Archive for August, 2011

Connecting Suburbs: A Walkable, Rideable Car-Free Bridge

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on August 31st, 2011

Source: Streetfilms via Going SolarTransport Newsletter

Photo by Mulad via flickr CC

From “Breathtaking Bike Infrastructure: Minnesota’s Martin Olav Sabo Bridge” by Clarence Eckerson, Jr.:

In 2007, in order to route cyclists away from a challenging 7-lane crossing on busy Hiawatha Avenue, Minneapolis built the Martin Olav Sabo Bridge. The first cable-stayed bridge of any kind in the state, it’s breathtaking, even to the people who have been riding it for years. It provides a safe, continuous crossing and offers up a glorious view of the downtown skyline (especially at sunset!). The sleek Hiawatha light rail line runs beneath it, and there are benches to sit on and take everything in.

Used by an average of 2,500 riders a day, peak use can hit 5,000 to 6,000 per day on some gorgeous summer weekends, according to Shaun Murphy of the Minneapolis Department of Public Works. The bridge was named in honor of Minneapolis’ Martin Olav Sabo, a former U.S. Representative from the 5th District who helped secure much of the $5 million needed to build it.

Thanks to the Bikes Belong Foundation for enabling us to feature this majestic piece of bike architecture and to show that investing is cycling and walking is well worth every penny for our communities.

Watch the Streetfilm of the Martin Olav Sabo Bridge.

Solar-Powered Drip Irrigation

Posted in Models, Research by Kate Archdeacon on August 29th, 2011

Source: Nourishing the Planet: Worldwatch Institute
From “Innovation of the Week: Harnessing the Sun’s Power to Make the Water Flow” by Janeen Madan:

Nearly 2 billion people around the world live off the electricity grid. Lack of access to energy can take a huge toll, especially on food security. Without energy for irrigation, for example, small-scale farmers must rely on unpredictable rainfall to grow the crops they depend on for food and income.

In the Kalalé district of northern Benin, agriculture is a source of livelihood for 95 percent of the population. But small-scale farmers lack access to effective irrigation systems. Women and young girls spend long hours walking to nearby wells to fetch water to irrigate their fields by hand. The Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF), a U.S. nonprofit, has introduced an innovative solar-powered drip irrigation system that is helping farmers—especially women—irrigate their fields. The pilot project launched in partnership with Dr. Dov Pasternak of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRASAT), has installed solar panels in Bessassi and Dunkassa villages.  This cost-effective and environmentally sustainable project is improving food security and raising incomes by providing access to irrigation for small-scale farmers, especially during the six-month dry season.

Read the full article by Janeen Madan for Nourishing the Planet.

DIY Solar-Powered Indoor Kitchens

Posted in Models, Research by Kate Archdeacon on August 26th, 2011

Source: No Tech Magazine

From “Build a Solar Powered (Interior) Kitchen“:

Solare Brücke is an organisation that promotes the distribution of solar thermal technology, both in developing countries and in the first world. They offer detailed construction manuals, which can all be downloaded for free.

One example is the Scheffler-Reflector: “To make cooking simple and comfortable the cooking-place should not have to be moved, even better: it should be inside the house and the concentrating reflector outside in the sun. The best solution was a eccentric, flexible parabolic reflector which rotates around an axis parallel to earth-axis, synchronous with the sun. Additionally the reflector is adjusted to the seasons by flexing it in a simple way.”

The Scheffler-Reflector can be built in steel or aluminium, and there are additional manuals available for the mechanical tracking system, a stove and a baking oven. There are also plans for a solar tunnel dryer and a smaller solar cooker.

Read the original article at No Tech Magazine.

Call for Papers: Sustainable Urban Transformation

Posted in Research, seeking by Kate Archdeacon on August 25th, 2011

Image: GiorgioAntonio via flickr CC

A  Special Issue of the Journal of Cleaner Production on Sustainable Urban Transformation

The emerging concept of “Sustainable Urban Transformation” places the emphasis on understanding cities as a source of possibilities, promoting active collaboration among diverse stakeholders (particularly researchers and practitioners), and integrating different perspectives and bodies of knowledge and expertise.

