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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Better Late Than Never!

My story, "The Devil's Courtyard" has been chosen for decomP's Best of the last 10 years issue. I'm so proud to be included among such amazing company.

If you want to check out the issue, you can do so here.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Thursday Links is probably the most depressing thing you'll read today

Sorry for the recent lack of posts. My wife and I had our second son last Saturday, and the final weeks of the pregnancy drew most of my attention away from these sorts of pursuits. For those of you who are into these sorts of things, the newest addition to our family, Ivan Arthur Crow, was born on Saturday, March 8th at 6:14am. Everyone's happy and healthy.

Now onto the links!

+"Who are we?" asks Josh Westerhold, the company's head of business operations, over another round of drinks. "Are we a company that changes how people move, or a company that changes how car-ownership works? We may be trying to solve two different things." Zappos tries to transform transportation in Las Vegas of all places.

+Nothing to see here, folks...

+This inner shift, from fighting the old to sensing and presencing an emerging future possibility, is at the core of all deep leadership work today. It's a shift that requires us to expand our thinking from the head to the heart. It is a shift from an ego-system awareness that cares about the well-being of oneself to an eco-system awareness that cares about the well-being of all, including oneself...The Moment of Our Diruption: Death and Rebirth.

+"If I die in the game do I die in real life?" "Ha! You wish. That's just the start." Dinosaurs get to the heart of the insanity of automobile culture.

+Speaking of car culture, did you know that removing a lane of traffic has virtually no effect on traffic?

+Probably the most depressing thing you'll read today. But the left would be better off learning from its past mistakes. Capitalism might well be capable not only of adapting to climate change but of profiting from it. One hears that the capitalist system is confronted with a double crisis: an economic one that started in 2008, and an ecological one, rendering the situation doubly perilous. But one crisis can sometimes serve to solve another. Not even climate change will kill off capitalism.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Monday Links has some bad, some better, and some good

+Let's start with the bad news first. Technologist with uncanny ability to predict long term trends, James Lovelock says we're all screwed.

+And the normally spot-on The Automatic Earth seems to be sliding into despair about climate change as well. My problem with the two above articles is that they seem to be discounting humanity's ability to drastically change in a generation. Just because it seems hopeless now, doesn't mean that circumstances won't force drastic changes in mankind's orientation to growth and living.

+The better: To speak of disaster communism is to recognise that if communism is to emerge, it will do so in the anthropocene. As capitalism accelerates climate change, ‘possible’ reforms become utopian and ‘impossible’ revolution becomes realistic. We live in strange times. The bourgeoisie is blasting and ruining not just its world, but the Earth systems which sustain human civilisation. We are going to inherit ruins and abandoned cities, there is only the slightest doubt about that. But we still also know how to build, and to build better. Toward a more hopeful view of the prospects for post-capitalism.

+The Good: According to the Times, Steyer wants to make his group, NextGen Climate Action, a critical player in this year's races by putting $50 million of his own funds into the San Francisco-based group and seeking an additional $50 million from outside donors. The former hedge fund manager reportedly met with two dozen liberal donors earlier this month to offer details on his plan. Finally, a billionaire on the Good side.

+The Locally Good: GA Republican House of Rep candidate Dahlys Hamilton wants to see more micro farms and farm to table restaurants. I've had several chats with Dahlys about her ideas for GA and I think she is a spectacular woman. I can't vote for her because I'm not in her district, but if I could, I would.

+One more for good measure: Look at the images of Ukraine, but do not consume them without context. (Thorough reporting and analysis abound.) When you see a headline about somewhere “apocalyptic,” remember that an “apocalypse” does not feel cinematic to the person experiencing it. It feels, instead, like the end of the world. Whenever you get a chance to read Sarah Kendzior, do.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Thursday Links is Snowed In...Again

Atlanta is once again in the throes of a crippling winter storm. This time it's far less photogenic, since we had ample warning and the city simply shut down in advance of the storm. You'd think I'd have more to write about being stuck in the house for three days, but I don't, so here's a few links to tide you over.

+Forbes, of all places, has a nice little article about Climate Change adaptation for farmers.

+One thing nearly all utopian societies have in common is the elimination of scarcity. For them, limited resources are usually an antiquated concept, because everyone has enough. Unfortunately, one study shows that people in utopia might very well be the same grasping, avaricious jerks we know them to be right now. Will eliminating scarcity be able to stop us from being jerks?

+He argues that development has reached an unbelievable level of red tape and regulation that has made it virtually impossible and unaffordable for small  and incremental growth to occur. Professionals of his generation evolved aside these growing regulations, so much so that they have become experts at navigating them. However, Duany has witnessed a younger generation of urbanists, who have become so bogged down by the red tape they tend to ignore it all together. These young, or tactical urbanists, do things quickly and effectively, but sometimes bail when things get sticky. That perhaps is the greatest gift and one of the biggest challenges of Tactical Urbanism. Andres Duany rolls out "Lean Urbanism."

