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thoughts, ideas + dialogues on urban revitalization, smart growth + neighborhood development
Curated by Lauren Moss
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District Hall, Boston’s Public Innovation Center / Hacin + Associates

District Hall, Boston’s Public Innovation Center / Hacin + Associates | green streets | Scoop.it

Opening at the end of October, District Hall is the world’s first freestanding public innovation center, a single-story pavilion dedicated to gathering the innovation community together.  The building is located in the heart of Boston’s Innovation District, a thousand acres of the historically industrial South Boston waterfront that has been transformed  into an urban environment that fosters innovation, collaboration and entrepreneurship.

District Hall will serve as an anchor in this emerging district, a new kind of public infrastructure for the 21st century economy. The building is located at a natural gathering place between the Institute of Contemporary Art, a new public marina, bike-sharing and transit stops, and several parks on Boston’s rapidly developing waterfront.

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Rebalancing Development + Community Building Projects: Reconstructing Post-disaster Japan

Rebalancing Development + Community Building Projects: Reconstructing Post-disaster Japan | green streets | Scoop.it

Nearly two years have passed since "3.11", Japan's worst disaster since the Pacific War. Now, twenty months later, we can start to see the kind of future that Japan has entered, and the values and visions that are animating its architects, designers, and artists in this period of reconstruction and renewal.

At the heart of the reconstruction challenge that Japan faces is the question of the relation between the centre and the periphery, or to put it in starker terms, between the strong and the weak. This relation is expressed in many ways – between global forces or state authority and local people; between the metropolis and the countryside; between the victims and the spared. The earnestness with which metropolitan architects have engaged local communities only underscores this asymmetry. Beyond the immediate response to disaster, what many in Japan are seeking is the rebalancing of a long legacy of uneven development.

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Public art transforms the urban canvas

Public art transforms the urban canvas | green streets | Scoop.it
Public art has evolved into an essential element of urban placemaking and social engagement.

 
'Public art is increasingly an interactive, community-based experience. A focus on “social practice,” or engaging local communities in creating change through art, is borne out in public art pieces that are as thought-provoking as they are aesthetically pleasing.
 It should come as little surprise that in the era of Facebook, Twitter and the 24/7 conversation, public art is morphing into a tool for community engagement...'

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California's Unusual Plan to Cut Greenhouse Gases

California's Unusual Plan to Cut Greenhouse Gases | green streets | Scoop.it

The state is relying on cities to figure out how to cut emissions in their region. Will it work?


When California’s S.B. 375 was passed in 2008, there were many skeptics. The law aimed to get metropolitan regions around the state to cut greenhouse gas emissions through changes to development form and transportation. 

In 2011, the California Air Resources Board set GHG emissions reduction targets by metro region for passenger vehicles and 18 Metropolitan Planning Organizations were then to develop "sustainable community strategies," with integrated transportation, housing, and community development.

The idea was that smart, sustainable community design, coordinated with transportation systems that integrated walkability, bicycles, and next generation public transit, could really make a difference. It's honestly much too soon to tell whether this will work. But here's a quick look at three prominent metropolitan regions and their responses to this mandate.

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4 Examples of Powerful Placemaking

4 Examples of Powerful Placemaking | green streets | Scoop.it

A little-known but very interesting government agency, the National Endowment for the Arts, is quietly leveraging small amounts of financial assistance to make a big difference in helping communities across the country become stronger and more alive.


Whether in Portland, Maine, Pendleton, South Carolina, the Kewa Pueblo in New Mexico, or another of the scores of locations that its Our Town program is assisting in all 50 states, the agency believes "creative placemaking" can strengthen "community identity and a sense of place, and help revitalize local economies." I couldn’t agree more.

Indeed, music, film, the visual arts, and even design tend to get us gathering and talking together, frequently in the same place. Sometimes they reinforce a shared sense of culture; sometimes they provoke us (and others) to think of our communities in new ways; sometimes they are just fun. (Do not discount happiness as important to sustainability.) Often they create vital, new identities or "brands" in cities, towns, and neighborhoods.

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Common Spaces: Urbanism, Sustainability and the Art of Placemaking

Common Spaces: Urbanism, Sustainability and the Art of Placemaking | green streets | Scoop.it
As people become more engaged in the movement towards sustainable living, it stands to reason that they will first turn to the immediate environment. Outside the home, the debate is centered on the design and layout of community spaces; this is where placemaking offers valuable insights.

