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Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Year's Day Links predicts a riot

+More good stuff from Detroit. Write A House fixes up abandoned homes to give to writers as places to do their work.

+Holm says that what he realized then was that continuity mattered. "And that was not what we were taught in any architecture school courses. We would look at these old buildings and ask our instructors, 'Well, why can't we do something like that?' and they'd say, 'Well, you can't do that anymore!" A Modernist architect discusses why we can't have nice buildings anymore.

+Here's a small batch of start-up ideas for you.

+Atlanta's Darin Givens talks about the best thing Atlanta did this year.

+Our Green Future is being hijacked from both ends: A solar boom so successful, it's been halted; Conservative groups spend $1bn to to fight Climate Change action.

+Planetizen has the 100 best books written about city making ever. I was surprised Geography of Nowhere and Suburban Nation were so low, but if you check the comments, the author has agreed with the mob and decided that those two books should be higher.

+So you say you want a revolution? Tech firm predicts Occupy Wall Street, but, like, bigger.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Ecoloigcal Economics Part IV - The Best Solution

In the last post, I highlighted some of the ways that a steady state economy might take place and hinted that I would be discussing the best single option in this post. Some of you may already have an inkling of where I'm headed with this, and for others this is probably going to appear too simple to be real. But the single best answer to many of the existential threats facing humanity has been in front of us for thousands of years: walkable, sustainable communities.

One of the hardest things for Americans in dealing with resource scarcity and climate change is that leading more modest, less wasteful lives seems enormously difficult, requiring changing 1000s of daily habits and taking on onerous checks and balances. It seems this way because trying to lead modest, sustainable lives within a framework of suburban car-accommodation is enormously difficult, almost literally impossible. Suburbia is based on the idea of separation of uses, which means residential is in one place and industry is another—and commercial is in yet another—with roads to connect these disparate zones. Walking from one place to another is practically impossible because of distance alone, but to make matters worse sidewalks are non-existent in most areas, and where they’re present pedestrians must walk across 6 lane roads, and huddle a mere 3 feet away from cars going 50+ mph. Public transit is, of course, not cost effective because everything is so spread out, which means the only logical solution is to drive everywhere, which builds a baseline amount of carbon usage into every suburban household. Combine that with our penchant for large houses that need to be heated and cooled, and all our electronic doodads, and Americans are energy hogs with almost no feasible way to cut back to anything approaching effectiveness.

It's no wonder we're failing at this; failure is literally built into the system.