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Executive Director, Sustainable Atwood

Shipping Containers Transform Space

Where in Atwood? Converted parking lots? Transitional use--line streets with small businesses around Union Corners?

After finding an affordable and convenient warehouse space in the industrial section of Santa Ana, Orange County, local printing company MVP decided to turn part of their premises into an office space. The warehouse wasnt equipped to accommodate private offices, and the company felt that keeping the whole space climate-controlled would be wasteful, so they decided to group 10 20-foot shipping containers inside the warehouse to act as offices. The warehouses new industrial-chic workspaces proved to be an affordable option that continues to save the company on energy bills.

Read more: Shipping Containers Transform Warehouse Into Office Space | Inhabitat – Green Design Will Save the World Shipping Containers Transform Warehouse Into Office Space by Bridgette Meinhold, 09/29/09 Read more: Shipping Containers Transform Warehouse Into Office Space | Inhabitat – Green Design Will Save the World

 

SOUP: Serving up (and funding) your ideas together

Just a reminder that the 2nd Madison SOUP event will be this Sunday (11/13) from 6-8pm at Sector 67, 2100 Winnebago Street  Madison, (608) 241-4605. We would love to see all of you there!

Here’s a rundown of the event:

Madison SOUP is a micro-granting opportunity in Madison, WI interested in creating positive change through community members.  Along with eating tasty soup made by, who else?, SOUP, individuals and groups in attendance take turns pitching their proposals to the group at large.  Extra time is given to talking individually with the those pitching their ideas. The group votes on their favorite pitch. The pitch with the most votes takes home the entrance fees minus a bit of cash to cover expenses.

Tickets are available through Eventbrite page: madison-soup.eventbrite.com

Menu:
Heather Wentler, SOUP’s creator, will be cooking up Cheddar & Broccoli Soup with a traditional fresh greens salad with other salad bar items on the side, and whole-wheat dinner rolls. Drink options are water, soda, or BYOB.

Schedule for the evening:

6:00 pm-Doors Open

6:30-Food is served and 5 minute pitches begin for each project

After all pitches have concluded there will be time to meet with project members to get additional information about their project and time to vote for your favorite.

7:30-Voting ends and ballots are tallied

7:45-Winning Project is announced and profit money is awarded

8:00-Event concludes

Driving a Sustainable City [budget]

“We have the traffic engineering and urban planning expertise right here in Madison to make our existing transportation system much more efficient, at much lower cost. No traffic jams required.”

Isthmus article showing sustainable transportation and streets will remain a vision without a sea-change in decision making and spending.

Isthmus The Daily Page  Tuesday October 25, 2011

Madison is paving itself into oblivion

by Michael Barrett

Are there roads that need to be expanded? Not anymore.
Gallery
Are there roads that need to be expanded? Not anymore.
Credit:Michael Barrett
Over the last 11 years, the city of Madison has increased pavement spending at 11 times the rate of population growth plus inflation. So why have both reconstructions and highway expansions increased at far above the inflation and population growth rate? That depends on whom you ask.

Ask a progressive alder from an isthmus neighborhood why he or she votes for all the paving (and they all do), and the answer ranges from roads-as-public-works-savior to roads-as-bargaining-chip-for-park-benches. Never mind the illegality of such log rolling, or the good old fashioned sexism favoring “breadwinner”/manly road building over “women’s work”/social services.

Ask a fiscally conservative alder, and you’ll find out that they are actually closet socialists — albeit a socialism for cars, not people.

The mushy-middle alders are easily cowed by the city engineers into believing that unless every street is in freshly steamrolled condition, they will be thrown out of office.

And so we pave. A lot.

On the graph below, that fast-growing top line portrays the growth in paving costs in the capital budget’s “major streets” line item. It includes existing, older neighborhood street reconstruction as well as suburban highway expansion. This line item is street paving only; it does not include utility installations, upgrades, replacement and maintenance that often occur concurrently with road reconstructions as well as new roadways.

Do we need to reconstruct existing roads? Sure. But only after having done everything to make them last as long as possible. And once reconstruction becomes inevitable, each road should be redesigned to accommodate all modes. The current practice of replicating the car-only mistakes of yesteryear must end.

A glaring example of the waste in the current budget: the neighborhood-scaled Cottage Grove Road bridge over I-90 is being torn out — after only 6 years! — and replaced with a new and expanded, three-quarter-million dollar, four-lane highway bridge.

Even more egregious is the infamous S & M intersection on the west side of Madison. Though these are county highways, the city of Madison is surrendering tens of millions to speedy Republican exurbanites for whom fast enough is never enough.

Our city pays the price going and coming; in dollars and in quality of life. And it doesn’t stop there: Our Common Council has mounted millions of dollars to expand County Highway M and Junction Road to pack yet more traffic into this gargantuan intersection. And to think, most of this expense could have been prevented with proper planning.

Are there roads that need to be expanded? Not anymore. We have overbuilt too many already.