This Special Issue on “Sustainable Urban Transformation” calls for contributions that advance knowledge and understanding related to a range of topics, including: governance and planning, innovation and competitiveness, lifestyle and consumption, resource management and climate mitigation and adaptation, transport and accessibility, buildings, and social interaction and public space.

Contributions can address some or all of these dimensions. Contributions that address relevant issues that are creatively beyond these categories will also be welcomed. Authors are encouraged to highlight and explore examples of city initiatives that clearly document “walking the talk” of sustainable development.

Extended Abstracts due October 15, visit the site for more information.


Urban Agriculture Potential: Report

Posted in Movements, Research by Kate Archdeacon on August 23rd, 2011

Source: The City Fix

Sembradores Urbanos in Mexico City, photo by K. Archdeacon

From “New Report: The Potential for Urban Agriculture” by Itir Sonuparlak:

A new report by the Urban Design Lab (UDL) of Columbia University’s Earth Institute explores the potential for urban agriculture in New York City. The report, “The Potential for Urban Agriculture in New York City,” complements the existing discussion on sustainable cities. Developing agricultural spaces within or near urban areas has a great potential to reduce food transportation costs and environmental effects, as well as provide opportunities for economic development and diminish the disparities in access to healthy foods. In order to become a viable option to food production for the masses, urban agriculture must overcome challenges of scalability, energy efficiency and labor costs.

To understand the capacity of New York City’s crop production, UDL’s report aims to answer how much land could be productively used for agriculture and how much crop could realistically be grown in the given land. When it comes to the benefits of urban agriculture in New York City, the study also considers factors like food security, storm water runoff and sewer overflow mitigation, urban heat island effect, energy consumption, waste reduction, as well as opportunities for composting for agricultural purposes.

The study highlights 12 key findings:

  • Urban agriculture can play a critical role as productive green urban infrastructure.
  • Urban agriculture can play an important role in community development.
  • There is a substantial amount of land potentially available for urban agriculture in NYC.
  • Intensive growing methods adapted to urban spaces can result in yields per acre which greatly exceed those of conventional production techniques.
  • While urban agriculture cannot supply the entire city with all of its food needs, in certain neighborhoods it can significantly contribute to food security.
  • There is a need for cost/benefit analyses that reflect the full complexity of the city’s social and environmental challenges.
  • NYC’s rooftops are a vast, underused resource that could be transformed for food production.
  • Bureaucratic challenges are a major barrier to the expansion of urban farming.
  • Existing infrastructure has the potential to support the expansion of urban agriculture.
  • Urban farmers are establishing viable businesses by taking advantage of multiple revenue streams.
  • Urban agriculture is part of a broader horticultural approach to urban greening that encompasses more than fruits and vegetables.
  • Urban agriculture functions as a catalyst for larger food system transformations.
Read the full article by Itir Sonuparlak for a summary of the above points, or download the report.

Bike Repair Station & Spare Parts Vending Machine

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on August 19th, 2011

From “Self-Service Bicycle Repair Station” by Joop de Boer:

Bike Fixtation is a DIY bicycle repair station recently launched to serve stranded bicycle riders in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metropolitan area. The smart initiative offers self-service kiosks on an extended-hours basis for bicyclists. The place offers all equipment needed to get unlucky bicycle riders back on the track. You can buy a tube or patch kit, pump your tires for free, and make simple adjustments using supplied tools. Bike Fixtation is open for 365 days a year from six in the morning to midnight. The first shop has opened doors inside the uptown transit station in Minneapolis, a second shop is to be opened soon.

Read the full article by Joop de Boer.

Citizen Scientists Wanted for Climatology Projects

Posted in Movements, Research, Tools by Rob Eales on August 17th, 2011

Source: Skeptical Science

Photo: ARM Climate Research Facility on flickr, Licence: Creative Commons

Citizen Science: Climatology for Everyone is a great post over at Skeptical Science listing projects that aspiring Citizen Scientists (that is, you, me and anyone) interested in Climatology can take part.

“With recent posts addressing personal action in the fight to combat global warming, I thought it would be interesting to dedicate a post to ways in which the average citizen can help global warming by directly contributing to our scientific understanding of it. That is, becoming a ‘citizen scientist’.

