Cities

Paved paradise put up a lot of parks

PARK(ing) Day puts people and greenery, not cars, in transformed parking spaces [SLIDESHOW]

I think you’ll be hard-pressed to find someone who thinks parking spaces are prettier and more fun to relax in than public parks. Which is one reason you may see people parallel parking themselves instead of their cars on pavement for PARK(ing) Day 2009, which is September 18. Across the world artists and citizens are adorning urban parking spots with flowers, benches, turf, tents — heck, maybe even a ball pit — to transform them into one-day public parks the size of a car (or a couple of them, if it’s a parking lot). Originally dreamed up by Rebar, a …

no more playing hooky

Will a greener White House complex mean a more productive president?

Arrrrr ye gettin’ more done now?Official White House photostream via flickr[UPDATE: A White House spokesperson called me to clarify that it's parts of the White House complex, not the White House itself, that will be seeking LEED certification. Like many others in the blogosphere, I got swept up in the excitement of imagining hemp sheets in the Lincoln bedroom. Maybe next year -- meanwhile, just mutter "complex" to yourself each time you read the phrase White House here.] The benefits of green building are becoming clearer all the time: A study released this week suggests that employees in greener buildings …

Placemakers

An interview with solar activist Anya Schoolman

This interview is part of a series on people who are making their communities smarter, greener places to live. Got a nomination? Leave it in the comments section or send it along to us. All signs point to solar for Schoolman and her neighbors.For a while, things were looking gloomy. The founders of Washington, D.C.’s Mount Pleasant Solar Cooperative had their hearts in the right place; they even had their paperwork in the right place. But they hit snag after snag as they tried to fulfill the dream of converting their neighborhood to solar power: Contractors who didn’t want to …

This 9/11, urban communities remember and serve

This September 11th, communities are honoring those who lost their lives eight years ago by participating in service activities. Churches, schools, and community groups are holding nearly 100 Green the Block service events in more than 24 states. All across the nation, people are choosing to act on encouragement instead of discouragement, on hope instead of despair. Both of us are often asked to speak for those who have no voice, and to remind others of those who are often forgotten. We are asked to respond to the frustrations of our communities and fulfill the aspirations of those who are …

Grow your farmer ...

USDA to unveil “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” initiative

Vast potential: a farm grows in Brooklyn. Photo: Added ValueAs I prepare for five days of announcements next week, when USDA plans to unveil its new “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” initiative, the buzz across my desk is about the potential for urban agriculture. EPA reminds that brownfield moneys can be used to convert polluted land into working farms in inner-city areas. I saw the excellent film “The Garden,” documenting the destruction of the largest community farm in the U.S. (South Central LA) in 2006. Will and Erika Allen are coming to Minnesota again. Over breakfast, friends asked about …

Dispatch from the virtual front lines of parenting

The fight to save childhood

Boys will be boys … online or off.School started this week. We have two fourth-graders and a second-grader. Ken has the misfortune to be driving a carpool that involves four boys and two schools and takes about an hour round-trip. I am biking to work every day now, because we’re cutting back to just the one beat-up station wagon for transportation. Today I was almost hit by a Hummer. New school year, new shoes, old lunchboxes, and a new household rule that we’re all wrestling with: No internet access except Saturday mornings. One of our children — and I think …

Pane in the Glass

Should I suck it up and buy vinyl windows?

Not my window. But this is how they feel sometimes.TottoBG via flickrOnce upon a time, I was full of unswayable romantic notions about old houses. Then I bought one. I’ll refrain from going into too much detail about the quirks of our house, and of course I’m grateful to have a roof over our heads. But we’ve come up against a particular challenge that I can’t seem to figure my way around. It’s a little thing called window shopping. No, not window shopping like pressing your nose up against the glass (thanks, wordplay-loving co-workers!). Window shopping like, “We have got …

from the sacred to the profane

Wal-Mart’s history of destroying sacred sites

A re-consecration ceremony was held this past weekend at a damaged Indian mound in Oxford, Ala. As we reported last month, the 1,500-year-old sacred and archaeologically significant site was partially demolished during a taxpayer-funded economic development project, with the excavated dirt to be used as fill for construction of a Sam’s Club, a retail warehouse store owned by Wal-Mart. Following protests, the city appears to be backing away from the destruction, with a local landowner reporting that his property would be the source for the fill instead. But it turns out the incident in Oxford is not the first time …

Visions of the Green Future

California students take Refract House to Solar Decathlon

The Refract team recycled used billboards to create waterproof walls for the home.Courtesy Santa Clara University Adjacent to a three-story parking garage on the Silicon Valley campus of Santa Clara University, workers are busy building a contemporary wood-clad home that wouldn’t look out of place in the pages of Dwell or another shelter magazine for the po-mo, Tesla-driving, little-square-eyeglasses-wearing set. Which is exactly the idea. The home is California’s entry into the U.S. Department of Energy’s biannual Solar Decathlon and is a collaboration between undergraduates at Santa Clara University and the California College of the Arts in San Francisco. Twenty …

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