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Yes, Thomas Friedman has done it again. He’s made me say “YES!” and “THANK YOU!” aloud to myself in my office.
Why? Because he’s “all stocked up on crazy,” and so am I. Friedman's New York Times Op-Ed column “Is It Weird Enough Yet?”, published on September 13, cuts to the quick of the absurdity and ignorance of recent (and past) claims that climate change is “some fraud perpetrated by scientists trying to gin up money for research.”
I happened to be reading this column while listening to The Climate Reality Project, a 24-hour, live, worldwide stream (currently in its 21st hour) featuring experts and scientists from 24 time zones. One of these scientists was explaining that with each degree of warming, the atmosphere can hold more water—an unsettling percentage more that I have since forgotten, or blocked out.More
Photo: Michael Dorausch
I recently tuned in to our local KBCO (World Class Rock) radio station and heard Death Cab for Cutie’s new song “You Are a Tourist”. These lyrics grabbed my ear:
And if you feel just like a tourist
In the city you were born
Then it’s time to go
And define your destination
There’s so many different places to call home
Music has the power to touch people, wherever they are in their lives. Given the right moment with the right mix of experiences, lyrics can be powerful “shifts in the context of community.”
In Community – The Structure of Belonging, Peter Block writes about shifting the context of community and creating an alternative future through transformation. He claims that all “transformation is linguistic, meaning we can think of community as a conversation” (p 31).More
Image: A boundary of the Living Bend site, transformed into a “linear greenstreet” with urban agriculture, native landscapes and an “integrated greenshade” featuring water catchment, solar PV and UV protection.
Fifteen years ago, Flagstaff, AZ, a small city perched on the edge of the Colorado Plateau, launched a community visioning project: Flagstaff 2020. It was the largest public dialogue ever conducted in Flagstaff, and the hot topics at the time were rapid growth and urban sprawl.
The result was a sweeping 25-year vision for the city, leading the way to some notable accomplishments:
completion of an Open Space and Greenways plan; institution of new logging practices in surrounding national forests; and a new downtown public square.
You hear a lot of talk about sustainability and the Green Revolution, about shrinking carbon footprints and maximizing solar gain, about new, innovative methods for building energy efficient homes using local or renewable or recycled materials.
You also hear a lot about how these methods can be prohibitively expensive, sensible only for those with large expendable incomes that afford them the luxury to consider their impact on the environment—unlike most other, average, working Americans.
Well, here’s a story about a young couple of Annapolis, Maryland, who have neither expendable incomes nor much “luxury” in the way of resources, time or connections, let alone cash. They have three children, ages 11, 6 and 1. One, Carri Beer, is an architect at Brennan + Company Architects, the other, Michael Hindle, a Passive House consultant who works out of their small home in Catonsville while also caring for their youngest. Read their bios here at INDRAlogic, a passive house and holistic sustainability architecture firm they co-founded.More
Have you had it with trying to fend off yet another strip development proposal in your town? Are you tired of your reasons for opposing big box being discredited by those who say aesthetics are subjective and have no place in economic development or planning? That it’s a free country and you just can’t go against the market?
I’ve seen this debate played out many times, having served on the Planning Commission of my town for a dozen years.More
In James Howard Kunstler’s provocative book Home from Nowhere, he wonders whether we “have the will to reimagine city and town life as a general proposition.” The phrase “will to reimagine” has stuck with me. It’s full of promise.
Residents of towns often feel constrained by existing politics or structures, and when they are given permission to claim the right to think differently, the resulting creativity and energy is remarkable. The most dramatic current examples are certainly found in Egypt and Bahrain. But closer to home, we at the Foundation have witnessed this kind of excitement in our projects.More
You’ve probably heard of Braddock, Pennsylvania given the attention it’s gotten for its rising-from-the-ashes, against-all-odds resurgence over the past decade or so.
Much of the credit for this renewal has gone to Braddock’s Mayor, John Fetterman, who has committed his own money to projects ranging from an at-risk youth program to a church-turned-community-center to a non-profit called Braddock Redux, which puts up money for community revitalization projects and advances what Fetterman calls his “social-justice agenda.”
Susan Halpern recently wrote a story for The New York Times about Fetterman called “Mayor of Rust”. She lauds Fetterman and his folk-hero status—“a Paul Bunyan hipster of urban revival.” And this seems appropriate given his demonstrated commitment to Braddock, where poverty is the norm and 27 consecutive months without a homicide is really astonishingly good news.More
When you picture the Rocky Mountains, what do you see? I’m betting on gondolas and waist-deep powder, the Maroon Bells and the Grand Tetons, and quaint tourist attractions like narrow-gauge railways and natural hot springs pools.
With our best foot forward, those are indeed the images that represent the Rockies. And those images help drive the tourism industry that generates a huge chunk of mountain town revenue. But the real essence of the West lies in the gritty, unpolished towns that most people never visit.More