What happens when you temporarily close areas to cars and open them up to bicyclists and pedestrians? People come out in droves to ride, play, walk, interact with their community and activate their shared space. Ciclovia, a temporary closure of roads to cars, takes this concept to the next level by blocking off entire thoroughfares. Originating in Colombia in the 1980s, Ciclovia has been so well-received that it has spread to countries around the world including Australia, Brazil, Peru, Canada, Mexico, the U.S and more.
Los Angeles has put its own twist on Cyclovia with CicLAvia. Since 2010, CicLAvia has successfully held five road-closing events, each one attracting over 100,000 participants. Most recently, CicLAvia opened a 15 mile route between downtown Los Angeles and Venice Beach to cyclists and pedestrians for a day.
Challenging the stereotype of the car-centric Angeleno, CicLAvia demonstrates the desire of people from all walks of life to get out of the cars and into the streets.
“CicLAvia is successful because people are eager to interact with the city in a way that is impossible to do by car,” says CicLAvia’s executive director Aaron Paley. “They can set their own pace, decide their own means of participating, and enjoy businesses, cultures, architecture and other Angelenos in ways that are not possible when confined to a car.”
Paley notes that there’s a pent up demand for this kind of event in a city so dominated by the car and with such a paucity of real public space.
“Los Angeles is essentially an urban ocean with many neighborhood islands,” he says. “Trying to travel to other islands by foot, bike or public transit and explore what they have to offer is not as easy as it should be."
CicLAvia offers a way for people to leave their neighborhoods and become more familiar with surrounding areas. “People see what other parts of the city have to offer in terms of culture, business, cuisine, entertainment, outdoor space, etc.," says Paley. "They are encouraged to return, and they now know it is possible to do by bike, public transit or other non- vehicle means.”
The CicLAvia team works closely with city officials, the transportation department, the police department, emergency officials and business owners to ensure that CicLAvias are safe, well-organized events. There have been no arrests made in any of the CicLAvias and according to Paley, crime is down during CicLAvias. He also points out that many surrounding businesses see a post-CicLAvia increase in business as well as a new customer base.
According to Paley, the biggest challenges when organizing CicLAvia are logistical: making sure the permits are in order, coordinating with public agencies on street closures, making residents and businesses along the route aware that they may have limited access to their driveways, etc.
For those interested in organizing a Ciclovia, Paley stresses the importance of forming strong partnerships and relationships with city officials, government agencies, law and emergency personnel, and local business and community stakeholders.
“Ultimately,” he says, “the success of CicLAvia comes from all of these entities combined with the support and involvement of participants the day of the event.”
The next CicLAvia is scheduled for June 23, when Wilshire Boulevard, one of the main thoroughfares in Los Angeles, will be closed to traffic for the day. Ideally, Paley would like to see monthly CicLAvias throughout Los Angeles County. “We’d like to touch upon diverse communities, geographies and cultures,” he says, “and connect us all as owners and imaginers of our city streets.”
- Financial transactions tax: UK launches legal challenge
- Alchemists of Wall Street at it again: Arcane-sounding names hide big risks
- ‘Sorry, officer, I’ll watch my speed next time’: Dubai adds Lamborghini and Ferrari to police fleet
- To Central Bankers: You Are Golden Toast On A Silver Spoon
- Robert Hirsch: Peak Oil as seen through the eyes of Arab oil producers
- Tesla: General Electric Motors
- Depleted North Atlantic cod stocks are unlikely to recover, according to study
- Giant Snails Advance On Florida
When the bond market finally does crack, it is going to be one epic nightmare that is going to make 2008 and 2009 seem like a picnic. It will be a different kind of a crisis; but it will be an enormous crisis. These people that are bullish about stocks and bonds and the bond market, they do not understand anything.