Citizen science projects date back hundreds of years, with many of the first projects involving citizens keeping track of wildlife populations. The Audubon Christmas Bird Count is perhaps the most famous in the United States and dates back to 1900. With help from the internet, and a growing recognition of the value that citizens are capable of contributing, citizen science projects have been rapidly growing.

The range of subjects that are covered by citizen science projects is vast. Here are just a few of them, which directly relate to climate change:”

Read the full article by Dawei.

Also have a look at recent posts by the writers on the site about their own personal action and approaches in regard to climate change issues. The actions of individuals who are charting the changes and challenges of climate change link research and action and illuminate personal responses to the current situations which are usually missing from other sources of media, especially for climate scientists.

Zipcar share cars in Baltimore mean less cars

Posted in Models, Movements, Research by Rob Eales on August 15th, 2011

Source: Clean Technica found here, Fast Company.

Photos: spike55151 on flickr Licence: Creative Commons

A study about the usage of Zip share cars in Baltimore has shown that Zipsters (Zipcar members) use cars less and other forms of transport more.

Urban transport is changing in any number of innovative ways as cities around the US look to alleviate traffic congestion, reduce air pollution and make their cities more “livable.”

One year on, the driving habits of Zipcar members in Baltimore have changed substantially, and that’s having several beneficial effect on the city’s “transportation landscape,” according to one-year anniversary survey results released by the City of Baltimore and the Parking Authority of Baltimore City.

“Zipsters,” as they are referred to, own fewer cars, drive less and use public transportation more often than they did prior to joining, according to a press release

Read the full article by Andrew Burger

These examples which are at the intersection of collaborative consumption (sharing things) and the reduction of the consumption of things provide real pointers to ways of living that cause less impact in the here and now. (Rob Eales)



Design for Repair: Teakettle Craft Project

Posted in Models, Research by Kate Archdeacon on August 11th, 2011

Source: Fast Company‘s Co.Design

Photos: Jean Baptiste Fastrez

From A Series Of Teakettles, Merges Craft and Mass Production by Belinda Lanks:

Like so many generic office towers, electric teakettles (standard in European households) soak up precious real estate without offering the slightest bit of aesthetic value. The Parisian designer Jean-Baptiste Fastrez wants to change that, by creating one-of-a-kind teakettles, with the help of artisans and a few mass-produced parts. For his “Variations Upon a Teakettle” project, Fastrez merged the industrial and handmade, combining standard-issue electric parts, which meet safety and heat regulations, with beautiful, artisan-crafted vessels. In his words: “In opposition to the industrial ideal (an object for all) is a more human and sustainable production: something for everyone.” The project is a touch profound — demonstrating how craftspeople can still add lasting value, despite all the trappings of modern production.

If an electric teakettle can be assembled from off-the-shelf (OEM) heating elements as well as handmade vessels, then these separate components can be repaired or replaced if they are damaged or when the owner’s taste changes.  That would be an enormous improvement on the current system, where mass-manufactured kettles are very difficult to repair and are usually thrown away. Kate A

Cities With People In Mind: ICTC Conference

Posted in Events, Movements by Rob Henshaw on August 8th, 2011

The International Cities, Town Centres & Communities Society Inc (ICTC), is an independent, not for profit association based in Queensland whose main aim is to assist cities, towns and communities to be as environmentally, socially & economically sustainable as possible.  Since incorporating in 2002, the Society has conducted annual conferences attracting 300-450 delegates in cities and towns from as far north as Yeppoon in Queensland to Fremantle in Western Australia.

The 2011 conference, “Cities with People in Mind“, is hosted by Hobart City Council and is being held in Hobart from 25-28 October and includes dedicated sessions on the following:-

  • “Sustainable Cities & Towns”
  • “Carbon Neutral Cities”
  • “Green Building & Healthy Cities”
  • “Transport & Urban Communities”
  • “Housing Affordability”
  • “Infrastructure Planning & Development”
  • “Community Building & Consultation”
  • “Managing Growth”
  • “Regional Strategic Planning”
  • “Place Making & Place Management”
  • “Business Improvement Districts” as well as others.
25-28 October 2011

Hotel Grand Chancellor
Constitution Dock
Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

For more information visit