Complete Streets Are a Bargain

Posted Wednesday, 15 April 2015 by Brian
Categories: uncategorized

Brian:

A great look at the benefits of approaching street design from a “complete streets” perspective.

Originally posted on The Dirt:

normal Uptown Normal Circle / Pinterest

Normal, Illinois, doesn’t sound like a typical spring break destination—but for me, it was the perfect getaway. Along with fellow urban planning students from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, I visited Normal in March 2010. We started our day with a walking tour of Uptown Normal and ended it by biking to its neighbor, Bloomington, via the Constitution Trail. The highlight of the tour was the town traffic circle (yes, a traffic circle!) called Uptown Circle, designed by Hoerr Schaudt Landscape Architects, which is a gathering place that captures and filters stormwater and simplifies a complicated intersection. On a sunny afternoon in 2010, it was easy to see why it’s the heart of the district.

Normal invested more than $90 million in this neighborhood, spending about half of its investment ($47 million) on a Complete Streets approach that considers all users—people traveling by…

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Green Infrastructure Helps Communities Become “Climate Smart”

Posted Wednesday, 4 February 2015 by Brian
Categories: uncategorized

Brian:

In most of the things I have seen lately about green infrastructure, most of the emphasis has been on either stormwater management or shoreline resilience. Now, these are important, and I don’t want to minimize these issues, but the video and post below also point how how other aspects of green infrastructure can help make cities resilient to other aspects of climate change. Check it out!

Originally posted on The Dirt:

At the New Partners for Smart Growth conference in Baltimore, a panel of experts called for using green infrastructure to make communities “climate smart,” which can boost their resilience to natural disasters.

According to Breece Robertson, the Trust for Public Land’s geographic information systems (GIS) director, climate-smart cities use green infrastructure in four ways (see a brief video above). They create “safe, interconnected opportunities to walk or bike; cool down the city by planting trees and creating parks; absorb stormwater to save energy and recharge aquifers; and protect cities through green shorelines.”

In a pilot study with New York City government, Columbia University, and Drexel University on how to use green infrastructure to protect New York City’s waterfront, the team created a GIS data tool to model priorities. According to Robertson, the models found that “green buffers really do improve resilience.”

Pete Wiley, an economist with the NOAA’s office for…

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Love your Wetlands: World Wetlands Day!

Posted Wednesday, 4 February 2015 by Brian
Categories: uncategorized

Brian:

I’m a couple of days late sharing this, but this is a great reminder on the importance of wetlands. Happy (Belated) World Wetlands Day!

Originally posted on The Essential Current:

World Wetlands Day banner

World Wetlands Day is celebrated internationally each year on this day marking the anniversary of the signing of the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Convention) in Ramsar, Iran, on the 2nd of February 1971.

Ramsar global map Ramsar, Iran

World Wetlands Day is often celebrated by taking action to raise public awareness of wetland values and benefits. Government agencies, non-government organisations and community groups alike use World Wetlands Day for promoting the conservation and wise use of wetlands.

The Ramsar Convention, is an intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for national action and international co-operation for the conservation of wetlands. The Ramsar Convention was initially made to promote efforts toward the conservation of Waterfowl habitat, however it was soon broadened to encompass the protecting the fundamental ecological functions of wetlands and their economic, cultural, scientific, and recreational value.

There are currently 2,186 Ramsar sites in the world, with a surface total…

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2014 Midterm Elections, Get Out The Vote!

Posted Tuesday, 28 October 2014 by Brian
Categories: environment, politics, sustainability

Brian:

If it’s not one thing, it’s another keeping me from sitting down and really ramping up this blogging thing. However, this was too important to pass up at least a quick reblog.

Environmental and sustainability issues are in many ways inherently political. While there is a lot that all of us can do to move things in the right direction, making sure we are represented by people who understand the need to debate the options and take action is vital. (Yes, I know many of us think that the whole system here in the USA is broken to at least some degree, but that’s a post for another day. Maybe.) I have seen a meme floating around that I think summarizes my thoughts on voting fairly succinctly: “Not voting is not a statement; it is surrender.” (I might not have that exactly right, but it’s close. If I can find an attribution for this, I’ll update this post with the information.) I’m preparing to vote, are you?

Originally posted on WordPress.com News:

i-voted-sticker

Since 2004, WordPress has set out with an ambitious goal in mind — to democratize publishing and put state-of-the-art tools in front of publishers both large and small across the planet. We believe strongly in this vision because when more people have access to powerful tools on the web, that in-turn empowers them to do great things and publish amazing content. We feel the same way when it comes to democratizing, well, democracy — and in just a few weeks, citizens across the United States will have a unique opportunity to flex their political muscle and vote in the 2014 Midterm Elections.

For our part, we want to provide our US-based users a set of resources to help them make a smart, informed decision when it comes to who they will vote for. We also want to provide a toolkit so that they can get more information on where to…

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To Blog, Really!

Posted Thursday, 9 October 2014 by Brian
Categories: blogging

Tags: ,

Except for one quick reblog earlier today, I haven’t been doing the blogging I have been hoping to do. I can only really plead some minor health issues, which have left me a bit tired and distracted and hence not blogging. I really am going to try and do more, though personal distractions will probably minimize that for another couple of weeks. In the mean time, as I get a little time, I might try to update the “About” page and such so as to get things ready to go.

I really do want to do this blogging thing. I apparently just need to do a bit more work to make it happen!

Mapping forgotten places

Posted Thursday, 9 October 2014 by Brian
Categories: uncategorized

Brian:

A good summary of a fantastic program to map unmapped cities. Many of these cities are poor yet growing like crazy as our world continues to urbanize. Up-to-date maps will be key to guiding the development of these cities and ensuring the equitable distribution of services to the public going forward.

Originally posted on Spatial Reserves:

Reported in the Guardian newspaper today are plans to map the world’s forgotten places. As the report discusses a surprisingly large number of the world’s cities in some of the poorest countries are unmapped. While local agencies can muddle along using photocopies or out of date and low resolution aerial images for day to day activities, the problems associated with the lack of accurate and current maps are exacerbated during times of conflict or natural disaster. Without access to reliable digital maps, local emergency response teams and humanitarian agencies often lack the necessary spatial data, such as accurate road network information, that they rely on to provide aid and help reconstruct local communities.

One solution to the problem is the soon to be launched Missing Maps Project, a collaborative project involving among others Médecins Sans Frontières, the American and British Red Cross, the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap. The plan is quite simple – create digital maps for…

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ASLA Launches New Guide to Green Infrastructure

Posted Thursday, 4 September 2014 by Brian
Categories: uncategorized

Brian:

I was hoping to read this in more depth before sharing it, but there is just so many great resources here I can’t get through it all in a timely manner! So I’ll just put this here in order to help get these resources shared as widely as possible. Enjoy!

Originally posted on The Dirt:

green ASLA 2012 General Design Award of Excellence. A Green Sponge for a Water-Resilient City: Qunli Stormwater Park. Haerbin City, Heilongjiang Province, China. Turenscape and Peking University, Beijing

The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) has launched a new guide to explain the many benefits of “green infrastructure” — designed systems that harness nature to create proven benefits for communities and the environment.

Green infrastructure includes park systems, urban forests, wildlife habitat and corridors, and green roofs and green walls. These infrastructure systems protect communities against flooding or excessive heat, or help to improve air and water quality, which underpin human and environmental health.

The idea that nature is also infrastructure isn’t new, but it’s now more widely understood to be true, according to Nancy Somerville, Hon. ASLA, executive vice president and CEO of ASLA. Researchers are amassing a body of evidence to prove that green infrastructure actually works: these systems…

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