Roof Deserts

My small town on the outer edge of the Denver metro area is beginning to experience a push for more housing — particularly for affordable housing. This is driving developers to construct dense multi-family apartments and condos on vacant lots and on clusters of what would have been single-family home lots. There is much concern […]

“I Wonder What the Poor People are Doing”

We would sit on the ground or on the pickup tailgate taking a break from following the dogs to hunt quail. Even though it was fall, the Texas heat and humidity were still high, and pushing through the brush and weeds over rough terrain required some effort. Our gear was heavy, and the thick brush-resistant […]

Like Legos

“… it was all about refurbishing and reusing existing buildings. Wainright’s meaning is much more sophisticated; we may not keep every building forever, but if they are designed for deconstruction we can keep using all the parts. That’s the way to truly ban demolition.” ~ Lloyd Alter It was a hard lesson for a young […]

Home, Home in the Mall

Christmas shopping used to be a delight. The decorations, fake snow and Christmas trees, incessant Christmas music, kids lined up to see Santa and his elf and maybe a few reindeer — it was all a pageant of wonderful dreams. The sidewalks were crowded with shoppers loaded with bags and boxes and the ever-present Salvation […]

The Opportunity of The Retail Apocalypse

“They paved paradise And put up a parking lot Don’t it always seem to go That you don’t know what you’ve got ‘Till it’s gone” ~ Joni Mitchell, Big Yellow Taxi It was basically a 50’s strip mall that occupied two sides of a square block, with room for plenty of parking in the middle […]

Plant A Tree, Save A Tree

“Love your neighbor, yet don’t pull down your hedge.” ~ Benjamin Franklin We first noticed when most of the big trees were gone. The old mobile home park had been located among some really giant old cottonwoods that provided shade, but undoubtedly created a hazard for the occupants in the flimsy structures below. Nonetheless, they […]

Water on the Brain

The creek that runs a block from my house is bordered by open space, parks and trails. It makes for a nice transition into our old neighborhood with its large trees and established landscaping. It also makes the neighborhood feel more relaxed — casual and friendly. We’ve known that the presence of vegetation in nearly […]

Be Green, Not Mean

“What’s in a fence? More than you’d think. In neighborhoods where as little as about $1,000 was spent transforming a vacant lot with some grass, a few trees, and a short wooden fence, people felt less depressed and less worthless.” ~ Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan In contrast to the suburbs or ex-burbs, urban areas are often relatively […]

Guerilla Tactics

Those who hear not the music think the dancers mad. — Unknown “There he goes again,” my neighbor sighed grumpily, pointing to the older guy wandering our street with pruning shears. “Come on,” I replied, “he’s harmless.” “But I may not want my trees trimmed,” he grumped and went inside. Once again my weird old […]

Old Urbanism

“New Urbanism is an urban design movement which promotes environmentally friendly habits by creating walkable neighborhoods containing a wide range of housing and job types.” – Wikipedia New Urbanism is one of our primary tools against sprawl. Greater density, alternative transportation, layered development, increased diversity — all contribute to a more efficient community. I had […]