- Nicole Foss – Relocalising the Trust Horizon
- 'Catastrophic' budget laid out by Philly schools
- Ireland’s cash-strapped borrowers face ban on vacations, limits on food spending
- Canadian deposits safe under bail-in, but no guarantee: Carney
- Media tycoon David Black’s proposed Kitimat refinery gets Chinese backing
- Terence Corcoran: Systemically Dangerous Government Institutions (SDGI)
- Has gold hit bottom? As big investors rush out, consumers rush in
- Tariff Hikes: 'Tax On Everything' Raises Opposition Ire As Retailers Warn Of Price Hikes
- Who Said The Hydra Would Take It Lying Down
- Supercomputers could generate warnings for stock crashes
- Ice Ice Baby
- Gold Reveals Global Economy on Thin Ice
- World’s largest OTEC power plant planned for China
- Deepwater Horizon: Surviving the oil spill
- Superstorm Sandy Shook the Earth
19 ways to reduce your food container waste by reusing and upcycling.
We've been closely following the tightness in supply in the physical bullion market this week. Premiums began spiking, and now it's becoming harder and harder to find metal in stock to purchase regardless of price.
- Expert: HFT Has Gamed the System - There’s No Room for Traders Anymore
- Score: Banksters Two, Gold & Silver Zero
- Why Boston’s Hospitals Were Ready
- U.S. banks issue mortgage rebate cheques that bounced
- Full List of Bankers at White House Meeting Thursday
- The Euro Legacy: In Greece, Children Pick Through Trash Cans For Food
- Spain's Recession Forces Breeders To Send 70,000 Purebred Horses To Slaughterhouse in 2012
- The Biomass Power Plant that Runs on Single Malt Whiskey
- Engineers use brain cells to power smart grid
- Chevron Defies California On Carbon Emissions
- Fascinating Account Of Two Families Living Off The Grid For Two Decades
Project M, one of the first design-for-good initiatives, will celebrate its tenth anniversary with a special session in Greensboro, Alabama this June. The session will include a reunion of the growing network of changemakers proving the power of design to uplift and change lives.
In 2003, designer John Bielenberg founded Project M to teach young people to drive positive change by thinking wrong. “We’re all victims of our synaptic connections,” says Bielenberg. “Our brains usually follow pre-existing synaptic paths to solve problems. But that produces predictable solutions. Thinking wrong disrupts those heuristic biases to generate completely unexpected solutions you couldn’t come up with otherwise.”
Since thinking wrong can lead to doing right, Bielenberg has made a point of running his Project M sessions in communities that have pressing social, environmental, and economic challenges. Among other things, in the ten years since its founding Project M has raised $35,000 for access to clean running water, organized a cross-country tour on bamboo bikes to promote sustainable bamboo farming in America’s Black Belt, delivered disaster relief supplies to Katrina-stricken New Orleans, and founded Pie Lab and Bike Lab, two social enterprises that strive to create jobs, community cooperation, and economic growth in one of the nation’s poorest counties.
But the value of M can’t truly be measured by its projects. Over the years, thinking wrong has shaped a generation. “Project M is about the M’ers,” says Bielenberg. “These people produce cool projects, that’s true. But what M really does is produce these incredible, inspiring people. They come to M, they think wrong, and it changes them. They go out into the world and bring that attitude with them, and they spread it to others too. It’s like a retrovirus for creative good.” And the virus is spreading. Project M has helped to spark the growing movement of design-for-good initiatives around the world, alongside others such as Project H, D-rev, Windhorse International, AIGA’s Design for Good, and many more.
M’s decennial celebration also includes an ongoing series of profiles featuring M’ers and their accomplishments. The retrospective includes Ben Barry, founder of Facebook’s Analog Research Lab; Kodiak Starr, White House Creative Director of Digital Strategy; Brian W. Jones, founder of Dear Coffee, I Love You; Dana Steffe, founder of The Map Project, and many more. These fearless, creative, and inspired M’ers will attend the special reunion in June, ready to inspire 10 more years of thinking wrong about the greatest challenges of their generation.
by Nidhi Gulati and Scott Shafer
Most park activities and uses are categorized under recreation and leisure, and are therefore “optional,” Jan Gehl, urban designer and proponent of pedestrian and bike friendly cities, says in his book “Life Between Buildings.” Because they are optional, they are prone to be skipped when it becomes inconvenient to include them in our daily lives. As the country progressed in the early 20th Century, the land was divided and connected by ribbons of roadways; life became highly compartmentalized for the middle-class American.
