The children in my community

Tips for reliving your childhood

I recently removed the play structure I'd built 16 years ago in our backyard. I remember wondering as I built it, "What will it feel like when I tear it down?" Well, it was kind of sad. Memories washed over me as I worked. Time perception isn't linear. I also tore down the tree house I'd built for my kids. Not only have they outgrown it, but it also wasn't in our tree. Our neighbors had graciously given us permission to use their tree because we didn't have one of our own. Luckily, Seattle's building department has standing orders to ignore kid's tree houses.

Sonoma Mountain Village

Green urban development, in just 12 years!

If you can ignore the egregious lede — did green building really come from hippies? — there’s much to celebrate in this article on Sonoma Mountain Village, “a community of about 2,000 homes and businesses, centered around a town square, using the latest principles of sustainability, green technology and new urbanism.” It’ll be about 175 acres, done in about 12 years, and muy verde: To make the plan work, Codding [Enterprises] spent $7.5 million to create the largest privately owned solar power installation in Northern California — 90,000 square feet of solar panels capable of generating 1.14 megawatts to power …

See me in Seattle

I'm giving a presentation Wed., Mar 28 to the Green Builders Guild on Solutions to climate chaos for Green builders, homeowners, and citizens. Location below the fold.

Is the government a criminal syndicate?

The Supreme Court considers an extortion suit against federal land managers

The Supreme Court heard argument in a curious case this week. No, I'm not talking about the celebrated "Bong Hits for Jesus" case. The second case on Monday's docket involved an Alabaman turned Wyoming rancher claiming that government bureaucrats had engaged in extortion by enforcing the letter of the law. An appellate court in Denver, Colo., ruled that Harvey Frank Robbins (the rancher) could sue Charles Wilkie and other Bureau of Land Management employees under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (also known as RICO) -- a law used to prosecute mobsters involved in organized crime. Now the chance for the Supremes to weigh in, and maybe hint at what they're thinking ...

Next Stop, Wonderment

Last year, U.S. saw highest public-transit ridership since 1957 Hooray for sky-high gas prices! Thanks to the manipulative maneuverings of Big Oil, public transit ridership in the U.S. is on the rise too. A report from the American Public Transportation Association says miffed tank-fillers and others took 10 billion mass-transit trips last year — 2.9 percent more than in 2005, 28 percent more than in 1996, and the most since 1957. Cities including Philadelphia, San Francisco, Salt Lake City, and Tulsa have seen a spike in riders, and are adding buses and trains to meet growing demand. Besides outlandish fuel …

Seattle's difficult decision: Cary Moon

She prefers a ‘people’s waterfront’

Seattle is facing a difficult decision: what to do with a crumbling highway that serves as a major north-south corridor through the city? Below, we hear from Cary Moon. Cary is a landscape and urban designer and co-founder of the People’s Waterfront Coalition. The PWC’s No-Highway option won second prize in a national design competition sponsored by Metropolis magazine, called “Next Generation: Big Idea.” —– Faced with a maddening choice between two miserable highway options to blight our downtown shore for another century, Seattleites are wondering how in the heck we got here. How did our beautiful green city end …

Seattle's difficult decision: Erica C. Barnett

She says no and hell no

Seattle is facing a difficult decision: what to do with a crumbling highway that serves as a major north-south corridor through the city? Below, we hear from Erica C. Barnett. Erica is the senior news writer for Seattle’s alternative newsweekly, The Stranger, where she covers City Hall and transportation, writes a weekly politics column, and serves on the paper’s editorial board. She also has a blog. —– Voters in Seattle are being asked to take up-or-down votes on options to replace the dangerous (so we’re told) Alaskan Way Viaduct on our waterfront — a new, larger elevated viaduct and a …

Seattle's difficult decision: A mini-series

Because local transportation choices aren’t local any more

As Bradley noted below, the citizens of Seattle face a dilemma. The Alaskan Way Viaduct — an elevated highway that enters Seattle on its west flank, offering stunning views (to drivers) of the city and the waterfront — is falling apart. There’s real danger that an earthquake, or just Father Time, could send it tumbling down, along with lots of cars. Nobody wants that. That’s where the consensus ends. The question is: what should we do about it? In some sense this is a local decision, of course. But in an age of climate change, such decisions are never purely …

Electric cars: going nowhere fast

Electric motorcycles may be bridge to electric cars

I see this pea-green electric car biffing around the neighborhood now and then. I test drove a similar car a year or so ago. Entrepreneurs just can't resist testing the electric car market. One company after another goes out of business, only to be replaced by the next guy in line. It might help if they would make them less silly looking. Adding a fourth wheel might have been worth it in this case.