Placemaking, put simply, is the design of public spaces with the needs, desires, interests, and inspirations of the local community at heart. Frequently, this collaborative process can be found in what we might regard as a traditional, outdoor community area; a park or waterfront. However, as localism and sustainability take root within the priorities of decision-makers, we are also beginning to see community-minded design in more unconventional places. Ideal candidates for this new process include, for example, the layout and signage design for public service buildings such as police stations, hospitals and museums.

There are already some fantastic placemaking success stories. Indeed, the implementation of community-minded ideas is so widespread, it is difficult to pick out examples worthy of mention. The cutting edge of urban design is no longer where we design spaces with the public’s desires in mind; it is where we incorporate green thinking and technology into those spaces...
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What Makes a Great Public Destination?

What Makes a Great Public Destination? | green streets | Scoop.it

In a recent blog post, entrepreneur-turned-VC Mark Suster wrote about the necessary ingredients for a city trying o develop a successful start-up community. His advice seemed applicable to any community that’s trying to create a strong local sense of place, so we’ve retrofitted his recommendations to speak broadly to people who are working to transform their public spaces into magnetic destinations that are reflective of the diverse communities that surround them.


Stop by and read the complete article for details on the elements of great public spaces, including:

  • place capital
  • events
  • access to advocates
  • local press + organizational tools
  • placemakers
  • flagship public space
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A Master Plan for Cultural and Ecological Urbanism...

A Master Plan for Cultural and Ecological Urbanism... | green streets | Scoop.it

“This planning proposal seeks to determine community and bio-diversity from its historical pattern. The concept finds fundamental inspiration in the strong historical identity of the local railway line, and the historic identity of industrialization of Kaohsiung city.

Inspired by the culturally and biologically responsive between the new city urban fabric and existing old town Yen Chan district, the guiding principle of the master plan is to inspire a meaningful sense of community and a shared commitment to social and environmental responsibility.

The proposal also introduces a series of urban agriculture farming and integrated parks. The strategy is to infiltrate and to conceal the community and biological diversity from the nearby Wan Shu Mountain. It also reflects the historical transformation of Kaohsiung city from industrial city to a contemporary cityscape.”

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Setting the Table, Making a Place: How Food Can Help Create a Multi-Use Destination

Setting the Table, Making a Place: How Food Can Help Create a Multi-Use Destination | green streets | Scoop.it

Food – we need it, we love it, and we structure our lives and cultures around it. San Antonio, Texas, is a city that is starting to structure its neighborhoods around it, starting with an ambitious redevelopment project called the Pearl Brewery. Located on 22 acres along the banks of the San Antonio River north of downtown, today’s Pearl is a multi-use campus of buildings originally founded as the J. B. Behloradsky Brewery and City Brewery over 120 years ago. The current vision for the site is for a vibrant urban district to grow out from a culinary destination that brings people together around the celebration of local food and culture...

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A. S. CohenMiller's comment, September 5, 2012 4:14 PM
We love what Pearl has been doing. Definitely worth visiting (regularly)!
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Getting Greener: Seattle's eco-district nearing reality

Getting Greener: Seattle's eco-district nearing reality | green streets | Scoop.it
Attempting to better integrate the green agenda into local planning, the Bullitt Foundation, a Seattle nonprofit focusing on sustainability, awarded $50,000 last spring to the city’s Capitol Hill Housing Foundation to conduct a feasibility study for a neighborhood “eco-district.”

The foundation hired local firm GGLO to complete the study, and the firm last month began providing recommendations, including increased affordable housing, a community orchard, and a storm-water management system.

As Capitol Hill Housing Sustainable Communities manager Alex Brennan explained, the district planning unites neighborhood infrastructure and building design, considering energy, water, materials, transportation, and habitat. Proponents consider it a more unified alternative to LEED for neighborhood development.

“We see Capitol Hill as a catalyst for this type of planning, as the densest community in the northwest,” noted Chris Persons, executive director of Capitol Hill Housing...

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No vacancy: Unleashing the potential of empty urban land

No vacancy: Unleashing the potential of empty urban land | green streets | Scoop.it

A group of volunteers in Brooklyn mapped all the vacant city-owned properties in the borough, and discovered a remarkable amount of unused real estate...

Less than a year old, 596 Acres is the work of a small core of volunteers, including Paula Z. Segal, a lawyer and lead facilitator for the group. Segal first got interested in the city-owned vacant lots because of a site known as Myrtle Village Green, near where she lived at the time.

Researching the site, Segal learned how much data was available on vacant city land that had not yet been locked down by developers — and she got excited about the potential uses for that space. She presented some of her findings at the Festival of Ideas for the New City last year, and that’s where she met Eric Breisford, a programmer who, like her, is involved in a variety of other projects having to do with access to public space, public data, and decent food. The duo quickly got to work on making the data more accessible in both digital and paper formats.