Each activity and its host location became a destination in itself. This destination status doesn’t help the optional nature of routine leisure and socialization and the places that provide for them--third places, which are separate from home and work--as urban sociologist Ray Oldenburg calls them. However, the decline in importance to third places is not universal, and the human desire to socialize and congregate is bound to show itself when the right opportunities exist in the built environment.
Trocadero Iconic Urban Park in Paris. (Photo: homeaway.com)
In times of economic crises, each development or proposal needs hefty backing by surveys, use data, market analysis, and funding strategies. It is for these reasons that existing opportunities, retrofits, incremental solutions, and short-term pilot projects famously known as Tactical Urbanism, Guerilla Urbanism, or DIY Urbanism have made heads turn. While on the look-out for such opportunities and low investment or risk alternatives for creating newer prospects for socialization, I came upon the Park, Recreation, Open Space and Greenway Guidelines by NRPA, which notes the benefits of parks: “The purpose of parks was not solely to cater to leisure, but to provide a “natural” setting in the community to achieve larger social goals.” Of course they are meant to achieve larger social goals, but the real question is, do they?
Neighborhood parks, more so than their larger counterparts in the park system, are available amenities (spaces pre-labeled or zoned as public open space) in almost all cities in the US. In instances where they do not act as social foci, they still remain ready opportunities to be transformed into Places. The reasons we believe they are place-making opportunities are, for one, the sheer count in our urban fabric. Some guidelines recommend that subdivisions and neighborhoods have a neighborhood park or a “pocket park” every quarter to half mile. Another reason for this is that a majority of neighborhood parks are five to 10 acres in size, and walkable distance from one end to the other. The guidelines also suggest that each park host a variety of informal activities (unlike recreational centers), and should serve as the foundational building blocks of the urban park system.
Hyde Park shapes the city of London. (Photo: travelingday.com)
Journalist and activist Jane Jacobs certainly recognized Neighborhood Parks as places with social benefits in her book “Death and Life of Great American Cities”; but she also pointed out that, just because they are meant to provide those benefits doesn’t mean all parks do a good job. The world is full of very heavily used parks to completely unused ones, or worse still--those suffering from undesirable use or users. As a people watcher, Jacobs notes in the same book that the way a park is designed and located within the neighborhood has major influence on how it is used or abused. Her list of characteristics of successful parks includes intricacy, centering, sun, and enclosure. None of these desirable elements is surprising, but we also have to look at these through the eyes of a tactician. Changes can be made to parks without involving permanent infrastructure or fancy fixtures. What we do need is a million “zealous nuts,” as Fred Kent of Project for Public Spaces points out in his approach to creating places of meaning, and a list of elements and ideas that consider human need and comfort. With this in mind, we observed people in 18 parks in our city, College Station, Texas (including one dog park in particular), to find elements of design and non-design that make them conducive to lingering, gathering, and socialization.
Location: This idea combines centering and enclosure on Jane Jacobs’ list. To be marketed as a destination in the very limited 24-hour day in our busy lives, the park needs to sell itself; just like any business that needs customers, location becomes vital to its sustenance. A central location, undamaged, untouched, or intersected by a major thoroughfare makes parks more inviting to walkers, bikers, and drivers. Location is the constraint that most tacticians face, in which case they must strive for centering (visual) and ease of access. Tearing down the highway, like San Francisco did, and adding a new sidewalk that leads to the park--or painting stripes on the road--can be creative ways to open up a park’s usage.
Memorial Park next to a freeway in Pasadena, Texas (top) and the walkable Discovery Green in Houston, Texas (bottom). (Photos: Google Earth)
Link It: Put it along a path and people will linger. When parks are on the way to something else, a more prominent destination or a necessary one, they become receptacles of spillover activity. A rest stop on the way, given the public nature of these facilities, is easily done when the opportunity exists. Trees and enticing benches slow down passersby, which make for exciting people-watching in busier cities with heavier foot traffic.