Consider:

  • The decline in vehicle miles traveled nationwide, even before the Great Recession.
  • The rise in walking for transportation.
  • Madison is the nation’s top bicycle commuter town.
  • Bicycling is up by more than 400% over 20 years in Madison.
  • Transit use in Madison is up five times the rate of population growth over 10 years.
  • Car ownership is on the decline nationwide (even before the Great Recession).
  • In 1978, three-quarters of 17-year-olds had their drivers licenses; by 2008, only 49% did.
  • Madison’s close-knit, walkable urban neighborhoods have held and even increased in value while the car-oriented suburbs falter, fail and get foreclosed upon.

 

The times, they’ve done changed. We need to put our roads on a diet.

We have the traffic engineering and urban planning expertise right here in Madison to make our existing transportation system much more efficient, at much lower cost. No traffic jams required. Everything from roundabouts (in conjunction with narrower roads), to reversible commuter lanes (ditto), to center turn lanes (ditto) can keep things moving smoothly and more safely for those who continue to drive. These same “road diet” strategies can calm traffic and create streetscapes that are more urban, urbane and green, thus conducive to walking, bicycling and hopping the bus.

Unfortunately, the expertise does not reside on city staff.

Despite low-cost options available in the current professional “best practices” of planning and engineering, the paving budgets requested by city staff continue to dedicate upwards of 20% of the total toward capacity expansion (more lanes), year after year. This is creating a spiraling cycle of overbuilt roads necessitating ever greater resources to maintain and eventually reconstruct — i.e., the other 80% of the paving budget. Our overbuilt highways of the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s are now coming due for major reconstruction. Instead of correcting those mistakes by scaling them down, we are repeating the sins of our fathers.

Overbuilt roads impose significant costs on other departments. For example, lightly traveled neighborhood streets in recent subdivisions are over 50% wider than those typical in older neighborhoods, necessitating 50% more plowing, 50% more salting, 50% more sweeping, 50% more pothole repair, and on and on. Car-oriented development also hurts transit (given extremely stretched-out distances), significantly driving up costs on a per-passenger basis.

But repeating the sins of our fathers is not manifest destiny — if we so choose.

Budget deliberations have commenced. Give your alder an earful about bloated paving budgets. Yes, even the “progressive” ones.

Because if they continue to be willfully ignorant of these costs, the future of our city’s fiscal health is clear, as shown by the most recent “Madison Measures.”

[screen shot from the city document; text box added by this author]

As the hockey stick of debt payments steepens, departments’ operational budgets — Parks, Madison Metro, Community Services, etc. — will be crushed. Even if Gov. Scott Walker had never come to power, we were on the road to self-inflicted budget disaster thanks to bloated paving budgets, much as I predicted in 2008.

Mayor Soglin has admirably stabilized some aspects of the budget in important areas such as transit. Unfortunately, spending on paving continues in the same range that brought us to these very dangerous levels of debt. And 2013’s paving budget is projected to be more wasteful than ever.

 

Hoop Houses: Winter gardening

Fitchburg Fields offers a workshop on how to make Hoop Houses. Nox Seehafer has taught it in the past. You can purchase supplies from him. You can grow plants all year long. Comes with an insulated plastic blanket over the thick greenhouse-grade plastic. Cover with the blanket on the coldest days. Plants won’t grow in the dark, but they also won’t die. Uncover and use just the plastic when weather permits. Can eat brussel sprouts, kale, spinach and other plants all year round. All will be madly growing and ready for a nice harvest by March. Cost: about $35/each for supplies for a mini hoop house that’s 5′ long, 3′ wide and 3′ high in the center of the arch.

Tree Inventory: faster than the bug

The inventory is going quickly. That’s good news. It means that–with continued progress–the grant money will cover the cost of the inventory. This map includes most parts of the SASY neighborhood, but not all, depending on which map one uses (there are a few out there), and all of our inventory area.  We coordinate the areas on the map between volunteers and the person performing the inventory.  The number/letter labels help communicate which areas are ready to be inventoried. We started with the parks–this was a slow go–imagine measuring the height of trees on the bank of Hudson Park at Lake Monona! Then we moved to the first residential area, #9.  Area #9 went much faster than the park areas, and was completed as of 8/5/11.  We started canvassing areas 3-6 last week and will measure those areas in the next 2-4 weeks.

EAB Tree Inventory: Sure! Measure the trees in my back yard!

We were hoping you’d say that!  It’s very important that we get measurements for all of the trees in our (SASY) neighborhood so we can prepare for the loss of trees when the emerald ash borer (EAB) finds its way here.  We promise we’ll be a whole lot less invasive than the EAB.  Meet Grant Gibson. He’s hard at work measuring trees for us. This week (July 25-30) he’s on Jenifer, Rutledge, Clemons, Riverside, Yahara Place, “Little” Spaight south of Division Street.  Please call 608-886-3379 with questions.This inventory is being funded in part by an urban forestry grant from the State of Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Forestry Program as authorized under s. 23.097, Wis. Stat.