Together they worked to get a map printed that showed the data they had gathered, and an online version as well. They researched a few lots in greater detail, then wheatpasted the printed maps to foam core boards along with explanations of “what’s going on here,” and posted those at a few lots around Brooklyn...

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Award-Winning German Development Aims To Be 'The World's Most Sustainable Neighborhood'

Award-Winning German Development Aims To Be 'The World's Most Sustainable Neighborhood' | green streets | Scoop.it
Energy efficient, pedestrian friendly, conveniently located, and full of green innovations, the eco-city Arkadien Winnenden makes a pretty good case for the title.

Economically depressed and the site of a tragic school shooting in 2009, the small German suburb of Winnenden didn't have much appeal despite its low home prices and proximity to Stuttgart. But an award-winning eco-friendly development is turning the town in a new direction.

The architecture firm Atelier Dreiseitl, which also recently transformed Singapore's Bishan Park, calls its new Arkadien Winnenden development "the world’s most sustainable neighborhood."

Formerly home to an abandoned factory, the site's contaminated soil was remediated and recycled, as was existing concrete. Each house in the neighborhood has a high energy-efficiency rating and priority was given to non-toxic, locally sourced materials during construction. The competitively priced homes are connected by pedestrian-friendly streets and shared public spaces, though they also have private gardens, terraces, and roof gardens...

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Vision of a great place to live, work and play fueled by “Smart Growth”

Vision of a great place to live, work and play fueled by “Smart Growth” | green streets | Scoop.it
Vision of a great place to live, work and play fueled by “Smart Growth”nwitimes.comTo date the results of Chesterton's "Smart Growth" plan speak for themselves in a town where the quality of life is already considered second to none by many.


To date the results of Chesterton's "Smart Growth" plan speak for themselves in a town where the quality of life is already considered second to none by many. There's a balanced mix of established and developing residential neighborhoods to meet the needs of homeowners in various price ranges, outstanding schools that are well-regarded in the state for academic excellence and quality programs, a re-energized downtown that routinely draws visitors from three states and an amazing Porter County location in close proximity to the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and Indiana Dunes State Park.

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Community Solar Gardens Bring Affordable Green Energy to the Masses

Community Solar Gardens Bring Affordable Green Energy to the Masses | green streets | Scoop.it

A new trend is springing up across the country that’s making affordable solar energy increasingly available to the masses.

Community solar gardens allow customers who aren’t able to establish their own solar power systems to buy into a solar array built elsewhere and get a credit on their electricity bill for the power produced by the panels. These arrangements that allow people to not only cut their power bills but also switch to more green energy first emerged in Colorado, but have since spread across the country – with laws allowing the projects to progress through legislatures in California, Minnesota and Washington D.C., and one on the books since 2008 in Massachusetts – where the trend is currently taking flight...

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Bass and Flinders Gateway: A Proposed Development Encouraging Community in New South Wales

Bass and Flinders Gateway: A Proposed Development Encouraging Community in New South Wales | green streets | Scoop.it

The Bass and Flinders Gateway development in New South Wales, Australia sits at the threshold of Wollongong and the greater Illawarra region, with the Illawarra Escarpment as the backdrop and inspiration behind the design concept- an aesthetic and metaphoric link to the building’s central location at the heart of the coastal plain between the mountain and sea, resonating the energy and history of the city.


To manage the transition between the city center and its outskirts, the profile of the buildings vary, layered as the topography of the escarpment, fine-tuned to moderate between the scales of the city, the domestic to the civic, the shed to the office tower. 
At the heart of the development is a central green space, permeable to cyclists and pedestrians, importantly connected into the Wollongong city grain and its local precinct. Designed to encourage social interaction and foster a sense of community that works positively with the developing urban plan and commercial strategy of the city rather than in competition it. 

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Raymond Versteegh's curator insight, December 25, 2013 8:44 AM

Love The Design And Intention --- out there in South Wales, Australia

Norm Miller's curator insight, January 1, 2014 4:32 PM

City planning matters and yet it is so often weighed down by naive resident concerns, NIMBY types and policitians.  

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Breakfast on the Sydney Harbor Bridge: Rethinking Built Forms

Breakfast on the Sydney Harbor Bridge: Rethinking Built Forms | green streets | Scoop.it

Many city dwellers feel enveloped by their urban environment and ache for open spaces. Bringing the landscape into the city is not an uncommon theme, with rooftop gardens, council verge regeneration, and green walls among many of the key ideas envisioned by landscape architects. 

These transformations emerge in an effort to counter the routine indifference of many built forms, yet never on such a scale as the Breakfast on the Bridge event, which took place in Sydney in recent years.

