Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Monday, December 27, 2010
“We spend all this time thinking about cities in terms of their local details, their restaurants and museums and weather,” West says. “I had this hunch that there was something more, that every city was also shaped by a set of hidden laws.”
West and Bettencourt discovered that all of these urban variables could be described by a few exquisitely simple equations. For example, if they know the population of a metropolitan area in a given country, they can estimate, with approximately 85 percent accuracy, its average income and the dimensions of its sewer system. These are the laws, they say, that automatically emerge whenever people “agglomerate,” cramming themselves into apartment buildings and subway cars. It doesn’t matter if the place is Manhattan or Manhattan, Kan.: the urban patterns remain the same. West isn’t shy about describing the magnitude of this accomplishment. “What we found are the constants that describe every city,” he says. “I can take these laws and make precise predictions about the number of violent crimes and the surface area of roads in a city in Japan with 200,000 people. I don’t know anything about this city or even where it is or its history, but I can tell you all about it. And the reason I can do that is because every city is really the same.”
It suggests, for instance, that modern cities are the real centers of sustainability. According to the data, people who live in densely populated places require less heat in the winter and need fewer miles of asphalt per capita. (A recent analysis by economists at Harvard and U.C.L.A. demonstrated that the average Manhattanite emits 14,127 fewer pounds of carbon dioxide annually than someone living in the New York suburbs.) Small communities might look green, but they consume a disproportionate amount of everything. As a result, West argues, creating a more sustainable society will require our big cities to get even bigger. We need more megalopolises.There's a lot more to the article and the thinkers it features, including this insight from Jane Jacobs: The city wasn’t a skyline — it was a dance.
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Consider this post a placeholder - I hope to develop it more when time permits. The most striking elements of Civics 101 for me related to the two areas noted in the header. (Note: the images used here are merely illustrative, not drawn from course materials).
Friday, December 17, 2010
Friends of the Legacy Trail are having an Open HouseJoin the Friends of the Legacy Trail at an Open House on Tuesday, Jan.4, 2011, at the Phillippi Estate Park. Preview the upcoming programs, events and Legacy Trail improvements. (MORE)
Season of Sharing: volunteers contribute over $5 million in service hours
Twelve artists were selected by the Public Art Committee to display their work at high profile locations throughout downtown. The installations began in October and the pieces will be on display until November 2011. At that time, the City Commission with input from the Public Art Committee and the community, will choose one sculpture to become part of the City’s permanent art collection.
For more information about "Intersections" contact Dr. Clifford Smith, public art staff liaison: 941-954-4195.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Saturday, December 11, 2010
North Sarasota neighborhood enhancementsThe Sarasota County Commission Tuesday awarded a nearly $2.2 million contract for the construction of neighborhood enhancements, including sidewalks, road widening and roundabouts, in the north Sarasota area. (MORE)
County approves $1.75 million grant for Ringling College
County approves $1.75 million grant for Ringling College Sarasota County's venture into the film industry advanced Wednesday, Dec. 8, as county commissioners approved a grant of $1.75 million to Ringling College of Art and Design to develop a post-production facility on the campus. (MORE)
Resource One Plans Relocation to Sarasota County, 36 New JobsResource One Inc., which manufactures and distributes environmentally friendly cleaning products, plans to relocate from Largo, to Sarasota County and add 16 jobs in 2011, according to company President Duncan Yull. (MORE)
"Skip a Week" of irrigation this winter
The Southwest Florida Water Management District is encouraging residents who irrigate their lawns to "Skip a Week" of watering during the cooler months of December, January and February.(MORE)
Connect with Community Connections.
Friday, December 10, 2010
... autopsies and lighthouses are useful examples of what economists call a public good — "something that we all need, that will make our lives better, but that the market will not and cannot provide," says Charlie Wheelan, who teaches public policy at the University of Chicago. More - with some intriguing comments.
Thursday, December 9, 2010
Monday, December 6, 2010
Saturday, December 4, 2010
Thursday, December 2, 2010
Following the May launch of the agency's new web site, we wanted another communication tool that will allow us to further connect with citizens. We will be providing news and notes that don't necessarily warrant a press release but are still informative and interesting!
We also hope it will be a place for good, honest discussion about hot topics here and beyond Sarasota County, so your comments and questions will always be welcome!
The Sheriff's Office blog is here - additional press info here.
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Thursday, November 25, 2010
Sunday, November 21, 2010
Gail Harvey and fellow gardener Barbara (didn't get last name, sorry) offered a wealth of information as well as a tour of the Nokomis Community Garden. There are actually four community gardens in Sarasota County, with more on the way. Besides the one in Nokomis (234 Nippino Trail East), there are the Orange Blossom at 18th and Orange, Bayou Oaks Community Garden at Old Bradenton Rd. and 35th Street, and Laurel Community Garden in Laurel Park, 509 Collins Rd, Laurel. See this page for more about them.
The gardens ask a $30 registration, and $20 a year to be a member. Many other communities have their own gardens: churches, schools, neighborhoods. Land has been donated for a public garden near the Mall in Turtle Rock.
For more about green initiatives in the county see this page; for more about the Extension Service's support for community gardens, click here.
Typically, plots in community gardens here are 10' X 20', are fenced, and have water, mulch and some tools readily available. A certain amount of trading of produce goes on as each gardener might have an abundance of one thing and less of another.
