“Do the little things that make a big difference.”

This week, PlanningPool is reporting from the Gaining Ground Summit in Vancouver! Check out the amazing agenda of speakers related to cities and sustainability, and let us know if there are any upcoming events which you would particularly like us to write about.

Jared Blumenfeld, from the US Environmental Protection Agency, started off the Gaining Ground conference lectures with a lively, entertaining, and eye opening talk about  “The Power of Green Cities to Shape the Future.”

Jared Blumenfeld of the EPA, seen here at a ceremony for the San Francisco Bike Coalition's Golden Wheel Awards. Thanks to Sasha Magee on Flickr for the Creative Commons photo!

His comments about the race for greenest city were met with snickers. Although it is a worthwhile race, … Continue Reading

Location, location, location

Reducing the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that cause global warming is on most current political agendas. At 36%, the largest GHG source in British Columbia is transportation. GHG emissions are a product of vehicle miles traveled (VMT); therefore, a reduction in the latter contributes towards GHG reduction goals.

Thanks to Jeff Turner for this great Creative Commons photo of freeway infrastructure outside Los Angeles.

According to Philip Langdon of the New Urban Network, this is a “data problem” because achieving significant VMT reduction requires precise knowledge of vehicle trips and how they are impacted by mass transit, different development patterns and public policy interventions.

Location determines trips; no additional data is required. Langdon’s article cites a goal of 12% VMT reduction which could be accomplished simply … Continue Reading

Flying Recumbent Monorail Bicycles: Project 10 to the 100’s Public Transport Winner Announced

One of the winners announced yesterday for Google’s Project 10 100 contest provides a great example of the “stuck in the future” boondoggles that Jarrett Walker despairs of getting in the way of functional transit innovation.

As ably pointed out by Wired magazine, the Schweeb technology combines the worst and weirdest aspects of of recumbent bicycles, monorails and personal rapid transit, in an unholy, uncomfortable-looking, cost-intensive and doubtlessly stinky union. After winning $1,000,000 in funding from Google, the company website promises to “soon announce the location where we will build the first transit Shweeb for public use!”  Yikes. Check out the video of the world’s first SHWEEB in Rotorua, New Zealand (above) to … Continue Reading

Green to the end

New York's Washington Cemetery. Thanks to Limonada on Flickr for the great Creative Commons photo!

“We have had bribes offered […] but we have nothing to be bribed for. We have no room.”
So said Dominick Tarantino from Washington Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York, one of the first burial places to reach capacity. No new cemeteries have been established for fifty years, so inflated prices of New York real estate continue after death, where residents vie to be buried where they lived.

As cities continue to densify, will this scenario be repeated everywhere? Historically, municipal parks and cemeteries were planned in tandem. The Rural Cemetery Movement played a significant role in North America’s park and landscape architecture history:
Planned as serene and spacious grounds where the combination of nature … Continue Reading

Gaining Ground Conference: The Power of Green Cities to Shape the Future | October 4-7 in Vancouver

Hundreds of urban sustainability practitioners, advocates, researchers and public servants will be meeting in just a few weeks at the 2010 Gaining Ground Conference: EcoLogical: The Power of Green Cities to Shape the Future. Day 1 will focus on Governance and Industry Collaboration; Day 2 is about the Green Economy; Day 3 is about Community Engagement and Social Innovation, with the tag line of “Healing Cities”. There is also a pre-conference day.

Last year’s conference was a provocative, well attended event (read some of last year’s posts from the conference). PlanningPool will cover the conference this year too! Let us know if there are any sessions or speakers that you particularly want to read about! Email us at info (at) planningpool (dot) com

The themes that Gaining Ground/EcoLogical will address this October 4-7 … Continue Reading

Weekly Video(s): Optical Illusions and Home Manufacturing

…Vid 1: Scaring the hell out of drivers so they slow down. Is it a good idea? With limited use, I suppose this could be an effective way to get people to slow down. Then again, the thought of deliberately placing optical illusions on streets seems iffy. Should the approach be overused, drivers might start to assume that real pedestrians are merely eye tricks… just saying. Read more

Building SustainAble Communities Conference: November 2010, Kelowna

More than 100 speakers from tSustainAble Communities Logohe public, private, non-profit and academic sectors will be rabble rousing about sustainable cities this November in Kelowna, BC. Monday, November 15 – Thursday, November 18, 2010. The Building SustainAble Communities Conference is hosted & facilitated by the Fresh Outlook Foundation.

(Disclosure: I’ll be presenting on November 18 on the Reinvigorating Democracy Panel with Carol Suhan, FortisBC PowerSense; Michelle Colussi, Canadian Centre for Community Renewal; and, Richard Walton, District of North Vancouver Mayor.)

Return speakers include Dr. Bill Rees, Dr. Hans Schreier, Mark Holland, Tom Osdoba, and Angus McAllister.

First-time big-namers include:

  • Terry Tamminen: Climate action advisor to California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and BC Premier Gordon Campbell. Author of Lives Per Gallon: The True Cost of Our Energy … Continue Reading

My Car, My Crutch (Editorial)

Increased freedom at the price of decreased romance and artistry? Thanks to Sam Burnett for this evocative Creative Commons photo.

Recently I read an outline for a friend’s thesis on the use of vehicles as a prosthetic component of the human body. Her argument, still in development, is predicated on Rebecca Solnit’s belief that “the car has become a prosthetic… for a conceptually impaired body or a body impaired by the creation of a world that is no longer human in scale” and that walking has become an “indicator species for various kinds of freedom and pleasures”.

My experience with my car merges comfortably with the typical negative statements made about vehicles, such as disassociation with community and the natural world, and increased material consumption. However, … Continue Reading

Sustainable Transport Ideas: Cycling in Amsterdam

The view from the top level of the multi-storey bicycle parking lot near Amsterdam's Central Station. Photo by author.

Amsterdam is one of the most frequently-cited examples of a cycle-friendly city, and I recently had the opportunity to experience it from the perspective of the cyclist, the pedestrian, the automobile passenger, and the transit user. I was not disappointed by the transport network from any perspective, and was most impressed by the infrastructure that allows cycling to be a dominant form of transport in the city. Cyclists are accommodated by a vast network of well-connected bicycle lanes, traffic-calmed streets, and plentiful bicycle parking (though still not enough).

Amsterdam’s canal streets are, for the most part, traffic calmed to allow cyclists easy passage without dedicated cycle lanes. Cycle lanes on other … Continue Reading

Weekly Video: Tiny Houses

Alright, so I’m late on this one — people have apparently been excited about tiny houses for awhile now. Regardless, I’m joining their ranks. As cities of greater urban density make attempts at infill development, such as Vancouver’s laneway housing, these diminutive domiciles might look a little out of place in some areas…

Watch the full episode. See more Need To Know.

Read more…

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