NYC community gardens may wither under Trump’s proposed budget cuts

April 3, 2017 by  
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President Donald Trump’s proposed budget cuts could mean the kiss of death for New York City’s community gardens . More than 500 of the communal spaces across all five boroughs depend on a program called GreenThumb , which is administered by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation . Initiated in the wake of the 1970s fiscal crisis, which resulted in the widespread abandonment of both private and public land, GreenThumb has turned hundreds of derelict lots into tillage. Most of its funding comes from federal Community Development Block Grants—the same ones the budget blueprint seeks to eliminate. Should the budget pass, GreenThumb risks losing $1 million a year out of a $2.4 million budget, according to WNYC . Related: Detroit nonprofit seeks crowdfunding for new East Side community garden “It would be devastating to GreenThumb, it would mean laying off a dozen workers or more, and it would be less money for supplies, for bulbs, for tools,” said New York City Councilman Mark Levine, who chairs the city’s Parks and Recreation Committee. Levine, WNYC adds, is working on securing more money for community gardens, as well as the restoration of jobs for 150 Parks department gardeners and maintenance workers. Via WNYC Photos by Unsplash

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NYC community gardens may wither under Trump’s proposed budget cuts

New Dutch bicycle bridge doubles as a green roof for a school

April 3, 2017 by  
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Who said bridges can’t be fun? A new bridge in the Dutch city of Utrecht is not only pulling double duty as a pedestrian and bike path, but it also forms a roof garden over a local school that’s surrounded by a green public park. Designed by NEXT Architects , the unique Dafne Schippers Bridge – which will officially open on April 3rd – covers the Amsterdam-Rhine Canal in Utrecht and provides the community with plenty of space to run, bike and play. Working under commission for the city, NEXT Architects collaborated with Rudy Uytenhaak Architectenbureau , Arup and Bureau B+B landscape architects , to create a unique design that focused on the needs of the community. Although typical bridges tend to be solitary, functional structures, the ambitious layout of Dafne Schippers Bridge makes it an integral part of the area’s urban design , complete with smooth cycling and walking lanes, all surrounded by expansive greenery. Related: Lush Green Lilypad Bridge Spins Open to Accomodate Boat Traffic The bridge itself is approximately 360 feet and connects the old part of Utrecht with the new district Leidsche Rijn. From the Utrecht district of Oog in Al, cyclists and pedestrians follow a long bend upwards through Victor Hugo Park. The path leads through the green roof of a local Montessori school. Marijn Schenk, from NEXT architects explains that this cohesive design is meant to create a seamless connection for the community, “In one fluid movement, the cycle route, park, and school are brought together to form a cohesive whole of infrastructure, architecture, and landscape,” + Next Architects

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Historic Missouri church rises from the ashes with an eco-friendly twist

April 3, 2017 by  
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When the 2011 catastrophic fire ravaged the historic Westport Presbyterian Church in Kansas City , much of the church’s structure and finishes were completely destroyed. Fortunately, however, the original limestone facade survived in good condition. Rather than knock down the building and start anew, Kansas City-based design firm BNIM reconstructed the iconic church, from the painstaking restoration of sacred components to the creation of a new addition that features modern and eco-friendly elements. Built in 1905, the 27,000-square-foot multi-story Westport Presbyterian Church is one of the most iconic buildings in Kansas City’s historic Westport community. BNIM and the community came together to rebuild the church and tackle the challenges of preserving original elements while crafting a space that was also dynamic and progressive. Parts of the church considered not sacred were deconstructed and large amounts of salvaged material —from the reclamation of 40,000 feet of pinewood framing material to the reuse of original limestone—were used in reconstruction. The restored and renovated church features a new addition with a 150-seat sanctuary, 40-seat chapel , gathering space, fellowship room, 3,000-square-foot multipurpose room, a 1,000-square-foot street-facing “community room”, administrative offices and office space that will be leased to a Westport area nonprofit. The renovation includes energy saving elements such as LEDs and contemporary stormwater management practices. All stained glass was restored and reinstalled in contemporary mounting. The project won an AIA Kansas Merit Award and an AIA Kansas City Citation Award. Related: Stunning see-through church is made from stacked weathered steel “This is one that put a smile on all our faces,” said an AIA Kansas City jury member. “There was a fire, and it destroyed just about everything on this church except for the stone walls. For the community to come together and rebuild this, and do it in such a thoughtful, elegant, and modern way, was something the jury really applauded.” Another jury member added: “It wasn’t just a restoration, it was a repositioning of the whole church itself. It made for a better building, and we think more connected to the community.” + BNIM Images via BNIM

