‘Save transit’ rallies start up around U.S.

Courtesy Atlanta Journal ConstitutionThe rallies that get all the attention these days are about stopping new initiatives, like health-care reform. But here we’ve got rallies about defending part of the shared social fabric. Off-duty public transit workers in Atlanta plastered large red X’s on buses and trains (with permission) to highlight the severe budget shortfall that threatens as much as 30 percent of the city’s transit network. Riders joined them in calling on state legislators to protect the transit network, asking for both short- and long-term relief for the system, which has a $120 million operating deficit. It’s the first …

The uncommon good?

Colorado Springs experiments by slashing public services

Courtesy Jasen Miller via FlickrCivic-minded urbanist types like to experiment with collective projects. Apparently, so do people who don’t like civic projects, taxes, public parks, pools, police officers, or firefighters. Famously anti-tax Colorado Springs launched an astounding experiment this year: More than a third of the streetlights in Colorado Springs will go dark Monday. The police helicopters are for sale on the Internet. The city is dumping firefighting jobs, a vice team, burglary investigators, beat cops — dozens of police and fire positions will go unfilled. The parks department removed trash cans last week, replacing them with signs urging users …

Heads we win, tails we win

Good news for Earth Day: We can reduce climate pollution and boost the economy, all at once

Putting a price on carbon pollution is an important part of tackling climate change. It’s a way of leveling the playing field, removing an unfair advantage that fossil fuels have always had over clean alternatives. However! Pricing carbon is not the only part of tackling climate change. It’s not even necessarily the most important part, particularly in next decade. It’s certainly the least popular part, since, at least in isolation, it raises prices for every voter and slows GDP growth (if only a little). There are other, complementary policies that have the potential to increase economic productivity, offsetting the drag …

Happy effing Earth 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.” …


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 …

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