+As  homeowner with too much damn grass, this is simply one of the coolest new Green Tech devices I've seen in awhile. Imagine a lawnmower that can not only fuel itself with the grass it cuts, but that can also harvest biomass in the form of grass pellets for powering other applications, and can mow the lawn autonomously, without the need to guide it across the yard.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Tuesday Links Gets its News From Philosophers

+One of my favorite living philosophers, Alain de Botton, has started a truly amazing project called The Philosophers Mail, a take on Britain's Daily Mail. The hook is that all the articles are written by philosophers. Read this article about Millionairess Tamara Ecclestone "reforming" capitalism and tell me this isn't the funniest, smartest, most relevant take on the news you've ever read.

+The BBC has an article on the last place on Earth without human sound. This reminds me of a film that came out a few years ago about light pollution and its psychological and emotional affects on the human population. The take-away is that nature matters, and humans disconnected from nature are rudderless, soulless creatures bent on their own destruction.

+The inherently chaotic, crisis-prone nature of capitalism was a key part of Marx's writings. He argued that the relentless drive for profits would lead companies to mechanize their workplaces, producing more and more goods while squeezing workers' wages until they could no longer purchase the products they created. Sure enough, modern historical events from the Great Depression to the dot-com bubble can be traced back to what Marx termed "fictitious capital" – financial instruments like stocks and credit-default swaps. We produce and produce until there is simply no one left to purchase our goods, no new markets, no new debts. The cycle is still playing out before our eyes: Broadly speaking, it's what made the housing market crash in 2008. Decades of deepening inequality reduced incomes, which led more and more Americans to take on debt. When there were no subprime borrows left to scheme, the whole fa├žade fell apart, just as Marx knew it would. Marx is the gift that keeps on giving.

+Here's a couple about solving the issue of "food deserts." From Social Worker Helper and a discussion of how to make convenience stores better.

+GA Republican introduces bill to widen solar use in read that right.

+Speaking of Georgia, Ryan Gravel says what just about every urbanist was saying in the wake of the great Atlanta snowbacle of 2014. We built a car-dependent region because that’s what we wanted, and what happened on Tuesday simply underscores the inherent consequences of that decision. In the parts of the region that have access to transit and live more compactly in walkable areas, people fared reasonably well. They should – they’ve been investing in transit for over forty years. I spent my evening sledding with my kids on the Atlanta Beltline. But if we’re honest, the car-dependent areas of the region also fared well under the circumstances. It’s not like anybody died. What if we had also lost power? Imagine the mayhem – both intown and in outlying areas – if it had been two feet snow, or a chemical spill, or an airborne infectious disease, or a terrorist attack. What if we had to go for weeks without driving? The distances that most people live from where they need to go, and the disconnected nature of our roadway network, would leave most of the region stranded. The consequences of our car-dependency would have been much more dramatic. Our economy and our way of life depends on people being able to get around, and in most areas of our region, we rely exclusively on an infrastructure that gets jammed up in any emergency.

+We know that in Britain – and particularly in England – we have to build many more new homes to meet housing need. However, the question is not just whether we build, but whether we have the determination to ensure that we build high-quality communities that will stand the test of time. This doesn't just apply to Britain--it's even more important in the US, where 85% of our urban places are literal junk piles within 25 years. We have to start thinking in the long term about everything we do, especially when it comes to building places for people to live.

+Brian Czech delivers a high-velocity shot across the bow of mainstream environmentalists by suggesting that Climate Change is not the problem we should be focusing on...or rather than Climate Change is actually a symptom of a problem that may be easier to solve: economic growth.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Green Entrepreneurs of Atlanta

The first meeting of the Green Entrepreneurs of Atlanta will be commencing this Wednesday. It's free to join in and kinda fun too, if you like chatting about stuff. Here are the details:

Green Entrepreneurs of Atlanta
Wednesday, January 29 @ 7:30pm
5 Seasons Brewing in Sandy Springs, GA

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Idea of the Week: Bringing Solar Global

Founded in 2006, SolarCity has grown rapidly into the largest solar power provider in the United States, serving thousands of customer sin 14 states. What makes SolarCity so unique is that they have have eliminated upfront cost, which is the primary obstacle to increased solar usage, by offering a financing option that mimics the homeowners existing utility bill. By offering a 20 year financing option, the homeowner can get rid of their electricity bill and replace it with a much lower Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) that is locked in for 20 years. So no matter how high electricity prices go in the next 20 years, your cost remains the same. Beyond that SolarCity will also maintain your solar system to ensure its continued functionality.

Another company that is spreading the usage of solar power is Solar Richmond. Begun in 2006 as a solar education initiative, it quickly grew into an internship and installation program for low income homeowners. Solar Richmond attacks the problem of solar’s high installation cost, by providing temporary to permanent labor solutions for solar installers so they can keep their costs down, as well as affordable and subsidized financing alternatives for homeowners. By attacking the problem from both angles, Solar Richmond has created over 300 temporary and permanent jobs and installed solar panels for over 50 homeowners. But the best thing is that there is currently nothing like this program in Atlanta. With an average of 4.5 hrs of sunlight per day, huge swaths of Atlanta residents below the poverty line and in dire need of help with energy costs, and a ballooning tech industry, Atlanta would be the ideal place for a program like this to take root. All that is needed is the right entrepreneur to take the bull by the horns and get started. The model has already been built. It’s already proven.

Clearly there is a lot of opportunity in the Solar space across the country. Whether you mimic the models of either of these fine companies, or come up with your own, providing homeowners and  businesses with solar power has the potential to be very lucrative and helpful.