Author Archives: Kirstin
Will Biomimicry Offer a Way Forward, Post-Sandy?By SARAH AMANDOLARE
As neighborhoods devastated by Hurricane Sandy begin drafting plans for reconstruction, some progressive architects and urban planners are arguing that the emerging science of biomimicry offers a way forward. The notion is that the next generation of waterfront designs could draw inspiration from the intricate ways that plants and animals have adapted to their situations over hundreds of millions of years.
Kapok trees, honeycombs and mangroves are just a few of the naturally occurring features or processes that have informed the designs of buildings from Haiti to South Korea to New York City in recent years.
“Nature is a dynamic entity, and we should be trying to design our buildings, our landscape and our cities to recognize that,” said Thomas Knittel, a biomimicry specialist at the prominent Seattle-based architecture firm HOK.
By Steve Atlas
Happy New Year! I hope your holidays were wonderful and special in every way.
Our first “Car Free Journey” column this year will spotlight a popular family vacation spot: Orlando, Florida—home of Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando Resort, SeaWorld Orlando, and much more.
But Orlando offers much more than just Disney World. Today, we will explore two parts of Orlando itself: downtown Orlando, and International Drive, and include links for additional information. You will find out how to use local public transit to visit Disney World. (For detailed information about visiting Walt Disney World and its 4 theme parks, I recommend the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World 2013, published by Wiley and available in local bookstores and from Amazon.com.)
How to Get Here
From Orlando International Airport
Orlando International Airport is served by many airlines, including Southwest. READ MORE
Remembering Sandy Hook and Columbine
by Richard Register
This might seem a stretch but when John Muir said everything in the universe is connected to everything else he was serious. He was speaking of the ecology of natural systems in the broadest sense – and human ecologies too, no doubt. Ecology in both senses has to do with systems with complex chains of causes and effects and networks of cross influence, the patterns through time of which we, all of us living creatures, are a part.
The first chapter in my book “Ecocities” is titled “As we build, so shall we live.” The notion there is that what we make – build in the largest sense – from buildings laid out as cities, the technologies within, the knives, forks, spoons and guns are all built by us and show everyone, especially our impressionable young ones, the character of our society. READ MORE
The graphs tell the story. Start by looking at the dramatic rise in US obesity over a 14-year period:
The problem is especially acute in America, where the combined share of overweight and obese residents is now well over 60 percent, ranking first among 22 nations represented in this graph from the OECD:
Now consider the trend in the rate of diabetes:
One of the nation’s foremost experts in environmental health, Dr. Richard Jackson, has eloquently reminded us of the seriousness of this problem, which he highlights in a documentary series shown on PBS. Now consider the correlation between obesity and diabetes:
An excellent (though unsigned) article in Medscape Education summarizes why this should be a major concern:
Type 2 diabetes is a serious problem, not only in our country but also throughout the world.
Check out the surprises in store for me when I read some about his work, and that of his wife Jody Butterfield.
Surprise number one: Savory was the first person and only person in my reading who I who I have found who says as I have from time to time that we simply have not thought systematically enough to reverse climate change. Savory looks at the problem holistically enough and on a large enough scale to draft the biology of the planet to serve in the battle to reverse – not adapt to or slow down but reverse – global heating. His particular proposal is to draw CO2 back down into the soil from which it has been shunted by human activities into the atmosphere. READ MORE
Ecocity Builders’ Executive Director Kirstin Miller presents on The Ecological City Structure. READ MORE
12 NOON at San Francisco GREENFESTIVAL. Daniel Pinchbeck, Counter-Culture Icon and Richard Register discussed ecocities. Center Stage. Question they explored: “How do we achieve a quantum leap in human consciousness and upgrade to a thrivable planetary culture before everything hits the skids?” More information http://www.greenfestivals.org/ READ MORE
by Richard Register
Maybe you’re itching to take a wide, full swing to drive the shiny steel of a nice heavy pick deep under the asphalt. You too can leverage up a satisfying big slab of that black, gooey hard stuff. I love destroying asphalt and maybe you’d like to join the party. Here’s a “how to.”
Alas it all begins with land ownership. It all ends with redesigning land uses and rebuilding most of what we’ve built to date, so destructive are today’s cities and towns. It’s useful to divide possible projects into three categories: small, medium and truly satisfying. The last one means BIG-which I haven’t seen yet.
Just to give you a sense of proportion: since 1992 I’ve probably depaved one acre with my various friends. Meantime I guess between 100 and 200 acres of my town, Berkeley, Calif., have been paved for parking lots and freeway expansions, more cars and deeper gasoline addiction. READ MORE
Intensive at the Bioneers Conference, San Rafael, CA, hosted by the Buckminster Fuller Institute. Ecocity Builders’ Executive Director Kirstin Miller will present on Ecocity Mapping and the International Ecocity Standards Project – a finalist in the Buckminster Fuller Challenge.