Archive for ◊ June, 2012 ◊

• Monday, June 25th, 2012

Walkable Neighborhoods more ValuableThis isn’t really news to Montrealers, but it is still good to see the validation from the States.

Source: Smart Growth America

The most valuable real estate today is in walkable urban locations – and that’s a stark change from only a decade ago.

That is one of the principal findings of a new report from the Brookings Institution. Walk this Way:The Economic Promise of Walkable Places in Metropolitan Washington, D.C. is an economic analysis of the neighborhoods in and surrounding our nation’s capital.

“Emerging evidence points to a preference for mixed-use, compact, amenity-rich, transit-accessible neighborhoods or walkable places,” the report explains, noting that consumer preferences have shifted and that demand for walkable housing is outpacing supply, thus contributing to higher property values.

“A Life of Walking vs. Driving,” via the New York Times.

These popular neighborhoods are also economic powerhouses. Walkable neighborhoods perform better economically, perform better commercially, have higher housing values and had lower capitalization rates during the recent recession than their suburban counterparts, according to the report.


• Thursday, June 21st, 2012

Resistance, Revolution, Liberation: A Model for Positive Change (print $18)
(Kindle eBook $9.95)

Source: Oftwominds

We are like passengers on the Titanic ten minutes after its fatal encounter with the iceberg: though our financial system seems unsinkable, its reliance on debt and financialization has already doomed it. We cannot know when the Central State and financial system will destabilize, we only know they will destabilize. We cannot know which of the State’s fast-rising debts and obligations will be renounced; we only know they will be renounced in one fashion or another.

The process of the unsustainable collapsing and a new, more sustainable model emerging is called revolution, and it combines cultural, technological, financial and political elements in a dynamic flux.History is not fixed; it is in our hands. We cannot await a remote future transition to transform our lives. Revolution begins with our internal understanding and reaches fruition in our coherently directed daily actions in the lived-in world.

Category: Collapse, Economics | Tags:  | Leave a Comment
• Friday, June 15th, 2012

Source: The Free Press

This spring and summer, Côte St. Luc is offering a series of free, hands-on workshops and lectures for citizens wishing to work towards building a sustainable future for their community. The series, called “Doing Your Part: Building a Sustainable Future Together,” will show how you can make small changes in your home, garden, and neighborhood that will impact the environment for future generations.

All events will be held at 7 pm in the Eleanor London Côte Saint-Luc Public Library, 5851 Cavendish Blvd. Upcoming dates and topics include:

  • Energy Smart: Tips and Tricks to an Energy Efficient Home (June 20);
  • The Enchantment of Trees, From Roots to Canopy (July 4);
  • Become a Locavore, Bringing Local Food to Your Table (July 18);
  • Leave the Car at Home, Get Walking and Get Healthy (August 1).

Admission is free to all events, and details can be obtained by phoning 514.485.6900.

• Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

Montreal needs an EcoDistrict, or 5.

EcoDistrictsSource: Huffington Post

Leaders from Austin, Bellingham, Boston, Charlotte, Cleveland, Guadalajara (Mexico), Mountain View, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Vancouver gathered in Portland, Ore. for the first-ever EcoDistricts Institute, a meeting where they examined neighborhood-scale development projects in each of their cities.

The leaders at the institute are developing what are called EcoDistricts, which are also known as “green neighborhoods” or “green districts.” EcoDistricts integrate green buildings and smart infrastructure (energy, water, waste, recycling, transportation, etc.) with community action and civic entrepreneurism. EcoDistricts can be established within brownfield redevelopment areas, campuses or existing neighborhoods.

For the participants in the institute — which was funded by generous grants from the Blackstone Ranch Institute and Ecoworks Foundation — being on the forefront of a new era of urban innovation isn’t enough. They want to go faster, and that’s why they came to Portland. Each had an interesting story to tell:

  • Austin is redeveloping a former industrial parcel on the southwest edge of downtown into a mixed-use neighborhood with affordable (dense) housing, a new central library, improved transit and preservation of a historic art deco power plant.
  • Bellingham is designing a new waterfront neighborhood on the site of an old paper mill.
  • Boston’s newly-minted “Boston Innovation District” is looking to reinvent itself as a center of advanced manufacturing and knowledge companies mixed with community amenities and housing.
  • Charlotte’s South End EcoDistrict is an emerging mixed-use neighborhood filled with innovative small businesses and housing in repurposed industrial buildings.
  • In Cleveland — a tale of two neighborhoods. On the west side, a tired inner-city neighborhood is in the need of new energy and investment, while on the east side, a new urban agriculture innovation zone is slated for farm incubation and related enterprises.
  • Guadalajara’s residents of the Vallarta Sur neighborhood rejected a proposed elevated highway that would split their neighborhood, and instead are transforming their railroad right of way into a “civic park” that will spur revitalization and the creation of a digital business center.
  • Mountain View — a Silicon Valley community endowed with a vibrant downtown and progressive technology companies — is poised to lead the way in sustainable corporate campus development that supports local businesses and a need for new housing.
  • Philadelphia’s South of South Neighborhood is an existing mixed-income, seeing new growth due to its proximity to the center city.
  • San Francisco’s Central Corridor area is advantageously positioned for dense growth, new transit, district infrastructure and high-tech industry.
  • The University of British Columbia is redeveloping a portion of its abundant land holdings to create new mixed-use neighborhoods. The newest hub is Acadia, planned to accommodate dense housing, amenities, shops and services.

Ten cities, ten stories. The reason for these projects in North America — and dozens more like around the world — is more apparent than ever: Municipal and business leaders must find effective ways to repurpose neighborhoods to take advantage of the growing trends in urbanization (millions of people coming to a city near you in the coming decade) and the changing economy that places a premium on knowledge and innovation. According to leading economists like Joe Cortright and organizations such as Preservation Green Lab and ArtPlace, the cities that focus on rehabilitating and building vibrant, green and diverse neighborhoods have the best chance of thriving in the future.

• Tuesday, June 12th, 2012

beer can molsonSource: Montreal Gazette

Returns for beer and soft drink cans will rise to 10 cents per returned item from five cents by the end of 2012 under a new five-year plan to deal with Quebec’s recyclable waste.

Pierre Arcand, Quebec’s minister for the environment, sustainable development and parks, added Sunday the province’s 30-year-old law on handling recyclable waste will be updated.

Every year, Quebecers buy 390 million cans and pay nearly $21 million in deposits on beer and other drink cans. The cans can take 200 to 500 years to decompose.

The government intends to spend $4 million this year to improve the treatment and composting of organic waste and similar dollar amounts in each of the other years of its five-year plan to deal with organic waste, a statement from Arcand and officials with Recyc-Québec, a government agency, explained…

…The new plan includes a public awareness campaign about disposable packaging and the promotion of a new recycling certification program manufacturers can use to label products made with recyclable materials. The plan calls for businesses, government agencies and municipalities to change their buying policies and include the purchase of recycled materials.

Category: Waste | Tags: , ,  | 2 Comments
• Sunday, June 10th, 2012

This was post was eye opening and poetic.

I have spent the past 8 years preparing internally for the worst (Mad Max style collapse), while cheerfully hoping for the best (free energy devices). I have researched and experimented with new ways to live, harness energy and produce food.

This author says that is all prideful folly. The easiest way to adapt to decline is to decline yourself.

Read the entire article to understand the logic of inducing personal collapse now, rather than later.

Source: The Archdruid Report

One of my presentations to [the Age of Limits] conference was a talk entitled “How Civilizations Fall;” longtime readers of this blog will know from the title that what I was talking about that afternoon was the theory of catabolic collapse, which outlines the way that human societies on the way down cannibalize their own infrastructure, maintaining themselves for the present by denying themselves a future.  I finished talking about catabolic collapse and started fielding questions, of which there were plenty, and somewhere in the conversation that followed one of the other participants made a comment. I don’t even remember the exact words, but it was something like, “So what you’re saying is that what we need to do, individually, is to go through collapse right away.”

