Cities

St. Louisans turn a working river into a river that works for them

“The fifth night we passed St. Louis, and it was like the whole world lit up.” — Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn As the sun rises over the city of St. Louis, an arch-shaped shadow moves eastward over the city’s bustling downtown and toward the Mississippi River, where it will leave its invisible mark until early evening. The 630-foot steel structure casting this iconic shadow over the city’s riverfront serves as a visual reminder of St. Louis’ role as a gateway for early American explorers, and of the river’s past (and no doubt future) as an invaluable means …

An Iowa river town develops a real relationship with the Mississippi

“The care of rivers is not a question of rivers, but of the human heart.” — Tanaka Shozo Arriving in Dubuque, Iowa, is a bit disorienting. After passing acres and acres of the heartland’s flat soybean and cornfields, you suddenly come upon a small city (pop. 60,000) with a surprising landscape. Gazing east to west, you see the muddy Mississippi meandering south toward New Orleans, a historic Main Street lined with 150-year-old brick buildings, and a wall of limestone bluffs covered in trees displaying the season’s majestic colors. It’s an idyllic setting for sure — but you begin to wonder …

Up and down the Mississippi, communities are reinventing their riverfronts

Gone are the days when the Mississippi River was just a shipping route and flood risk that happened to run through a city’s back yard. Increasingly, the legendary waterway is becoming recognized as a prized attraction, worthy of front-yard status. Here’s how a few communities are drawing attention to a natural feature they once shunned. St. Paul, Minn. The “mighty city on the Mississippi” is working toward a connected, thriving National Great River Park along its 17-mile riverfront, with residential areas, businesses, parkland, a public plaza, biking and walking trails, a light-rail line, and an interpretive center. La Crosse, Wisc. …

Financing green building and retrofits

A public policy silver bullet that’s available to fight global warming today

Steve Heckeroth’s piece "Solar is the solution" has been recommended all over the green blogosphere, first by Robert Rapier, I think. It’s great reading, but I wanted to hone in on one thing he mentions — a piece of public policy that has been woefully under-hyped. To wit: with today’s technology, we know how to make new buildings net energy generators, and we know how to retrofit existing buildings to reduce their energy consumption by well over 50%, in some cases 90-95%. We just need someone to pay for it. That, however, turns out to be the rub. An investment …

The Great Carnac I ain't

Assessing my predictions from last year

At the end of last year, I made 20 predictions for 2007. As a pundit in good standing I am, of course, unaccountable for my predictions. (How do you think we all stay employed?) Nonetheless, it’s worth looking back and seeing how the predictions panned out, drawing sweeping conclusions from the things I got right while minimizing and excusing the things I got wrong. Let’s see how I did! Al Gore will a) win an Oscar, b) announce that he is not running for president, c) continue his efforts at grassroots movement building, and d) announce plans for a sequel …

Al Gore’s home meets LEED Gold standard

Al Gore has finished efficiency renovations on his much-maligned Tennessee home. Solar panels, rainwater collection, geothermal heating, and non-incandescent light bulbs have helped the abode earn a LEED Gold rating from the U.S. Green Building Council.

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