The High Line linear park runs along the historic New York Central Railroad, linking Manhattan’s West Side. (Photo: inhabitat.com)
Prospect and Refuge: People like opportunities to view things, to be aware and to see without being seen. Gently sloped bowl-shaped areas contain visually stimulating activity, but create a mild enclosure, which is inviting to people. American urbanist and people-watcher William Whyte details this in his study of small urban spaces in New York City by indicating that people stay away from settings that provoke feeling trapped. Re-create a bowl-shaped storm water detention facility or lawn into a DIY park--easy to look into and easy to exit.
The trails in Buffalo Bayou Promenade in Houston, Texas--a combination of prospect and refuge. (Photo: archidose.org)
Take the Fence Down: Open the park to the public. This strategy changed the fate of Bryant Park. The fence should be the first thing to go unless absolutely essential, like if a section is reserved for dogs. Even though it may not be opaque, the idea of having to walk an extra quarter mile just to find the gate is more effort than most want to put into the optional activity. Open it up. The fence keeps the bad people away is a myth; those who are bad will find ways to get in, regardless.
Dolores Park in San Francisco, California, is open to the public. (Photo: members.virtualtourist.com)
Edges and Safety: In his recent masterpiece “Walkable City,” urbanist Jeff Speck hits the nail on the head by writing that “Public spaces are only as good as their edges.” The edge is similar to a fence or a wall, but has a subtler boundary, like a low-rise mound, row of trees, or a simple strip of grass between the street and the space. It is a psychological edge that counts more towards perceived safety--a mere change in surface has equally strong capabilities as a wall or a creek, based on what purpose it fulfills. In one of the parks we looked at, people enjoyed sitting in groups on a concrete drain channel at the foot of a fence next to the edge of the trail.
Varieties of seating and edges are at the Boston Waterfront. (Photo: sasaki.com)
Trim the Tall Shrubs: Despite how pretty the foliage may be and how colorful the flowers are, tall dense vegetation can be detrimental to the life of the public realm it boarders. It operates like a solid wall that blocks views into and out of the area, and discourages use. People sometimes fear criminal activity that may be concealed from the life on the street outside. Tall trees are great, small shrubs and flower beds are perfect; skip the middle ground.
Clear views of Hill of Tarvit at Fife, Scotland. (Photo: bbc.co.uk)
Inducers: The more reasons people have to visit a place, the more likely they are to fit it into their lives. Additionally, the more types of people the space caters to, the more potential it has. To make public spaces more attractive to people, give them a reason to be there. Maybe children have lots to enjoy there, or the dog needs a walk, or there is a place to play and practice music. Having things in common forms the basis for most relationships during a person’s lifetime, so when people with similar purposes or motives come together, the chances of them socializing improve significantly. We call this idea induced socialization.
Dogs act as an inducer of socialization among owners at historic Kenwood Dog Park in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo: historickenwood.org)
The Understated Space: Let human instinct shape the activity, rather than the space. Sometimes it is the under-design that brings more people back than the over-design. People like choices and the option to do different things in the same space to break up the monotony; hence, every neighborhood park should have under-developed areas in addition to the things that the designers deem worthy of being placed there. The intricacy and the lack of it are both influential in the social life of parks.
People gather in the open park space in New York City’s Central Park. (Photo: juliacreinhart)
Keep it Clean: Nothing beats cleanliness in public spaces, and the notion that someone cares is paramount. Maintenance and upkeep are the two most important aspects of sustainable landscapes. City parks departments don’t get enough funding to redesign these facilities very often, so the cleaner it is, the better for sustained use. Also, the simpler the design, the easier it is to maintain. It is the usability that keeps them relevant, and there is usually no shortage of community volunteers to assist with clean-up efforts.