 “Exactly,” I said. “Collapse now, and avoid the rush.”
…Across a wide range of geographical scales and technological levels, civilizations take an average of one to three centuries to complete the process of decline and fall, and there is no valid reason to assume that ours will be any exception.  The curve of decline, to be sure, is anything but smooth; it has a fractal structure, taking the form of a succession of crises on many different scales, affecting different regions, social classes, and communities in different ways, interspersed with periods of stabilization and even partial recovery that are equally variable in scale, duration, and relevance to different places and groups.  This ragged arc of decline is already under way; it can be expected to accelerate in the months, years, and decades to come; and it defines the deindustrial age ahead of us.
Fifth, individuals, families, and communities faced with this predicament still have choices left. The most important of those choices parallels the one faced, or more precisely not faced, at the end of the 1970s: to make the descent in a controlled way, beginning now, or to cling to their current lifestyles until the system that currently supports those lifestyles falls away from beneath their feet. The skills, resources, and lifeways needed to get by in a disintegrating industrial society are radically different from those that made for a successful and comfortable life in the prosperous world of the recent past, and a great many of the requirements of an age of decline come with prolonged learning curves and a high price for failure. Starting right away to practice the skills, assemble the resources, and follow the lifeways that will be the key to survival in a deindustrializing world offers the best hope of getting through the difficult years ahead with some degree of dignity and grace…
…The way to avoid the rush is simple enough:  figure out how you will be able to live after the next wave of crisis hits, and to the extent that you can, start living that way now. If you’re worried about the long-term prospects for your job—and you probably should be, no matter what you do for a living—now is the time to figure out how you will get by if the job goes away and you have to make do on much less money. For most people, that means getting out of debt, making sure the place you live costs you much less than you can afford, and picking up some practical skills that will allow you to meet some of your own needs and have opportunities for barter and informal employment.
…There’s quite a lot of money to be made these days insisting that we can have a shiny new future despite all evidence to the contrary, and pulling factoids out of context to defend that increasingly dubious claim; as industrial society moves down the curve of decline, I suspect, this will become even more popular, since it will make it easier for those who haven’t yet had their own personal collapse to pretend that it can’t happen to them.
Research credit: Carolyn Baker
• Thursday, June 07th, 2012

How much would you pay to rent a bicycle for 24 hours from Bixi, the bike sharing service? According to the Bixi customer service manager “Francesco”, $101.50 is an appropriate charge to rent 1 bike for 1 day. That’s right, Bixi charges over $100 to rent a heavy, clunky, 3-speed bike for one day.

That’s what I learned after after inspecting my credit card bill online:

Bixi sucks, misleads consumer

 I then called Bixi to have this clearly outrageous situation corrected. The listed price on every Bixi terminal is $7 for a 24 hour period, or so I thought:

Bixi is expensive

But since I failed to understand their strange rules and pricing scheme, I was charged over $100! This is completely misleading since in big, bold and red letters it says, “24h $7“. According to Bixi, customers are required to return the bike every half an hour, or else face this type of larcenous billing.

To rent a car for 1 day costs about $50, including all taxes and fees. So, why would anyone rent a bike for $100 for one day? It is stupid (or intentionally deceptive) and defeats the purpose of Bixi which I thought was to make the air cleaner and Montreal a more sustainable city.

It’s sad to see these marketing tactics from a company that positions itself as green and sustainable. You expect deceptive pricing from the cable TV company or from a mobile phone company, but Bixi?

So, please learn from my mistake and Bixi’s misleading signs. If you want to rent a bike for any length of time longer than 30 minutes, completely avoid Bixi. For two 1-day rentals you would be better off financially buying a new bike at a department store.

• Friday, June 01st, 2012

Source: The NDG Free Press

Action Communiterre members are promoting an upcoming NDG-based public consultation on urban agriculture as a citywide effort to integrate more community gardening space into the landscape continues to build steam…

The public consultation will be hosted on June 14 at the St. Raymond Community Centre (5600 Upper Lachine) from 7 to 10 pm. The consultation process was born from more than 25,000 signatures demanding a public consultation process be hosted by the city of Montreal, as more and more city dwellers turn their rooftops, backyards and public spaces into gardens.

“What we want to do, is have as many people as possible participate,” said Girard. “It’s a citizen initiative and the more people submit, the more they will take this initiative seriously. This is a call-out to the whole population so we can have, for example, edible landscapes, parks with more food growing, native plants to help bees, more bio-diversity and more land dedicated to urban agriculture.”

Gardening, said Girard, isn’t only about the food. It’s about a connection to soil, to nature and to each other and it’s important to localize food. Gardening, she concluded, is therapeutic and “good for the soul.”

For more information, visit:

For more information on public consultation meetings: