Cities

Hastings Makes Less Waste?

Central Nebraska town wins greenest city in America contest We say “greenest city in America,” and you say — Portland? Seattle? Savannah? Try Hastings, Nebraska. The town of 25,000 beat out some 350 other cities to win a contest sponsored by Yahoo! as part of the portal’s “Be a Better Planet” initiative. Yes, we’re pretty sure we just got suckered into giving Yahoo! a free plug, and we’re not entirely sure that Hastings — birthplace of Kool-Aid — is ultra-green so much as ultra-good at organizing its residents to use Yahoo!. But we’re still going to celebrate the fact that …

Barrier Methods

Galveston, Texas, expected to approve history-defying development plans The city of Galveston perches precariously on a Texas barrier island; some 8,000 people were killed there by a hurricane in 1900. But hindsight shmindsight! Officials are set to OK construction of over 1,000 acres of hotels and homes, the largest development in city history. Geologists hired to study the issue have strongly criticized the plan, questioning the wisdom of, for example, creating artificial lakes and boat channels that could help along surging waters during a storm. They also criticize plans to build right up against quickly eroding beaches. “Some of these …

Innovative ideas for a new West

An annual conference for perennial inspiration

Westerners are known for their pluck and willingness to solve problems with grit and imagination. Combating climate change, developing renewable energy, promoting rural economies and local agriculture, strengthening communities, and ensuring equitable access to transit ... these are all pieces of a Western manifesto put forward by the Sopris Foundation's great annual conference, this year in Missoula from July 13-15. Elected officials, planners, ranchers and farmers, grantmakers, citizens, activists, and entrepreneurs are there for this indispensable conversation every year. How about you?

Farewell, complete walker

A valedictory to Colin Fletcher

For most of us who care about ecology and the environment, there was some personal experience that brought us there. For me, it was wilderness hiking, beginning 30-plus years ago in the Grand Canyon and continuing across the American West. Two books helped instigate my journeys and those of thousands of fellow adventure-seekers and nature-lovers. The Welshman who wrote them, the intrepid and blessedly individualistic Colin Fletcher, died earlier this month, at 85. I can't recall which I read first -- The Man Who Walked Through Time, in which Fletcher chronicled his 400-mile hike through the Grand Canyon, or his compulsively detailed guide to backpacking, The Complete Walker. That's probably because I read them both repeatedly and obsessively.

Google tries to kickstart an energy revolution

Google.org funds V2G demonstration projects

Sweet mama! Google.org is going to give vehicle-to-grid technology a much-needed boost, to the tune of $10 million. The company is going to modify six cars, a mix of Toyota Priuses and Ford Escape hybrids, with batteries that can draw juice from the grid and feed juice back in. The promise of this technology is that if it spreads, it will enable distributed electricity storage that can smooth spikes in electricity demand without expensive new generation plants. That means less new dirty coal. Every energy wonk I know has high hopes around V2G. And Google’s innovative philanthropy has just the …

Hybrid bike update

Dumb and not so dumb questions answered

Well, here's some more footage of my new bike. I couldn't think of a better way to convey its ability to accelerate uphill than to just do it with normal bikes in the background for comparison. Note the dearth of spandex. Is this fad about to go the way of the powdered wig? The following are some answers to frequently asked questions:

Sprawl's well that ends well

Conservatives wage war against smart growth

Who doesn’t love placemaking? Well, a growing band of conservatives who are getting all bent out of shape about the smart-growth movement. They’re getting so worked up about it that the Heritage Foundation even pulled together an event on the subject featuring public policy consultant Wendell Cox (best known for fighting public transit and promoting America’s highway system) and Ron Utt (the guy who lead Reagan’s privatization efforts). The title of the summit: “War on the Dream: How Anti-Sprawl Policy Threatens the Quality of Life.” Ben Adler has a good piece over at The American Prospect on the conservative battle …

Honda ditches Accord hybrid

Honda is ditching the Accord Hybrid because it discovered that … are you sitting down? … people who buy hybrids like good gas mileage.

Public transit

For over two weeks I’ve been meaning to link to this post on public transit from Michael O’Hare and say something interesting about it. So as not to delay it indefinitely, I’m dropping the "say something interesting about it" requirement. Just go read it.

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