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Katharine Wroth's Posts

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Placemakers

Stockton Williams on urban retrofits, Obama, and the sexiness of caulking guns

This is part of a series of interviews with people working to make U.S. communities smarter, greener spaces. Got a suggestion for an interviewee? Send it our way or leave it in the comments section below. Earlier this year, officials from sixteen U.S. cities gathered in Cambridge, Mass., to compare notes on a surprisingly hot topic: building retrofits. The meeting was held just as the Obama Administration announced the creation of a "Recovery through Retrofit" interagency working group, and hopes were high that federal funding, green jobs, and energy savings would flow forth. I dropped in on that event and …

Read more: Cities

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It Could Be Verse

Climate-news poem: Shush edition

As our throngs of loyal poetry readers no doubt noticed, the weekly climate poem took a bit of a breather after its last appearance. Apparently it has senatorial aspirations and was just "trying on the whole multi-week break thing for size." But it's now back in session. Like students overwhelmed by back to school, Our senators their heels are keeping cool. By which I mean they're not in a great rush To float some sort of climate legis -- HUSH! Not true, says Reid's man Manley, it'll pass. That's right, says Gibbs: we're gonna kick some ass! There's so much …

Read more: Climate & Energy, Living

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no more playing hooky

Will a greener White House complex mean a more productive president?

Arrrrr ye gettin' more done now?Official White House photostream via flickr[UPDATE: A White House spokesperson called me to clarify that it's parts of the White House complex, not the White House itself, that will be seeking LEED certification. Like many others in the blogosphere, I got swept up in the excitement of imagining hemp sheets in the Lincoln bedroom. Maybe next year -- meanwhile, just mutter "complex" to yourself each time you read the phrase White House here.] The benefits of green building are becoming clearer all the time: A study released this week suggests that employees in greener buildings …

Read more: Cities

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Placemakers

An interview with solar activist Anya Schoolman

This interview is part of a series on people who are making their communities smarter, greener places to live. Got a nomination? Leave it in the comments section or send it along to us. All signs point to solar for Schoolman and her neighbors.For a while, things were looking gloomy. The founders of Washington, D.C.'s Mount Pleasant Solar Cooperative had their hearts in the right place; they even had their paperwork in the right place. But they hit snag after snag as they tried to fulfill the dream of converting their neighborhood to solar power: Contractors who didn't want to …

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Ditto

With Patrick Swayze’s death, perhaps the year could take a rest

The past few months have taken a mind-boggling assortment of icons, pop and otherwise, from our midst. As a green media outlet, we face a challenge on these somber occasions: How to pay tribute to people whose departure is felt by so many, but who might not have strong environmental connections. We don't want to be in the business of creating artificial "ecobits" in which we glom onto some one-off quote from five years ago and use it to claim that, say, Patrick Swayze was a conservationist. It also doesn't feel quite right to fall back on our usual schtick, …

Read more: Living

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Pane in the Glass

Should I suck it up and buy vinyl windows?

Not my window. But this is how they feel sometimes.TottoBG via flickrOnce upon a time, I was full of unswayable romantic notions about old houses. Then I bought one. I'll refrain from going into too much detail about the quirks of our house, and of course I'm grateful to have a roof over our heads. But we've come up against a particular challenge that I can't seem to figure my way around. It's a little thing called window shopping. No, not window shopping like pressing your nose up against the glass (thanks, wordplay-loving co-workers!). Window shopping like, "We have got …

Read more: Cities, Living

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It Could Be Verse

Climate-news poem: Cash for cukes edition

This week's verse was contributed by the White House as it worked on plans for a farmers market. Check out more climate poems from Grist. First we thought cars were the fix, so Congress made a bet:Give people cash and they will trade their clunking old Corvette.And boy, they did! In drives -- uh, droves -- till we ran out of dough.Now sliiiightly more efficient rides are always on the go. If we can't change the climate with a 2 m.p.g. bribePerhaps there is another way we can convert this tribe.They still love dirty coal and oil and gas and …

Read more: Climate & Energy, Living

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Placemakers

Tim Halbur on sprawl, propaganda, and Obama’s approach to urban issues

This marks the first of a series of interviews with people working to make U.S. communities smarter, greener spaces. Got a suggestion for an interviewee? Send it our way or leave it in the comments section below. Tim Halbur's career has included a stint as a journalist for NPR, co-producer of an environmental-justice driving tour of California's I-5, and founder of an online media production company whose clients ranged from HarperCollins to the American Institute of Architects. With a masters in urban and regional planning, Tim puts his obsession to work every day as managing editor of Planetizen, which recently …

Read more: Cities

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General Musings

GM: Innovators or crackheads?

Some assembly required.GM.comAt one of our news meetings last week, I mentioned a story I had seen. "GM says the Chevy Volt will get 230 miles per gallon," I told my fellow editors. The number struck me funny because it was ludicrously far beyond any current mpg rating, and because GM acknowledged that the Volt, due in late 2010, would be difficult to recharge given current infrastructure. It's as if you had a pony that delivered lollipops door to door, except it didn't have anywhere to buy them. But to a couple of staffers, it was funny for a whole …

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Legs Dimin'

Would you pay more for walkability? Should you?

The Truth About ... via flickrForget letting your fingers do the walking: A study released today shows that homebuyers are letting their wallets do the walking, paying more for homes in neighborhoods where you can get around without wheels. Conducted by CEOs for Cities, the analysis looked at 94,000 real-estate transaction in 15 markets across the U.S., from Fresno, Calif., to Arlington, Va. Researchers found that in 13 of the markets, housing values were higher in more walkable neighborhoods. (What about the other two markets? In Bakersfield, Calif., no correlation was found; in the other, which starts with Las Vegas …

Read more: Cities, Living