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(Audio) Julian Darley speaks to the Congress for New Urbanism

Global Public Media
Julian Darley’s presentation at the Congress for New Urbanism XIV Conference in Rhode Island depicts some aspects of Relocalization, tailored for an audience of architects and developers. The presentation was very well received by the conference participants, who are important allies in preparing our locales for the coming energy decline.
(8 June 2006)

Preparation for the Future (MORE Thoughts For 30-somethings )

Steve Balogh, Groovy Green
I wrote this article 13 months ago, and while I am proud of the steps that my family has taken over that time, I can see that I still have many goals to accomplish. I am republishing it in its original form, with an update, and a few more “thoughts for 30-somethings.”

Well, I have been digesting The Long Emergency, by James Howard Kunstler. It is a bleak vision of the future of America, with declining oil supplies. I, like the author, would not live to see many of the changes that he describes in his idea of the future, but I do believe that there are many things that people in our generation could do to prepare to face any eventual hardship. I will lay out what I plan to do personally to get myself, my finances, my family and my home more self sustaining, and ready for whatever may come our way.
(7 June 2006)
Groovy Green blog has evolved into a fully fledged “green magazine, bringing you in-depth articles, interviews, and video posts on sustainable living, new products, community leaders, and people like you – trying to reduce your impact and increase your self sufficiency.” -AF

A Visit to the Eden Project … Wow.

Rob Hopkins, Transition Culture
Last week I took my family to the Eden Project in Cornwall. I went fully expecting to be underwhelmed, and I have to say it completely blew me away. What a stunning thing. From the first sight of the place, everything was done so well and so thoughtfully, and was of such a scale, that it couldn’t fail to take away even the most cynical skeptic’s breath.
(8 June 2006)
Rob’s going to post five more articles about the Eden Project. The Eden Project is a Millenium project demonstration site for sustainable living. It “communicates its story in a ‘Living Theatre of Plants and People’ based in a large crater in which nestle two vast greenhouses (Biomes)” -AF

Sustainable Architecture Can Help Reduce Carbon Dioxide Emissions

Roger K. Lewis, Washington Post
…Carbon dioxide was also the focus of a presentation at last month’s conference, “The Architecture of Sustainability,” sponsored by the American Institute of Architects national committees on design and on the environment.

Addressing the conferees packed into the Corcoran Gallery of Art auditorium, New Mexico architect Edward Mazria delivered a sobering, persuasive opening presentation about carbon dioxide and global warming. He also delivered a daunting challenge to architects: Design all new buildings, whatever the type, to use half the fossil fuel energy used now by buildings of that type.

By the year 2030, the goal is for new buildings to be “carbon-neutral” and use no energy from fossil fuels that produce greenhouse gases. This means that less than 25 years from now, ideally no oil, coal or natural gas would be burned to build, heat, cool and light new buildings.

The 2030 challenge (see ) is predicated on the fact that buildings and the construction industry account for about half the energy consumed in the United States. Thus Mazria contends that architects, responsible for designs of a substantial portion of new projects as well as renovation of existing buildings, could contribute significantly to reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

Innovations could include configuring buildings to be heated, cooled, ventilated and lighted more efficiently; specifying green and recycled construction materials; buying renewable energy while harnessing solar, wind, geothermal and biomass energy; and exploiting available and emerging energy technologies.
(10 June 2006)
Related from Grist: Why is green building still so hard?.

Could the battle for South Central Farm be coming to a close?

Jason Mark, Grist magazine
…The gardeners and the activists supporting them say that preserving the farm is essential — not only for the health of L.A.’s most neglected communities, but also to set a precedent for other cities. If the country’s second-largest city permits the scrapping of the country’s biggest urban garden, they say, it will derail the efforts of activists working for green space elsewhere. The fate of the South Central Farm, its protectors say, is an important test of whether the country is committed to fostering more sustainable and self-sufficient cities.

It’s also a test of how the future might look. Sam Sanchez, a 23-year-old aspiring attorney, has tended a plot on the farm for less than a year, but says it has already changed how he thinks about food and the environment. “When people know where their food comes from, they respect it more,” he said. “Kids who come to this farm have never seen food that’s not in plastic. When people come to my plot, I show them my potato plants, and they’re surprised, because they’ve never seen a potato plant before.”

Like many others who have become passionate about this urban oasis, Sanchez believes the only way to protect it is to keep fighting. “We have to send a message to our politicians that they have to stop looking at green space as unused land until it’s a shopping corridor,” he says. “If this thing goes, it’s going to set a precedent around the nation. Because every city has a ghetto where people don’t know what a potato plant looks like.”
(9 June 2006)
Related: Hollywood Stars Shine Down on Protest to Preserve an Urban Farm (NY Times).