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Tiny Scottish island powers itself with community-owned off-grid energy system

March 31, 2017 by  
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When you think of the future of electricity in the world, you probably don’t envision a small island off the coast of Scotland leading the way. But the 12-square-mile Scottish island of Eigg has become a shining example of how communities that aren’t connected to larger grids can do it themselves with clean energy . As the BBC reports, Eigg made the revolutionary move in 2008 to shed its noisy diesel-generated power in favor of an off-grid electric system that uses only wind, water and solar power . It was the first community in the world to make this bold move, and what’s more, the clearly self-reliant residents pretty much taught themselves how to build and run the system. Since the diesel generators they previously used only ran for a small part of each day, getting rid of them in favor of clean energy also meant the community had power available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for the first time. The community-owned system, Eigg Electric , keeps energy flowing on a regular basis by integrating three power sources from wind, solar and hydroelectric. A set of four wind turbines feed up to 24 kilowatts into the grid, while a set of solar panels contribute an annual average of 9.5 percent of their rated output of 50 kilowatts. Shoring up the rather unreliable wind and solar power components are three hydroelectric generating stations spread throughout the island. One puts out up to 100 kilowatts, while the others generate 5 to 6 kilowatts each. Related: Australia announces massive $1B solar farm with the world’s largest battery Working together, these three power sources provide 90 to 95 percent of the island’s electricity. Occasionally they have to fire up their two backup generators when the weather doesn’t cooperate, and sometimes they produce more power than they need. In the latter case, the excess power benefits the community by automatically turning on heating systems in shared spaces like the community hall—so everyone benefits. Their system and public ownership model has already reached other communities around the world that a face the same challenge of not being connected to the grid. Community Energy Malawi , a sister organization to Community Energy Scotland , sent representatives to Eigg last year to study the system. They were encouraged by the fact that people with a non-technical background could learn to build and operate a reliable renewable energy system. Via BBC Images via W. L. Tarbert , Wikimedia Commons and isleofeigg , Flickr Creative Commons

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Tiny Scottish island powers itself with community-owned off-grid energy system

Madison, Wisconsin commits to 100% renewable energy

March 23, 2017 by  
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Madison just became the first city in Wisconsin and the largest city in the Midwest to commit to 100 percent clean energy in just the latest example of how President Donald Trump can’t stop the renewables revolution. The state capital and college town is the 25th US city to commit to the transition away from fossil fuels and toward clean, renewable energy following Tuesday’s city council vote. The vote allocated $250,000 to develop a plan by January 18, 2018 for city operations to achieve goals of 100 percent renewable energy and net-zero greenhouse gas emissions across all sectors, including electricity, heating and transportation. “Madison’s historic commitment to 100 percent clean energy shows that we are determined to lead the way in moving beyond fossil fuels that threaten our health and environment,” Madison Common Council Alder Zach Wood said in a statement. “The benefits of a transition to 100 percent clean energy are many. These goals will drive a clean energy economy that creates local jobs, provides affordable and sustainable electricity, and results in cleaner air and water. I am proud to be a part of this council that has made the historic commitment that will lead our community to a more sustainable future.” Related: San Diego to become largest U.S. city to run on 100% renewable energy Abita Springs, Louisiana also voted on Tuesday to transition to 100 percent clean, renewable energy. The Sierra Club said that Madison and Abita Springs both committing to 100 percent clean energy demonstrates that there is bipartisan support across the country for a renewable energy future because liberal Madison voted for Hillary Clinton while conservative voters in Abita Springs went for Donald Trump. “Transitioning to 100 percent renewable energy is a practical decision we’re making for our environment, our economy, and for what our constituents want in Abita Springs,” Greg Lemons, mayor of Abita Springs, said in a statement. “Politics has nothing to do with it for me. Clean energy just makes good economic sense. By establishing a 100 percent renewable energy goal, we have an opportunity to use solar power that we can control in our community, for our community. Clean energy is a way that we can save money for Abita Springs both today and in the future.” Other American cities that have made the 100 percent renewable energy pledge include Burlington, Vermont; Aspen, Colorado; the California cities of San Diego, San Francisco and San Jose; Rochester, Minnesota; St. Petersburg, Florida; Grand Rapids, Michigan; East Hampton, New York; Greensburg, Kansas; and Georgetown, Texas. Via Sierra Club Image 1 , 2 via Good Free Photos

