Categories

A sample text widget

Etiam pulvinar consectetur dolor sed malesuada. Ut convallis euismod dolor nec pretium. Nunc ut tristique massa.

Nam sodales mi vitae dolor ullamcorper et vulputate enim accumsan. Morbi orci magna, tincidunt vitae molestie nec, molestie at mi. Nulla nulla lorem, suscipit in posuere in, interdum non magna.

Melissa Fong: “I’m speaking with you as a human being and you’re talking at me as a politician.”

"I'm speaking with you as a human being and you're talking at me as a politician."— Melissa Fong (@internationalmf) April 21, 2014   When you ask me to open up […]

openalex: ecoHackMTL: Totally Awesome!

Almost 100 participants,  12 projects, 4 specially proposed challenges, 6 newly released data sets and lots of happy faces at the end of the day. 

A huge thank-you to everyone who came out for the inaugural ecoHack in Montréal last weekend!

écoHackMTL set out to bring together programmers, community activists, and urban environmentalists to design digital tools that allow for deeper citizen engagement with urban spaces and urban sustainability.

It grew out of the fact that the amazing energy of the hackathon and opendata scenes had yet to be effectively applied to building greener cities.  (Not just in Montreal, but anywhere.)

Last Saturday’s day long hackathon was a first attempt at bringing urban sustainability into the digital age.  It was also the culmination of 6 months spent hosting little events around the city to build bridges between developers, environmentalists, planners, and anyone else who was interested in building a greener city.

It was fun, but time consuming work.  Developers learned about urban sustainability.  Environmental advocates and activists learned about programming and data.  And everyone went away with enough of a shared language to collaborate on some amazing projects.

Check out ecohackmtl.sparkboard.com to see the prototypes that came out of the day.  While you are there you can also vote for your favourites.  If you are in Montreal, stay tuned for the details of our November 14 wrap-party where we will announce the winners of the “Participants Choice” and “Public Choice” awards.

I’d also like to send out a heartfelt thank-you to all to the volunteers and advisory committee members who made the event possible.  The City of Montreal was supportive from very early on and released a dozen new datasets for the day of the event.  And Siemens Canada our principal sponsor. . . . → Read More: openalex: ecoHackMTL: Totally Awesome!

openalex: ecoHackMTL: Totally Awesome!

Almost 100 participants,  12 projects, 4 specially proposed challenges, 6 newly released data sets and lots of happy faces at the end of the day. 

A huge thank-you to everyone who came out for the inaugural ecoHack in Montréal last weekend!

écoHackMTL set out to bring together programmers, community activists, and urban environmentalists  to . . . → Read More: openalex: ecoHackMTL: Totally Awesome!

openalex: EcoDistricts: All Green, All in One Place

[I was in Portland when the EcoDistrict project was launched and have been following it ever since.  It’s still in its early days, but I think it’s a great approach to speed the evolution of our cities. Originally posted  @SustainableCitiesCanada.]

You’ve probably seen pictures of London’s BedZED , or Malmo’s Western Harbour redevelopment. Showpiece green developments like those have put urban sustainability in the international spotlight.

But all around them is a larger city that also needs to evolve radically if we are going to make sustainable cities a reality. Otherwise the substance is missing; you’ve got the cherry on top, but no Sunday underneath.

The magic of developments like BedZED, or projects like Victoria’s Dockside Green here in Canada, is that they do it all, and all in one place. Renewable energy, walkable vibrant density, multiple transportation options, urban agriculture, green buildings…. all woven together into a whole that is inspiring and effective. Rather than piecemeal interventions you get a picture of what a fundamentally different city could look like.

But how can you apply the same holistic approach to the neighbourhoods and districts that we already have? Portland (OR) is one of a small number of cities pioneering efforts to answer that question.

Building EcoDistricts
In 2009 the city launched the EcoDistrict program to accelerate the transformation of five existing neighbourhoods. EcoDistricts pursues the type of neighbourhood-scale interventions that you might expect, ranging from district energy to green streets. But at the core of the whole endeavour is the insight that to operate at a district scale the challenges aren’t primarily about technology, they are about people.

Unlike greenfield developments, working with existing neighbourhoods means working with a complex mix of residents, businesses, developers, utilities and municipal agencies. The EcoDistrict process begins by building a framework that allows all these different players to work together and supplies them with resources and strategies to begin remaking their part of the city.

The Elusive “How”: People
Portland aims to make the EcoDistrict approach something that can be applied in other cities (see their upcoming summit). How well it will transfer remains to be seen. At the same time, other cities will also develop their own approach to collaboratively transforming existing cityscapes. Montreal’s Quartiers 21 and Quartiers Verts programs, for example, also use the neighbourhood scale as a place to test out innovative ideas and processes of public engagement.

In the end the specific process cities follow isn’t as important as how they frame the challenge. We’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the “what” of urban sustainability; the “how” has always been a bit more elusive. Portland’s EcoDistricts program shows that it is possible to mobilize the complex mixture of different people and institutions in a way that makes holistic green urbanism possible.

It will be interesting to see which Canadian city will be the first to do the same.

. . . → Read More: openalex: EcoDistricts: All Green, All in One Place

openalex: EcoDistricts: All Green, All in One Place

[I was in Portland when the EcoDistrict project was launched and have been following it ever since.  It’s still in its early days, but I think it’s a great approach to speed the evolution of our cities. Originally posted  @SustainableCitiesCanada.]

You’ve probably seen pictures of London’s BedZED , or Malmo’s Western Harbour redevelopment. Showpiece green . . . → Read More: openalex: EcoDistricts: All Green, All in One Place

openalex: Green Urban Innovation: Solarize Portland and the Power of Communities

I was in New York earlier this month to present at the Association of American Geographers big annual conference. As well as an excellent stroll along the High Line (thanks Gena!), I got to talk about Solarize Portland — one of my favourite examples of how people can reshape their cities in unexpected ways. I’ve . . . → Read More: openalex: Green Urban Innovation: Solarize Portland and the Power of Communities

openalex: Rivers Forgotten – The Underground World Beneath City Streets

I was in Toronto last week and finally had a chance to get my hands on Rivers Forgotten, Jeremy Kai’s stunning book of underground photos (Koyama Press, 2011).

Kai has spent years exploring the cavernous system of storm sewers that run below Toronto’s streets. Working in very challenging conditions, he has produced a book . . . → Read More: openalex: Rivers Forgotten – The Underground World Beneath City Streets