Hewlett-Packard cuts back on telecommuting

Nicole C. Wong, San Jose Mercury News
Hewlett-Packard, the Silicon Valley company known for pioneering flexible work arrangements four decades ago, is canceling telecommuting for a key division of the company.

While other companies nationwide are pushing more employees to work from home to cut office costs, HP believes bringing its information-technology employees together in the office will make them swifter and smarter.

The decision shocked HP employees and surprised human resource management experts, who believe telecommuting is still a growing trend.

…Flexible work arrangements began at HP in 1967 as a core part of the company’s widely respected management philosophy. In the book “The HP Way: How Bill Hewlett and I Built Our Company,” HP co-founder David Packard wrote: “To my mind, flextime is the essence of respect for and trust in people. It says that we both appreciate that our people have busy personal lives and that we trust them to devise, with their supervisor and work group, a schedule that is personally convenient yet fair to others.”

Sun Microsystems, an HP competitor, now allows about 17,000 employees to work from home, including 83 percent of its IT staff. And an April survey by the Society for Human Resource Management shows the number of employers now offering telecommuting as an option to combat surging gas prices climbed 50 percent compared with eight months earlier.

Working from home also has been catching on over the past five years as technologies — such as high-speed and wireless Internet access — have made it easier for colleagues located anywhere to collaborate.

But one of HP’s former IT managers, who left the company in October, said a few employees abused the flexible work arrangements and could be heard washing dishes or admitted to driving a tractor during conference calls about project updates. The former manager, who declined to be identified because he still has ties with HP, said telecommuting morphed from a strategic tool used to keep exceptional talent into a right that employees claimed.
(3 June 2006)
A step backward by a giant corporation which historically had been in the forefront of progressive personnel policies. -BA

The Lure of the 100-Mile Diet

Margon Roosevelt, TIME Magazine
If you live in the town of Athens in southeastern Ohio, there are politically correct reasons not to eat a California strawberry. Think of the pollution and the global warming caused by its transport. Think of the ascendancy of corporate agribusiness over family farms. Think of the loss of nutrients during a weeklong journey from soil to supermarket. But to Barbara Fisher, an Athens cooking teacher, there’s a more primal motive for choosing a homegrown variety over the “beautiful, flavorless, plastic” kind shipped from California: “When people bite into ripe strawberries from a local farmer and the sweet juice bursts into their mouths, their eyes roll back into their heads, and they moan.”

Fisher is one of more than 1,000 “locavores,” self-styled concerned culinary adventurers, who took the pledge last month to eat nothing–or almost nothing–but sustenance drawn from within 100 miles of their home. The movement began last year when four San Francisco– area foodies designated August 2005 as the first Eat Local Challenge and launched a website, They were inspired by the book Coming Home to Eat, ecologist Gary Paul Nabham’s account of his yearlong effort to restrict himself to native foods near his Arizona home. Soon some 60 bloggers had joined the 100-mile diet, inaugurating their own website, This year they upped the ante, moving the test to the less bounteous month of May. “With gas prices spiking, people are concerned about our dependence on petroleum,” says Locavores co-founder Jessica Prentice. “Why import apples from New Zealand when we can grow them nearby?”
(4 June 2006)
Related: The 100-mile Convergence – has many links.

Gathering Highlights Power of the Blog

Adam Nagourney, NY Times via Common Dreams
LAS VEGAS – If any more proof were needed of the rising influence of bloggers — at least for the Democratic Party — it could be found here on Friday on the Las Vegas Strip, where the old and new worlds of American politics engaged in a slightly awkward if mostly entertaining clash of a meeting.

There were the bloggers — nearly a thousand of them, many of them familiar names by now — emerging from the shadows of their computers for a three-day blur of workshops, panels and speeches about politics, the power of the Internet and the shortcomings of the Washington media. And right behind them was a parade of prospective Democratic presidential candidates and party leaders, their presence a tribute to just how much the often rowdy voices of the Web have been absorbed into the very political process they frequently disdain, much to the amazement, and perhaps discomfort, of some of the bloggers themselves.

“I see you guys as agents of advocacy — that’s why I’m here,” said Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico, a Democrat and a prospective 2008 presidential candidate, who flew here at the last minute to attend the YearlyKos 2006 Convention. Bloggers, Mr. Richardson said later, “are a major voice in American politics.”

They may think of themselves as rebels, separate from mainstream politics and media. But by the end of a day on which the convention halls were shoulder to shoulder with bloggers, Democratic operatives, candidates and Washington reporters, it seemed that bloggers were well on the way to becoming — dare we say it? — part of the American political establishment.
(10 June 2006)
The blogosphere has been a key way in which the Peak Oil story has been able to bypass the embargo by mainstream media. -BA