Volunteers work in the park in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo: gw.govt.nz)
These ideas are a small contribution to the list of solutions for retrofitting, renovating, and rebuilding parks into the social foci they deserve to be. Please feel free to share your thoughts with us.
10 awesome reasons to have paracord on you in the form of a stylish bracelet.
From The Atlantic Cities -- bike corrals: "New York City is busy gearing up for the long-delayed launch of its bike-share program on an undisclosed date in the next few weeks, with some 5,000 people signing up for annual memberships in the first 28 hours that they were available. In the meantime, the city keeps quietly pushing ahead building new bike infrastructure for people who have bikes of their own already. The latest addition is a first for the city, and possibly even the country. In the Manhattan neighborhood of Hell’s Kitchen, bike parking corrals, rather than parked cars, are being used to protect bike lanes. Three new corrals were just installed alongside the bike lane on Ninth Avenue in response to community requests for more bike parking."
From The London Times -- safer cycling in Europe: "Safer lorries could soon be arriving on Britain’s streets, saving the lives of hundreds of pedestrians and cyclists, after the European Commission proposed new designs for HGVs (heavy goods vehicles). Under the changes manufacturers would be allowed to create more rounded, aerodynamic cabs of lorries to allow for greater visibility and eliminate dangerous blind spots, a lethal problem highlighted by the Times Cities Fit for Cycling campaign."
From Gothamist -- the six best bike rides in New York City: "When the city's first bike-share program prepares to kick off next month, NYC will take it to the next level as a formidably bike-friendly town, to the joy of many (and chagrin of a few). And while CitiBike aims to be a commuters' tool over a recreational one, there are plenty of long, spectacular and scenic rides in and around the city to remind you that sometimes the best part of going from point A to point B is the journey itself, especially when that journey doesn't involve spending a lot of time underground with this guy."
From LAist -- the 10 best bike rides in Los Angeles: "While Los Angeles isn't exactly revered as the most bike-friendly city, it's trying. And it's gradually improving. More sharrows are marking streets, more residents are shrinking their carbon footprints and ring your bells—there's even a Bicycle Master Plan. So saddle up, Los Angelenos. We crowdsourced, huddled with the pros and did some pedaling of our own to bring you the 10 best bike rides in Los Angeles."
From The Atlantic Cities -- biking around the globe: "'I know that I am taking a great risk and might never again see my native land. But then, the grim shadow of death is ever at one's elbow, and my chances of not getting through safely are not sufficiently great to deter me from making the experiment.' Those were the words of Annie "Londonderry" Kopchovsky, who in 1894 set out to circumnavigate the globe via bicycle and win a $5,000 wager that a woman couldn't perform such a feat within 15 months. Now a new short documentary film, The New Woman: Annie 'Londonderry' Kopchovsky, tells her story."
From Streetsblog SF -- San Francisco gets a bike traffic counter: "San Francisco will get its first bicycle traffic counter within the next month. The SF Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors sealed the deal yesterday on a bike counter for Market Street between Ninth and Tenth Streets. Bike counters, which have been installed on major cycling streets in cities like Copenhagen, Portland, Seattle, and Montreal, help the city get an accurate count of bike traffic and promote bicycling by showing that number on a digital display. Every time someone bikes by, the number ticks up. SF’s bike counter will show daily and annual counts of how many people have biked on eastbound Market approaching Ninth."
- Market Manipulation, News, and Leverage
- 2 Reasons Gold Crash Is Scary
- Richard Russell - Gold Plunge, Billionaires & A Market Crash
- West Coast LNG industry gripped with gold rush fever
- How the Gold Market Was Crashed - But Most Importantly, Why? Leveraged Default? And Silver?
- The Price Smash – Who, What, How and Why?
