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New Book — Sustainable Nation: Urban Design Patterns for the Future by Douglas Farr, Forward by Janette Sadik-Khan

June 11, 2018 Books, Environment, Featured Comments Off on New Book — Sustainable Nation: Urban Design Patterns for the Future by Douglas Farr, Forward by Janette Sadik-Khan

After I met Douglas Farr at a St. Louis event in 2012 I traveled to Bloomington-Normal to experience some of his work, see What Is Normal? A Small College Town In Central Illinois. Being a fan off his work I was delighted when I received his latest book: Sustainable Nation: Urban Design Patterns for the Future:

As a follow up to his widely acclaimed Sustainable Urbanism, this new book from author Douglas Farr embraces the idea that the humanitarian, population, and climate crises are three facets of one interrelated human existential challenge, one with impossibly short deadlines. The vision of Sustainable Nation is to accelerate the pace of progress of human civilization to create an equitable and sustainable world. The core strategy of Sustainable Nation is the perfection of the design and governance of all neighborhoods to make them unique exemplars of community and sustainability. The tools to achieve this vision are more than 70 patterns for rebellious change written by industry leaders of thought and practice. Each pattern represents an aspirational, future-oriented ideal for a key aspect of a neighborhood. At once an urgent call to action and a guidebook for change, Sustainable Nation is an essential resource for urban designers, planners, and architects.

I’ve had the hardcover book since April but haven’t had a chance to look at it until yesterday. The volume of detail is substantial. As usual. I like to show the contents so you can see how the book is organized:

  • Part One Our Default World
    • Chapter 1: Where We Are
    • Chapter 2: Case Studies: The Future Ahead of Schedule
  • Part Two Our Preferred Future
    • Chapter 3: Where We Want to Go
  • Part Three Theory of Change
    • Chapter 4: Theory of Change
    • Chapter 5: Time
    • Chapter 6: Acceleration Strategies
  • Part Four Patterns of Change
    • Chapter 7: Collective Effervescence
    • Chapter 8: Self-Governing Neighborhoods
    • Chapter 9: A Theater of Life
    • Chapter 10: Vibrant Density
    • Chapter 11: Mobility in Walkable Places
    • Chapter 12: Neighborhood Economy
    • Chapter 13: Urban Waters
    • Chapter 14: Stranded Carbon
    • Chapter 15: The New Health, Safety, and Welfare
  • Index

It’s part four where Farr lays out the specifics on getting to a sustainable future — building patterns to get us there. A year ago Farr discussed some of his research for this book at CNU25 (Congress for the New Urbanism):

As I haven’t studied the book and what it advocates, I can’t say if he’s on the right path or not. What I do love is he’s working solutions ro serious problems that need to be addressed — especially in St. Louis.

This looks to be a great book for anyone studying or working in related fields, unfortunately the hardcover lists for $80.  You can view a preview on Google Books. It’s available via Left Bank Books, Amazon, and others.

— Steve Patterson

 

Sunday Poll: Should Stricter Emissions & Fuel Economy Regulations Be Eased?

April 30, 2017 Environment, Featured, Sunday Poll, Transportation Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Should Stricter Emissions & Fuel Economy Regulations Be Eased?
Please vote below

Stricter emissions & corporate fuel economy (CAFE) regulations established by the previous administration, seen as too cumbersome, may not be funded.  From last month:

In a March 21 budget document posted online by the Washington Post, the Trump administration proposed eliminating $48 million in federal funding for EPA vehicle and fuel testing and certification.

It represents a 99 percent federal cut to the vehicle testing budget and would require “pretty much shutting down the testing lab,” said Margo Oge, who headed the EPA’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality under President Barack Obama. (Reuters)

Some argue the regulatory goals are attainable while others say they’re hurting manufacturing jobs. Today’s unscientific poll seeks to find out reader views on the issue.

The poll will close at 8pm.

— Steve Patterson

 

Readers: Climate Change NOT A Hoax!

January 25, 2017 Environment, Politics/Policy Comments Off on Readers: Climate Change NOT A Hoax!

First off let me quote NASA to explain some terms:

Weather vs. climate

Weather refers to atmospheric conditions that occur locally over short periods of time—from minutes to hours or days. Familiar examples include rain, snow, clouds, winds, floods or thunderstorms. Remember, weather is local and short-term. 

Climate, on the other hand, refers to the long-term regional or even global average of temperature, humidity and rainfall patterns over seasons, years or decades. Remember, climate is global and long-term.

Global warming

Global warming refers to the upward temperature trend across the entire Earth since the early 20th century, and most notably since the late 1970s, due to the increase in fossil fuel emissions since the industrial revolution. Worldwide since 1880, the average surface temperature has gone up by about 0.8 °C (1.4 °F), relative to the mid-20th-century baseline (of 1951-1980).