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Nat Sones's curator insight, October 2, 2013 5:16 AM

It's a major challenge to transform anything - transforming a city is of course another level of task entirely. This look at how the urban environment designed for one task or purpose can be used for something utterly different shows how we can creatively respond to the transformation agenda, not just within cities but in other areas, without huge cost or stress. 

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Award Given to Top Green Building and Urban Placemaking Sites

Award Given to Top Green Building and Urban Placemaking Sites | green streets | Scoop.it

Inspiration Kitchens in Chicago took home the Bruner Foundation’s Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence (RBA) gold medal, which comes with $50,000 in support for the project. Four other projects won silver medals and $10,000.


The biennial award celebrates “urban places distinguished by quality design and contributions to the social, economic, and communal vitality of our nation’s cities.” Since 1987, the Bruner Foundation has awarded 67 projects $1.2 million in support.

Inspiration Kitchens is an “entrepreneurial, nonprofit initiative” on Chicago’s west side. In an economically-challenged part of the city, this LEED Gold certified facility, with a 80-seat restaurant, serves free and affordable healthy meals.
The restaurant prides itself on being “earth-friendly, including our use of local ingredients, solar-heated water and sun-sensitive kitchen lighting.”

Four other projects won silver medals and $10,000: read the complete article for more details.

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6 New Year's Resolutions for Better City Life | Sustainable Cities Collective

6 New Year's Resolutions for Better City Life | Sustainable Cities Collective | green streets | Scoop.it

(by Cristiana StravaIt) 

It's the time of year again when we take stock of the old and pledge to be better in the new. Since our goal at Polis is to foster dialogue and cooperation for improving city life, I'm proposing a short list of New Year's resolutions to help us all live better urban lives...

Lauren Moss's insight:

An overview of practices and programs that enable a more sustainable and engaged approach to urban design and planning on the community scale.


Featured topics include:


1. Cycle and Recycle

2. Use Public Transport (More)

3. Get Involved in Your Community

4. Explore

5. Make a Map

6. Support Urban Agriculture and Community Gardens

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A Grand Idea To Revitalize A City, Using Living Art

A Grand Idea To Revitalize A City, Using Living Art | green streets | Scoop.it
David Lagé believes that East Buffalo needs a bit of TLC. The Brooklyn-based architect established Terrainsvagues as a type of think-tank for discussions around the plight of vacant plots that have popped up in cities grappling with their less-than-bustling, post-industrial realities.
For Art Farms, its first initiative, Lagé teamed up with co-curator Andrea Salvini to revitalize the upstate Rust Belt region from the earth up.

Lagé and Salvini believe that the element of engagement will deepen a connection between residents and new local cooperatives establishing community gardens at vacant lots. They enlisted five local artists to create free-standing sculptures for three established locales: Wilson Street Urban Farm, Cold Spring Farm, and Michigan Street Farm with a single stipulation: Their site-specific works must somehow, someway support agricultural activity...
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Emilie Wacogne's curator insight, February 27, 2013 8:15 AM

La revitalisation de la "Rust Belt" américaine par l'Art...

Lorraine Chaffer's curator insight, June 1, 2013 7:53 AM

Improving the liveability of places can involve engaging the community - street art and unique installations can be effective in achieving this.



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SANAA Meanders Through What Could Have Been a Subdivision

SANAA Meanders Through What Could Have Been a Subdivision | green streets | Scoop.it

Tokyo-based SANAA has unveiled its next U.S. project, a meandering structure called The River for the Grace Farms Foundation a non-profit in New Canaan, CT. Situated on an acre of the 75-acre Grace Farms, the building is defined by its flowing roof that hovers ten feet above the landscape on slender metal posts. Interior spaces are formed by increasing the building’s width and enclosing spaces in floor-to-ceiling glass, creating a seamless transition between interior spaces and a landscape designed by Philadelphia-based OLIN.

 

The River descends from a sanctuary space for the Community Church atop a hill and includes a library, meeting space, dining room, gymnasium, and children’s spaces along its route.

“Our goal with the River is to make the architecture become part of the landscape without drawing attention to itself, or even feeling like a building,” said Kazuyo Sejima, principal at SANAA, in a statement. “We hope that those who are on the property will have a greater enjoyment of the beautiful environment and changing seasons through the spaces and experience created by the River.”

 

The landscape of meadows, wetlands, lakes, and woods at Grace Farms was preserved from development in 2008 when a 10-house subdivision was once proposed.

