Sustainability Archive

  • Alexis Slutzky tells the story of a September 2015 pilgrimage through California's Owens Valley, called Walking Water. This first phase of a much longer journey began at Mono Lake and ended 180 miles south at Owens Dry Lake. For 100 years, Los Angeles has piped water from there over 300 miles further south to sustain the city, draining ancient lakes and groundwater, destroying natural water systems. In the fourth year of an historic drought, Walking Water seeks to create a new narrative regarding this life-giving resource, investigating our common and often conflicting needs, and learning how to live within our means.

    Walking Water: Eastern Sierra Pilgrimage of Healing the Drought

    Alexis Slutzky tells the story of a September 2015 pilgrimage through California's Owens Valley, called Walking Water. This first phase of a much longer journey began at Mono Lake and ended 180 miles south at Owens Dry Lake. For 100 years, Los Angeles has piped water from there over 300 miles further south to sustain the city, draining ancient lakes and groundwater, destroying natural water systems. In the fourth year of an historic drought, Walking Water seeks to create a new narrative regarding this life-giving resource, investigating our common and often conflicting needs, and learning how to live within our means.

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  • Takeaways from a recent Green Festival Expo discussion on the Los Angeles River Revitalization include that the job of planning for water resiliency belongs to all of us, not Frank Gehry regardless of his recent charge, and we must also consider how public access, parkland, ecosystem restoration, cargo and passenger rail, bicycle greenways, and anti-gentrification environmental justice will fit into the mix. Collaboration is the key.

    L.A. River Must Transform as Watershed, Transportation Corridor

    Takeaways from a recent Green Festival Expo discussion on the Los Angeles River Revitalization include that the job of planning for water resiliency belongs to all of us, not Frank Gehry regardless of his recent charge, and we must also consider how public access, parkland, ecosystem restoration, cargo and passenger rail, bicycle greenways, and anti-gentrification environmental justice will fit into the mix. Collaboration is the key.

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  • This is the first post in a series where I present the case for Geo-Fauvism, a growing movement of wild earth inspiration in art, literature, music and design. Taking off from the early 20th Century French art "Fauvists" or "Wild Beasts," these cross-disciplinary creations respond to and react against the collapse of global environmental systems, the destruction of indigenous earth-based societies, and a narrowing of cultural opportunities in the mainstream corporatized media. Geo-Fauvists create to reconnect with the wild and heal humanity's rift with the landscape, building a new community based on integration with the ecosystem.

    Geo-Fauvism: Waking to the Wild Earth Through Visual Art

    This is the first post in a series where I present the case for Geo-Fauvism, a growing movement of wild earth inspiration in art, literature, music and design. Taking off from the early 20th Century French art "Fauvists" or "Wild Beasts," these cross-disciplinary creations respond to and react against the collapse of global environmental systems, the destruction of indigenous earth-based societies, and a narrowing of cultural opportunities in the mainstream corporatized media. Geo-Fauvists create to reconnect with the wild and heal humanity's rift with the landscape, building a new community based on integration with the ecosystem.

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  • The prefab Active House B10 prototype in Stuttgart can be built in a day, but its implications will be felt for years. Taking the passive house net zero concept one step further, this fully recyclable tiny house actively generates enough power for multiple properties through its rooftop photovoltaics.

    German Prefab House Generates Twice its Own Energy

    The prefab Active House B10 prototype in Stuttgart can be built in a day, but its implications will be felt for years. Taking the passive house net zero concept one step further, this fully recyclable tiny house actively generates enough power for multiple properties through its rooftop photovoltaics.

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  • Architecture must move on from an addiction to spectacle and fad, adrift in a sea of meaningless forms, leaving serious design and sustainability problems unresolved, says Peter Buchanan. But to do this will require a more critical perspective from architectural academe and the media.

    Starchitects and Spectacle: Sustainability Solutions Needed

    Architecture must move on from an addiction to spectacle and fad, adrift in a sea of meaningless forms, leaving serious design and sustainability problems unresolved, says Peter Buchanan. But to do this will require a more critical perspective from architectural academe and the media.

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  • The age of the pod car might be upon us, but not necessarily as the long-envisioned Personal Rapid Transit. Good for amusement parks and Google's main campus, as well as small newly-built cities or airport shuttles, PRT systems have too many limitations in dense urban areas. The real future for the pod car, like it or not: Autonomous (Self-Driving) Vehicles.

    Pod Cars: Autonomous Vehicles vs. Personal Rapid Transit

    The age of the pod car might be upon us, but not necessarily as the long-envisioned Personal Rapid Transit. Good for amusement parks and Google's main campus, as well as small newly-built cities or airport shuttles, PRT systems have too many limitations in dense urban areas. The real future for the pod car, like it or not: Autonomous (Self-Driving) Vehicles.

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  • The California Coastal Commission failed to enforce the Coastal Act and did not require a Laguna hotel renovation to address destruction of affordable rooms and environmental habitat as well as finish the long-awaited Trail to the Sea.