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Incredible video of Mars stitched together by hand from 33,000 images

March 23, 2017 by  
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If you’ve ever wanted to get up-close and personal with Mars , check out this incredible video recently released by NASA that shows the Red Planet’s surface in stunning detail. Entitled “A Fictive Flight Above Real Mars,” the video is a composite made from about 33,000 of the 50,000 high-resolution stereo images of the planet’s terrain made over the past 12 years by the powerful camera used in NASA’s High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE). These stereogram images depict the planet’s surface in incredible detail, which can only truly be appreciated in still images by using 3D glasses—or when merged together into an active, three dimensional, fly-over view, as was done by Finnish filmmaker Jan Fröjdman when creating this video. As Wired notes, Mars’ dusty atmosphere obfuscates its surface with massive storms so regularly that the only way to get a decent look at the planet is through imaging technology. So that’s what NASA did. “The best way to see the planet’s surface would be to take a digital image and enhance it on your computer, said planetary geologist and principal investigator for HiRISE, Alfred McEwen. Related: The UAE joins the race to build first city on Mars https://vimeo.com/207076450 Enter Fröjdman, who assembled the flyover shots piece by piece and colorized the monochrome images captured by the HiRISE camera. He was also responsible for identifying features like craters, canyons and mountains, then matching them between pairs of images. The 3D panning effect was the result of a painstaking process that involved stitching the images along reference points and then rendering them as frames in a video. Fröjdman spent three months working on the project, during which time he picked and stitched by hand more than 33,000 images. The result of his work is worth the effort—a truly stunning video. Via Wired Video and image via Jan Fröjdman , Vimeo

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Incredible video of Mars stitched together by hand from 33,000 images

"Piggy Bank," a turtle that swallowed 915 coins, has died

March 23, 2017 by  
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A venerated sea turtle who was fed hundreds of coins by supplicants seeking good fortune is dead . The 25-year-old animal was living in a pond in a town near the Gulf of Thailand in late February when rescuers found her close to drowning from the weight of her cache—about 11 pounds worth. After naming her Omsin, which is Thai for “piggy bank,” a team of veterinary surgeons operated on the turtle for seven hours. By the time they were finished, they had filled a bucket with 915 coins, in currencies both foreign and domestic. Omsin was expected to survive, if not thrive. By all accounts, her rehabilitation at Bangkok’s Veterinary Medical Aquatic Animals Research Center went smoothly. She received laser therapy on her belly incision. A large kiddie pool, coupled with physical therapy for a wonky flipper, helped her ease back into water. Following a liquid diet, Omsin returned to eating solid food. “She is getting stronger,” Nantarika Chansue, a veterinary scientist who tracked Omsin’s progress on Facebook, wrote on March 9. Just as her doctors began planning her release to the wild, Omsin’s condition suddenly deteriorated. They found her intestines in a tangle in the space where the coins once filled. An infection had developed, causing her abdomen to swell up with gas and fluid. Related: Sea turtle is rescued after being dragged onto a beach and beaten for selfies Despite rushing the turtle into intensive care on Sunday night, then emergency surgery on Monday, Omsin lapsed into a comma. On Tuesday, she died, a victim of ignorance and superstition. “At 10:10 a.m., she went with peace,” Nantarika said during a news conference. Visibly weeping, she called Omsin her “friend, teacher and patient.” Nantarika was comforted by just one thought. “She at least had the chance to swim freely and eat happily before she passed,” she said. Via the Washington Post Photos by Unsplash

