Agriburbia–are we already there?

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This Utne Reader article describes what may be a subdivision trend–designing residential neighborhods integral to farms.

New developments in Chicago, Atlanta, and Colorado are moving beyond community gardens and contracting with farmers to run and manage the farm next door. And as the article points out, there is the potential for conflict, “pesticide drift,” etc. This is why we zoned in the first place, to separate percieved noxious uses, and even though these residents will be a self-selected group ready to get their hands dirty, fresh tomatos are one thing, manure is quite another. When you look at the websites, there is a definite “people like us” vibe that makes you wonder if agriburbia is the green equivalent of a gated community.

But … Continue reading

EPA: “Do what I say, not what I do.”

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A couple years ago, the EPA published a very concise, well-conceived, and practical guide for municipalities to turn smart-growth principles into regulations. Titled “Essential Smart Growth Fixes for Urban and Suburban Zoning Codes“,the publication outlines 11 “fixes”:

Allow or Require Mixed-Use Zones Use Urban Dimensions in Urban Places Rein in and Reform the Use of Planned Unit Developments Fix Parking Requirements [more on this in an upcoming blog] Increase Density and Intensity in Centers Modernize Street Standards Enact Standards to Foster Walkable Places Designate and Support Preferred Growth Areas and Development Sites Use Green Infrastructure to Manage Stormwater Adopt Smart Annexation Policies Encourage Appropriate Development Densities on The Edge

Of course, as partners with HUD and DOT in the … Continue reading

Deco Bikes

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Bike sharing is a natural for Miami Beach. Yup, even in a place where Lamborghinis jostle with Bentleys in the public parking lots, a bike is cool.

The island is flat, warm, laid out in a gridded street pattern, and partially ringed with off-road bike routes that pass by a marina, Government Cut, South Pointe Park, and the beach. If you live and work on the Beach, a $15.00 monthly Deco Bikes membership gets you unlimited access. If you’re a tourist, just swipe your credit card, choose a bike, and pedal off.

The docking stations are located all over the island, and I wonder if there will be an obvious pattern of use. In Montreal, Bixi bikes all go downhill … Continue reading

Oh Hi, Ohio

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Last week, I had the opportunity to spend a full day in Cleveland, Ohio. And I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised. As it turns out, Cleveland is a pretty nice place.

I’d only ever passed through Cleveland on Amtrak’s Capitol Limited in the middle of the night. So I was unsure of what to expect, but my perceptions certainly focused on Cleveland as a rust belt city with some pretty serious environmental problems.

What I found was a city (and a region) facing a severe economic crisis, but one whose downtown and core neighborhoods cling to vibrancy. I was impressed with the urban form of Downtown, a district which has seen better days, but whose architecture … Continue reading

A Sustainable Decision in Twinbrook

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guest post by Kristin O’Connor

Now If We Can Get the Brook Back in Twinbrook

Ah, the environmental benefits of reusing a building—a very large building with tons of existing steel and concrete. Built in the early 1970s, the 18-story Parklawn building is the tallest, most prominent in Twinbrook. Formerly, it housed the Food and Drug Administration before it consolidated employees in White Oak. Since then, much of the building has been vacant.

The cost savings of building materials and energy make this a good sustainable decision. Additionally, the building’s proximity to the Red Line Metro station and the WMATA/JBG’s Twinbrook Station development, makes re-using the 1.3 million square foot building a good financial and sustainable option for any … Continue reading

Farming Montgomery

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The recent U.S. Census shows that the average age of farmers is rising across the country as well as in Montgomery County. The EPA notes, “As the U.S. farm population has dwindled, the average age of farmers continues to rise. In fact, about forty percent of the farmers in this country are 55 years old or older (Bureau of Labor Statistics). The graying of the farm population has led to concerns about the long-term health of family farms as an American institution.”

But as other groups and media have observed, change may be afoot. The New York Times has tagged the increase in young hipster farmers in Oregon as a trend. And they find that young farmers across the … Continue reading

D.C. Environmental Film Festival Features Urbanism and Architecture

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This year’s film festival takes a broad view of the enivronment, covering not only the natural environment, but the built environment as well.

Films on Samuel Mockbee’s Rural Studio, the green contextual architecture of Rick Joy and Kieran Timberlake, and the impact of car-based development on the city of Istanbul explore individual and collective design decisions–some more considered than others.

Also, someone has finally made a film about my favorite historian of all time–Vincent Scully. He is certainly a great lecturer whose words, images, and ideas create an inspiring flow in his audience. His sense of humor is charming; he apologized to an audience of architects for showing a picture in which his wife had marched into the frame and posed–this kind … Continue reading

Bethesda Green Eats, Follow-Up

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Bethesda Green’s TEDx meet-up on Changing the Way We Eat drew local farmers and food innovators. You can read Bethesda Green’s report here and watch the speakers as well.

Bethesda Green, TEDx, and Your Dinner

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Bethesda Green sponsored a TEDx meet up this past Saturday on “Changing the Way We Eat,” and although the speakers were based in New York, the local viewers took time to introduce themselves and their efforts in local food and to discuss the potential for local food in Montgomery County.

 

So after Laurie David talked about the importance of family dinner and Carolyn Steele’s TED talk about How Food Shapes our Cities, we heard from Mike Kennedy, a board member of the innovative model Fox Haven Farm, from Kristina Bostick who works with Montgomery Countryside Alliance to make the County’s Agricultural Reserve into a food porducing resource, and Greg Glenn of Rocklands Farm, which is starting out with … Continue reading

Keep on Truckin’–Just Do it Somewhere Else

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Nordin Grabsi, who has been trying to run the Ali Baba Felafel truck at the Bethesda Farm Women’s Market, may finally have to shut down his popular stand. He is unable to meet County standards for a mobile food truck, but it also seems the County standards don’t recognize the growing and changing food truck business.

As one of the commenters on the Bethesda Patch site wrote, “I hate to see this happen, particularly since food carts are becoming more popular and interesting…”.

And this is not just a problem for Ali Baba, other food carts have also moved or shut down, just when things are getting interesting. And as well as possibly outdated regulations, there also seem to … Continue reading