Cities

Hippies Cast a Long Shadow

Treasure hunting during building demo

Hippies on the Boston CommonPhoto: Nick DeWolfeOne of the joys of demolition (in addition to anger management) is the hunt for treasure. When pulling apart old walls and closets you just can’t help dreaming about unearthing a cache of old coins or silverware (I’ve found both). Mostly pickings have been slim at the JP Green House — a few fragments of broken china, some old bottles, and a rusty pair of pliers — but under floorboards in the basement we uncovered a trove of newspapers from 1968, the Summer of Love. My favorite is the May 26, 1968, Boston Globe …

Green Acres

How smart is your city?

Last week, Time magazine asked, “Why Are Southerners So Fat?“ There’s no simple answer, of course. Poverty, culture and climate all play a role in the South’s high obesity rates. But one factor that’s increasingly blamed by everyone from medical journals to the CDC is how Southern cities are built. “The South doesn’t have many bus stops,” Time writes. “Public transportation is paltry, and for most people, the best way to get around is by car. … States like Mississippi and Tennessee also have a surprising lack of sidewalks, discouraging even the most eager pedestrians. Many roads are narrower than …

Trip the light rail fantastic

Seattle light rail finally opens doors to passengers

Photo: wings777 via FlickrIt’s been a long time coming, but starting this Saturday, it’ll be “all aboard!” when Seattle’s light rail trains pull into the station. The Sound Transit trains will travel 14 miles from Westlake Center, in the center of downtown, south to Tukwila, two miles short of the Sea-Tac airport. By the end of the year, the trains will reach the airport. Thanks to generous Seattle voters, this $2.3 billion “starter line” will eventually reach north to the University of Washington campus (2016) and out to other suburbs like Federal Way, Overlake, and Lynnwood on a 53-mile track …

Buy It

The Informal Economy: Michael Jackson Edition

  This article is part of a collaboration with Planetizen, the web’s leading resource for the urban planning, design, and development community. I couldn’t resist. I knew it was going to be a madhouse in downtown L.A. for Michael Jackson’s memorial service, but I had to go see what it was like — not because I’m a super fan, but purely for the urban novelty of a huge swath of downtown closed off for thousands of fans and mourners. But what really struck me as I was wandering around amongst the masses was the huge percentage of them that were …

The Hillside Strangler

You and me and a billion tiny spores

The older man with the Coke-bottle lenses at the Boston GreenFest had a simple table — just a poster with a few pictures taped to it, and a sprig of something green. He looked grim and earnest, and although all the other booths were more alluring, full of enticing pamphlets about new green nonprofits, I went over to talk to him. “Hey, I know that plant!” I said, picking up the sprig. Lush looks can be deceiving.It’s a dark green vine, with pods that look like small reddish peppers. A variety of Swallow-wort (Vincetoxicum), brought in as an ornamental plant …

Razing Arizona

GOP: Solar powered jobs can go to hell (or at least limbo)

The clock was ticking … till it stopped.Courtesy Osha DavidsonJust ten days ago, Arizona state Senator Barbara Leff (R-Paradise Valley) stood before a House committee, making the case for a bill she had written. “The Quality Jobs Through Renewable Energy Bill,” was needed, she said, to make Arizona the leader in solar [power].” Not just in the nation, but potentially throughout the world. Leff reminded Representatives that we are in a period of transition. Fossil fuels are the past (why do you think they’re called fossil fuels?). Solar is the future. Senate Bill 1403 can help the state move forward, …

Showing the Flag

Fourth of July musings on symbols, patriotism, and identity

Sketches of ideas for the JP Green House exterior all include banners, signs, and flags at our request. This reflects our plan to unearth the former corner store that used to be housed in the “flatiron” triangular building. It’s also a means of advertising our demonstration project and a good fit with our civic purpose, to serve as a community center and climate campaigning “hub” for 350.org. The kids will enjoy making their own banners as well — indeed, their after-camp project today is to design a poster for the JP Green House Kids’ $5 Lemonade Stand & Mini-Toboggan Run/Water …

Radiant Cities: LEEDwashing

Are developers making mis-LEED-ing claims?

It seems more and more buildings boast LEED credentials these days -- but are they legit? Find out where and why the best known green-building certification term in the land is being excessively bandied about.

Sexy Retrofits

Sears Tower to get eco-overhaul — again? Plus: new name!

Greenovations at “The Big Willie,” nee Sears Tower.First the Empire State Building, now Sears Tower: America’s iconic buildings are going green! The press is all abuzz about yesterday’s announcement by the owners of Chicago’s 110-story landmark — North America’s tallest, and the third-tallest in the world — that they will cut energy use 80 percent and water use 40 percent. The $350 million project will include replacing 16,000 single-pane windows; adding green roofs, wind turbines, and solar panels; relandscaping the plazas around the building’s base; and installing energy-saving fixtures in restrooms, elevators, and other bits of the building’s guts. It …

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