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Hartford Now Two-Way…Briefly

The other day I was driving westbound on Hartford heading to Grand (map) and I noticed the street changed from being one-way westbound to two-way for a short distance east of Grand.

ABOVE: Hartford looking west toward Grand

This probably changed months ago but I drive so rarely I hadn’t noticed. But why change such a short distance and not the entire street? Most likely the city didn’t want motorists to be able to avoid the light on Grand at Arsenal to go eastbound on Arsenal. You know, use the street grid as designed.   All over the city we’ve destroyed the grid, forcing drivers to use the main roads, not allowing  the use of the grid. Cars sit and idle at long traffic lights that all traffic must flow through. Hopefully someday we will allow the grid to be opened so traffic isn’t concentrated.

 – Steve Patterson


Sustainability Summit Featured Majora Carter

Last month I attended a two day sustainability summit. The keynote speaker was the inspiring Majora Carter from the South Bronx NY.

ABOVE: Majora Carter opens the Sustainability Summit at the Missouri Botanical Gardens

Carter’s TED profile explains why she is important:

Majora Carter is a visionary voice in city planning who views urban renewal through an environmental lens. The South Bronx native draws a direct connection between ecological, economic and social degradation. Hence her motto: “Green the ghetto!”

With her inspired ideas and fierce persistence, Carter managed to bring the South Bronx its first open-waterfront park in 60 years, Hunts Point Riverside Park. Then she scored $1.25 million in federal funds for a greenway along the South Bronx waterfront, bringing the neighborhood open space, pedestrian and bike paths, and space for mixed-use economic development.

Her success is no surprise to anyone who’s seen her speak; Carter’s confidence, energy and intensely emotional delivery make her talks themselves a force of nature. (The release of her TEDTalk in 2006 prompted Guy Kawasaki to wonder on his blog whether she wasn’t “every bit as good as [Apple CEO] Steve Jobs,” a legendary presenter.)

Carter, who was awarded a 2005 MacArthur “genius” grant, served as executive director of Sustainable South Bronx for 7 years, where she pushed both for eco-friendly practices (such as green and cool roofs) and, equally important, job training and green-related economic development for her vibrant neighborhood on the rise. Since leaving SSBx in 2008, Carter has formed the economic consulting and planning firm the Majora Carter Group, to bring her pioneering approach to communities far outside the South Bronx. Carter is working within the cities of New Orleans, Detroit and the small coastal towns of Northeastern North Carolina. The Majora Carter Group is putting the green economy and green economic tools to use, unlocking the potential of every place — from urban cities and rural communities, to universities, government projects, businesses and corporations — and everywhere else in between.

“We could not fail to be inspired by Majora Carter’s efforts to bring green space for exercise to the South Bronx. We need more ideas like these to bring solutions to minority communities.”


Most likely you weren’t at this summit to here her speak. Her presentation was an updated version of her excellent TED presentation, well worth 20 minutes:


Over a decade ago Carter founded Sustainable South Bronx:

Sustainable South Bronx (SSBx) has been championing hope and opportunity for the people of the South Bronx and other urban communities since 2001. Our unique and comprehensive approach delivers integrated economic and environmental solutions, resulting in more prosperous and revitalized communities.

  • We specialize in pairing economic and environmental solutions.
  • We prepare workers for jobs in the growing green collar field while laying the groundwork for healthier urban communities.
  • We inspire the members of our community to improve their economic conditions, and back it up with education and job training.
  • We’re public advocates, determined to provide a strong voice for our neighbors.

We accomplish the following aims through innovative Green Collar Workforce Training, Environmental Education, and Community Greening Initiatives:

  • Attacking rampant un- and under-employment in a community where nearly 30% of the population is unemployed.
  • Creating access to jobs with living wages that offer opportunities for growth.
  • Adding to the growing (local and national) green-collar workforce.
  • Increasing residents’ consciousness of the community’s environmental degradation.
  • Raising local awareness of the benefits of greening the community, and the many opportunities for citizen participation.
  • Remediating environmental threats, through the activities of BEST and BEST for Buildings trainees and FabLab participants.
  • Developing awareness of Environmental Justice issues, so workers and other residents can mobilize to protect and preserve their community.

Carter isn’t anti-development and says she has embraced her “inner capitalist” which has allowed her to bring sustainable projects to the South Bronx. Sustainable from an economic perspective, creating profit for investors and employing members of the community, sustainable from an environmental perspective by using green materials and techniques rather than the status quo. Hopefully we will see some real change in St. Louis.

– Steve Patterson


Service Stations: They Don’t Design Them Like They Used To

I’m continually repulsed by generic gas stations that are commonplace today yet I find those from an earlier time so appealing.

ABOVE: Service station at 5162 Delmar was built in 1938, click image to view in Google Maps

Look at the solid masonry construction, nicely varied. Yes, the building is pushed back on the lot but at least the lot isn’t huge.

With all the cars on the road it would take a ton of these sized stations to meet demand. Still it seems odd that our 1940 population was over 816,000 people and we managed with fewer gas pumps than today with half a million less residents.

