Posts Tagged ‘USA’
Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on April 15th, 2013
Image: Union Kitchen’s Floor Plan
From “Share Everything: Why the Way We Consume Has Changed Forever” by Emily Badger for The Atlantic Cities:
“The “equipment library” at Union Kitchen in Northeast Washington, D.C., contains some of the more mundane artifacts of the modern “sharing economy”: an oversized whisk, a set of spatulas, ladles, chopping knives, sheet pans and tongs. “Collaborative consumption,” as it’s also known, is more often associated with the big-ticket items that have given the concept such bemusing cachet. Suddenly, it seems, people are casually lending and borrowing cars, bikes, even brownstones. But this basic kitchenware, hanging in a 7,300 square-foot warehouse, reveals the reaches to which all this sharing could ultimately expand, as well as the reasons why it will have to.
Union Kitchen moved into the space in late November of 2012, taking over what had been the commissary for a chain of local kabob houses. Jonas Singer and Cullen Gilchrist had been looking to expand the kitchen operations for a café they own in the city. But this two-story red brick warehouse situated on a cramped manufacturing block was more space than they needed. So they turned the warehouse – complete with a walk-in freezer, two fridges and prep space for two-dozen entrepreneurs – into a shared kitchen and food incubator. For $500 a month, member chefs get a share of their own prep table, access to communal equipment, pantry shelves, and ingredients at wholesale prices.
By early January, the kitchen already had nearly a dozen members, including a cupcake food truck company, a caterer specializing in mole sauces and chocolate cakes, and the city’s lone Kombucha brewer. It would be prohibitively expensive for any of them to open their own commercial kitchens. But – and this is a related problem – there also isn’t affordable space enough in this growing city to do so.
“The reality is that if D.C. swells from a place where there are 500,000 people in 2010 to a place where there are 850,000 in 2020, well what are we doing with those 350,000 extra people who are here?” Singer asks, sitting on a couch in the kitchen’s lounge. “We’re all living in slightly smaller spaces. Obviously the per-capita number of car owners has to go down. The amount of space like this is going to be much tighter. A lot of the sharing economy just has to do with the number of people living per square foot of land. It’s all about physical space.””
>> Read the full article (there’s much more) by Emily Badger on The Atlantic Cities.
Image from The Detroit Future City Plan.
From “A Framework For Creating A Thriving Detroit Of The Future” by Ariel Schwartz.
A new plan outlines how the Motor City can go from grabbing headlines about decay to being a model for a new kind of American urban center. [...] In 2010, the Detroit Works Project, a public-private partnership between the City of Detroit and a number of foundations, launched with the goal of rethinking land use by understanding the demographics of the city (today, Detroit has miles upon miles of vacant land). “We understood from the beginning that land use had to be understood, but there were many pieces beyond land use that had to be part of the study,” explains Dan Pitera, executive director of the Detroit Collaborative Design Center and one of the driving forces behind Detroit Future City.
So in 2011, the Detroit Works Project was split into two: one piece worked on short-term planning, and the other focused on longer-term goals. After two years of research and discussion, the Detroit Future City report was released this month. The goal, according to press materials for the launch, is nothing short of a citywide reboot. [...] The city framework–which is broken down into sections including economic growth, neighborhoods, land use, and city systems–comes from 30,000 conversations with city residents and more than 70,000 survey responses and comments. “When it was launched, we weren’t revealing a plan or framework because people have been seeing the work develop. It’s more of a celebration,” says Pitera.
We won’t try to sum up the mammoth report here, but Pitera stresses that the key point is that “Detroit is closer to its future than it imagines.” Much of the work that needs to happen is already beginning–now it just needs to be tied to a larger framework. One of the best known examples of Detroit’s burgeoning revival is the urban agriculture movement that has sprung up in response to all the abandoned land. [...] The initiative’s creators imagine that these open spaces and environmental systems will sit alongside repurposed transportation corridors that accommodate pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers, all while collecting storm water runoff in swales located in the right-of-way. At the same time, new walkable retail districts and residential developments will keep things buzzing.
