Cities

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 …

Sunday on Bourne Street

Getting to know the neighborhood — through its trash

Left behind.coldcolours via flickrIt’s Sunday on Bourne Street. I am weeding at the JP Green House, furious at the reappearance of the Dog Strangling Vine that we battled hard last summer. A pernicious creeping vine, it takes over any neglected area around here: East Coast kudzu. An abandoned house is not really vacant, but inhabited by slow destructive forces like rot and weeds. I tackle a few shoots and then, discouraged, turn to watering the melon and pumpkin patch, newly planted two weeks ago. Ken zips by, testing the bikes that he’s tuning up after the winter. The young African …

The issue is not growth or no growth, but a better world

Growing a better world

Crossposted from Znet “Every society clings to a myth by which it lives. Ours is the myth of economic growth.” So begins “Prosperity Without Growth“[1], the report of the UK government’s Sustainable Development Commission.  Questioning growth has been the obsessive focus of many for decades. Questioners make important points. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has been, at best, a very rough proxy for wellbeing, often not even that. For this and other reasons many liberals, progressives, and leftists consider a “steady state economy” part of building a good society.  For all that critics of growth get right, they focus in the …

Your train is running late

Phoenix’s light rail project sparks journalism start-up

The following post was written by Michael Andersen of the Nieman Journalism Lab blog. When Adam Klawonn quit his job at a shrinking major metropolitan newspaper in 2006, he did what so many other journalists have: launched an online news operation that looked a lot like a newspaper’s web site, only with less stuff. On The Zonie Report (“A New Kind of News for Arizona”), he set out to cover growth, immigration, the environment. The big issues. “The traditional papers were going local, and they were pulling back their bureaus,” said Klawonn, now 30. “It seemed like it was just …

Radiant Cities: Driving It Home

One man’s plan to re-create suburbia, sans cars

California’s East Bay — the collection of towns, cities, and suburbs across the Bay Bridge from San Francisco — has a lot to boast about. There’s the perpetually great weather, enlightened inhabitants, and a halfway decent, if in my opinion overpriced, public transit system in the form of BART. Yet despite BART’s 43 stations spanning 95 miles, most folks in the area find they need a car, too. Sherman LewisBut one man thinks his town, Hayward — or at least a part of it — can make the leap to automobile-free. “I want to live a lifestyle that’s less dependent …

Recycling a House

How we found 133 Bourne St., and how we almost lost it

In May of 2008, the property at 133 Bourne St., Boston, Massachusetts was purchased from HBHC Bank by myself and Ken Ward. Ninety-nine years old at the time, it had long served the neighborhoods of Jamaica Plain and Roslindale as both a corner store and a family dwelling. At the time of purchase, the house had been abandoned, foreclosed, and uninhabited for four years. It would require an almost total rehab, but seemed to hold immense potential, with space aplenty for a blended family of three young boys, a large central area at the front of the house that called …

Welcome to the JP Green House

In which we chronicle the creation of a groundbreaking eco-home

Editor’s note: This month, Grist contributor Ken Ward and his partner Andrée Zaleska begin chronicling their conversion of a rundown, 100-year-old store into a green home that serves as both family living quarters and a public space for climate activism, green building education, and community gatherings. Recently, I visited the pair for a tour of the space — and an up-close glimpse of their dreams. When the JP Green House is finished, it will be a marvel to behold. From the eco-insulation to the stage for community performances, from the backyard beekeeping to the front-stoop organizing, the house will be …

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