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Sara Barz's Posts


Buying the farm

Fighting for the right to grow food in L.A.

South Central Farm activist Kati Lopez with armload of fresh corn leaves.Black Valley FilmsJust how much trouble can one community garden start? For starters, three years of court proceedings, two eviction notices, one assault charge, countless allegations of corruption, and $16 million worth of fundraising. Even with all the legal crap, the gardeners still had to pay for manure. Scott Hamilton Kennedy's Oscar-nominated documentary, "The Garden," tells the story of a 14-acre plot in Los Angeles that became a community garden in 1992, a community-building effort undertaken in the wake of the Rodney King riots. For 12 years, the South …

Read more: Food, Politics


Wheels on fire

Put the book down and get on your bike

Manifesto: (n) a written statement declaring publicly the intentions, motives or views of its issuer. See the Communist Manifesto, avoid The Cyclist's Manifesto. Courtesy Falcon PressOf all the cycling books to read in honor of National Bike Month, The Cyclist's Manifesto is better left on the bike rack. Though the author believes he is making a powerful case for the bicycle as a tool for serious transportation, the manifesto ultimately disappoints, offering a rambling, poorly organized tour through cycling history and current transportation politics. The book begins with promise. Hurst slams David Brooks' cutting aside about bicycling (a zinger tucked …

Read more: Cities, Living


Now that's cold!

‘Ice People’ is packed with plenty of ice, not so many people

Antarctica is warming rapidly, climate scientists report, upsetting fragile ecosystems and threatening the world with a significant rise in sea-levels. With the largely uninhabited and frozen continent melting before humanity's very eyes, what better time to roll out a new documentary about the coldest, driest and windiest place on Earth. Billed as a journey to Antarctica for scientific discovery, "Ice People," a documentary set to air tonight on the Sundance Channel, is really more of an exercise in landscape cinematography. Two-thirds of the 77-minute film is devoted to capturing some breathtaking panoramas, which was no easy feat. Filmmaker Anne Aghion …

Read more: Climate & Energy


Green Light: Charge it

Nissan to bring EV network to Seattle

Like many other urban places, Seattle will welcome an electric vehicle network to the Emerald City. In a nonexclusive partnership with Nissan North America, the city of Seattle will promote the development of electric-charging infrastructure. "The city is committed to creating an environment that is kind to EVs," said Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels (D). However, the agreement between the manufacturer and the municipality does not go so far as to commit to any specifics. Instead, Nissan will take the lead in establishing local working groups to evaluate sites for possible charging stations. The city will in turn "consider" adopting those …


U.K. subsidizes EVs, Amory Lovins talks trucks, and more green auto news

Photo by Sara Barz. Last Thursday, the UK government announced it would offer British citizens subsidies of 2,000-5,000 pounds ($2,900-7,500) for electric vehicles. To facilitate the adoption of electric vehicles, the government will set aside 20 million pounds ($30 million) to invest in electric-vehicle charging stations in city centers and high-traffic regions. This is welcome news for many enviros and electric car manufacturers who lobbied hard to include electric-vehicle subsidies in the U.K.'s green recovery plan.  But from the perspective of U.S.-U.K. relations, doesn't it seem a little like an anything-you-can-do-I-can-do-better gesture? President Obama announces a plug-in hybrid tax credit …


April Powers

EPA announces collegiate Green Power winners; competition fails to change power buying habits

The Ivy League is the greenest of them all, according to the EPA, which today announced the college and university winners of the Green Power challenge -- a competition to motivate American schools to purchase more renewable energy. Participating schools compete within their athletic conferences to purchase the most certified green power, but conferences only qualify if each purchases more than 10 million kWh in aggregate.  University of Washington.The Ivies, anchored by University of Pennsylvania's purchase of 192 million kWh, chalked up the best conference performance, purchasing a total of 225 million kWh of green power. Here in the Pacific …

Read more: Living


A Clarity Day

Hydrogen fuel-cell car wins 2009 World Green Car award

Honda FCX Clarity.Photo courtesy of the New York International Auto Show.Is the Honda FCX Clarity really the world's greenest car? According to the world's leading automotive journalists, it is. Thursday morning they gave the hydrogen-fueled Clarity the World Green Car award at the New York auto show. But at my table, after the award was announced, there was a collective response of, huh? Auto show awards can often serve more for PR purposes than as actual testaments of a vehicle's merit, but it was still a surprise when the hydrogen-fueled Clarity bested the electric Mitsubishi iMiev and the super fuel-efficient …


Swept of my Fiat

Chrysler opens with a Fiat at the New York Auto Show

Photo courtesy of the New York International Auto Show. How will Chrysler save itself (and maybe even the auto industry)? With a tiny blue coupe tricked out with italian-leather seats, of course.  If there was any doubt about how large a role Fiat will play in Chrysler's restructuring, Chrysler vice chairman Jim Press silenced those questions by driving on stage in a cobalt blue Fiat 500 at the New York International Auto Show on Wednesday.  The point of Chrysler's press conference was supposedly to announce the new Jeep Grand Cherokee, but Press took a few minutes to make his bravissimo …


Couldn't car less

Toyota Prius sales down 55% compared to March ’08

Today, Toyota Motor Sales reported March '09 sales numbers, which showed a 55 percent decline for the Prius brand.  In March '08, Toyota sold 20,635 Priuses, but in March '09, only 8,924. (Maybe everyone is holding out for the 2010 model?) Overall, Toyota numbers were down 36 percent from March '08, but up 19 percent from February.


Ford inFusion

Ford starts marketing campaign to emphasize fuel economy in new hybrid

During American Idol Tuesday evening, Ford launched the "We Speak Car" marketing campaign to sell the 2010 Fusion and Fusion Hybrid. The ads tout the Fusion Hybrid as "America's most fuel efficient mid-size sedan," which is awfully misleading because the 2010 Prius (50 mpg combined) is technically the most fuel efficient mid-size vehicle. It's just not classified as a sedan. Still, the Fusion Hybrid gets 41 mpg in the city and 36 mpg highway, which is higher than other hybrid sedans in its class like the Toyota Camry Hybrid (33 city/34 highway). Below is the ad, which emphasizes the Fusion …