The authors aren’t done generating awareness for the project. Pitera tells us that a street team shows up at barber shops, grocery stores–wherever people are–to have conversations with people. Because while Detroit Future City calls for sweeping change on a systemic level, it needs individuals to get onboard too. “In our minds, civic engagement never ends. It’s the way a city should do business,” says Pitera. “People can come in, look at this, and see very realistic but aspirational plans and see themselves in it as well.”
Detroit Future City looks 50 years into the future: the first five years are focused on stabilization of the city, years five to 10 will grow and nurture the city, years 10 to 20 will sustain a larger population, increase in local jobs, and a new and improved infrastructure, and years 20 to 50 will ideally see Detroit regain its position as one of America’s great cities. Is it possible? Sure. Detroit has one big advantage over many U.S. cities: It has already hit rock bottom, and so it can build a resilient, sustainable city from the ground up instead of trying to modify its infrastructure piecemeal–a strategy that will ultimately hurt some of today’s thriving urban centers. [...]
>>> You can read the full article here.
>>> You can Read the Detroit Future City Framework and learn more about the project on the Detroit Works Project website.
Posted in Models by Jessica Bird on January 23rd, 2013
Source: The Morning Sentinel.
Photo by David Leaming, The Morning Sentinel
From ‘‘Cow power’ turns manure, food waste into mighty electricity source‘ by Ben McCanna
Every day in rural Penobscot County, a large dairy farm harnesses clean-burning gas from cow manure and food waste, and it generates enough electricity to power 800 homes continuously. The process, commonly known as cow power, has the potential to earn the facility $800,000 a year. It also creates byproducts — animal bedding and a less-odorous fertilizer — that save the farm about $100,000 a year. Cow power is more consistent than solar and wind energy, and it eliminates greenhouses gases that otherwise would enter the atmosphere. The $5.5 million project could pay for itself in five years. After that, it’s all gravy. So why aren’t more farms doing it?
For five generations, the Fogler family has milked cows on a pastoral setting of open fields, mixed hardwoods and red barns. Now the scene includes a distinctly modern facility. [...] For the past 13 months, Exeter Agri-Energy has been combining cow manure and industrial food waste at this location. In its first year, the company generated 5,200 megawatt-hours for the grid, which earned the farm about $520,000 from Bangor Hydro Electric. Now that the kinks have been worked out, the facility is on track to produce about 8,000 megawatt-hours a year. At 10 cents per kilowatt hour, that’s $800,000. The project was installed in four months beginning in August 2011. It cost $5.5 million and received $2.8 million in grants from Efficiency Maine, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Treasury Department. The facility is a subsidiary of the Foglers’ Stonyvale Farm, which hosts the project on its land. Stonyvale also supplies the system with 20,000 gallons of raw cow manure every day. [...]
Why isn’t manure power spreading? In the United States there are about 100 cow-power facilities. Only a dozen combine food waste with manure. In Maine, there is only one. Curt Gooch, dairy sustainability engineer at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., said digesters first appeared in the U.S. in the 1970s, during the oil embargo; however, when oil prices dropped again, interest in the technology dried up. Then, in the late 1990s, there was a resurgence. Digesters have continued to crop up since then, but it’s still not widespread. “The potential is huge,” he said. “It’s a big bud that’s waiting to blossom.” In Europe, cow power is in full bloom. About 5,000 anaerobic digesters operate in Germany alone, Gooch said. There are several reasons why, said Spencer Aitel, co-owner of Two Loons Farm in South China and board member at Maine Organic Farmers and Gardners Association in Unity.
Cow-power producers in Europe are paid three times as much per kilowatt hour; European countries are more densely populated, so odor control is highly valued; and European governments tightly regulate milk prices so they’re always profitable for dairy farmers. Installing cow power requires a substantial investment, which is extremely difficult for U.S. farmers, who are often in the red. On Friday, for instance, 110-year-old Garelick Farms ended production because the cost of making milk exceeds the amount dairy farmers receive. Also, the technology is viable only for very large farms, Aitel said. [...] “Biodigesters are never going to replace solar, wind, hydro or anything else, but they are going to add to the portfolio.” [...]
>>> You can learn how the digester works and read the full article on the Morning Sentinel.
Screenshot from the People’s Community Market YouTube clip.
From the article “Building A Grocery Store In A Food Desert, With Funding From The Community” by Ariel Shwartz.
