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

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.

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 While local agencies can muddle along using photocopies or out of date and low resolution aerial images for day to day activities, the problems associated with the lack of accurate and current maps are exacerbated during times of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

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!


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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Keeping Your Cool in a World on Fire

Posted Wednesday, 3 September 2014 by Brian
Categories: uncategorized

While I’m not entirely convinced that the human species is facing complete extinction due to the climate crisis, there is no doubt that our civilization as we know it is going to change. The only question in my mind is will we seize the opportunity to manage that change while we still can, or will we just turn a blind eye to what is coming and let the chips fall where they may. Either way, this appears to be some good advice for keeping our calm as our species seeks to find a path forward. Or, as the famous Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy put it: Don’t Panic!

The Economics of Happiness

This is the first post in our series by the speakers of Voices of Hope in a Time of Crises, a one-day event, which will explore localized solutions to our global problems and launch the International Alliance for Localization. Join the discussion on November 8th at The Cooper Union in New York City.

By Catherine Ingram

Sarah Sherif Saleh AliIt is a sad awareness that is becoming the zeitgeist of our time. It is being spoken in scientific, environmental, spiritual, academic, and even governmental circles. We humans may not make it much longer. The possibility of our species’ demise (along with the demise of many of the higher life forms) now permeates the thinking of thinking people everywhere. Vandana Shiva, renowned eco-activist and physicist, told an audience in Boulder that if the human species continues on its present destructive trajectory, it has no more than 100 years of life on this…

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Do Elevated Cycletracks Solve Problems or Just Create More?

Posted Tuesday, 2 September 2014 by Brian
Categories: cycling, environment, infrastructure, planning, sustainable transportation, transportation

Tags: , , ,

An interesting look at some of the issues around the idea of elevated cycle tracks in urban areas. On one hand, I can see how the vertical separation might enhance safety. On the other hand, riders would be disconnected from the experience and the amenities of the city. As the article notes, there are no easy answers here, and I have a feeling the debate on this topic is only getting started. If you have any thoughts on this, let me know in the comments.


SkyCycle London’s proposed SkyCycle, from starchitect Lord Norman Foster / Foster + Partners

This year, two designs – one proposed and one built – for elevated cycletracks, which create bicycle highways above street level, have gained considerable media attention. They highlight questions at the heart of urban design: Should cities blend or separate transportation options? How can cities best mitigate the hazards created when cars, bikes, mass transit, and pedestrians mix? How can cities create low-cost transportation networks in increasingly dense urban cores?

In January, Exterior Architects and Foster + Partners unveiled their design proposal for the London SkyCycle, a 220 km (136 mile) network of elevated cycletracks following existing rail services with over 200 entry points (see image above). The design team claims that each route will be able to “accommodate 12,000 cyclists per hour and will improve journey times by up to 29 minutes.”

This vision even extends…

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Playas and Wetlands of the Southern Ogallala Aquifer Data Released

Posted Monday, 1 September 2014 by Brian
Categories: environment

Tags: , , ,

I haven’t had a chance to explore this myself, but it looks like it might be a good data resource for those working in this region. Check it out!

Spatial Reserves

A new web resource from Texas Tech University of playas and wetlands for the southern High Plains region of Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico offers a wide variety of spatial data on this key resource and region.  The playa and wetlands GIS data are available for download here, including shapefile, geodatabase, and layer package formats.   The data include 64,726 wetland features, of which 21,893 are identified as playas and another 14,455 as unclassified wetlands; in other words, they appear to be a playa but have no evidence of a hydric soil.   The remaining features include impoundments, riparian features lakes, and other wetlands.

As we discuss in our book, (1) Many spatial data depositories seem to have been created without the GIS user in mind. Not this one.  Careful attention has been paid to the data analyst.  That’s good news!  (2)  Resources such as this don’t appear without…

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To Blog or Not to Blog…

Posted Monday, 1 September 2014 by Brian
Categories: uncategorized

Tags: , , ,

Wow, this thing is still here? I haven’t posted anything here in a long time; I’m a bit surprised that WordPress didn’t just delete it! Well, maybe that’s a good thing, as I’m thinking of giving this blogging thing a try again.

There is so much going on out there regarding climate change and the environment and urbanism, and there are moments when I think I might have something to say about it all. The challenge, as always, is finding time and energy to sit down and actually do it. My life has changed tremendously in the past few years, so the challenge is greater now than ever. But maybe if I start out small, just posting or reblogging interesting things once or twice per week, I can transition into it.

Anyway, thanks for reading. Hopefully there will be more here soon!