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Parks and Re-Creation: The Revitalizing Power of Parks in Cities

Parks and Re-Creation: The Revitalizing Power of Parks in Cities | green streets | Scoop.it

Amidst the automobile infested concrete space of most modern cities are spaces which allow for community to really happen- parks. With access to open space, parks not only provide an outlet from our fast-paced society; they serve our neighborhoods through design, providing a natural habitat, serene experiences, and opportunities for community engagement.

There are many benefits from investing in green space; much of which can only happen through creating and maintaining parks in cities. Parks generate economic, physical and social benefits, creating stronger community ties and transforming cities by awakening vital senses of city dwellers. Many cities, in efforts to revitalize themselves, incorporate a park as part of that revitalization. 

Parks are often located on historic sites where the land is protected by the city. A well-designed park can show that recreating historic space doesn’t have to mean ‘destroy and rebuild’, instead revitalizing an asset that was already there in some form...

City dwellers make up an urban community. In the open green space of a park, where no one owns anything and the space is collectively ours, a genuine sense of community, shared space, and shared life can be developed. A well-designed urban park has the potential to transform individuals, making them more conscious of community, encouraging them to practice sustenance of that community with a sense of pride.

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Projecting the Social Life of Small Urban Stoops

Projecting the Social Life of Small Urban Stoops | green streets | Scoop.it

New Yorkers like to believe that they’ve perfected stoop sitting culture, but half a world away in Auckland, New Zealand, experimental design collaborative

Oh.No.Sumo has taken stoop sitting a step higher. As part of St. Paul Street Gallery‘s 2012 exhibition program of curatorial practice, Oh.No.Sumo created a small-scale tactical intervention forming an unexpected theater on a small stoop where the steps are the seats. Responding to the intersection’s lack of social life and the public’s retreat into smart-phone isolation, the Stairway Cinema creates a communal node and conversation piece.

Built from a structural pine skeleton and covered in a waterproof, tactile red fabric, Stairway Cinema projects movies shared on the Internet via social media onto a screen visible both from the stoop and the sidewalk in an attempt to remake the once-isolating medium of smart phones into the art that brings community together. According to the designers, “Our ongoing goal is to experiment with architecture and the way it can engage with the public in unique and exciting ways.”

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America's Greatest Main Streets...

America's Greatest Main Streets... | green streets | Scoop.it

Cheers to these small towns for great Main Streets, where you can admire architecture, sample the local flavor, and find a lost America.

Driving across America, it’s all too easy to lose your mooring amid the commercial thicket of the same old fast-food outlets and big-box stores.

But push on a mile or two beyond the interstate exit, and you may discover a town that’s anchored by a distinctive Main Street—one with grand architecture, eclectic small businesses, and community-oriented features like a park or theater. Often it thrives thanks to locals who have made a conscientious effort to fight the general decline of Main Street...

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Freeways Without Futures | Congress for the New Urbanism

Freeways Without Futures | Congress for the New Urbanism | green streets | Scoop.it
The “Freeways Without Futures” list recognizes the top-ten locations in North America where the opportunity is greatest to stimulate valuable revitalization by replacing aging urban highways with boulevards and other cost-saving urban alternatives. The list was generated from an open call for nominations and prioritized based on factors including the age of the structure, redevelopment potential, potential cost savings, ability to improve both overall mobility and local access, existence of pending infrastructure decisions, and local support.

Cities around the world are replacing urban highways with surface streets, saving billions of dollars on transportation infrastructure and revitalizing adjacent land with walkable, compact development. Transportation models that support connected street grids, improved transit, and revitalized urbanism will make reducing gasoline dependency and greenhouse gas emissions that much more convenient. It pays to consider them as cities evaluate their renewal strategies — and as the U.S. evaluates its federal transportation and climate policy...

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What Communities Should Do To Protect Against Climate Change

What Communities Should Do To Protect Against Climate Change | green streets | Scoop.it
Nine low-tech steps we can take to mitigate the effects of global warming.

Over the past 50 years, our average global temperature has increased at the fastest rate in history. That is fact; this is not abstract, nor are the effects limited to the developing world.

 

These changes will have - indeed, are already having - major effects on our cities, suburbs, and towns.

 There are many things we can and must do to reduce the warming trajectory. First among these is reducing emissions of carbon dioxide, the most common and potent greenhouse gas, particularly by transitioning to a clean energy economy. But turning this ship around is going to take time, even under the best scenarios.

Meanwhile, there are also measures we need to take right now inside our communities so that we are as prepared as possible for the warmer climate ahead. Some of them are related to technology, of course, perhaps including personal technology.

This article focuses on a few things that we can and should do for our cities, suburbs and towns that are low-tech. What’s below is by no means a definitive or complete list, but it’s a start...

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