Umbra on community-supported agriculture

Umbra, Please illuminate CSAs for us, how they work, and how your readers can join one. Thanks! (And by the way, that photo of a peach in your recent column is an apricot.) Bobbe Santa Fe, N.M. Dearest Bobbe, Alas for stone-fruit misidentification. Hopefully corrected by the time this question hits the screen, but still. A fruit ignorance that community-supported agriculture might solve, if one lived where apricots and peaches grew. Learn to share. Courtesy of MACSAC CSA is a way to get the freshest food, grown right near where you live or work, and to support small-scale farmers. In …

The traffic is jammin'

Fear of traffic snarls led to easier commutes in Seattle

We tend to think of traffic as an immutable -- that there's literally nothing we can do in our day-to-day lives to drive less. But Seattle's continued and mostly unexpected free-flowing traffic -- in the midst of a major construction project that some feared would trigger a morass of congestion throughout Puget Sound -- shows that this is simply false. Far from being rigid and incompressible, traffic and travel patterns are surprisingly fluid. Seattle's experience demonstrates that, when drivers are given good travel choices and the right kinds of information and incentives, they can get out of their cars. And in Seattle's case, when lots of people got out of their cars, it made getting to work a relative breeze.

So That’s What Those Trains Are For

Beijing enacts four-day ban on vehicles, pushes public transportation Today marks the start of an experimental four-day vehicle ban in Beijing, China. While the motivation for the scheme is finding ways to clear the air for next year’s Olympics, its execution is a lovely reminder that change is possible. Home to 16 million people, Beijing has about 3 million registered vehicles; today and Sunday, license plates ending in even numbers must stay parked, with odd-numbered plates banned on Saturday and Monday. The experiment will see 1.3 million fewer cars on the city’s busy streets, and officials hope for some change …

Policies to reduce and increase driving at the same time

Subsidizing drivers needs to end

This article in the NYT highlights the absurdity of current transportation policy. While New York City is trying to get federal funding to help it pay for a congestion pricing and traffic congestion policy, the federal government is, at the same time, handing out large tax breaks to help people reduce the costs of driving to work. It's yet another example of government policy gone awry, badly. The solution isn't sexy, won't get you on TV, and doesn't make for great headlines that will earn prestige: eliminate all government subsidies, and either cap pollution or tax it. It's not rocket science.

Ask a Brokeass: Won't you be my neighbor?

More high-tech solutions for low-tech ideas

I first mentioned “neighborrow” a few weeks ago, in a column on the virtues of sharing. This week, we’ve got an interview with neighborrow founder Adam Berk, who gives us some background on how and why he started the site in his New York apartment building. The basic premise of neighborrow is that it makes no sense to buy stuff when you can get it from your neighbors for free. The site allows you to pool resources with the people who live near you. Everyone can list what they have to loan out, and what they’re looking to borrow — …

Chicago-style Mad Flavor: I heart Lula

In which the author finds his dream neighorhood restaurant

In Mad Flavor, the author describes his occasional forays from the farm in search of exceptional culinary experiences from small artisanal producers. Recently, Mad Flavor was on the ground in Chicago — the author’s ancestral home city — a veritable garden of delightful food. I’ve long dreamed of a very particular neighborhood cafe/restaurant. It would lie in the middle of a dense urban neighborhood, looking onto the chaos of the sidewalk. It would be open from early morning until late at night, and seem to transform itself with the hour of the day. It would serve multiple functions: a place …

Galbraith says what he really thinks

Economist goes over to the dark side

Some facts to hang your hat on: Good governance might save the day. Bad governance could just make things worse. I generally agree with Galbraith's opinions. However, there is always a reasonable probability that some of his opinions are wrong (as is true of anybody's opinions, including my own). He's quoted in David's post: "Planning" is a word that too many in this debate are trying to avoid, fearful, perhaps, of its Soviet overtones. But the reality of climate change is that central planning is essential, and on a grand scale. History has a bad habit of repeating itself. In the past that was unavoidable because we had no way to record history so future generations would learn from others' mistakes. We don't have that excuse now. Ignoring history in today's information age can't be blamed on ignorance.

Idle oughts

We still heart Rocky Anderson

Rocky Anderson is in the news again, reminding us why we all love him. Now he’s taking on idling autos, calling for city-owned vehicles and personal vehicles on city business to limit their idling to five minutes, except in emergency situations. Fifty percent of air pollution in Utah comes from cars and trucks, and Rocky wants the city to do their part in cutting down on the smog-creating emissions. His environmental adviser, Jordan Gates, says this latest executive order is part of the mayor’s comprehensive plan to improve air quality, encourage alternative fuels, reduce driving, bolster alternative transportation, and reduce …

Feds fund Bloomberg's congestion plan

But still no actual decision on whether it will happen

The federal government has agreed to allot $354 million to New York City to help it launch its congestion pricing plan. Yeah, that one where state legislators were first like “Hmmm, I dunno,” and then they were all like “no way,” and then some enviros were like, “Eh, maybe it’s not that great anyway.” Not that federal funding guarantees that the state will approve the plan, so stay tuned.

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