Trailhead Ambassador Program enhances hiking in Oregon

August 30, 2019 by  
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Wilderness lovers often see dismaying things on hiking trails: litter , thirsty people in flip flops who forgot to bring water, rambunctious dogs whose owners have never heard of leash laws, clueless couples who carve their names into trees. Instead of simply griping about these miscreants, some parks and wilderness areas have developed constructive ways to educate the public and make recreation safer and more fun for everybody. The Trailhead Ambassador Program at Oregon’s Mount Hood and Columbia River Gorge recruits volunteers to greet hikers at trailheads, answering questions and offering suggestions. Inhabitat talked to Lizzie Keenan, wilderness lover and co-founder of the program, about how trailhead ambassadors can make tangible differences in the local environment. Inhabitat: Tell us about your involvement with the Trailhead Ambassadors Program. Lizzie Keenan: I co-founded the program with Friends of the Columbia Gorge in the summer of 2017. The program was a mesh of an idea the Mt. Hood and Columbia River Gorge Tourism Alliance had merged with Trail Talks, a program Friends of the Columbia Gorge piloted that summer. The Tourism Alliance, which I manage, has funded the bulk of the program since its inception, and I have been there every step of the way helping to shape and grow it into what it is today. Related: Seven commandments of Leave-No-Trace camping Additional partners to get it launched included U.S. Forest Service for the Columbia River Gorge and U.S. Forest Service for Mt. Hood National Forest, Oregon State Parks, and local tourism entities like Oregon’s Mt. Hood Territory . The idea came from increased feedback from our local communities in the region that search and rescue at our trails was at an all-time high, that congestion at trails was becoming unmanageable and there was a general call for help for educating visitors on best practices in our recreation areas. I did some research and found a couple of programs in different parts of the U.S. running something like what we were looking for. In the end, we mirrored a lot of our program from the White Mountain National Forest Trailhead Steward Program . Inhabitat: What are some of the more unusual questions ambassadors have heard? Keenan: Upon seeing the dog that our volunteers brought with them to the trail, a young boy asked, “Will I see other mountain lions like that one on the trail?” Ambassadors working at Multnomah Falls have been asked by visitors, “How do I get to the Columbia River Gorge from here?” The answer is usually, welcome! You made it! Someone asked at the Dog Mountain Trailhead, “Is there a restaurant or store on top of Dog Mountain, so we can buy food?” Inhabitat: What kind of traits should a volunteer have? Keenan: Being a trailhead ambassador requires someone who enjoys talking with people. We ask that our volunteers study up on the trails they will be volunteering at so they can share advice with confidence and authenticity. Finally, ambassadors should love the region. Love the trails, the communities, the culture of the area. That translates to visitors loving and appreciating the land they are recreating on more. Inhabitat: Have you seen any results? Keenan: Yes! In our first season, which ran over the course of 20 weekends, our volunteers talked to over 23,700 visitors in the Gorge and on Mt. Hood. They helped to shape visitors’ experiences. Example actions visitors have taken after speaking with a trailhead ambassador include going to their car to get better shoes and/or water, taking a picture of the map of the trail so they can reference it on their hike, getting a parking pass when they didn’t have one already and much more. Related: Get ready for an adventure with this ultimate checklist of backpacking essentials Other results include fewer car break-ins on the weekends that volunteers staffed the trails as well as a feedback loop of trail information that would go directly to the local land manager. One example of this was at Starvation Creek; after speaking with hikers in the area, the ambassadors found out there was a landslide on the trail. They were then able to inform Oregon State Parks about it, and soon rangers came in to close off that portion of the trail. Inhabitat: What kind of feedback have you received from visitors? Keenan: It has been 99 percent thankful and supportive. Both regular recreators and new folks visiting from out of town have been incredibly thankful to have trailhead ambassadors stationed at their trail. Those who are local are thankful to have people sharing advice at the trails, because they have seen and helped unprepared visitors in the past. Those new to the trails are excited to have someone nice and approachable to talk to, to ask questions of and feel more confident about heading out on a new adventure. Inhabitat: Do you have any advice for other places interested in starting similar programs? Keenan: Borrow materials from another program who is running a program like the one you want to do; don’t recreate the wheel. Start small and develop your dedicated group of volunteers. Finally, collect data. This program has been a huge opportunity for us to learn and track common issues and trends at our trailheads that we and the other agencies involved can use to better serve the land and visitors in the future. + Trailhead Ambassadors Program Images via Trailhead Ambassadors Program and Bureau of Land Management

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Trailhead Ambassador Program enhances hiking in Oregon

Rural, modular home in Mexico allows for a wide variety of configurations

August 30, 2019 by  
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Mexico City- and Berlin-based Zeller & Moye has unveiled a unique modular home that allows for multiple horizontal and vertical configurations through its lifespan. Not only is Casa Hilo a flexible, low-cost, modular construction, but it is also a model for sustainable rural home design in that its materials (including locally made adobe) were chosen to create a strong thermal mass to withstand Mexico’s harsh summer climate. According to the architects, the Casa Hilo project was designed as a housing prototype for building family homes in rural areas with warm climates. Located in Apan, Mexico, the 970-square-foot abode is made up of four distinct blocks comprising two bedrooms, one kitchen/dining room and a bathroom. Related: Experimental timber prototype champions sustainable modular housing for the masses Whereas conventional homes normally consist of one large volume, this modular design sees various blocks that can be interconnected according to personal needs. The initial design is a horizontal, single-story home, but it could easily be configured into multi-story arrangements down the road in order to make room for additional family members. In a horizontal arrangement, the rooms have all been connected so that each room is a separate space with its own front door and roof terrace. Joined at the corners, the layout enables the house to embrace the landscape. Each “box” has its separate green space or garden, which becomes an integral part of the entire home. In addition to its remarkable flexibility, the project also boasts a strong sustainable profile . The boxes are framed with concrete and then filled with locally made adobe blocks. The natural materials provide thermal mass to the home, a feature that reduces energy loss and keeps the interiors at a comfortable temperature year-round. The windows and doors are made of bamboo lattice shades, which allow for natural light and ventilation to flow into the interior living spaces. Additionally, they pull double-duty as shade-providing pergolas to create pleasant areas for socializing outside the home. + Zeller & Moye Via ArchDaily Photography by Jaime Navarro and drawings by Zeller & Moye

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Rural, modular home in Mexico allows for a wide variety of configurations

10 Minutes with Erin Meezan, Interface

January 7, 2019 by  
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The sustainability lead for the iconic carpet company lays the groundwork for changing the culture.

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10 Minutes with Erin Meezan, Interface

The circular, silver lining to Apple’s shock earnings warning

January 7, 2019 by  
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It might be a bad sign for investors, but it’s a good call from consumers to get the company to focus on sustainability efforts.

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Companies are leveraging science and technology for water stewardship — here’s how

January 7, 2019 by  
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The best of live interviews from GreenBiz events. This episode: Intel, Land O’ Lakes and EcoLab execs discuss how effective circular resource management.

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Companies are leveraging science and technology for water stewardship — here’s how

10 groups that will be key to combating climate change in 2019

January 7, 2019 by  
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Saving the planet must be an all-hands-on-deck effort.

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10 groups that will be key to combating climate change in 2019

Inconsiderate truck driver scars Peru’s ancient Nazca Lines

February 2, 2018 by  
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The historic Nazca Lines of Peru have been damaged by the actions of an inconsiderate truck driver. The driver, who has since been arrested and will likely face charges related to an attack against cultural heritage, deliberately drove off the Pan-American highway and into the 2,000 year old UNESCO Heritage Site. Ignoring signs identifying the protected area, the driver left “deep scars” through the Nazca geoglyphs across an area of 100 by 300 feet. Fortunately, the damage seems to be fixable, though authorities are still conducting a full investigation of the incident. Carved into the desert by a pre- Inca civilization, the Nazca Lines are thought to have held religious significance and likely served as a site for spiritual ceremonies. Though virtually invisible if viewed from ground level, the geoglpyhs come to life when seen from above, whether on planes or surrounding foothills. The lines were originally created by removing the red pebbles that cover the ground to reveal the pale ground beneath. Because of the climactic stability of the Nazca region, located along Peru’s arid coastal plain , these ancient designs remain relatively untouched, the occasional errant truck driver notwithstanding. Related: Giant curtain built in Peru to study climate change in the cloud forests The Nazca Lines’s proximity to the Pan-American Highway, which runs 19,000 miles long from the United States to Argentina , has increased the potential for human-caused damage to the ancient site. One high-profile instance occurred in 2014, when Greenpeace activists faced criminal charges for damage inflicted on the heritage site whilst setting up a massive sign urging climate change action. While the most recent incident has prompted Peruvian authorities to increase patrols of the area, there are no guarantees. “While the Culture Ministry monitors areas with the largest concentration of geoglyphs every day, it may not be fully protected,” Peruvian Culture Ministry archaeologist Johnny Isla told Andina . “Entry and transit are possible through valleys and streams where the archaeological area spreads out.” Via The New York Times and Andina Images via Depositphotos (1)

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Inconsiderate truck driver scars Peru’s ancient Nazca Lines

How Las Vegas aims to be the next Silicon Valley for water innovation

October 25, 2017 by  
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With millions in state funding, a new startup incubator has begun luring water innovators to Las Vegas. The goal is to create a destination for water entrepreneurs akin to the culture of Silicon Valley.