In San Francisco, you can’t walk five blocks without bumping into a farmer’s market or boutique grocery. Take a quick trip over the Bay Bridge to Oakland, though, and you’ll be confronted with areas that lack any sort of access to fresh food. So-called food deserts are a common problem in communities throughout the U.S., but in the neighborhood of West Oakland, one local organization is banking on the community to alleviate the problem by funding a startup grocery store.
The vision for the for-profit People’s Community Market sprung out of a decade’s worth of community food activism from People’s Grocery, a nonprofit organization that in the past has launched projects like the Mobile Market, a fresh food truck that drove around the neighborhood, and the Grub Box, a local community-supported agriculture box for residents. Despite the success of these initiatives, they weren’t enough to fulfill the food needs of West Oakland, which sees 70% of grocery expenditures from residents each year (about $40 million) going to other cities. A lack of fresh food also contributes to the 48% of residents that are obese or overweight. “The feedback from the community was continuing to affirm that, while smaller projects were important, they weren’t adequate for servicing needs,” explains Brahm Ahmadi, the founder and CEO of People’s Community Market and the former executive director of People’s Grocery.
So Ahmadi and the board of People’s Grocery decided to build a full-fledged grocery store that’s tailored to the community. That means that the 15,000-square-foot store will be tinier than many grocery stores–transactions are generally smaller than in suburban areas because people have less money to spend (meaning they make smaller purchases more often) and they come via public transportation or on foot so they can’t carry loads of groceries. When it opens [...] People’s Community Market will carry just 40% of the inventory of traditional grocery stores, with a focus on fresh food–produce, seafood, dairy–and quality prepared items. People’s Community Market will also become a community hub, providing a sit-down cafe space, education programs from local nonprofit health partners, and social activities–jazz nights every week, barbecues after Sunday church, sitdown dinners, and customer appreciation events. [...]
The grocery store has secured two-thirds of its $3.6 million budget from the California FreshWorks Fund, a collaboration between the California Endowment and a number of partners that aims to bring fresh food to the state’s food deserts. But there’s a hitch: FreshWorks will only offer up the loan if the grocery can raise the rest of the money ($1.2 million) first. That last chunk of cash will come from the community via a direct public offering–a system where People’s Community Market sells shares of the company directly to California residents. Initially, the startup hoped to raise private capital, but found that a lot of investors weren’t attracted to the grocery business–the margins are tight and investments aren’t that lucrative. Crowdfunding was considered, but except in rare cases, companies rarely make over a million dollars on sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo. “We decided to shift directions to a community investment campaign,” says Ahmadi. He stresses that this is “not crowdfunding or donation. It is a real investment.” People’s Community Market has already raised $200,000 thanks to the large donor base from People’s Grocery. [...] “Our thinking is that if we can make significant progress and show momentum, a number of angel [investors] in a wait-and-see position will come in and help close it out,” says Ahmadi. If People’s Community Market can raise the money it needs, the store could be operating by the end of next year. It’s not soon enough for West Oakland residents. Says Ahmadi: “They want the store open right away.”
>> Read the full article on Fast Co.Exist.
>> You can learn more about the People’s Community Market on their website, or see their YouTube clip.
Posted in Research by Kate Archdeacon on October 29th, 2012
“Figure 3. Multiple indicators of cropping system performance” from Increasing Cropping System Diversity Balances Productivity, Profitability and Environmental Health
From “A Simple Fix for Farming” by Mark Bittman:
It’s becoming clear that we can grow all the food we need, and profitably, with far fewer chemicals. And I’m not talking about imposing some utopian vision of small organic farms on the world. Conventional agriculture can shed much of its chemical use — if it wants to.
This was hammered home once again in what may be the most important agricultural study this year, although it has been largely ignored by the media, two of the leading science journals and even one of the study’s sponsors, the often hapless Department of Agriculture.
The study was done on land owned by Iowa State University called the Marsden Farm. On 22 acres of it, beginning in 2003, researchers set up three plots: one replicated the typical Midwestern cycle of planting corn one year and then soybeans the next, along with its routine mix of chemicals. On another, they planted a three-year cycle that included oats; the third plot added a four-year cycle and alfalfa. The longer rotations also integrated the raising of livestock, whose manure was used as fertilizer.