- After the Gold Rout: Blame Central Bank Manipulation, Says GATA’s Powell
- NPR: Congress Quietly 'Overhauls' Law Against Congressional Insider Trading
- Orlov: Understanding Organizational Stupidity
- 'A tide of squatters’ spreads in Spain in wake of foreclosures
- Global Gold Outlook Report
- How Empires Fall
- None of the world’s top industries would be profitable if they paid for the natural capital they use
- Small in size, big on power: New microbatteries the most powerful yet
- Investors Bet On Breeding Success
- Key ingredient in mass extinctions could boost food, biofuel production
With the financial experts claiming, some gleefully, that gold has "lost its safe haven status" in the aftermath of its biggest tumble in 30 years, many commentators thought (hoped?) that the dramatic price drop would steer people away from gold ownership. To my eyes, the past week has all the earmarks of a high-gloss propaganda campaign complete with well placed anti-gold stories in the media and the careful use of language aimed at sowing doubt about gold's ability to be a store of wealth.
But for those who consider gold a store of value, the recent gold slam is a gift: an invitation to purchase more sound money with fewer units of paper currency. In other words, a sweet deal. Gold and silver on sale and the world is taking advantage.
- The U.S. may have a lot less gold than widely believed
- Replacing these missing reserves would be extremely costly and disruptive
- Understanding this, the recent market manipulation begins to make sense (in a tradable way)
- Why physical ownership is of paramount importance now as supply is increasingly tenuous
If you have not yet read Part I: Unintended Consequences Are Increasing World Demand for Gold, available free to all readers, please click here to read it first.Exactly How Much Gold Do We Have?
There's growing concern that a lot of official gold has been leased out into the market and that sooner or later, as happened back in the late 1990s, one or more parties, perhaps bullion banks or a metals exchange, would run into difficulty trying to meet a physical gold delivery commitment.
For a short video on the mechanics of gold leasing, click here.
If a lot of gold has been leased out, someday it will have to be rebought, and difficulties may emerge if the gold cannot be rebought in sufficient quantities without creating mayhem within the financial system by causing a very large hike in the price of gold.
Important: The amounts of gold leased by central banks is a very closely guarded secret, and we do not have direct information on them, which means we have to try and back-calculate these amounts by other means.
A recent and thought-provoking study regarding gold leasing was done by Sprott Asset Management in March. After accounting for all known flows of gold into and out of the U.S. over the past 22 years, the Sprott team arrived at a figure of nearly 4,500 tonnes of gold that cannot be accounted for.
Here's the summary flow chart...
Giysi Takası, which means clothing swap in Turkish, celebrated its 1st anniversary with a day-long swap, skillshares, and performances on Saturday, April 6th at Mixer Art Gallery in Tophane, Istanbul. The swap was referred to as a maker's party, because 400 young adults not only enjoyed the event's offerings but also actively participated in its creation, along with the 13 volunteer staff. Shareable helped support this event through its seed grant contest this year.
Giysi Takası is a Turkish non-profit organization that encourages people to swap their used, in good condition clothes to nurture a more sustainable community. They began swapping clothes in Istanbul but will soon be spreading swapping events to other cities in Turkey, as well as an upcoming one in Berlin. Giysi Takasi has already encouraged many people to create their own swapping organizations.
A unique aspect of the event was that attendees didn't spend 'even one penny' during the event. Each participant brought at least one item, up to maximum of ten, to support the clothing swap and skillshares, which earned them a coupon for each item brought to use as currency instead of money. Coupons were exchanged at stations to join skillshares, get clothes and make drinks. The stations are described below.
Sew DIY - Bring or use any sewing tool and change, reshape or resize the clothes you swap.
Stencil Print - Paint your motto on your clothes with a stencil! Stencil & graffiti artists, PISIT, will help during the skillshare. Stencil, clothing paint, spray paint, scissors, clothes are all worth one coupon each.
Swap Tunnel - A clothing swap will continue all day. Bring max 10 items, washed and ironed, anything but underwear and swimwear is accepted! Attendees go back and forth between the DIY skillshares and the clothing swap at any time.
Graffiti Wall - Bring a white t-shirt and help us cover a huge wall with these t-shirts. A graffiti artist CINS will paint the wall with his wonderful art. At the end we'll dismantle the wall, and you'll take your t-shirt with a piece of art on it. White t-shirts, spray paint, and cardboard are each worth one coupon.
