I just spent a long weekend exploring Seattle, Washington where I interviewed people about why they live where they do. It’s one thing to ask a city planner, economic development official, or transportation engineer about what people want in theory, but I prefer to ask ordinary people directly about the choices they’ve actually made. … Continue reading Seattle: Trade Offs, Upsides, Downsides, and Work Arounds
One of the common criticisms leveled at people who promote urban living goes something like this. “Cities are great for college kids, people starting off in their careers, bohemians, and maybe some older empty nesters with money who have a taste for theater and art. But most people have families and tight budgets. Suburbia is … Continue reading Family Friendly Cities
Katie and Dave were new to the neighborhood and wanted to organize a fast, inexpensive, and effective event where they could get to know as many people on their block as possible. They used their home computer to print out flyers announcing a Sunday afternoon pot luck and knocked on all the doors within a … Continue reading Pop Up Pot Luck: Community Building on the Cheap
I recently interviewed Alex Melamed and Andrew Kline of Green Generation Building in Yellow Springs, Ohio Here for an upcoming video story. They design and build highly insulated homes that meet the Passive House standard. A Passive House uses innovative construction techniques to keep itself warm in winter and cool in summer with almost no fuel. The initial cost … Continue reading The Passive House Movement: Super Insulation and Radically lower Energy Bills
Whether it’s an industrial accident that releases toxic chemicals into the water supply as happened in West Virginia in recent memory, or a Katrina or Hurricane Sandy type event, or the jolt of an earthquake in California, people very often find themselves without electricity, running water, natural gas, and many other supplies and services for a … Continue reading Emergency Preparation – Wherever You Live
I recently encountered an article on Apartment Therapy entitled, “What Are You Willing to Compromise for Location?” Here The article went on to list the many common indignities people endure in order to live in a fabulous city: multiple room mates, crazy high rents, satanic landlords, cramped windowless apartments and so on. The photo depicted my neighborhood … Continue reading What Are You Willing to Compromise for Location?
I travel frequently and one of my great laments is the way so many places around the world are focused on modern development at the expense of local heritage. Here’s an example from Beijing. This is a traditional hutong or courtyard house I once lived in. It’s 800 years old and has served as … Continue reading Beijing – Old and New