Climate change

Climate change refers to a broad range of global phenomena created predominantly by burning fossil fuels, which add heat-trapping gases to Earth’s atmosphere. These phenomena include the increased temperature trends described by global warming, but also encompass changes such as sea level rise; ice mass loss in Greenland, Antarctica, the Arctic and mountain glaciers worldwide; shifts in flower/plant blooming; and extreme weather events.

The science behind climate change is clear, the facts are overwhelming…there is no such thing as alternate facts.

Last year, global warming reached record high temperatures — and if that news feels like déjà vu, you’re not going crazy.

The planet has now had three consecutive years of record-breaking heat.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has just released its annual State of the Climate report, which says it’s the hottest it has been since scientists started tracking global temperatures in 1880.

separate analysis, by NASA scientists, came to the same conclusion. (NPR)

Human activity is causing the planet to heat up, melting ice, raising ocean levels. Thankfully, most of you realize the situation the world is in isn’t a hoax.

Q: Agree or disagree: ‘Climate Change’ is a hoax.

  • Strongly agree 5 [3.38%]
  • Agree 5 [3.38%]
  • Somewhat agree 1 [0.68%]
  • Neither agree or disagree 3 [2.03%]
  • Somewhat disagree 0 [0%]
  • Disagree 6 [4.05%]
  • Strongly disagree 127 [85.81%]
  • Unsure/No Answer 1 [0.68%]

As you can see from the non-scientific results above, few think it is a hoax.

Click image to view this 2013 tweet on Twitter.
Click image to view this 2013 tweet on Twitter.

Click here to see a top 10 list of Trump’s climate denying tweets and here to see climate deniers in the Trump administration.

Thankfully we still have Bernie Sanders in the U.S. Senate.

— Steve Patterson

 

Sunday Poll: Is ‘Climate Change’ a Hoax?

January 22, 2017 Environment, Featured, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Is ‘Climate Change’ a Hoax?
Please vote below
Please vote below

Last week scientists announced 2016 was the warmest year on record:

Marking another milestone for a changing planet, scientists reported on Wednesday that the Earth reached its highest temperature on record in 2016, trouncing a record set only a year earlier, which beat one set in 2014. It is the first time in the modern era of global warming data that temperatures have blown past the previous record three years in a row. (New York Times)

Not everyone is convinced — some call global warming/climate change a “hoax”. We’re either risking irreversible change or wasting time & money on a non-issue.

Today’s poll seeks to find out where readers are on this debate.

The poll will close at 6pm.

— Steve Patterson

 

Design Issues With Well-Intentioned Monarch Butterfly Garden

In the news lately has been Alice Hezel’s front yard in Maplewood:

Woman defends native plants in her yard; city says clean it up

She and the City of Maplewood are in opposite corners on the issue of her garden. I see both sides. Yes, the Monarch butterfly is critical — we need them pollenating. Like most things, there’s a right way and a wrong way. First, the results from the non-scientific Sunday Poll:

Q: Finish this statement: Monarch Butterfly Gardens in residential neighborhoods…

  1. …are ok if it’s not allowed to grow wild 9 [24.32%]
  2. TIE 8 [21.62%]
    1. …are more important than local “weed” laws
    2. …are a wonderful change from boring lawns
  3. TIE 5 [13.51%]
    1. …are great if the yard is large enough to have shorter natives around tall milkweed
    2. Other:
      1. Fine if they are kept out of the PROW
      2. Are maintained and in the backyard.
      3. should be encouraged, and perhaps rewarded.
      4. shorter natives plus annual flowers like zinnias, which monarchs love
      5. Irrelevant and belong in rural areas
  4. …are a nuisance 2 [5.41%]

Like many of you, I’m bored with manicured lawns — I much prefer a front-yard garden that produces fruits &/or vegetables or provides habitat for birds, butterflies, etc. Ferguson

However, as I’ve experienced with previous yards, getting the non-lawn garden to look like a planned & cared-for outcome is very tough.

The controversial butterfly garden on Cambridge Ave on August 13th
The controversial butterfly garden on Cambridge Ave on August 13th

Though I’d admire Hezel for her effort to create an environment for the Monarch butterfly, she’s ignored some basic rules of good garden design.

There's no physical barrier between the neighbors lawn and her garden. This makes it impossible to keep the grass out.
There’s no physical barrier between the neighbors lawn and her garden. This makes it impossible to keep the grass out.

The tall plant is milkweed — a must for the Monarch butterfly. There are numerous varieties of milkweed, some aren’t as tall as the common variety. I don’t know the variety she has but my guess is it’s the tallest, not the shortest. There are tall ornamental grasses that look great when contrasted with shorter plants — but you wouldn’t fill your entire yard with pampas grass, for example.

The massing of the plants just doesn’t work. I tried to find examples of good butterfly gardens with milkweed but I had no luck. They must exist, but the people I contacted were unable to point me to any. There are great gardens with natives, but not specific Monarch butterfly gardens.

I think Hezel needs to start over, creating a barrier to the North to keep grass our of her garden. Donate the tall milkweed, and get shorter varieties.

Further reading on Monarch butterfly gardens:

— Steve Patterson

 

 

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