Braddock, Pennsylvania and Urban Pioneering

"On Wood Street, Jack Samuel, the 25-year-old straight-edge vegan punk rocker and Levi's model, was hanging out in one of the two houses he and the six other members of the Some Ideas Collective bought last year. The group wanted an inexpensive "live-work" space where they could play music, write and work on bikes. They bought a house for $6,000 from a filmmaker who was moving on. It was run-down, but for kids whose goal was to "make life cheap enough" so they could "binge work and then be free," it was just fine.

"My goal is to build for myself a life that meets my needs most effectively," Samuel explained last summer. "So that means the lowest possible overhead costs day to day [...]"

This quote is from an interesting article that you should probably read. It's about a small town with a radical governor who's been trying to cultivate some sort of indie, organic mecca to revitalize the town.

It's a great(ish) idea and not necessarily original, but what's great about the article is that it has a lot to say about the people who are actually there struggling to make it work.

Also, I love the idea of "binge working".

Via Epicenter.

Irony: Environmentalists versus “Cape Wind”

First of all, I'm not without some sympathy for the environmental movement. I am LEED accredited and I think that green building is great, but not because I think that we're going to cook the earth and die. Like most reasonable people, I think that pollution and waste are inherently bad, and that they are often the result of bad design, so I'm against them. That said, I don't think that the government should legislate sweeping sustainability reforms, force me to eat organic, or round up and murder all of the SUV's. Generally speaking, I don't like it when environmentalists try to force people to save the earth. But the point of the story is that I think it's funny when environmentalists get pushed around by other environmentalists. Bobby Kennedy Jr., himself a prominent green advocate, has come out strongly against the wind farm proposed off of Nantucket Sound (SEE ALSO). This may or may not be because of the ocean view enjoyed by the Kennedy's Nantucket estate.

Here's a group of green advocates urging him to change his position:

"Nothing threatens the Earth's most special places more than global warming. The changes being wrought by our warming of the atmosphere are melting the Arctic tundra, overheating the Amazon rainforest, and heating the oceans. We are, simply put, in a state of ecological emergency. Constructing windmills six miles from Cape Cod, where they will be visible as half-inch dots on the horizon is the least that we can do."

The letter ends with "...we urge you to reconsider your position..." and so on followed by a ridiculously long list of the people who got together to pen the letter. I like that it has a subtle petition component to it — here's a long list of people who are mad at you. So the environmentalist gets called out for NIMBYism and is bullied and guilted into submission by his peers.

No one likes to be bossed around or guilted into things, so it's funny to see the pusher get pushed every now and then. It's easy to support abstractions like ocean wind farms to create clean, sustainable energy, but things can get hairy pretty quickly: Where do they go? Who's in charge? Who's paying for it? What if x, y, or z happens? I like that one of the people telling everyone that they need to buy a hybrid, recycle, and picket polluting mega-companies is getting served an angry letter urging him to do his part to save the world. Isn't the view from your family summer home a small price to pay to save our Mother Earth? Maybe it's not funny, but I laughed.

SEE ALSO: He actually compares the Sound to Yosemite. HA!


Apple’s Core Value

"But Apple's about something more than that. Apple at the core, its core value is that we believe that people with passion can change the world for the better."

Steve Jobs via 9-bits.

CNU 18: Atlanta 2010

I found out last night that I've been accepted to volunteer at the Congress for the New Urbanism Conference hosted this year in Atlanta. I had to apply for consideration and didn't send in my forms until the due date, so this is good news, and surprising. I'm not sure how competitive it was, but I'm very happy to be exempted from the $435 registration fee.

...And the list of speakers! I only recognize about a third of the names, but those that I do recognize are really exciting - folks from juries in college, people I've read and cited in papers, and a lot of people that are high up in the great, good firms in Atlanta.

My Most Notables:

Peter Clathorpe
William de St. Aubin, Sizemore Group
Peter Drey, Cooper Carry
Andres Duany
Ray Gindroz, Urban Design Associates
David Green, Lord Aeck Sargent (formerly with Perkins+Will)
Kenneth Groves, City of Montgomery
Peter Katz
James Howard Kunstler
Steve Mouzon
Nathan Norris
Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk
Stefanos Polyzoides
Terry Shook, Shook Kelley Architects
Dan Solomon
Jeff Speck
Bill Tunnell
Fred Yalouris

For me, this list is amazing, and these are the talks I'll be hoping to attend. Half of the folks on this list are sitting on my book shelf right now; the other half are people that I've sought out to work with or learn from over the last several years. Of all of them, I think I'm most most excited about Dan Solomon, who wrote one of my all-time most influential books - Global City Blues. You should read it if you haven't.

Man...This is a good list.

It looks like in all they've got about 150 speakers. I don't know how they're going to have time for all of them. But rest assured, I'm going to write about everything; people I meet, talks I hear, EVERYTHING. It's gonna be great.

Learning Activism Symposium

It looks like the Citizen Architect is right up there with the Green Architect these days. Hopefully this one isn't a fad.

From Portland Architecture, yet another forum discussing the role of the Citizen Architect. Scanning the article, I happened to notice the name of one of my Auburn University studiomates, Danny Wicke. We've been out of touch for years, partially because I stayed at Auburn for my masters while he went out to do his thesis at Rural. Apparently, he's been quite busy traveling and speaking here, here, and here. I'm impressed.

Rechargeable Batteries and My New Desk Chair

Yesterday I went to Staples to get a new desk chair [note the the three comfort customization levers; sure, I wish there were a couple more, but the price was right...] and I picked up some batteries and pens as well, and I fear that my actions will offend those among you who fear the impending destruction of the planet as we know it by the reckless pollution, consumption of resources, and the general tomfoolery of the post-industrialized world.

Desk Chair:
The chair I bought was made in China, so chances are the materials were harvested and shipped all around the world using non-sustainable, petro-chemical dependent systems and so on before they ever got to me. As I assembled it (I put it together myself, thank you very much), my apartment filled with the stench of nasty, fake, plastic-tasting chemicals. They wreaked so strongly in fact, I actually opened all of the windows out of fear that I might suffocate to death or inhale carcinogens that could one day metastasize and kill me, and of course when assembling such products, one is forced to confront the ever present threat of friction induced chemical fire and/or explosion.

I went with every intention of buying rechargeable batteries. I already have a charger, and I use rechargeables for almost all of my small electronics (wireless computing and gaming peripherals). When I looked for batteries though, I found that four rechargeables cost $12, whereas twenty, yes TWENTY, regular batteries cost $10 (in both cases Duracell). Also, two of the batteries in the twenty-pack are "ULTRA ADVANCED". I don't know what that means yet, but I do know that the four rechargeables said nothing about being either ULTRA or ADVANCED. The only words they had in all-caps were "DURACELL" and "RECHARGEABLE". Eighteen regular batteries plus two ULTRA ADVANCED batteries for $10 equals SOLD.

EARTH:     0
ME:     1

I'm writing to tell you what I've done, and to say that I'm not sorry. The fumes from my toxic chair will fade as they dissolve in our mutual atmosphere, and when my twenty, yes TWENTY, regular batteries run out of juice, I'll drive a few miles outside of the city and throw them into a river and buy some more. If you sense bitterness, it's because somewhere along the way I got tricked into buying a battery charger, and batteries that cost six times more than regular ones. Lame.

It’s Almost Too Late

Good cause, great apps, unbeatable prices. As of this posting, only sixteen hours left.