Cities

Happy effing Earth Day...um Week

Deep thoughts from founder Chip Giller

Every year as Earth Day approaches, there’s a moment when we here at Grist stare at each other around a conference table and say, “What the hell are we going to do this time?” I imagine it’s the same way the window dressers at Macy’s feel when the winter holidays are approaching. How do you make an annual event feel fresh, exciting, and fun? One obvious solution, of course, is profanity. Last year, our “Screw Earth Day” campaign was a wildly successful reminder that eco-awareness shouldn’t be limited to one day; this week, we’re launching the similarly sailor-worthy “Earth: FML.” …

CURIOUS NAME, INNIT?

Britain’s ‘Coed Darcy’ shows the value of sparkling new towns

Sim Darcy: An illustration of the Welsh urban villageCourtesy The Prince’s Foundation for the Built Environment Coed Darcy is an oddly named urban village that’s going to be built from the ground up over the next 20 years in southern Wales. It’ll have an impressive 4,000 compact homes, plus commercial space and 1,300 acres of parks and greenery. It’s also got a high-profile engineer–the Prince of Wales, whose Foundation for the Built Environment is building it on a brownfield formerly occupied by a BP oil refinery. The idea is to unite the best of British village traditions with 21st century …

The New Bottom Line

As the economy begins to rebound, businesses are again focused on commodities that may be in short supply when manufacturing shifts back into high gear. Oil, refined fuels, steel, and electricity are among many things that may be harder to get or just harder to afford. But what about the one commodity that is needed by almost every part of the supply chain, including the workforce – – water? According to the World Health Organization, more than one billion people live without a reliable water supply and at least another billion drink from unsanitary water resources that result in catastrophic …

it's what the cool cities are doing

Bike love in unlikely places—Detroit, Dallas, Abu Dhabi

Courtesy Moriza via FlickrI’m hard pressed to think of three places less likely to invest in bicycle infrastructure than Detroit, Dallas, and Abu Dhabi. But they are. Motor City will add 30 miles of bike lanes, focused in its southwest quadrant, with hopes to add hundreds of miles more in coming years. Dallas citizens, planners, and politicians begin meeting this month to overhaul a 25-year-old bicycling master plan. Oil-rich Abu Dhabi is working to execute its 2030 plan, which includes Smart Growth principles that will improve its lackluster record for cyclist and pedestrian safety. There’s something of an iPad phenomenon …

peak usage

Northwest mountain towns become home efficiency lab

The American pet-food industry spends more on research and development each year than the American utility industry does, according to a mind-blowing line in Thomas Friedman’s Hot, Flat, and Crowded. In most competitive industries, companies spend perhaps 8 to 10 percent of total revenues on R&D. Utilities, which don’t have to compete with each other, spend a dismal 0.15 percent, writes Friedman. So I think any sensible experiments by utilities are worth applauding, including this one from the public utility Seattle City Light: The utility plans to use two historic company towns in the North Cascades in Washington state as …

Feng shweet!

The secret life of green roofs [SLIDESHOW]

The city of Portland, Ore., is aiming for 49 total acres of eco-roofs in the city by 2013 (the city’s paying up to $5 per square foot to any home or business that builds one). But what about green roofs outside the urban environment? What’s the appeal there? Blending more with the natural surroundings? Sure, green roofs are beautiful, keep your abode cooler in the summer, warmer in the winter, and tastier for wildlife passers-by. But, we wonder, what stories and mysteries lie beneath the non-urban eco-roofs … Photo courtesy shropshiretraveller via deviantART The fourth little pig, having hired an …

southern rebellion

Towns invest in smarter streets … in Mississippi

Two Mississippi towns want better options than auto-only streets, and now they’ve made it official. The towns of Tupelo (pop. 36,223) and Hernando (pop. 6,812) each passed Complete Streets legislation that ensures roads will be built and maintained for walkers, cyclists, and other forms of transportation—along with drivers. Yesterday St. Louis citizens voted to fund better mass transit. Now this in Mississippi—this stuff is getting around. Towns of these sizes don’t build a lot of transit infrastructure, so sidewalks, bike paths, and road safety features are all the better. “I’m proud of our city council’s unanimous support of this initiative …

ARCH NEMESIS

St. Louis votes for better transit, despite Tea Party campaign

Here’s some good news: St. Louis citizens want robust mass transit, and they’re willing to pay for it. Despite a Tea Party opposition campaign, St. Louis County voters on Tuesday approved a half-cent sales tax increase to stabilize and eventually expand the region’s ailing transit network. The measure passed by a monstrous 24 point margin. The St. Louis Tea Party focused its energy on defeating the civic project, calling the campaign a test run for defeating Democrats in this fall’s midterm elections. So it’s a setback for them. But it’s good news for those wanting to get around the St. …

have it your subway

Imaginary, underwater subway lines are always the most convenient route

Transit Authority FiguresFor publicly transitive folks like myself, why does it seem that the fastest way between two points is an imaginary subway line? And a watery one, to boot! If I were an East Coaster, I’d definitely submerse myself in these non-existent, though wish-listily handy transit routes, even if their actual construction would be a big, wet flop. All a-surfboard!             —————————————————————————————————————————————————– Like what you see? Sign up to receive The Grist List, our email roundup of pun-usual green news just like this, sent out every Friday.

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