greg hanscom

Greg Hanscom

Underwater cities

Greg Hanscom is a senior editor at Grist. He tweets about cities, bikes, transportation, policy, and sustainability at @ghanscom.


Bikestravaganza: Grist’s top bike stories of 2011

Photo: John Monoogian IIII spent the day yesterday digging through 18 — count ‘em, 18 — pages of search results in a quest to find Grist’s Overarching Narrative of the Bike in 2011. I laughed. I cried. I almost blew tea on my laptop. Then I biked home on streets that were blissfully bereft of automobiles. Without further ado, I give you the good, the bad, and the pee-your-pants funny from the past year in bicycling. Watch for more bike-related highlights later this week.


Merry Bikesmas: A 1970s Schwinn livens up a family holiday

Photo: Joe Penniston This year, as we have in years past, my wife and I packed up the kids and flew across the country to spend the holidays with her family in suburban Baltimore. Christmas at the Thomas house is always a festive affair: crab soup, wine by the bottleful, quality time with grandma and grandpa and sundry cousins. And for my benefit, they keep the Barry Manilow Christmas tunes to a minimum. (Sincere thanks for that, guys.) There’s just one problem: Put me in the ‘burbs for more than about 48 hours and I go completely batshit. I’m not …


Unzipped: Car sharing takes a bite out of Americans’ drive time

Kids these days — they don’t like cars. What’s up with that? A new survey by the car-sharing company Zipcar finds that Millennials just don’t see cars as the ticket to freedom that their parents did. According to the survey, 55 percent of Millennials have actively made an effort to drive less, while 78 percent say that the high costs of gas and maintenance make owning a car difficult. That’s good news for Zipcar: The company says that Millennials make up more than half of its members. But here’s a little secret about Zipcar: It’s just cool enough to make …


Top cities stories of 2011

It’s that time of year again: When public schools everywhere cast about desperately for a holiday celebration that doesn’t involve Jesus or a dude in a red suit; when families gather from thither and yon to spend a few days remembering why they’ve scattered thither and yon in the first place; and yes, it’s time to take stock of the year past, and look ahead to the one coming up. As the guy charged with keeping an eye on all things urban around here, I curled up with my laptop on a winter’s night that was definitely not as cold …


The city speaks — and artist Candy Chang finds fresh ways to listen

Photo:Randal FordThe house was a nightmare. “It had been collecting dust and graffiti since Katrina and there was something very shabby and Brothers Grimm about it,” says Candy Chang, an artist and graphic designer who lives just a few blocks from the place in New Orleans. But where others saw blight, Chang saw an opportunity, and armed with a few buckets of paint, she transformed the derelict house from a symbol of the community’s decay into an emblem of its collective aspirations. With permission from the property owner and neighborhood groups, Chang turned the front wall of the house into …


Cities: Not quite as awesome as we like to think

Photo: David Graham If you Google the term “a scholar and a gentleman,” the first result to pop up is a picture of Witold Rybczynski — or it would be if there were any justice in the world. Rybczynski is an architect, author, and professor of urbanism at the University of Pennsylvania. He has written a dozen or so books on technology, architecture, real estate — even a natural history of the screwdriver. He knows The City like it’s nobody’s business. So it was notable when, in a blog post a few weeks back, Rybczynski opened a can of Jedi-style …


Fine art, writ large: Billboards become gallery space

“Window,” a photograph by L.A. artist Susanna Battin, appeared on a San Bernardino County billboard in December.Photo: Susanna BattinIf you drove down I-15 in San Bernardino County, Calif., outside of Corona, last Friday, you may have noticed a giant, digital billboard exclaiming, “WE BUY USED GUNS.” But if you’d looked at the same sign from the opposite direction, rather than being socked in the mouth with a solicitation to sell your sidearm, you’d have seen a crystal clear window — a view right through the sign of the undulating ridge of the Santa Ana Mountain Range beyond. The image was …

Energy Efficiency

A magical meter and friendly competition help one community dial back energy use

The Island Energy Dashboard gives residents a real-time look at how much electricity they’re sucking from the grid. When Puget Sound Energy announced plans to build a new substation to meet rising electricity demand on Bainbridge Island, Wash., in 2009, it apparently didn’t know who it was dealing with. Bainbridge is a well-to-do suburb of Seattle (a 35-minute ferry ride will drop you right in downtown), and home to more than a few techies, computer programmers, and folks who have letterhead with lots of fancy degrees in front of their names. Eric Rehm, a software-engineer-turned-marine-biologist, says that “a mosh pit …

Smart Cities

Green giants: Seattle gets even greener, starting with its biggest buildings

Brian Geller, executive director of the Seattle 2030 DistrictPhoto: Greg HanscomSeattle, a.k.a. the Emerald City, looms Oz-like in the imaginations of eco-minded architects and designers. Its reputation for being uber green drew architect Brian Geller to the city from New York a few years ago. Now, he looks at the skyline rising above Elliott Bay and sees how much greener the place could be. More than 70 percent of the electricity generated in this country goes to heating, cooling, lighting, and otherwise powering our homes, offices, and other buildings. This accounts for a whopping 38 percent of our globe-warming carbon …

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