The results were stunning: The longer rotations produced better yields of both corn and soy, reduced the need for nitrogen fertilizer and herbicides by up to 88 percent, reduced the amounts of toxins in groundwater 200-fold and didn’t reduce profits by a single cent.
In short, there was only upside — and no downside at all — associated with the longer rotations. There was an increase in labor costs, but remember that profits were stable. So this is a matter of paying people for their knowledge and smart work instead of paying chemical companies for poisons. And it’s a high-stakes game; according to the Environmental Protection Agency, about five billion pounds of pesticides are used each year in the United States.
Read the full article by Mark Bittman on the NY Times Opinionator blog, or check out the research paper, published on plos one:
“Results of our study indicate that more diverse cropping systems can use small amounts of synthetic agrichemical inputs as powerful tools with which to tune, rather than drive, agroecosystem performance, while meeting or exceeding the performance of less diverse systems.” Davis AS, Hill JD, Chase CA, Johanns AM, Liebman M (2012) Increasing Cropping System Diversity Balances Productivity, Profitability and Environmental Health. PLoS ONE 7(10): e47149. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0047149
Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on May 3rd, 2012
From “Solar rooftops sought in poor communities“ by Bernice Yeung:
San Diego is home to more than 2,600 solar residential rooftops – more than any other California city – but in the neighboring lower-income community of National City, there are only about a dozen.
A bill before the California Assembly Committee on Utilities and Commerce this month seeks to equalize renewable energy installation in the state by promoting small-scale solar rooftops in the disadvantaged communities. The bill targets neighborhoods with high unemployment rates and those that “bear a disproportionate burden from air pollution, disease, and other impacts from the generation of electricity from the burning of fossil fuels,” the bill said. Bill author Assemblyman Paul Fong, D-Mountain View, said the legislation would create jobs and build “cleaner, safer, and healthier neighborhoods.”
The legislation would require the state to install enough systems to produce 375 megawatts of renewable energy – or about 1,000 small-scale projects – in disadvantaged communities between 2014 and the end of 2020. Utility companies are required by a 2011 state law to achieve a 33 percent renewable portfolio standard by 2020. The renewable energy systems supported by Fong’s bill would take the form of rooftop solar installations on apartment complexes and commercial buildings, and each project would be limited to producing 500 kilowatts of power, a project the size of a typical Costco rooftop. Advocates say passage of the bill could improve both the health and economy of these low-income communities.
Through a program known as “feed-in tariff,” the owner of the solar panels would be able to earn revenue by selling back unused energy to the local utility company. Additionally, the bill promotes the hiring of local workers to install the solar panels. And because reliance on carbon dioxide-emitting power plants used during periods of high energy demand – called peaker plants – could be decreased with an increase in renewable energy creation, there are health implications to the bill, said Strela Cervas of the California Environmental Justice Alliance, which sponsored the legislation.
Read the full article by Bernice Yeung on California Watch.
From “Environmental contribution of Tennessee’s urban trees: $80 billion” by James Holloway:
A study published by the US Forest service values the State of Tennessee’s urban forest at $80 billion thanks to its contributions to the environment. With an urban population of 284 million, that equates to a mean value of $282 per tree.
The total is based on a number of costs that are to some extent offset by the presence of Tennessee’s urban forest (its urban tree population, in other words). These include $350 million-worth of carbon storage based on the current standing stock, over $204 million every year in pollution removal, $18.4 million per year in additional carbon sequestration, and $66 million per year in energy savings-”the most significant contribution” made by the urban forest, according to State Forester Steven G. Scott. But how are the environmental benefits of the trees evaluated?
Data was collected and analyzed using the Forest Service’s own i-Tree Eco software. Using a mobile app providing strict protocols for data collection, researchers took information from 2418 trees and saplings across 255 field plots. Variables noted include species, diameter at breast height (or DBH—taken at 1.4 meters above ground), height, crown dimensions, foliage transparency, damage, and proximity to buildings. The pool of sample data is assumed to be representative of the total population, and from there the software crunches the numbers using “peer-reviewed equations” to paint a macro-scale picture of the urban forest, based on quantifiable characteristics that describe its structure, condition and function.
>>Read the full article by James Holloway on Ars Technica.
>>Read the US Forest Service study.
Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on February 1st, 2012
Source: City Parks Blog
From “A Design that Celebrates the People”: Normal, IL Traffic Circle Wins Smart Growth Award as New Civic Space” by Colleen Gentles:
[In December last year], EPA announced the winners of the 2011 National Award for Smart Growth Achievement. We are excited to report that Normal, Illinois is the recipient of the award in the Civic Places category for their traffic roundabout.
We’ve written before about how the town’s new traffic circle has successfully managed traffic flow at a busy five-way intersection, diverted thousands of gallons of untreated stormwater away from the nearby creek, and become the town center by bringing residents together in an attractive public space. The more recent news is how the traffic roundabout is spurring local economic development with the construction of a multimodal transportation station adjacent to the circle, courtesy of a U.S. Department of Transportation grant. Both the transportation hub, which will eventually have high-speed rail service and create an estimated 400-500 new jobs, and the circle take advantage of the town’s existing infrastructure, bus service, and the historic central business district to attract even more residents to the new town center.
“The one-third-acre roundabout does much more than move cars. It invites pedestrians with shade trees, benches, lighting, bike parking, green space, and a water feature. People have lunch, read, and play music, and the open space invites community gatherings such as a holiday caroling event. It is the anchor for a community-wide revitalization and is part of Uptown Normal’s LEED-ND Silver recognition.
A popular rails-to-trails conversion, the Constitution Trail, leads to and around the roundabout, helping both to revitalize Normal and to bring people from surrounding areas to Normal’s central district. A new Children’s Discovery Museum on the edge of the roundabout already receives over 140,000 visitors per year, and a hotel and conference enter have recently opened nearby. One indication of the success of the redevelopment is that property values in the district have increased by about 30 percent since 2004.” Smart Growth Awards
According to the short video, this traffic circle was almost banned to pedestrians. It’s a good thing town officials fought back. [Watching the video, it looks like there are weekly farmers markets held on the roundabout too. KA]
Read more about the project here, as well as the other winners from the 2011 National Award for Smart Growth Achievement.
The roundabout was designed by Hoerr Schaudt Landscape Architects. Check out their site for more photos and project details.
Posted in Movements by Kate Archdeacon on December 21st, 2011
Wouldn’t you love to make play objects, kid’s costumes, furniture, decorations for the home and well, just about anything you can think of from the materials around you? makedo makes it possible and impossibly fun. makedo is a connector system that enables materials including cardboard, plastic and fabric to easily join together to form new objects or structures. When you’re done playing, simply pull it apart to reuse over and over again.
Box Play for Kids:
We make eco-friendly, 100% recycled, custom-designed stickers* that (combined with a little imagination) turn any old box into a wonderland of possibilities. Good for the imagination. Good for the earth. Good for the pocketbook.
Via City Harvest
Our backyards are home to a wealth of gardens and fruit trees, many of which bear more produce than the gardener can consume, or more at one time than is desired. Often people end up with piles of unwanted zucchini, plums falling off trees to rot on the ground, peas that grow old and hard before they can be picked and shelled, and other garden produce that goes to waste. At FoodPool, we see the “problem” of excess garden abundance as an opportunity! It is an opportunity to help provide those in need with fresh, ripe, homegrown produce. The only obstacle lies in linking growers with their hungry neighbors.
Our answer is FoodPooling. Our mission is to create small, local groups to gather backyard garden produce and deliver it to food banks and food pantries. These “FoodPools” are modeled on carpools – neighborhood based, easy to set up, and a big win for everyone involved! By creating numerous small, local groups, we feed our neighbors while strengthening our communities.
Through the influence of people like Michelle Obama, Michael Pollan, Alice Waters, and many others, more and more people are returning to growing fruits and vegetables in their yards. At the same time, due to a host of factors, there is an ever increasing number of Americans going hungry, eating food of questionable nutritional value, and without access to quality produce. Now more than ever there is a real need for a garden produce donation program on a national scale – hence, FoodPool.
There are already groups gleaning produce in various places – groups whose work we heartily applaud. What makes FoodPool different from existing organizations that gather and donate fruit and/or vegetables is our goal of actively building a network of new gleaning groups in places where they don’t already exist. We seek to spread the notion of assisting the hungry with backyard produce through promotion of this FoodPool “brand” on a national scale.
Find out more on the FoodPool website.