    Laguna Beach “Ranch” Hotel Renovation Violates Coastal Rules

    The California Coastal Commission failed to enforce the Coastal Act and did not require a Laguna hotel renovation to address destruction of affordable rooms and environmental habitat as well as finish the long-awaited Trail to the Sea.

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  • "Vertical City," a complete ecosystem in the sky that you never have to leave, accommodates population growth and protects the planet, but may have significant drawbacks for the people who call it home and their connection to the earth. Projects in China and Dubai illustrate the concept and its limitations.

    Sustainable Vertical Urbanism: The Future of Cities?

    "Vertical City," a complete ecosystem in the sky that you never have to leave, accommodates population growth and protects the planet, but may have significant drawbacks for the people who call it home and their connection to the earth. Projects in China and Dubai illustrate the concept and its limitations.

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  • The model planners and economists touted as "sustainable development" has only exacerbated ecologic distress and community dislocation through its focus on wealth-creation. The needs of our ailing planet facing an impending 11 billion population calls for ecology and human welfare to dominate economy, but how to achieve this in a world bought and paid for by finance capitalism?

    Convivial Degrowth: An Ecologic Reckoning for an Ailing Planet

    The model planners and economists touted as "sustainable development" has only exacerbated ecologic distress and community dislocation through its focus on wealth-creation. The needs of our ailing planet facing an impending 11 billion population calls for ecology and human welfare to dominate economy, but how to achieve this in a world bought and paid for by finance capitalism?

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  • As the full moon approached and the winter solstice upcoming ~ on Sun Dec 7, 2014 in LA, Starhawk joined a conscious community including SoCal 350 Climate Action Coalition, collectively co-creating a vision of a just transition away from climate- and ecosystem-damaging fossil fuels and industrial agriculture to a sustainable permaculture-oriented new world!

    Starhawk: Hope in the Time of Climate Change

    As the full moon approached and the winter solstice upcoming ~ on Sun Dec 7, 2014 in LA, Starhawk joined a conscious community including SoCal 350 Climate Action Coalition, collectively co-creating a vision of a just transition away from climate- and ecosystem-damaging fossil fuels and industrial agriculture to a sustainable permaculture-oriented new world!

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  • State and local governments must take bold, yet simple measures to correct the current major obstacle preventing real growth in urban farming — a viable distribution system.

    How to Make Urban Farming Sustainable? Distribution.

    State and local governments must take bold, yet simple measures to correct the current major obstacle preventing real growth in urban farming — a viable distribution system.

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  • Across the US, inspired by the success of Portland's streetcar and a movement toward downtown revitalization and expanding public transit alternatives, projects enhancing place mobility move forward despite controversy.

    Place Mobility: Streetcars, Bus Rapid Transit and Light Rail

    Across the US, inspired by the success of Portland's streetcar and a movement toward downtown revitalization and expanding public transit alternatives, projects enhancing place mobility move forward despite controversy.

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  • Is it possible for urban planners to make places more attractive and healthy, without then making them more expensive? Rebecca Tuhus-Dubrow investigates recent research into the ongoing debate about environmental gentrification.

    Green Urbanism: Balancing Environmental Justice with Gentrification

    Is it possible for urban planners to make places more attractive and healthy, without then making them more expensive? Rebecca Tuhus-Dubrow investigates recent research into the ongoing debate about environmental gentrification.

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  • On one hand, Detroit turns the water off for communities challenged by its legacy of disinvestment and neglect. Yet, with urban farming, electric streetcars, neighborhood reinvention, Mayor Mike Duggan’s pledges begin to manifest in the city’s North End, despite considerable financial and cultural impediments. John Eligon elaborates.

    Greening Detroit: Positive Change Moves Slow and Fast

    On one hand, Detroit turns the water off for communities challenged by its legacy of disinvestment and neglect. Yet, with urban farming, electric streetcars, neighborhood reinvention, Mayor Mike Duggan’s pledges begin to manifest in the city’s North End, despite considerable financial and cultural impediments. John Eligon elaborates.

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  • Urban Farming and its vertical indoor application have become all the rage. We look at a project in Chicago and question whether the craze will matter for the future of agriculture.

    Chicago: Does Vertical Indoor Farming Matter?

    Urban Farming and its vertical indoor application have become all the rage. We look at a project in Chicago and question whether the craze will matter for the future of agriculture.

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  • Jack Eidt writes on the dangers of proposing mixed use development far from urban amenities and alternative transportation. The real estate industry in Orange County, California and beyond, has consistently violated engineering and planning wisdom by building in floodplains, paving over precious open space land and losing opportunities to preserve wildlife habitat and recreation opportunities amid the suburban sprawl at the edge of the wilderness.

    Sprawl vs. Open Space: “Rio Santiago” Again Threatens Orange

    Jack Eidt writes on the dangers of proposing mixed use development far from urban amenities and alternative transportation. The real estate industry in Orange County, California and beyond, has consistently violated engineering and planning wisdom by building in floodplains, paving over precious open space land and losing opportunities to preserve wildlife habitat and recreation opportunities amid the suburban sprawl at the edge of the wilderness.

    Continue Reading...

