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How to not buy anything ever again

Photo: Toban BlackNeither a borrower nor a lender be? Stuff it, old man. Shareable has collected a primer on "collaborative consumption," i.e. the fine art of consensual mooching. At the risk of sounding like a dangerous commie: It turns out there's basically no reason to be the sole owner of anything ever again. Among the things Shareable shows you how to go splitsies on: Housing. If you can handle a housemate, sharing living quarters reduces your rent and can make your utilities usage more efficient. Our favorite: The cohousing directory, which helps you find communities with cooperative home ownership. Food …

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Where do the greenest commuters live? Not Portland

New Yorkers on the evening commute.Photo: Mo RizaQuick: Who are the loneliest commuters in the nation? That would be the residents of Southgate, Mich., where 91.6 percent of workers drive alone. The city with the most pedestrian commuters? That's Ithaca, N.Y., where 41.8 percent of commuters walk  to work (particularly impressive given upstate New York's brutal winters). Meanwhile, no one in Sun City, Calif., apparently walks to work. (Not too surprising, as the Southern California suburb is a master-planned retirement community.) Those are some of the thousands of data points on Americans transportation habits mined by FindTheBest, which might described …

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James Howard Kunstler: The old American dream is a nightmare

Photo: Charlie SamuelsThe Great Depression gave rise to hobos and Hoovervilles. The Roaring Nineties brought us what New York Times columnist David Brooks termed "bobos in paradise." Now our current round of layoffs and foreclosures has unceremoniously transferred millions of folks from the "affluent" to the "afflicted" category, exiling them from Brooks's mythical exurban Eden. But instead of setting up tents, these newly poor live in a perpetual state of nestlessness, couch-surfing, or flitting from one basement rec room to the next. And rather than revisiting Hooverville, they've given our national landscape the barely-lived in, already abandoned suburban ghost towns …

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Rep. Anthony Weiner tweets that he was ‘joking’ about ripping out NYC bike lanes

Rep. Anthony WeinerPhoto: Nadia ChaudhurySo Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) says he was just kidding around about ripping out those New York City bike lanes. Here's how The New York Times reported Weiner's remarks in a recent piece about New York City's transportation commissioner, Janette Sadik-Khan: "When I become mayor, you know what I'm going to spend my first year doing?" Mr. Weiner said to [Mayor Mike] Bloomberg, as tablemates listened. "I'm going to have a bunch of ribbon-cuttings tearing out your [expletive] bike lanes." Weiner is considered one of five serious contenders in New York's next mayoral election. This morning, …

Read more: Biking, Cities, Politics, Urbanism

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Are ‘smart cities’ not as smart as they think they are?

Smart cities like Masdar, in Abu Dhabi, are all the rage. But are they intelligent in the right way?Photo: Trevor PattCross-posted from the Natural Resources Defense Council. "Intelligent cities" and "smart cities" are all the rage right now, especially in corporate image advertising related to emerging technology. But is there a downside? I think there may be, insofar as those phrases are used to describe tech-based panaceas for urban problems whose roots lie not in a lack of sophisticated information flow, but in a half-century or more of dumb growth patterns, central-city disinvestment, and poor neighborhood design.    Just a …

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Traffic-snarled LA goes bike-wild with 1,600 miles of lanes

The Backbone Bikeway Network proposed by the L.A. Bike Working Group was incorporated into the city's master plan for 1,680 miles of new bike lanes.Graphic: LA Bike Working GroupThe cab driver who cut off Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa when the mayor was riding his bicycle last year may have done the city a huge favor. After the incident, in which he fell from his bike and broke his elbow, Villaraigosa started talking a lot more about the importance of bicycles to the city's future. And on March 2, he signed a kind of astonishing bicycle master plan, which had …

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Move over, Banksy: Candy Chang’s art might actually save the world

Photo: Cesar HaradaCan art save our cities? If it's Candy Chang's crowdsourced fantasy urban planning, then yeah, probably. Chang's "I Wish This Was" project challenges New Orleans residents to project their ideal neighborhood onto the still-struggling post-Katrina landscape. The installation is simple: just a bunch of blank "my name is"-style stickers that say "I Wish This Was." What would you like to see in that boarded-up shop window? Food? Bikes? Tacos? Art supplies? A sex place? Fill in a sticker and slap it on up there. It's all fantasy, of course, and everyone knows it. But it gets people thinking …

Read more: Cities, Urbanism

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Rooftop garden porn to get you through winter

Winter's relentless grip will give way, we promise. Come summer, even those of us deeply ensconced within a concrete jungle will kick it in under the shade of glorious greenery. You need a little of that right now, don't you? Step in, sit down, and take in the warm air of these rooftop oases.   Photo: jwilly Air drop us in. Never make us leave.

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Your guide to a great green weekend in Portland

Portland's swanky Sapphire Hotel.Photo: Sarah Gilbert Can you think of a greener city than Portland? Nope, didn't think so. The City of Roses occupies a warm, squishy spot in the hearts of many a biker, climate hawk, and nature-lovah. We asked you to share your fave local breweries, organic cafés, and green hangouts, and compiled your best ideas into a car-free guide to a great green weekend in Portland. Friday night Click to enlargeFrom the Amtrak or Greyhound station, arm yourself with $2.05 and follow these directions to the Portland Hawthorne Hostel (they work if you're coming from the airport …

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Check out Helsinki’s underground shadow city

Itakeskus underground swimming complexPhoto: Lewis Martin From the country that brought you the world's spookiest children's series, please meet the underground city. Helsinki, Finland's capital, has decided to defeat sprawl by building down instead of out. Incised into the city's bedrock are a swimming pool, a shopping area, a church, a hockey rink, and a data center, not to mention "parking caverns" and a bunch of the city's necessary municipal doodads. An underground shadow city! Seriously, you guys, how is it possible for Finland to be so creepy and cool? Some of the benefits here are obvious -- it reduces …

Read more: Cities, Urbanism