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Sarah Laskow's Posts

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Mayor Stubbs, cat, celebrates 15 years in office

Talkeetna, Alaska, isn't going to the dogs. It's going to the cats -- or really, one cat, which has been mayor of the town for 15 years.

Mayor Stubbs was voted in by a write-in effort when locals got fed up with their human rulers.

Read more: Animals

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This truck travels the country collecting stories about seeds

Seeds are natural beginnings for stories: From a small start, they grow into a larger world and eventually end. They're also good subjects of stories: Where did they come from? Who loved them enough to keep them around? How'd they reach the person who planted them in the ground? What happened when they went viral on the internet? (Wait, does that not happen to most seeds?)

The Seed Broadcast Station, a converted bread truck manned by the Fodder Project Collaborative Research Farm, is traveling the country, gathering those stories:

Come and share your personal seed stories. We would like to interview you and hear more about your seed saving, gardening, and farming passions, the local food you cherish, and information about your local seed library. Also, stop by, copy, and add to the Broadcast bulletin board - a cork board wall presenting seed saving and organizing how to’s. You can also help create a mural on the Broadcasting Station with collaged images of the seeds you love.

Read more: Living

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New York’s newest street, 6 ½ Ave., is just for pedestrians

For years, 1,200 people an hour have been seeing this six-block stretch of street in secret. But finally, New York City is bringing these back-alley relationships into the light, and giving them the official municipal seal of approval. Now the street can announce to the world: “I'm here. I'm part of the city. I'm not an unnamed pedestrian walkway you'd be ashamed to walk your mother down. I'm 6 ½ Avenue.”

The newly named avenue runs from 51st to 57th Street. It's primarily a pedestrian walkway, and as Transportation Nation says, that makes the city’s official approval more significant:

In giving this stretch of walkways a name, the New York City Department of Transportation is encouraging more walking. Even more than the cute name, they do so by painting crosswalks and stopping traffic mid-block where people already jaywalked with more than the usual amount of New York pavement entitlement (if that’s possible).

Read more: Cities, Urbanism

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Uber lets you summon the ice cream truck right to your doorstep

Photo by Michael Alexander.

Today six U.S. cities (and Toronto, but who cares) have access to the most cherished dream of every American child: ON-DEMAND ICE CREAM. This changes summer forever.

Uber, the start-up that will send a livery-service car to you at the touch of a smartphone-app button, is expanding for one day into ice cream. Touch one little button on your iPhone and it will, as it promises, "BRING ON THE ICE CREAM."

There is a catch. (Of course there is a catch.)

Read more: Cities

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This robot enjoys nature for you while you’re stuck at your desk

Rat race getting you down? Shitty economy and lack of full-time benefits keeping you from that summer retreat you dreamed of? Fear not, you can have it all: the semi-stability of wage-slave employment and the idyll of skipping stones through a perfect Idaho pond. Skippy the stone-skipping robot's here to help you out.

See, you can "feel what summer's all about" even from your over air-conditioned office. You have to wait your turn, but then you get to choose where the robot throws the stone and how hard.

Read more: Living

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Slightly insulting posters beat the hell out of those ‘I Heart [City]‘ shirts

What is love if not the right to gently poke fun at the object of your affection, be it a boyfriend, relative, or cherished city neighborhood? It's clear that Jeni Brendemuehl, Lauren Schroer, and RC Jones have a great fondness for Chicago. They just choose to express that love with Slightly Insulting Chicago Posters like this one:

RedEye Chicago's Leonor Vivanco relates:

Read more: Cities

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Here’s what to buy so you can stop living in self-denial

Trying to reduce a building's energy footprint is so dang hard, especially when it involves leaving pee in the toilet, sweating through hot days, and nagging your significant other to please turn off the goddamn lights when leaving the house. And while some people might want to live like that, most people don't.

Normally we don't advocate buying more stuff, but if you buy the right stuff, you can live in energy-efficient bliss without suffering like a cloistered monk. Here is a handy guide:

Read more: Living

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Win a bike by channeling famous authors

Rule No. 1 of Grist List: Never pass up an opportunity to win a free bike. Especially if the opportunity involves the chance to channel P.G. Wodehouse.

The Paris Review (TPR), a venerable lit magazine not particularly concerned with green living but very concerned with style and general braininess, is offering up this snazzy Beater Bicycles Roadster to one lucky and literary-minded reader.

To win this beaut, TPR asks its clever readers to describe the picture above. There's a 300 word max and a catch:

Read more: Biking

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Brazilian inmates can reduce their sentence by providing human-powered electricity

Brazil is pioneering a new sort of jailhouse workout, in which inmates ride bikes instead of pumping iron. That’s not because they’d prefer fast inmates to strong ones (either one seems problematic if there’s an incident). It’s because the bikes, unlike weightlifting or prison-yard basketball, help power a nearby town.

The program has four bikes, sourced from the police department’s lost and found. The incentive, as the Associated Press reports, is that the more time inmates spend generating pedal power, the shorter their stay in prison will be:

By pedaling, the inmates charge a battery that powers 10 street lamps along a riverside promenade. For every three eight-hour days they spend on the bikes, Silva and the program’s other volunteers get one day shaved off their sentences.

Read more: Climate & Energy

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New York City shuts down home-brewed community park

Photo by Regina Formisano/Patch.

The lot at Woodhull and Columbia Streets had sat vacant for 35 years. Around the corner, in Brooklyn's Carroll Gardens, the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel pours into the Gowanus Expressway. The lot was a mess, a trash bin for the remnants of drug use and a home for rats.

Lou Formisano decided to do something about it: He spent his own money to clean up the place, spread it with sod, and install patio furniture and a sprinkler, Patch reports.

Two weeks later, the city kicked him out.

Read more: Cities