicholas Maher

Algorithms are sensitive. People are specific. We should exploit their respective strengths

The capabilities of algorithms and human brainpower overlap, intersect and contrast in a multitude of ways, argues Hannah Fry, an associate professor in the mathematics of cities at University College London, in this lecture at the Royal Institution from 2018. And, says Fry, planning for an efficient, ethical future demands that we carefully consider the respective strengths of each without stereotyping either as inherently good or bad, while always keeping their real-world consequences in mind. Borrowing from her book Hello World: Being Human in the Age of Algorithms (2018), Fry’s presentation synthesises fascinating studies, entertaining anecdotes and her own personal experiences to build a compelling argument for how we ought to think about algorithms if we’d like them to amplify – and not erode – our humanity.

Farming in the middle of the Motor City – a patch of green in the Rust Belt

Decades of industrial decline and urban flight have made Detroit the poster child for the deterioration of cities in the United States’ Rust Belt. Between 1950 and 2010, the city’s population fell 60 per cent from 1.8 million to roughly 714,000. But among the thousands of abandoned homes and decaying neighbourhoods, two novice farmers, Donnie and Fred, have been trying to bring about a different kind of revival than one might expect in the capital of US auto-making – agriculture. The French director Nora Mandray’s short documentary 3 Acres in Detroit follows the hardworking duo as they attempt to transform an abandoned home on a three-acre plot into a small farm and greenhouse, finding seeds of hope in the troubled city’s urban blight and overgrowth.

Director: Nora Mandray

Producer: Hélène Bienvenu

Website: Detroit, je t’aime

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Fiddlesticks Country Club, a gated community in Fort Meyers, Florida. Photo by Michael Siluk/UIG/Getty

Essay/
Anthropology
Safety is fatal

Humans need closeness and belonging but any society that closes its gates is doomed to atrophy. How do we stay open?

David Napier

Stinson Beach, California, 1973. Photo by Elliott Erwitt/Magnum

Essay/
Animals and humans
The joy of being animal

Human exceptionalism is dead: for the sake of our own happiness and the planet we should embrace our true animal nature

Melanie Challenger