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Getting the Mormons on board with mixed use

As former planning director for Salt Lake City, and as an artist wanting to create live/work spaces for other artists, Stephen Goldsmith has played a key role in bringing mixed-use development to the downtown core of his city. He now teaches at the University of Utah's College of Architecture and Planning. He also founded the Temporary Museum of Permanent Change, a virtual museum that frames the city's massive downtown construction efforts as an ongoing exhibit of cultural and social ideas. Q. Describe your early meetings with the developers of City Creek. A. They weren't looking at developing City Creek. They …

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Salt Lake mixes sacred space and sustainability

An artist’s rendering of City Creek CenterPhoto courtesy of City CreekSalt Lake City is the world headquarters for the fastest growing church in America, and the influence of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is everywhere. The six gray spires of the Salt Lake Temple rise above the city. A gleaming granite convention center dominates an entire city block across the street. Even in subtle ways -- street names, for example -- one is reminded of the church's impact on city planning. Are you driving down 400 South? Then you're four blocks south of the temple. But now …

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Bike branding moves from urban chic to mainstream

Fast Company's design blog reports on some inspiring advertising: Americans are riding bikes more than ever, yet cycling is still held up as some sort of cultish hobby relegated to aggro dudes with messenger bags who live and die by their fixed gears. So maybe it's time for a new image, yeah? Colle+McVoy, a Minneapolis ad agency, has partnered with the coalition Bikes Belong to design People for Bikes, an ingenious bike branding campaign that presents a refreshingly sunny view of life on two wheels ... The heart of the campaign is this cheery graphic, one of the best logos …

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Fate of PACE clean-energy programs about to become clearer

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have shut down most of the nation's programs using Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE), an innovative tool (explained here) that helps Americans finance green improvements to their homes. Here's the latest news: The Federal Housing Finance Agency will say Wednesday whether it will allow a 30-month pilot project for Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE), Congressman Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) said after a meeting today with FHFA reps. Israel said he proposed a demonstration project of 300,000 homes that would test out FHFA's concern that PACE creates additional risk for mortgage lenders. "Right now you've got the …

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Part 1 of interview with local-food economist Ken Meter [PODCAST]

Local food economist Ken Meter(Jerry Carlson/Agri-Energy)Ken Meter, director of Minneapolis-based Crossroads Resource Center, is probably the country's foremost thinker on the role of food in creating robust local and regional economies. I first encountered him at a Community Food Security Coalition conference in Atlanta in 2005, where he gave a presentation that forever changed the way I look at agricultural economics. Ken showed that over and over again, in agriculturally intensive regions across the country, large-scale commodity farming is a net economic loss for farmers and their surrounding communities. He demonstrated that in areas such as the Corn Belt, farmers …

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The future of Rust Belt cities in the post-LeBron era

     Keith AllisonContrived news hooks based on LeBron James are so last week, but Aaron Renn at New Geography has a good link between the departing free agent and a struggling Rust Belt city: In a sense though, Cleveland's disappointment was inevitable. LeBron James was never going to turn around the city. No one person or one thing can. Unfortunately, Cleveland has continually pinned its hopes on a never-ending cycle of "next big things" to reverse decline. This will never work. As local economic development guru Ed Morrison put it, "Overwhelmingly, the strategy is now driven by individual projects. …

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Does New York City’s High Line park matter in the fight against climate change?

1 hr photo via FlickrThe best use for elevated transit tracks is running trains on them. But the next best use might be beautiful, innovative green space, like the newish High Line park built on a defunct railway trestle that runs through Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood and Meatpacking District. Cities around the nation want to emulate the park, as The New York Times reports: Phone calls and visitors and, yes, dreams from around the world are pouring into the small offices of the Friends of the High Line on West 20th Street in Manhattan these days. Detroit is thinking big about …

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House Democrats introduce bill to defend PACE clean-energy program

Thirty House Democrats signed on to a new bill on Thursday that would save Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) programs, which have been under attack from mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. PACE is a finance tool that helps homeowners afford energy-efficiency retrofits and renewable-energy installations. The PACE Assessment Protection Act of 2010 would force the government-sponsored corporations to adopt standards that support PACE, based on Department of Energy guidelines. Yet the bill's author, Rep. Mike Thompson of northern California, hopes the legislation persuades Fannie and Freddie to accept a compromise before it's signed into law. "I think we …

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These heating and cooling engineers are licensed to make you laugh [VIDEO]

The admirable folks at the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) have put out the most unintentionally hilarious/awkward recruiting video I've ever seen. In case you're not familiar, ASHRAE's engineers are aiming to "advance technology to serve humanity and promote a sustainable world." And, you know, keep the fridge running. So what do they offer as enticement for young and hip would-be enginerds? "A hot soundtrack and interviews with young members highlighting the importance of our industry, the diverse and creative career opportunities, and the difference our industry is making related to sustainability." Did I mention that …

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California attorney general sues Fannie & Freddie over PACE clean-energy programs

Jerry Brown wants to face Fannie and Freddie down.California Attorney General (and candidate for governor) Jerry Brown sued Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac today for blocking Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) programs. There's a good chance that Fannie and Freddie's legal costs from defending this suit will add up to more than they ever stood to lose from the clean-energy programs, but here we are. The town of Babylon, N.Y., has also been threatening to sue over the same issue, but Brown was quicker.  Todd Woody reports at the New York Times' Green blog: The suit alleges that the [actions …