Green gadget of the year. No paper, printing, shipping, or warehousing of books!
Here in Atlanta, the age of alternative transportation via trails and transit is soon upon us.
Workers are busy constructing The Atlanta Streetcar two blocks to the west of where I sit writing this blog. When fare service begins in early 2013, electric streetcars will begin gliding through the city for the first time since Atlanta’s last streetcar ran on April 10th, 1949. This map shows how extensive the streetcar system was, back in the day:
More on how and why such an extensive system was dismantled in a moment.
The new streetcars will move in a loop from Centenial Park to the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Park via Edgewood and Auburn Avenues:
Two blocks to the east of my position is street level access from Irwin Street to the BeltLine Eastside Trail. This 2+ mile project is the first segment of multi-use path and linear greenspace to be built within the old railroad corridor of the planned 22 mile loop. Right-of-way for future streetcars is being preserved in the corridor parallel to the 14 foot wide concrete trail which will be open for use to cyclists, joggers, skaters, and pedestrians in July of 2012.
How long before streetcars run in the BeltLine? Sooner than you might think. If...
A vetted list of transportation projects will be put to vote by metro Atlanta citizens on July 31, 2012. If the penny sales tax passes, the list allocates $602 million to a transit project that will connect the Atlanta Streetcar to the Eastside Trail. Streetcars will travel north to Piedmont Park and east/west along North Avenue to the Westside corridor, which also has trail. The blue lines on the map below tell the story:
Seems like a logical expenditure of a portion of the Transportation Investment Act dollars given Atlanta’s notorious smog and traffic congestion woes, no? Alas, funding for the BeltLine or any other rail project is vigorously opposed by The Highway Lobby, one of the most powerful lobbies in the U.S., even if it is bundled with other road projects. Their version of the future accepts no competition for the business-as-usual of gasoline-powered automobiles and more road building/widening/repairing, ad infintum. It’s a story that begins way back in 1922. Watch the video below, Taken For a Ride, a documentary about the General Motors Streetcar Scandal. It explains how Atlanta, along with most other cities in the U.S., lost their electric streetcar service, and why we now have the worst public transportation and the most highways in the industrialized world. If a little comedy will help swallow this bitter pill, then rent Who Framed Roger Rabbit?.
A long-standing love affair with these policies at the local level has resulted in some of Atlanta’s more dubious honors like worst commute and most toxic city in the country. History can be reversed on July 31st. Vote yes for the TIA Referendum, and vote yes for the BeltLine.
Forward to the Past!
First off, I confess a preference for hardwood floors over carpeting. I'm quite certain this bias started after we moved into a home a few years back that had flea-infested carpeting. I would sit in my carpeted home office and within minutes have flea bites all over my lower legs. What other nastiness was the carpet harboring? Like a lot of people, I assumed that hardwood flooring provided better indoor air quality than carpeting. Older carpeting frequently contained PVC backing and could off-gas some nasty chemicals.
Still, nothing ties a room together like the right rug. Carpeting has also become much more eco-friendly in the last few years. My friend Daryl Brandon of Dr. Green's Carpet Care informed me that carpets are your home's largest air filters, trapping pollutants that are otherwise stirred up with hard flooring.
The other thing about carpeting was the cleaning. You know, that hot water extraction process that soaked your carpet and took hours to dry? And was it my imagination, or did the carpet seem to get dirty quicker after the cleaning? Once again, Daryl informed me that that sticky residue left behind by the detergents and soaps the steam cleaners use actually attracts dirt and causes the carpet to get dirtier faster.
So I had Dr. Green come out and clean a couple of rooms in our house.
Dr. Green uses non-toxic, biodegradable cleaning solutions that don't leave a chemical residue in your carpet. I was surprised to find that Daryl's plant- and hydrogen peroxide-based solutions cleaned as good or better than the chemical detergents and were dry in about 30 minutes. But Dr. Green believes it's not just the cleaning solutions that make a green cleaning company, it's also the process that makes a company truly green.
Water conservation is a big factor in Dr. Green's process. Most steam cleaners will use 30 - 40 gallons of water for the typical home cleaning. Dr. Green uses about 2 gallons for the same area! Just imagine how much water is being wasted every day for just one steam cleaning truck with several jobs per day. Now realize that there are over 1,000 carpet cleaning companies in the ATL metro area alone (some with a fleet of vehicles), and the majority use the steam cleaning method.
Dr. Green commutes to the client in small gas-friendly SUVs instead of large gas-guzzling vans. Once there, they turn off their small vehicles and push their electric powered equipment into your home or place of business, closing the door behind. No gasoline generator is left running outside.
It's been a couple of days since Dr. Green's visit. The bedroom carpets look great and a large pet stain that Daryl removed hasn't reappeared. And that rug in the living room that ties the room together? It looks brand new.
The next time you need your carpet cleaned, give Dr. Green a call. You can find him online here.
Hollywood Director Tom Shadyac's journey to greater happiness takes some interesting detours from the typical path in pursuit of the American Dream.
Film Moguls aren't the only ones looking to downsize, simplify, and make community connections.
The lead article of the Winter 2012 issue of On Common Ground, a smart growth publication by the National Association of Realtors, documents the trend of "Building Community on a Small Scale and at a Slower Pace." With limited financing and consumers downsizing, small and slow is in when it comes to development today. The publication puts a lense on the rise of "pocket neighborhoods" in diverse locations like Washington State, Arkansas, and Mississippi. Pocket Neighborhoods are best described as cottages clustered around a garden or green space. The homes typically max out at 1,000 square feet with parking pushed to the edges of the property.
Atlantans who are looking for smaller, higher quality, lower-maintenance homes in a setting where they can easily know their neighbors and have access to organic food grown on site will be glad to know about some local initiatives to develop these type communities. Robert Reed, Program Manager for Sustainable Cities at Southface Institute and Greg Ramsey, Director of Village Habitat Design, are hosting a Cottage Community with Garden/Farm Workshop at Southface Institute on Tuesday, February 7th. The workshop is open to professional planners, developers, community activists and citizens interested in developing a cottage community, ecovillage, or cohousing community with gardening or farming.
Go here for more information on attending.
[Originally posted MLK day two years ago today]
MLK Day got me thinking about Van Jones and Bono.
Stay with me.
Van Jones, a black civil rights activist, is becoming a leading spokesman for the green movement. Watch the video above and you'll understand why.
Bono sings "I believe in Kingdom Come, when all the colors will bleed into one, bleed into one."
Could that one color be green?
Now watch the video below of Bono at the NAACP Awards three years ago. Bono, who has been heavily influenced by the life of Martin Luther King, Jr., is given the Chairman's Award. Watch this white, "almost pink," Irishman channel the spirit of Dr. King in his acceptance speech.
SHINE [Sustainable Home Initiative in the New Economy] is a residential weatherization rebate program offering City of Atlanta homeowners the ability to receive up to $3,500 in rebates towards qualifying improvements. Improvements include, but are not limited to duct and air sealing, insulation improvement, caulking, weather-stripping, and the replacement of doors and windows that are the source of significant heating and cooling loss. Incentives are also available for high energy efficiency domestic hot water heaters.
Go here for more...