Let's Make Sangria! - Bring these ingredients to make party drink or use a coupon: 1 bottle orange juice, lemonade or mineral water or 1 kg of oranges, lemons or apples traded for one coupon or two coupons for wine.
One of the many students that attended, Cemre Kilisli, said “I have too many clothes at home. It's great to bring them here so they can be reused. I liked being able to trade clothes efficiently – it's a beautiful event.” Making coupons valid for all the party activities enhanced resource circulation and diversity of offerings. Radio Uber played for 7 hours to create the party atmosphere with their fun music. At the end of the day, the remaining clothes were donated to the needy.
Swap coordinator and founder of Giysi Takası, Nazli Odevci reflected, “It was a great success in my opinion, it actually showed us that we can have fun and produce by gathering everyone's skills together.”
- Ohio’s $500 Billion Oil Dream Fades as Drillers Misjudge: Energy
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- Italy May Cut $6.6 Billion in Defense Spending This Year
- Detroit's encroaching blight as seen through Google and Bing maps
- Smithsonian to close galleries due to budget cuts
- Three-fold increase in demand for Gold: Jewellers
- Bailouts push German debt to new record
- Italy's temporary layoff scheme runs out of cash, sparks protests
- Almost half of NYC workforce on food stamps
- Let them eat vegetables: Egypt's wheat farmers hit hard by diesel price hikes
- South Korea Proposes $15.3 Billion Stimulus Budget
- EU warns of budget constraints as Cyprus seeks more aid
Born of a resolve to protect the earth and educate people about our relationship with it, Earth Day will be celebrated around the world this weekend. While park gatherings, festivals and other events are nice, the real change happens not in one-off gatherings, but in changing our lifestyles to prioritize the planet.
This Earth Day, celebrate, learn, and spread the word about conservation, reusing, composting, sustainability, recycling, sharing and all that good stuff. But don’t let that be the end of it. Let Earth Day serve as a seed for creating a lasting, positive impact in your corner of the planet. Below are some how-to’s to get the ball rolling. For more ideas, check out Shareable’s How to Share Guide.
How to Be a Car-Free Family
One of the biggest changes you can make for the planet, your health and your pocketbook is to go car-free. Making the leap to being car-free with little ones in tow, however, poses some unique challenges. Here’s some practical advice on making it work (and enjoying the ride), from parents who have been there.
Photo courtesy of Angela and Dorea Vierling-Claassen
How to Start a Crop Mob
You’ve heard of flash mobs, right? A crop mob takes the idea of a bunch of people showing up in one place to do something, and applies it to crops. With some organization, focus and lots of people power, quite a bit can be accomplished in a short time and the farm or garden will be better off for it.
Photo by Emily Millette
The Anarchist’s Guide to Seed Sharing
Did you ever think that gardening, or saving and sharing seeds would be an act of resistance? Seed sharing stations can serve as essential tools in maintaining control of what we eat, as well as bringing awareness to the growing control big business has over our food supply.
Photo courtesy of Eating in Public
How to Start a Really Really Free Market
Really Really Free Markets provide a way to get usable goods into the hands of people that can use them which diverts materials from the landfill and reduces the amount of new goods that people buy. They’re also great ways to connect with the people around you, pick up some needed items and demonstrate sharing and abundance in action.
Photo Courtesy of Really Really Free
How to Create Abundant Cities
There’s a lot of focus on creating sustainable cities these day. And do we ever need it! But in addition to cities that close the circle on waste and energy consumption, we can work to create cities of abundance, where art, music, and expression are encouraged and supported.
Photo by anoldent
How to Run a Bike Valet
Bike valets aren't limited to festivals and farmers' markets. You can set them up wherever there are people, bikes and a little space. Consider setting up or suggesting bike valet services for restaurants, business parks, churches or malls. They're pretty simple to set up, they encourage bicycle infrastructure, and cyclists will rest easy knowing that their wheels are being watched.