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Dibdo Francis Kr’s rainwater-harvesting 2017 Serpentine Pavilion unveiled in London today

June 20, 2017 by  
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Today marks the official debut of Diébédo Francis Kéré’s spectacular rainwater-harvesting Serpentine Pavilion . The 2017 pavilion was unveiled on a perfectly sunny day – but when it rains the roof will protect protect visitors from drizzle while funneling precipitation it into a central waterfall and storing it for irrigation in the surrounding park. The pavilion is inspired by the culture of Kéré’s home village of Gando in Burkina Faso even as it plays with experimental construction techniques and embraces the climate in Britain. Diébédo Francis Kéré, who runs Berlin-based Kéré Architecture , is the first African architect to construct a Serpentine Pavilion . Kéré cited trees as his design inspiration. The pavilion is topped by a massive canopy – visitors can walk underneath and be safe from the rain while at the same time experiencing the weather through a transparent roof and wall openings that allow the wind to blow through. Related: Diébédo Francis Kéré unveils 2017 Serpentine Pavilion with rain-gathering roof The roof is made of wood , supported by a hidden steel frame. Raindrops that fall on the pavilion are funneled into an oculus, creating a waterfall. Then the water enters a drainage system on the floor for use in irrigation later. The walls are made from prefabricated wooden blocks. At night the blocks create an intricate play of shadow and light as the gaps twinkle from movement inside the pavilion. Trees offer a place to gather in Burkina Faso, and Kéré hopes his Serpentine Pavilion in London will also offer a space for people to visit and share their experiences. In his design statement he spoke of his aim for the Pavilion to “become a beacon of light, a symbol of storytelling and togetherness.” And in his video on the pavilion’s design, he spoke of his desire for the pavilion to be inclusive and offer a space for all. + Kéré Architecture + Serpentine Galleries Via ArchDaily Images © Kéré Architecture, Photography © 2017 Iwan Baan ; © Erik Jan Ouwerkerk; © Enrico Cano; and © Simeon Duchoud

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Dibdo Francis Kr’s rainwater-harvesting 2017 Serpentine Pavilion unveiled in London today

Copycat Tower Bridge in China sparks controversy

March 2, 2017 by  
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China is infamous for copying famous architecture from other countries – according to The New York Times the country boasts 10 White Houses, a couple of Great Sphinxes, four Arcs de Triomphe, and at minimum one Eiffel Tower. Now in the city of Suzhou, a Tower Bridge based on London’s iconic landmark is drawing attention, although the New York Times says it’s unclear why the bridge , which was completed in 2012, has suddenly been garnering international notice. Images of Suzhou’s Tower Bridge have drawn awe – one news outlet described the Chinese bridge as even more magnificent than the original. Suzhou’s bridge certainly is much larger; it accommodates a five-lane highway and flaunts four towers instead of two. Pedestrian walkways and observation platforms allow people to enjoy the views and architecture of the bridge. Related: China officially bans ‘weird’ architecture But not everyone is enamored with the Chinese Tower Bridge. Suzhou, which has been called the Venice of the East, has its own architectural traditions, such as whitewashed courtyard houses and ancient gardens. Some of China’s most beautiful traditional architecture can be found in the city. Li Yingwu, president of Beijing-based firm OAD Group , called Suzhou’s Tower Bridge plagiarism. He said, “I was really surprised that it got built in Suzhou, because it has preserved its culture really well. It shows that local officials lack confidence in their own culture. They don’t understand that architecture essentially is about culture. It’s not merely an object.” One news outlet, JSChina.com.cn , even suggested the copycat bridge would hinder promotion of the country’s traditional culture. Suzhou has 56 other copycat bridges, according to The New York Times, imitating international bridges like Australia’s Sydney Harbor Bridge or Paris’ Alexandre III Bridge. Architect Cheng Taining of the Chinese Academy of Engineering told Beijing News in 2015 some officials believe foreign-style structures bestow status on an area, making it look more modern or sophisticated. Via ArchDaily and The New York Times Images via CCTV Facebook

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