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"Piggy Bank," a turtle that swallowed 915 coins, has died

Verdant Detroit: Can ‘agrihoods’ revitalize urban centers?

February 28, 2017 by  
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A two-acre farm in Detroit’s North End neighborhood offers free food, green space, and hope to the community.

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Judge throws out request to halt Dakota Access Pipeline construction

February 14, 2017 by  
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a The Standing Rock and Cheyenne River Sioux just suffered a major defeat at the hands of a federal judge — the tribes’ request to block construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline was rejected Monday afternoon. The tribe’s lawyers filed the motion arguing that Lake Oahe, which the pipeline would cross, contains sacred water which would be desecrated by the pipeline. This argument was dismissed by Energy Transfer Partners , saying that the company had “the utmost respect for the religious beliefs and traditions” of the tribe and that their efforts did not threaten the traditions of the community. The protesters, who fear the consequences of an oil spill near their main source of water, say they aren’t surprised by the ruling. In a report from the Guardian , many reaffirmed their commitment to the cause, with some stating they would continue to occupy the protest camps near the pipeline’s construction sites. Related: Army approves Dakota Access Pipeline route – and construction could begin immediately Religious beliefs and traditions weren’t only issues at stake in this ruling. The pipeline, which was originally halted by the Obama administration in December, was supposed to undergo a lengthy environmental review process before permits would be issued for the company to begin drilling. Instead, Donald Trump used his first weeks in office to throw out the review and simply push the approval process through. Though many indigenous protesters dispersed during the winter to avoid brutal storms, they are beginning to return as the weather improves. They are vowing to continue to fight the pipeline, both on the ground and in court. Via The Guardian Images via Tony Webster and Lars Plougmann

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Award-winning grass-covered pavilion in India constructed with over 1,000 recycled pallets

February 14, 2017 by  
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Over a thousand discarded shipping pallets went into the making of this partly planted, undulating pavilion in New Delhi. Local architecture firm M:OFA Studios drew inspiration from India’s ruins and their love of upcycling to create Pensieve, an award-winning experimental pavilion with a name inspired by the “memory basin” in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. The temporary installation served as an urban playground and public gathering space that inspired people to contemplate their surroundings. Built as part of India Design ID 2014, the Pensieve is no longer standing though it continues to be recognized in awards, such as its nomination in the Kohler Bold Design Awards 2016. Over 1,200 recycled pallets were stacked together in an asymmetrical shape inspired by the hundreds of stone ruins that dot the capital, where many locals used as playgrounds in their childhood. Compost added inside some of the open pallets was used as a growing medium for grass and other plants. Related: Charming Wine Shop Built with Repurposed Shipping Pallets Pops Up in Poland “The concept initiated from the basic idea of ‘fluid’ thoughts,” write the architects. “Built out of recycled wood , this pavilion was asked on the idea of unobstructed thoughts associated often with the children. The pavilion became a reminder of those simpler times, where the kids looked at the world beyond a 4 inch by 3 inch display screen in their hands.” The large 800-square-foot installation framed a public gathering space that also included solar-powered furniture that lit up when people sat on them and a hundred fiber-optic sculptures that used motion sensors to light up at night. + M:OFA Studios Images via M:OFA Studios

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Award-winning grass-covered pavilion in India constructed with over 1,000 recycled pallets

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