The American Community Garden Association has a website rich in resources and info. Gail and Barbara recommended its clear explanation of how to start a community garden.
Annie Leonard talks about findings in her book, The Story of Stuff. She tracks products as they are manufactured by low-pay workers abroad, shipped and used in the US, and then shipped out to India, Africa, or another remote locale to be broken down (by hammers in some cases) and dumped.
Tom Szaky is the founder and CEO of a company called TerraCycle. His book is "Revolution in a Bottle: How TerraCycle Is Redefining Green Business." Szaky tells Jim Fleming how his company turns candy wrappers and juice bottles into pencil cases and backpacks sold at Walmart stores. Also, Mark Frauenfelder is co-creator of the weblog BoingBoing dot net and the author of "Made by Hand: Searching for Meaning in a Throwaway World." He talks with Anne Strainchamps about some of his DIY (do-it-yourself) projects from vegetables to cigar box guitars.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Monday, November 15, 2010
Place: Nokomis Community Center
Robert Wright of the NEST program:
NEST stands for Neighborhood Environmental Stewardship Program - it's a volunteer citizen partnering program concerned with preserving and restoring shared water resources.
Watersheds: There are large and small watersheds. Rebuilding wetlands slows down the amount of runoff and fresh water that goes to the bays - for the creatures in the bays, salinity is an important factor for survival.
Venice has virtually no stormwater treatment - older system. Stormwater goes straight into the Gulf.
For homes there are various Low Impact Design (LID) Concepts that work with nature:
- Permeable pavers, gravel, instead of concrete.
- Bio-swales - use concrete blocks with holes that allow grass to grow through them.
- Rain Barrels - a new twist on the ancient practice of cisterns.
Move to Native Yards. "The largest non-edible crop in Florida is grass."
- Lawns use fertilizers that run off into ponds, leading to excessive nitrogen.
- Using plants at the water's edge of ponds can reduce erosion and runoff. See more here.
- Plants can thus buffer ponds and protect them as well as the soil around them.
- For appropriate plants, talk to the Florida Native Plant Society.
Rainwater does not reach the deep aquifer from which we get our drinking water. The water we consume comes from far deeper, and flows west from the state's Central Ridge, which is in the Orlando area. It costs 1 KW of electricity to move 1 gallon of water from the aquifer to your home. Keep this in mind when you're using it. 59% of drinking water is used to irrigate lawns.
NEST Program Coordinator
1001 Sarasota Center Blvd.
Sarasota, FL 34240
Phone: (941) 861-0929
Saturday, November 13, 2010
Urfer just celebrated its first birthday, and also opened the newly refurbished C.B. Wilson House, a historical landmark building on the park property, which will serve as offices for Parks & Rec as well as a resource for trail maps and historical information.
Did you know Urfer Park is dog friendly? Here'as a map to a large swath of the park where dogs on leashes are permitted.
Here's a slideshow of events at the opening (still going on as this is typed):
Friday, November 12, 2010
Thursday, November 11, 2010
- At the end of each session of Civics 101, we were asked to "review" the session and to say how we intended to share the information we received. I kept saying "I'll blog it," so that's one thing I'll do here: try to provide summaries of some of the splendid presentations, with links where possible, so that someone coming to this material fresh will, one hopes, find something useful.
- I'm sure some folks will be taking information presented and run with it -- the fascinating information about gardens, water, libraries, health, traffic control, public works, land conservation, parks, budgets, purchasing and more -- offer many paths to follow. It will be interesting to see where they lead us.
- A third purpose would be to respond to what we've been exposed to. The rich store of information about how things work was superb; meeting some of those who make them work was terrific; but now what? What thoughts, observations, questions, responses does all this information prompt? If we ask, what are we to do with all this transparency, perhaps one response would be to utilize social media to turn monologue into dialog. It might be your turn to speak.
Monday, November 8, 2010
- There are 106,000 acres of contiguous protected lands from the Gulf to the Peace River in Sarasota, Manatee, and Charlotte counties.
- The Harvard Business Review says sustainability will drive us out of the recession.
- Bio-mimicry: studying natural systems then imitating them. E.g., learning from butterflies how wings can be self-cleaning.
- The first known law about garbage is traced to ancient Athens, around 500 BC - garbage could not be disposed of within one mile of the city.
- 190,000 tons of garbage were buried in 2009 in Sarasota County -- down from the peak of the economy, which saw and buried 270,000 tons.
- 18% of garbage is food waste.
(Note: These are from notes taken on the fly - if there are factual errors, they are almost certainly the inadvertent result of this blogger's error, rather than of the speakers.)
Sunday, November 7, 2010
The county has a good story to tell, because for the past decade or more, it's been run intelligently -- there was a good deal of fiscal prudence, so that now, as the economy flounders, important systems like the Sheriff, Fire/Rescue, the courts and the parks continue to operate without tax increases.
The county also has the benefit of very bright, energetic and creative people who are tapping into some fascinating thinking about sustainability, community, and nature. It may be that one of the benefits of taking a course like this is, we -- the 25 lucky residents who signed on -- have begun to think more broadly about how nature and technology can be understood as elements in the fabric of a larger whole: the sustainable community. The more we learn about nature's methods of doing things, the more wisely we might be able to support, nurture and govern our human habitations.