On Tiny Houses: The Untold Story

Where has our good old fashioned American dream gone? Are tiny houses really a good idea? Do we really need to be told that living in a closet makes no long term sense? Finally, a little reality peppers the tiny house movement conversation.

What are your thoughts about the movement? Does it serve growing families well? Where are the large families going to live?

Fortunately, tiny houses might be filling a small real estate demand niche. If this is so, bring it. They are more affordable and probably the only choice for many segments of the community. But let’s not romanticize them to the point of forgetting our needs for space, from our own personal space, to space that demands to be filled with the laughter of our extended families and communities.


Rosemary District

If broken windows are a sign of more neighborhood deterioration and crime to come, does the opposite hold true for clean-up campaigns? This is a heart-warming story of a neighborhood in flux and new neighbors with the heart to do something about it.




How to rekindle the forgotten art of Play

What play can teach us about our children and ourselves.

What is play? Is it something that we learn, is it taught? What role does urban design have on our propensity for playing? This article holds some clues and helps us get back in touch with play. Through play, we also come back to ourselves.

via Play Hints At Who We Are — Laura Grace Weldon

Lead in Ohio Villages’ Water Went Uncurbed for Months, State Says – The New York Times

Ohio’s Environmental Protection Agency said Tuesday that even after some corrective action had been taken, tests showed that water from many faucets and drinking fountains in public schools in Sebring still showed measurable levels of lead.

Source: Lead in Ohio Villages’ Water Went Uncurbed for Months, State Says – The New York Times

More on the High Cost of Infrastructure | Planetizen

Economists really need to become an integral part of the comprehensive planning process. America’s infrastructure is crumbling. And there are fewer dollars to replace it all, all the while cities continue to expand their borders, annex lands, build ring roads and highways, widen roads, ad infinitum. The salary of an economist will be a drop in the bucket compared to the cost of implementing pie-in-the-sky comprehensive plans. Business owners, property owners, community stakeholders will need to shore up their resources and contribute to the maintenance and funding of new roads and bridges as their home cities grow.

Shore Parkway bikeway / greenway crumbles into Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, NY
Shore Parkway bikeway / greenway crumbles into Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, NY

A recent editorial in Atlantic Cities laments the regulations and policies that have, according to the author, driven up the costs of infrastructure investments in the United States.

Scott Beyer launches his investigation into the high costs of infrastructure with an acknowledgement of the difficult partisanship that has crippled infrastructure development in recent decades. Beyer’s insight into the gridlock: the political discord comes down to a question of how to operate the infrastructure once it’s been delivered.

The crux of Beyer’s examination is a list of policies, imposed by the federal government and, according to Beyer, strengthened by the Obama Administration. The list includes Davis-Bacon Laws, environmental reviews, and project labor agreements. After detailing the items on the list, Beyer poses the question of whether the secondary policy goals of employment and unionization should come at the expense of building or maintaining infrastructure. 

via More on the High Cost of Infrastructure | Planetizen: The Urban Planning, Design, and Development Network.

A jewel of the city: Aziza Chaouni on restoring the Fez River

TED Blog

Blog_FF_AzizaChaouniThe Fez River winds through the city’s medina — Fez’s historic medieval center and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Heavily contaminated, almost an open sewer, it was covered over with concrete to contain the smell; it was all but forgotten in recent decades. For much of the past 20 years, architect and engineer Aziza Chaouni has been battling to restore it. Working with the city’s water department since 2007, she’s now restoring and reconnecting the riverbanks with the rest of the city, while creating open, green public spaces, allowing the medina to breathe again. At TED2014, we asked her to tell the story of this extraordinary task.

How did you begin the task of uncovering the Fez River?

The whole story actually started as my thesis at Harvard. My thesis advisor told me to do something “that you feel passionate about and that could make a difference.” For years, I’d seen the river in my hometown being desecrated, polluted…

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An Inside Out portrait that delivers a message to drone operators

TED Blog

jr_kpk_fullThis portrait of a girl tells a story larger than the massive piece of vinyl it is printed on. Unfurled in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region of Pakistan, “#NotABugSplat” was created by a collection of artists and activists, using TED Prize winner JR’s Inside Out campaign, to send a message to drone operators, who reportedly call their kills “bug splats” because they appear small and grainy on screen. The idea is to “create empathy and introspection amongst drone operators,” explains the project website.

Below, an image JR posted about this Inside Out project via Instagram:

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Monsanto-backed bill to bar state GMO labeling laws

April 5, 2014


Rep. Mike Pompeo will introduce legislation backed by powerful trade groups to prevent states from passing laws requiring the labeling of genetically-modified foods, according to reports. The bill is linked to biotech giant Monsanto and Koch Industries.

Pompeo will offer the bill in the US House before Congress leaves for Easter recess later this month, The Hill newspaper reported, citing industry sources. Politico also reported on the impending proposal. Pompeo’s office would not comment on the congressman’s intentions for a labeling restriction.

The bill includes a “prohibition against mandatory labeling,” according to The Hill, echoing powerful interest groups that have already declared war against such “right to know” labeling laws around the nation.

It was revealed in recent months that powerful farming and biotechnology interest groups like Monsanto were joining forces – under the name ‘Coalition for Safe Affordable Food‘ – to push a federal voluntary labeling standard for food made with genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) in an effort to stem the tide of state legislation seeking to mandate labeling.

In recent years, voters in states such as California and Washington have narrowly defeated ballot initiatives proposing mandatory GMO labeling, though not without dragging members of the new Coalition into expensive campaigns to defeat the measures. Many other states are now considering their own proposals to label GMO food.

to read more: rt.com

Study found “the more fruit and vegetables they ate, the less likely they were to die at any age”

April 1, 2014

Alex Cukan


Many countries recommend citizens “strive for five” servings of fruit and vegetables a day, but a study found people should be eating seven servings of produce a day — if not more.

The study, published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, found fresh vegetables had the strongest protective effect, with each daily portion reducing overall risk of death by 16 percent — salad contributed to a 13 percent risk reduction per portion, and each portion of fresh fruit was associated with a smaller but still significant 4 percent reduction.

Lead author Dr. Oyinlola Oyebode, of the University College London’s Department of Epidemiology & Public Health and colleagues, used the Health Survey for England to study the eating habits of 65,226 people representative of the English population from 2001 to 2013. The study found the more fruit and vegetables they ate, the less likely they were to die at any age.

The study also found eating seven or more portions of fruit and vegetables a day reduces your risk of death at any point in time by 42 percent, compared to eating less than one portion.

Eating seven or more portions reduced the specific risks of death by cancer by 25 percent, and reduced the risk of death from heart disease by 31 percent.

“We all know that eating fruit and vegetables is healthy, but the size of the effect is staggering,” Oyebode said in a statement. “The clear message here is that the more fruit and vegetables you eat, the less likely you are to die at any age.”

However, the study found no evidence of a significant benefit from fruit juice, and canned and frozen fruit appeared to increase risk of death by 17 percent per portion.

“Most canned fruit contains high sugar levels and cheaper varieties are packed in syrup rather than fruit juice,” Oyebode said. “The negative health impacts of the sugar may well outweigh any benefits. Another possibility is that there are confounding factors that we could not control for, such as poor access to fresh groceries among people who have pre-existing health conditions, hectic lifestyles or who live in deprived areas.”