Steel This Tree

April 24, 2007


The New York City Park’s Dept. recently completed a two year study to determine the cost v. benefit of urban trees ($5.60 for every dollar spent). So what is the calculus for steel trees? The sculptor Roxy Paine has three steel treestree1.jpg being erected in Madison Square Park. Not much carbon dioxide being removed from the air, but they’re lovely to look at — and that cost benefit-analysis is even more difficult to calculate (click to enlarge photos).

Hudson Hotel Penthouse View

April 19, 2007


The sun came out in NYC. This is the view from the penthouse of the Hudson Hotel.

Rev. Billy Ready for Close-Up

April 19, 2007


So I’m toiling away at Mudspot, which I do nearly every day, when in comes Rev. Billy, founder of the Church of Stop Shopping, in full regalia, with Today Show correspondent Natalie Morales and a film crew in tow. Apparently, they have been shooting all over the E.Vil. for a segment to be aired in the not-too-distant future. While the Rev. Billy and his tent-revival mocking, anti-consumerist gospel may not be ready for primetime, he’s good to go for daytime.

Question from Morales to Mudspot owner Nina Berott: “Is Rev. Billy an activist or a crackpot?”

Laughter from the Mudspot regulars drowned out her answer, so tune into the Today Show to find out!

BTW: He may not be Tom Wolfe, but isn’t it kind of tacky for a reporter to wear a white suit while covering The Rev. Billy, who’s signature dress is a white suit, kinda like upstaging a bride by wearing a white gown? (Click to enlarge photo.)

JJ in Memoriam II

April 3, 2007

Shin-pei Tsay and I are organizing the second annual Jane Jacobs memorial at the White Horse Tavern. Basic details: April 25, 6 PM. Darren Walker, VP of the Rockefeller Foundation (which will be awarding the first annual Jane Jacobs medals this June) will speak for a few minutes. Alex Washburn, the first ever Chief of Urban Design for the City of New York, will also talk for a few minutes about his new job and the challenges of urban design in 21st century New York. But needless to say, this will be an unscripted event in honor of a writer and activist who knew when to don the white gloves, when to get arrested and when to unwind at the local pub. All are welcome and no RSVP required. Send me an email if you didn’t receive a notice already but want updates about the event.

Vertical Farm

April 2, 2007


I have a piece in this week’s New York Magazine about vertical farming, a concept developed by a professor of environmental health at Columbia University. The idea is to bring crop cultivation into skyscrapers in urban areas and allow farmland to be reforested. Why? Many reasons, but the main one is to stabilize weather patterns and climate change. Since the dawn of agricultural practices 11,000 years ago, the earth has lost about half of its forests.

The illustration above is the top of the vertical farm building with an urban windmill, a concept developed by Cleveland State University Professor Majid Rashid. Conventional windmills are too big to be incorporated into the urban landscape, so the idea here is for a screw to turn, bringing wind to the smaller blades, rather than giagantic blades reaching out to capture the wind.

Go to the New York Mag piece here and click through all the cool illustrations before reading the Q&A below with Prof. Dickson Despommier (special thanks to Chris Jacobs of United Future for all your hard work on this project!).


How did this idea come about?

DICKSON DESPOMMIER: In 2000, in my medical ecology class, the students conducted research about how much food could be grown on rooftops in Manhattan. They discovered there’s only about 13 acres of farmable rooftops in the city. That’s not very much. So at the end of the class, I threw out the idea of farming indoors and called it “vertical farming.”

Next year’s class was given a project to find out what is being raised inside. They uncovered a NASA website about growing plants indoors because on Mars, there’s no take-out.
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