Artful Impact: The Let’s Colour Project brightens up communities

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I’ve always felt the Spanish nailed it with the bright colors in their architecture.  It adds such vibrancy to a neighborhood.  Well, the Let’s Colour Project must agree, since they are on a mission to launch a color movement across the globe.  From their website:

Grey is out. Gloom is gone. It’s time to live our lives in colour.

The Let’s Colour Project is a worldwide initiative to transform grey spaces with vibrant colour. A mission to spread colour all over the world.

We are working together with local communities across the globe, rolling up our sleeves to paint streets, houses, schools and squares.

Check out some beautiful community transformation in time lapse:

On the film:

This 2 minute global film was shot by multi-award winning director Adam Berg over four weeks in Brazil, France, London and India. Every location is real and they remain transformed by a palette consisting of 120 different colours. The people in the film are not actors, they are real people who rolled up their sleeves to transform their community with colour.

[Props: Nerdcore]

Posted on June 1st 2010 in Artful Impact

Biking with Android

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Android finally brought me bicycling directions on Google Maps.  I let it take me on a tour across Brooklyn today.  It works quite nicely for stop, check where I am, and move on, but I’m yearning for the day it becomes my perfect biking GPS.  It’s not quite there yet.

First, you can’t navigate with bike directions in the way you can with driving directions, which is unfortunate.  I can’t imagine it would be that difficult to replicate that functionality, so I suspect it won’t be too long, perhaps in the Android 2.2 update, code-named Froyo.  In the meantime, I’m gonna be ready.  Project: $5 Handlebar phone mount, courtesy of Lifehacker.

[this is crucial, as texting while biking is set to become a problem.  Last summer, I watched a kid texting on his bike run right into a parked car and clip off the rear view mirror.  Dude just kept going]

It also won’t be a complete experience until I can drag and drop points on the route, like you can on the web, with real-time adjustments to the route.  When that hits, I’ll be ready to roll, phone strapped to the handlebar, grabbin’ speaker phone conversations as the street names pass under me on the navigator.  Sweet.

One cool thing now is that you can add the terrain layer on your directions and check out where the hills are around you.  But it doesn’t do much for me; it basically had all of Brooklyn flat.  Park slopes don’t count.

All in all, though, I am just pleased to have it.  It is pretty on-point with choosing routes and finding all the bike lanes around the city, miles of which have emerged over the past couple years and bumped NYC up to the second-most bike friendly city in states, according to National Geographic.  Loving it.

Posted on May 13th 2010 in news

Commuting patterns by city

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The Infrastructurist put together the cool graphic below, which breaks down the different modes of commuting in some of America’s big cities.

Money facts:

  • NYC, naturally, has the highest proportion of public transportation users
  • DC puts forth the biggest chunk of walkers
  • Houston may have the highest proportion of drivers, but it also has the highest proportion of carpoolers

[Image source: The Infrastructurist]

    Posted on February 22nd 2010 in news

    Miami and Vegas Sucker Punch Smart Growth

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    Smart growth has simple concepts at its core.  The primary principle is that it is more efficient and environmentally friendly to have development patterns that are 1) mixed-use, 2) compact and 3) connected.  With those elements, transit functions efficiently, people can walk places, and development has a lighter impact on the natural environment.

    The smart growth movement got a huge boost from the development boom, but the real estate bust has been especially hard on smart growth.  Even though people liked smart growth developments, our society has started to revert back to supporting suburban sprawl over smart growth because of the financial instruments that are available, or rather that are no longer available, to finance smart growth.

    What happened?

    Huge speculative condominium projects in places like Miami and Vegas went down in flames when the real estate bust hit.  Bankers and investors lost their shirts on these condo projects.  Large numbers of these condos went into default.  As a result, secondary underwriters, mainly Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, changed their underwriting rules so that no buyer, no matter how qualified, could get a loan to buy a condo if the condo project did not have at least 70% sold to owner occupants (this rule is still in place).   Because most condo projects have more than 30% renters, it is now very difficult for someone to get a loan to buy a condo.

    This over-tightening of credit to potential buyers of condos drastically reduced the pool of potential condo buyers, and simple supply and demand economics kicked in – demand was cut and prices went down.  And since condo prices dropped faster than the market on average, people have been further disincentivized from buying condos and prices have become even more depressed.  This negative feedback cycle has made developers and investors more reluctant to build mixed-use buildings and condo buildings in the future.

    Without the ability to build condos, it will be nearly impossible to build dense, mixed-use projects.  This is a huge impediment to making meaningful progress in creating smart growth developments and tackling climate change.

    Posted on February 12th 2010 in news

    Introducing: MikeyFigs

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    My good buddy Mike Figura has elected to join me on the Benevolent Baron as a contributor.  We go back to UVA, where we were both loosely affiliated with the same fraternity, took a few urban planning and environmental science classes together, and had a quasi-band called Djambay.  I am pumped to have his input.

    After graduation, Mike moved to Asheville, NC and got into the sustainable real estate development game.  He founded his own real estate company, Eco Concepts Realty, the first in Asheville to focus exclusively on sustainable real estate.  Using mixed-use development and energy efficiency, he has created properties that are allowing the people of Asheville to lead more sustainable lives.  You can see some of the properties, along with their green features, here and here.  His current project, the Westville, will be the first LEED certified mixed-use building in Asheville.

    Please welcome Mike to the BB.  Look for his inaugural post shortly.

    [Note: Eco Concepts Realty recently re-branded itself and is now known as Mosaic Realty]

    Posted on February 12th 2010 in Uncategorized
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