Another Way to Fix the Suburbs

The suburbs have a problem and it’s that they are lifeless. There’s little to no wildlife and human culture is confined to isolated locations and this is a problem in many ways and people know this.

We’ve looked at ways to fix the suburbs on Things Are Good before, this piece on the other hand, as an assortment of ideas and a good synopsis of efforts being made to save the suburbs from American suburban malfeasance:

After nearly four years of a McMansion mortgage crisis and new waves of Creative Class immigration into America’s leading cities, it’s time to confront a strange new phenomenon: the hollowed-out suburbs. It may not quite be the apocalyptic vision offered up by Christopher Leinberger in The Atlantic three years ago during the height of the mortgage crisis – when it was feared that empty McMansions would turn into crack dens – but it’s still bracing stuff. Indeed, the psycho-demographic pendulum appears to have shifted across America. According to most surveys, people prefer to live in walkable neighborhoods and sustainably designed communities — places that have all the perks of big-city living, as well as the goodness of green parks and good schools.

So what would it take to create these types of walkable, sustainable suburbs on a national scale?

Two architectural & design firms, Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Droog, recently hosted the Open House 2011 event where they re-imagined the classic suburban utopia – Levittown in Long Island, New York – and brainstormed ways that the suburban dream could be revitalized. They looked at what has worked in places like Manhattan and Brooklyn — places where dogwalkers, drycleaners, bohemian cafes, 24-hour bodegas and countless delivery services ease the strain of everyday urban life — and came up with suburban equivalents.

Read the full article and get some more links here.

Thanks Nick!

Green Store

The other day a promotional email from Green Cricket landed in my inbox wanting to me to blog about their store. I’m not keen on providing what is essentially free advertising to sites, but this one is local to me (Toronto) and they have a stringent measurement of ‘green’. It’s good to see retailers strongly embrace the environment.

There are many green stores out there and I suggest you find one that’s near you so you can bike there. Of course, the most obvious way to be a green shopper is to not buy anything you don’t need and be conscious of your purchases.

Green Cricket assesses every product offered on our site against our own quality criteria, and provides full transparency of “what’s green” about each. Our Green Rating System uses a range of environmental factors that span the product lifecycle. We have grouped this System into five main criteria to evenly assess each product. Part of this evaluation includes the extent to which these products have obtained third-party certifications from government or standards organizations. We have chosen only those products that, based on this assessment, are consistent with our commitment to bringing the best in green products to you.

Green Cricket

Delicious Green Beer

I love Beau’s beer because it tastes good and today I found another reason to love it – it’s super green. Beau’s set out to make an environmentally friendly beer and did it with gusto.

Still, Beauchesne acknowledges that the skeptical non-investors were half right. “If you’re making the decision to go all-natural or organic based just on the bottom line, you probably shouldn’t be doing it,” he says. “But, to us, that was such an important part of what we wanted to be about.”

As for the market demand, Beauchesne and his father have had the last laugh. The company has grown to 45 employees from its initial five.

In 2010, Beau’s had about $4 million in revenue, and is earning a profit. There have already been a few expansions, and another one is planned next year, since the current facility has reached its full capacity of 1 million litres per year.

There have been some struggles along the way, Beauchesne admits. One of the biggest was going all-organic, which the brewery finally managed in 2008. At first, it was hard just to source the ingredients.

Read the rest of the article.

New Ways to Poll Public Opinion on Politicians

Traditional pollsters use the telephone to try to figure out what people’s opinion on politicians happens to be. I’ve asked around to see if anybody I know has been called by a pollster and the number is a giant zero. I attribute this to the fact that you can’t tele-market to cellphones in Canada (or some similarly good regulation), so essentially anybody who doesn’t have landline won’t be counted in the polls.

This means that polls are missing a large chunk of the population and are not truly representative of the true population. How many people under 30 have a landline? Now there are a few companies trying to make polling relevant again by using popular web services to augment their measurements.

Layton’s tweets reached 322,305 people last week, according to the firm’s data. Ignatieff’s tweets reached 270,218 people and Harper’s had an audience of 156,536.

At first glance, those numbers seem to be at odds with the fact Harper has tens of thousands more Twitter followers than either Ignatieff or Layton.

But, Navigator’s Will Stewart says this is likely because of differences in the parties’ social media strategies

Read the rest of the article.

Disclosure: someone from Klout forwarded this to me.

Earth Day’s Hometown Heroes

Earth Day Canada has launched a campaign to celebrate people and organizations that have made a positive and substantial change to the environment. It’s a way to publicly celebrate those who have made the environment better through their cations. Are you a “Hometown Hero”?

Hometown Heroes are individual Canadians, groups, organizations and small businesses who take a stand for the environment in their community. They lead others to environmental awareness, action and a more sustainable future. They make a difference and improve the state of the environment at the local level.

Here’s the Hometown Hero website.

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