Foreclosed: Rehousing the American Dream at the Museum of Modern Art

Excerpt from an article at The Atlantic Cities:

There is the abject lesson of how not to accommodate a society’s population – the exhibit Foreclosed: Rehousing the American Dream at the Museum of Modern Art, where teams of architects, economists, and artists re-imagined five areas devastated by the 2008 housing crisis. The hotspots in New Jersey, Florida, Illinois, southern California and Oregon are all primarily suburban environments, though not as far-flung as the so-called zombie subdivisions miles from anywhere. 

The ideas in the exhibit prompted much commentary about how realistic they were, from James RussellBlair KaminDiana LindBryan Bell and my colleague Sarah Goodyear. Members of the team that re-imagined a factory site in Cicero, Illinois, Jeanne Gang and Greg Lindsay, penned a New York Times op-ed calling for a fresh design and policy approach to housing for the 21st century. Curator Barry Bergdoll said the proposals were meant to be “provocations.”

Let’s Start a Learning Revolution

Designing a Fix for Housing


Published: February 9, 2012

RECENT efforts to fix the housing market — including Thursday’s $26 billion settlement with five of the nation’s biggest banks — have focused purely on the financial aspects of the slump. A permanent solution, however, must go further than money to address issues that have been at the core of the crisis but have been wholly ignored: design and urban planning.

Too often during the bubble, banks and builders shunned thoughtful architecture and urban design in favor of cookie-cutter houses that could be easily repackaged as derivatives to be flipped, while architects snubbed housing to pursue more prestigious projects.

But better design is precisely what suburban America needs, particularly when it comes to rethinking the basic residential categories that define it, but can no longer accommodate the realities of domestic life. Designers and policy makers need to see the single-family house as a design dilemma whose elements — architecture, finance and residents’ desires — are inextricably linked.

Read full article which includes ideas for zoning, financing, co-ops, land trusts, etc.

Jeanne Gang and Greg Lindsay are, respectively, an architect and a visiting scholar at the Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and Management at New York University.

Grants for Start-Up Organic Farmers for Women

by Ron White, Demand Media

With U.S. consumers increasingly interested in organic farming, the small businesswoman today has many opportunities to capitalize. Organic farming provides a niche that most large farms cannot fill, and a wealth of help in the form of grants makes launching into an organic farming business relatively simple for any woman. Available grants run the gamut, but they fall into a few (4) main categories.

SARE Grants

Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) provides grants designed to promote sustainable farming in the U.S. Some grants specifically target farm producers, and SARE considers start-up organic farms because they share the SARE mission, which is to advance innovation in agriculture. One focus area is education and research. SARE hopes the grants it gives to organic farmers helps other farmers run their own organic farming businesses. 

Read more about: Federal USDA Grants, State and Extension Grants, Nonprofit Grants

Who Owns the Farm? Land Rights Push in China Leaves Women Without a Plot To Stand On

In the Masterpiece series “Downton Abbey," Lady Mary Crawley, the eldest daughter of an Earl, cannot inherit the eponymous estate because she is a woman. She finds this demeaning and frustrating, but her future will be well taken care of regardless. This isn’t the case for millions of women around the world, who struggle to access, own, and inherit the tiny plots of land on which they live and work.

In China, women actually have equal rights to inherit and own land, yet rarely ever do. A recent survey in 17 Chinese provinces, undertaken by the global land rights group Landesa, found that only 17.1 percent of existing land contracts and 38.2 percent of existing land certificates include women’s names.

Read the full article.

Side thought: What if women owned more farms in the US?….

Links about Woman Farmers in the US:

There’s No Place Like Here: Communal Living with Nikki Silva

While traveling to help promote Etsy as a sponsor of the Bay Area Maker Faire, I was fortunate enough to receive an invitation to visit the wondrous place that is La Selva. After a beautiful sunlight-through-the-mist drive down the winding seaside road of Highway 1, I reached Watsonville, CA, and eventually La Selva, where Nikki Silva, a public radio producer best known for her work as one half of the Kitchen Sisters, greeted me. Nikki led me through the communal home that she and eight others have built for themselves in over thirty years of hard toiling work. Naturally we waited all day for a break in the fog so I could get a shot of the majestic view overlooking Monterey Bay.

The Entrepreneur State: Safety Nets for Startups, Capitalism for Corporations

Here’s a new framework for competitiveness: What if the law were biased, not toward the oil and gas industry or the cotton farmers, but to the creative, the self-employed, and the entrepreneurs?

"If it’s the economy, stupid, then it’s the jobs stupid," Steve Case, the founder of AOL and the CEO of Revolution, recently told me at his Washington, D.C., office. "And if it’s the jobs, stupid, then it’s the entrepreneurs, stupid."

What would a government built around “It’s the entrepreneurs, stupid” look like? Two weeks ago, the president sent to Congress an agenda, prepared by Case’s group Startup America, which proposed expanding visas for immigrants, doubling deductions for small companies, and many more worthy ideas targeted to the problem of entrepreneurship.

Good ideas. We need to think even bigger. The broadest debate in Washington, and on the primary trail, is about whether government needs to step up to create jobs or step back to allow the market to work by itself. But what if we need both: A stronger safety net to lessen risk for wannabe-startups and purer free market approach for established corporations? 

That’s the big idea, but let’s begin with a smaller story.

100-Mile Houses Expand the Locavore Movement From Food to Architecture

The rise of the locavore movement introduced millions of people to the100-mile diet, which involves eating only food produced within one’s own region. Now, a new focus on sustainable architecture is applying the same concept to homes.

The idea of a 100-mile house shouldn’t be shocking: Historically, most homes were made using local materials simply because it was more practical. But in an age when even middle-class homeowners can order marble countertops from Italy and bamboo floors from China, creating a home entirely from local materials challenges builders to carefully consider every piece of the structure, from the foundation to the eaves.

Last week, the Architecture Foundation of British Columbia launched an international competition to design a 1,200-square-foot, four-person home that exclusively uses materials made or recycled within 100 miles of Vancouver. David M. Hewitt, the current chair of the Architecture Foundation, came up with the idea for the competition on a whim and presented it at a board meeting. “It was almost thrown out facetiously, and everybody latched onto it,” he says.

Read the full article.

Building A Village Starts With Building The Tractor

Jakubowski says the experience of making his own tractor transformed him and he set about designing and building affordable alternatives to industrial machines.

Do-it-yourselfers have made everything from bamboo bicycles to 3-D printers, but nothing as ambitious as what’s happening on a farm in northwest Missouri where tractors and other industrial machines are being made from scratch.

"I was so disillusioned and disenchanted with that whole world, I wanted to leave it as soon as possible," says the 39-year-old Jakubowski. "So the first thing I did after graduation is settle on some land and started getting dirty."

Jakubowski moved to Missouri, where he eventually bought 30 acres in the town of Maysville. He grew wheat, raised goats and tended a fruit orchard. But then one day, his tractor broke.

Holes Of Happiness is a short documentary looking at the reactions of the public to some pothole gardens that have been popping up around East London.

Via the invaluable Maria Popova at Brain Pickings, this video by Marija Jacimovic and Benoit Detalle uses vegetables — so many, many awesome vegetables — to illustrate Michael Pollan’s Food Rules (the version that expands on “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants”).

This animation was created in the context of the RSA/Nominet Trust film competition. Using a mixture of stop-motion and compositing, our aim and challenge was to convey the topic in a visually interesting way using a variety of different food products. We made a little table top set up at home and worked on this a little over three weeks.