Along the Mississippi: One man's trash

St. Louis’ City Museum is a treasure

I apologize if the image at left is a bit hard to make out, but if it looks like a bunch of junk to you, then you’re seeing it clearly. This is the outdoor portion of the City Museum in downtown St. Louis. It’s absolutely the most unique place I’ve ever seen, and it’s completely made of "found objects." The City Museum was built using reclaimed materials like salvaged bridges, construction cranes, traffic signposts, old chimneys, and even two abandoned airplanes — all found within the city limits. A mix of children’s playground, art exhibit, and architectural wonder, the museum …

Go ask Alice

What’s up with that gated ‘community’ in Montana?

Alice Waters, long-time champion of food as a tool for building community, has done something quite un-Alice Water-like: sold her name to promote a high-dollar gated development "community" in Montana. Over on Ethicurean, there’s a great post by the novelist Charlotte McQuinn Freeman, who lives in Livingston, Montana — near the site of the quote-unquote "Ameya Preserve," the kind of high-end, "green" gated "community" that makes my blood boil. In my area of western North Carolina, gated communities often cheekily take the names of the farms they have replaced. Driving around, you’ll see an elaborate sign above a rustic gate …

Along the Mississippi: Baseball edition

In which I say a little prayer for the Sox

Oh, one more thing: today we went to the top of the Gateway Arch, and I got to peer into Busch Stadium, where my Red Sox beat the Cardinals in their still-gives-me-goosebumps 2004 World Series victory. And as I write this, they are handily beating the Colorado Rockies (13-1, bottom of the 8th) in the first game of this year’s series. Go Sox!

Along the Mississippi: Tax thyself

Guess what happens when communities cough up cash?

Earlier today, we met with three folks from the Great Rivers Greenway District in St. Louis. Their organization owes its very existence to a voter-approved one-tenth of one cent sales tax that generates $10 million each year. As a result, they’ve been able to complete about 100 miles of trails and greenways in a 1,216-square-mile area over the last few years, and have plans to create a network of 500 miles more. Not all of their financing comes from the sales tax, but it was the jumpstart the region needed to add to its open space. As I thought about …

Along the Mississippi: Same trip, different rivers

Reflections on a changing river

Having spent three days on the Mighty Mississip, I am beginning to see just how mighty it is. In Dubuque, we experienced a river that seemed to meander at a manageable pace. We saw a riverfront plaza with steps leading right into the water, and walked down the steps to reach out our hands to touch the water. It was idyllic and calming. The river here in St. Louis is an entirely different beast, meeting up with several major tributaries — the Illinois, the Missouri, and the Ohio — each confluence adding interesting twists and a whole lotta volume. Looking …

NYT revs up special package on cars

The New York Times published a gazillion-story special section on autos today, with many articles covering the green angle. Read up about General Motors’ electric dreams, the difficulty facing Hummer marketers, waterless car washes, and more.

Even more of what 'bike friendly' looks like

Danish picturebook, Portland video show how to respect bicyclists

What bicycle-respecting streets, intersections, and neighborhoods look like is largely a mystery to most people, even those who cycle regularly. I’ve offered descriptions twice before. Since then, two wonderful new tools have been completed., the awesome, New York-based outfit that makes movies about cycling, has posted a 30-minute ode to Portland’s bikability (linked above). It makes Bicycle Respect visible. (Other, shorter StreetFilms works on Portland are collected here, but most of them are incorporated in the main piece. I suggest you start the film, then press pause to let it download before you watch it.) Among American cities, Portland …

Sprawling homes susceptible to flames in California

The impact of the still-raging California fires on humans and their homes is tragic and lamentable — but far from unexpected, thanks to homeowners’ tendency to sprawl out and nestle right up to the fire line. Some two-thirds of new building in southern California in the past decade was on tinder-dry, fire-susceptible land, says historian Mike Davis. “You might as well be building next to leaking gasoline cans,” he says. Many homeowners are not deterred. “We’ll stay,” says Richard Sanders of Escondido from a fast-food restaurant, awaiting news of how his house fared. “We like the community, we like the …

Along the Mississippi: Ponyshoe edition

$5 could be yours

It’s morning in St Louis, and we’re getting ready to talk with some of the movers and shakers in the world of riverfront greenways. While preparing, we ate at a greasy spoon where Jimmy Kimmel was on the teevee talking about his daily cross-country flights for this week’s double-hosting duty. Yikes. On a side note, this meal was my third in a row involving white food products slathered in butter — I’ve gotta be careful about that. But my health loss is your gain: I will send $5 to the first person who can correctly guess the four ingredients in …

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