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Guest Post: Scott Whipple

Montgomery County residents of a certain age will recall when the Colesville Road J.C. Penney’s was a back-to-school shopping ritual. Its Art Deco façade, neon signage, and brightly illuminated windows attracted shoppers from across the region. Combined with Hecht’s and Jelleff’s, it contributed to the vibrancy that made Silver Spring Maryland’s second largest shopping destination.

In 1985, the Planning Board recognized the store’s architectural and historical significance, listing it in the Locational Atlas and Index of Historic Sites as part of a historic district in Silver Spring’s Central Business District. But the Locational Atlas provides limited protection for identified resources.  Subsequently, the building’s owners were allowed to demolish the rear of the store but were … Continue reading

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Every three years, curators at the Cooper-Hewitt (The National Design Museum, the only Smithsonian Museum outside Washington, and the only one you have to pay to visit) gather what designers around the world are pursuing.

This year, much of the work has to do with sustainability. The way the curators sorted it all reminded me of our own Rethink Speakers Series, organized around topics.

The exhibition addresses Energy, Mobility, Community, Materials, Prosperity, Health, Communication, and Simplicity, similar to our own principles of planning sustainability. The products and projects range from high tech efforts like a solar-powered cargo ship to a rattan bike trailer for Indian housewives.

Planners will be interested in the Community projects, ranging from Medellin, Colombia, where the … Continue reading

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To see why biking is N.I.C.E. click here.  Hopefully, we can soon tap into the regional bike-sharing network that is starting in DC and Arlington.

And if you ever get around to hoping on a bike, maybe you’ll be lucky enough to perch on one of Kara Ginther‘s seats.  Ah, the joys of synchronicity:  art meets bike news in my inbox.

Sometimes being vegan is no fun…….maybe I can custom order one in pleather.

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For all those cyclists that find the ‘burbs an unfriendly place to bike, you can take comfort that it’s not as bad as it could be. A friend sent this to me under the facetious heading “Finally, a town who’s planning decisions I can get behind,” and it’s just too precious not to share.

It seems the town of Black Hawk, Colorado has thought it wise to prohibit cycling on all public streets. The city claims that “with all the buses, trucks and cars already trying to crowd the historic town’s narrow streets, the addition of bikes is a hazard.” According to officials, the new law has the full support of the citizenry and the local casinos, which happen … Continue reading

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On a recent trip for my aunt’s wedding, I had a chance to stop by my grandparent’s place in a small town in CT. One of the first things I noticed, being who I am, is that the community open space was either play space or community garden space. My grandmother, of course, has a small plot where she can grow flowers and some veggies and generally keep active in a town where there isn’t much else to do – especially for seniors (or kids, for that matter).  I don’t think we can overstate how important connections to nature and food are and how community gardens, playgrounds, and open space bring people together and promote health, well-being, happiness, etc.  … Continue reading

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The suburbs are often derided for being one-dimensional–row after row of “ticky-tacky.”

Turning a corner reveals no surprise, but sameness to the point of confusion. Isn’t the tired Dad who pulls into the wrong driveway a popular trope of movies, sit-coms, and commericals?

We can’t expect urban richness of the sort described by Alfred Kazin in A Walker in the City. The noise, smells, and general decrepitude would be unacceptable. But the hand of generations  can add layers, paths, and landmarks to a suburban landscape.

In Bethesda, a place more varied than you might imagine, there is some complexity created by the old B&O rail line that is now a segment of the Capital Crescent Trail. You can walk … Continue reading

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Well, so far, so good. We survived that freaky hail storm a few weeks ago and the seedlings are grabbing whatever sun they can. With the invaluable help of our building maintenance crew we’ve worked out a way to water the garden with minimal hose lugging.

At last night’s weeding party we even harvested a few sprigs of basil, grabbed as they were about to flower. We also thinned the beets and swiss chard, and staked up the tomatoes, cukes, and pole beans.


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Three articles in the New York Times caught my eye this weekend. Bill Cunningham cast his stylish eye on the revelers at reinvented Coney Island, the About New York column did a follow-up on trashed clothing found outside H&M and Walmart, and the City Critic wrote about the potential for water taxis in Hudson and East Rivers. 

They all come down to infrastructure and how you use it. Places, things, and ideas that we’ve abandoned often deserve a second look; they can have new value as our own values change. We used to think it was great to have a car and drive everywhere. Now, gassing it up, jockeying for lane space, and trying to park it can be an expensive pain. A fresh … Continue reading