 – Steve Patterson


Taste of St. Louis Today Through Sunday, Tours of Peabody Opera

The annual Taste of St. Louis kicks off today and runs through Sunday, from their press release:

The Taste of St. Louis is a celebration of food, art, music, and the culture of the great city of St. Louis. The 2011 Taste will feature celebrity chefs, 45 of St. Louis’ best restaurants along Sauce Magazine’s Restaurant Row, the Chef Battle Royale on the Lumiere Place and River City Casino Culinary stage, The Kids’ Kitchen, free music concerts on the Main Stage, and the Art & Wine Walk.

This year is a bit different because the main stage will be west of 14th — in front of the new Peabody Opera House. I attended the Taste of St. Louis press conference a few days ago at the Peabody. Wow, unbelievably impressive. Hats off to the generations before us that built such a magnificent structure during the Great Depression. It’s amazing what $79 million can do for a building that has been vacant for more than 20 years.

ABOVE: Inside the Peabody Opera House September 2011

The official opening performance at the new Peabody isn’t until October 1st but this weekend you can see inside for free as part of the Taste of St. Louis weekend.

Last year Taste introduced EGS – Event Greening Services:

With a current attendance of more than 300,000, the Taste was the first event in the region to pioneer aggressive, eco-friendly practices in multiple areas of our operations. We’ve received a lot of media attention for our greening efforts, and, with the help of our community, plan to continue to build on these efforts each year.

I thought it worked well last year, even more waste should be recycled this year.

ABOVE: Recycling center at the 2010 Taste of St. Louis

The event is held in the Gateway Mall’s “Civic Room” (aka Soldiers Memorial) at Chestnut & 13th. Thankfully their site doesn’t give driving directions but suggests using Metro. Unfortunately, they only mention MetroLink, not MetroBus.  Everyday in St. Louis more people are transported via MetroBus than MetroLink but everyone acts like it doesn’t matter.  If you live in the region you have public transit options to get downtown for this great event. They might include MetroBus, MetroLink or both. North, south, east or west of downtown there is public transit that will get you to the event.

Some MetroBus options:

  • From North city: 4, 30, 32, 41, 70, 74, 94, 97
  • From North county to downtown: 74; to Hanley MetroLink : 35, 44, 47, 61, 75
  • From West city: 10, 32
  • From West county to MetroLink: 56, 57, 58, 91
  • From South city: 8, 10, 11, 40, 70, 73, 80
  • From South county to downtown: 73 to MetroLink: 17, 21, 46

Many options! For everyone, except those in Madison County, can use Google Maps or Metro’s Trip Planner to determine your route options. Those in Madison county see Madison County Transit for various bus routes to 5th & Missouri MetroLink. Note that some bus lines use Market and/or 14th, they will be rerouted slightly due to Taste, but you will still get closer than if you drove.

Got bike? Bike parking will be at Tucker & Chestnut.

ABOVE: One of the many things I ate last year at the Taste, a veggie sambosa

Have a great weekend — see you at the Taste of St. Louis!

– Steve Patterson


Small, More Fuel Efficient, Vehicles Gaining Popularity

ABOVE: New Fiat 500 on Washington Ave, in front of The London Tea Room

I’ve long been a fan of European cars. I was just 4 when an older brother got a “New Cars for 1971” magazine, for years I’d thumb through the pages skipping over the Mavericks and Novas to reach the foreign section.  There it was, the new Peugeot 504 sedan.   I’ve never had a Peugeot, but I have had 3 Volvos, 2 Saabs, 1 VW and 1 Audi.

I loved each of these European cars even though they weren’t fuel savers, or cheap to operate.  When the Mini Cooper came out nearly a decade ago I test drove one, same for the smart four two, and just recently, the Fiat 500. All cute, stylish and fun.  But the fuel economy just isn’t what you’d expect in such a small package. This will change:

After decades of fighting higher federal gas mileage standards, the big automakers have agreed to new standards that will require a average of 54.5 MPG by 2025.

High gas prices, new energy-efficient technologies and strong sales of small, high-MPG cars this year may have convinced the companies that the new standard — which is being announced today and will affect all vehicles an automaker sells in the Untied States — was both desirable and feasible. Automakers are already on their way toward meeting a 35.5 MPG average for 2016.

One reason Ford, GM and Chrysler may have gone along with the new regulation is that they got a lower standard for their profitable pickup trucks. The cumulative 2025 standard for cars is 60 MPG. But the lower truck requirement brings the overall average down to 54.5. (The White House had originally been pushing for a 62 MPG overall average, but Ford, General Motors and foreign automakers managed successfully lobbied for the lower figure.) (CBS MoneyWatch)

Auto makers already have vehicles and engines that will help them meet the new standards, they just aren’t sold here yet. Not everyone is happy though:

Volkswagen AG didn’t sign the agreement to support the Obama administration’s proposal, the Wolfsburg, Germany-based carmaker said in an e-mailed statement. The “positive impact” of so-called clean diesel, used by the company’s mid-size Passat TDI, which can get 43 mpg on the highway and travel almost 800 miles on a tank of fuel, doesn’t receive consideration in the proposal, Volkswagen said. (Washington Post)

Maybe in 2030 I can buy a used 2025 model of something with great milage? In the meantime I just might buy a lottery ticket now and then so I can get a new Fiat 500.

– Steve Patterson