  • Gardens and farms, green roofs and landscaped buildings are becoming more a part of the urban landscape in Japan. We look at projects in Osaka, and a Tokyo rail company has placed garden allotments on train station rooftops, greening the city while allowing commuters to connect to the land and grow their own vegetables.

    Landscape Urbanism: Green Roofs, Community Farms in Japan

    Gardens and farms, green roofs and landscaped buildings are becoming more a part of the urban landscape in Japan. We look at projects in Osaka, and a Tokyo rail company has placed garden allotments on train station rooftops, greening the city while allowing commuters to connect to the land and grow their own vegetables.

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  • A documentary film, "Dogtown Redemption," delves inside the lives of West Oakland's poor and homeless recyclers. While California must deal with its urban poverty problem, and rogue recyclers steal from recycling funds, overall the state's Bottle Bill has significantly reduced waste.

    Dogtown Redemption: Urban Poor Survive By Recycling

    A documentary film, "Dogtown Redemption," delves inside the lives of West Oakland's poor and homeless recyclers. While California must deal with its urban poverty problem, and rogue recyclers steal from recycling funds, overall the state's Bottle Bill has significantly reduced waste.

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  • Bill Mollison (born 1928 in Tasmania, Australia) is a researcher, author, scientist, teacher and naturalist, and one of the foremost advocates for permaculture, or permanent agriculture. Following is a documentary on Mollison and his ideas.

    Permaculture: Sustainable Antidote to Agribusiness and Consumer Culture

    Bill Mollison (born 1928 in Tasmania, Australia) is a researcher, author, scientist, teacher and naturalist, and one of the foremost advocates for permaculture, or permanent agriculture. Following is a documentary on Mollison and his ideas.

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  • Global warming poses a real threat to cities but planners in the Danish capital are taking visionary steps to ensure its resilience – and success –  as far ahead as 2100. The city approved a plan for carbon neutrality, while a 10-person team focuses on how the city will adapt to a changing climate.

    Copehangen’s Sustainability Vision: Carbon Neutral, Climate-Adapted

    Global warming poses a real threat to cities but planners in the Danish capital are taking visionary steps to ensure its resilience – and success – as far ahead as 2100. The city approved a plan for carbon neutrality, while a 10-person team focuses on how the city will adapt to a changing climate.

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  • Once the largest hippie commune in the US, the Farm persists as an intentional community in rural Tennessee, based on principles of nonviolence and respect for the Earth. It now advocates permaculture, sustainable and renewable energy, a vegetarian diet, and midwifery.

    Communal Utopia: The Farm in Rural Tennessee

    Once the largest hippie commune in the US, the Farm persists as an intentional community in rural Tennessee, based on principles of nonviolence and respect for the Earth. It now advocates permaculture, sustainable and renewable energy, a vegetarian diet, and midwifery.

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  • The idea of the "utopian" community began in 1516 with Sir Thomas More's fictional perfected society to present-day attempts to build the most sustainable urban ecosystem. With the case of Songdo International Business District, South Korea, we begin a series of case studies in the success and failure of utopian experiments in living sustainably.

    Songdo, South Korea: Utopian City of Big Data and Urban “Sustainability”

    The idea of the "utopian" community began in 1516 with Sir Thomas More's fictional perfected society to present-day attempts to build the most sustainable urban ecosystem. With the case of Songdo International Business District, South Korea, we begin a series of case studies in the success and failure of utopian experiments in living sustainably.

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  • After seven years of study, federal officials have recommended a $453-million plan that would restore an 11-mile stretch of the Los Angeles River but leave much of its banks steep and hard to reach. Advocates will continue to press for a more ambitious alternative that would bring more people to the river, improving parks and recreation as well as ecosystems.

    LA River: An Urban Ecosystem Makeover in Transition

    After seven years of study, federal officials have recommended a $453-million plan that would restore an 11-mile stretch of the Los Angeles River but leave much of its banks steep and hard to reach. Advocates will continue to press for a more ambitious alternative that would bring more people to the river, improving parks and recreation as well as ecosystems.

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  • Sophie Feng writes on one answer to disaster-prone Tokyo's interest in food health and security. Corporate Ecology is mixed with the move toward Agricultural Urbanism, greening the sterile downtown office world for workers and visitors.

    Japan: “Office Farming” Greens Tokyo’s Urban Jungle

    Sophie Feng writes on one answer to disaster-prone Tokyo's interest in food health and security. Corporate Ecology is mixed with the move toward Agricultural Urbanism, greening the sterile downtown office world for workers and visitors.

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  • For the last 40 years, Detroiters have fled the once-majestic downtown core for the bucolic image of sprawling suburbia. Now an urban revival in the name of "Detroit Future City," complete with forests, parks, farms and waterways, is planned to overcome the financial mismanagement and industrial blight that have plagued the city for far too long.

    Detroit Future: Landscape Urbanism, Antidote to Industrial Blight

    For the last 40 years, Detroiters have fled the once-majestic downtown core for the bucolic image of sprawling suburbia. Now an urban revival in the name of "Detroit Future City," complete with forests, parks, farms and waterways, is planned to overcome the financial mismanagement and industrial blight that have plagued the city for far too long.

    Continue Reading...