Photo by Cat Johnson
What are you doing to celebrate Earth Day? Have some ideas to share on making permanent change? Let us know in comments.
This post initially appeared on CM.com in November 2010. Given its continued relevance and the current growing season, we're republishing it to give our readers a reminder of what can and should be growing in your garden. Time to get your hands dirty and start growing healthy snack foods.
Last year, after all the essentials were stacked in the cupboards, the freezer full, and the root cellar piled to waist-high with 60% of all the food we needed for a year, I realized I was hungry for a snack. It was a hunger that lasted all last winter. As the winter progressed, I began a shopping list of snacks we could grow in our northern climate, process at harvest, and store away for winter snacking. My new goal in life was to become a professional at squirreling away snack goodies that were healthy, tasty, and nutritious.
By spring, my seed list consisted of turnips, sweet potatoes, sunflowers, popcorn, celery, and carrots, along with dried fruits. Here are the snack recipes that emerged:
This post was written by Rosana Francescato and was initially pubilshed by PV Solar Report.
Solar leases are helping far more people go solar than before and are helping spread solar in a big way. In 2012, third-party-owned solar represented 74% of California’s home solar market. And much of that market’s growth was in low- and median-income areas.
That’s great news! Still, about 75% of us are still left out of the equation. We may have shaded roofs, rent our homes, or live in multi-unit buildings. Businesses can run into these issues as well.
Solar for the rest of us
So how do we get solar for the rest of us? One solution is shared renewables. And now there are two bills making their way through the California legislature that could bring the state a pilot program to try out this idea: SB 43 and AB 1014. They’re really twin bills -- almost but not quite identical -- that will eventually be combined into one. You can find details, including case studies on shared renewables and summaries of both bills, at the California Shared Renewables site.
What this legislation does is allow investor-owned utility customers to get a bill credit for solar or other renewables produced at a location other than their own property. This would be completely voluntary, and ratepayers would not be affected -- an important aspect of this legislation. Customers who sign up for this program would not experience any change in their service, and utilities would still get paid to make the grid safe and reliable.
Each bill would create a pilot program for shared renewable projects of up to 20 MW in size, for a total of either 500 MW (under SB 43) or 1000 MW (AB 1014). The goal is for this voluntary pilot program to spur more private investments and create a significant number of jobs.
The program would would bring access to renewable energy to a wider group of customers -- to those of us in the 75%. There are even carve-outs for residential customers, as well as for smaller projects (1 MW or smaller) in environmentally or economically disadvantaged communities. And the bills protect prime farmland from being displaced by the projects.
A few other states have passed or are considering similar bills, but Joy Hughes of the Solar Gardens Instituteconsiders SB 43 and AB 1014 “probably the most thoroughly thought through legislative treatment of the subject to date.”
What you can do now
If you’re in California and would like to support these bills, help is needed now! Some important votes are coming up in key Senate and Assembly committees:
April 22 ( Earth Day): Vote on AB 1014, authored by Assembly Member Das Williams and Senator Lois Wolk, in the Assembly Utilities and Commerce Committee
April 30: Vote on SB 43, authored by Senator Lois Wolk and Assembly Member Das Williams, in the Senate Energy Committee
It’s crucial that the legislature receive letters of support -- and they need to be in by Wednesday April 17.
So, now that your taxes are filed, be sure to send letters in support of SB 43 and AB 1014! Especially helpful are letters from your company, organization, or school district. It’s important to write one for each bill. And it’s easy -- you can simply fill out the templates here and then send the letters to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Why support these bills?
Shared renewables programs allow many more people and businesses to participate in and benefit from solar. They give people and communities more control over their energy generation. Moreover, they help fight climate change, create jobs, reduce utilities’ need to buy power at the costliest time of day, improve the reliability of the grid, and save taxpayers money.
With all these benefits, shared renewables really are a win-win-win.
There are a number of ways to help spread solar. We’re lucky to have shared renewables as a potential option in California. Let’s work together to make that a reality. Let’s work to get solar to the 75% who are now left out.
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