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Jonathan Hiskes' Posts

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cherry pickers

Brooklyn’s red bees, Maraschino cherries, and a collision of cultures

This has to be the most amusing beekeeping story to come out of Brooklyn in at least a few weeks: A beekeeper in the gentrifying Red Hook neighborhood finds her bees returning from their foraging with strange red markings. She hunts for a source and finds her way to a Maraschino cherry factory. Mystery, whimsy, and a musing about cultural divides ensue. Susan Dominus reports for The New York Times: Of course, it was the foragers -- the adventurers, the wild waggle dancers, the social networkers incessantly buzzing about their business -- who were showing up with mysterious stripes of …

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WORLDCHANGING RIP

Worldchanging’s bright green contribution

Rumors have been floating around for a while, but on Monday the unfortunate fact became public: the sustainability news and advocacy site Worldchanging is shutting down. The 501c3 non-profit will dissolve by the end of the year, though the hope is to preserve its seven-year online archive. A note on the site says the organization had grown almost completely dependent on revenue from the speaking fees of co-founder and editor Alex Steffen: Why is this happening? Worldchanging readers were generous over the years and an important part of our ongoing operations, but we were never able to secure major foundation …

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impurity test

Why it’s OK for big polluters to get stimulus research funds

A hefty new investigation from the Center for Public Integrity takes the Energy Department to task for giving stimulus (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) funding to industrial polluters while waiving requirements that they conduct environmental-impact reviews. It's an important, substantial report, but it glosses over the Obama administration's central dilemma with the stimulus: It's difficult to spend money both quickly and smartly. The administration, with the support of mainstream economists, decided it should spend stimulus quickly to kick-start the economy. Environmental safeguards -- even when they're well-designed, user-friendly, and absolutely necessary -- slow down construction and research projects. To balance …

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elevated parking

The most secure bike lock in the world (16-second video)

Brilliance from the German company Conrad: The drawbacks seem to be (1) it looks a little heavy to carry around and (2) if I were a bike thief, I can't imagine a challenge more fun to take on than stealing a bike suspended 20 feet in the air in broad daylight.

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I’m no light rail scientist, but …

‘The science of public transit is not too complicated’

A Berkeley transportation scholar offers an appealingly simple rule in Adam Nagourney's dispatch on the sizeable subway and light-rail expansion in Los Angeles: Robert B. Cervero, the director of the University of California Transportation Center in Berkeley, said that if the subway expansion cut commuting time as promised, it would indeed change ridership habits. Transit officials said the ride from Koreatown to Westwood by subway would take 24 minutes, compared with 50 minutes during the rush in a car or on a bus. "The science of public transit is not too complicated," Mr. Cervero said in an e-mail message. "It …

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What OPEC doesn't want you to see

The best 9 steps toward oil independence

The Mobility Choice Coalition -- a collection of environmentalists, fiscal conservatives, and national security specialists -- ranks the most effective ways to reduce transportation-oil dependence in a new report, Taking the Wheel: Achieving a Competitive Transportation Sector Through Mobility Choice. Image: Mobility Choices They must have forgotten to include "tax cuts for the $250,000-plus income bracket." The key phrase in the title is "technically achievable oil savings." The report doesn't wade into whether the best strategies -- a gas tax and congestion pricing -- are politically feasible. More from Tanya Snyder at Streetsblog: Unlike many similar reports, the Mobility Choice …

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Give me sprawl or give me death

The Tea Party's 'livability' paranoia

Stephanie Mencimer reports in Mother Jones on the hilarious and frightening Tea Party campaign against sustainable development -- the shocking idea that neighborhoods and streets should be designed to promote human well-being rather than maximum traffic flow. It's funny in a tinfoil-hat sort of way because it revolves around an old  U.N. conspiracy theory. And it's troubling because it could be effective. Here's the heart of the story: [T]ea partiers have trained their sights on a new and insidious target: local planning and zoning commissions, which activists believe are carrying out a global conspiracy to trample American liberties and force …

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CASH RULES EVERYTHING

What the green building industry requires (in one paragraph)

Greenbuild is the big annual trade show for green construction businesses and related industries -- it brought 27,000 people to Chicago's McCormick Place last week. Shari Shapiro of the Sustainable Cities Collective has a telling observation: Notable lack of dealmakers--When I attended GreenBuild Boston [in 2008], I was overwhelmed by the numbers of banks, insurance people, consultants and so forth that had booths on the exhibit floor. This year I saw many more products, and fewer dealmakers. Bank of America was the only financier with any presence at the conference. I was surprised not to see at least PNC [a bank] which boasts so many …

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hop, skip, and a click

Find out where your city is most walkable with Walk Score's new heat maps

Today, Walk Score rolled out new heat maps for the 2,500 largest American cities, providing a quick way to get a sense of where cities are most walkable. That could be useful if, say, you're visiting an unfamiliar city on holiday travel and want to burn off some extra stuffing. Or if you're thinking about moving. Many of the maps, like St. Louis's, are marked by isolated pockets of bright green walkability surrounded by seas of red auto-dependence. Others, like San Francisco, are veritable fields of green. They make nice illustrations of Alex Steffen's concept of "deep walkability" -- "deeply" …

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Slightly better than Moscow woo!

Moscow's transportation policy makes even Republican plans look okay

Photo: Planet GordonNewly elected Republican leaders may be blocking passenger-rail plans in Wisconsin, Ohio and New Jersey and wishing it were the 1950s in Congressional transportation policy, but at least we're doing better than Moscow. Stephen Smith of Market Urbanism takes a look at new mayor Sergei Sobyanin's transportation plan: Increasing the amount of parking by building large lots on the outskirts of town seems to be the most prominent proposal. Like the author of this Bloomberg article which claims that parking spaces in the city "meet 30 percent of needed capacity," Muscovites don't seem to recognize that all cars …

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