Los Altos looking for a new look

A new development, such as an office and retail building or landscaping enhancement, doesn’t suddenly appear by magic, although it may seem that way to citizens who are not paying attention. There’s often a long process, including planning, negotiating and compromising among developers and city officials, followed by city meetings and public hearings as builders struggle to meet city requirements. The first draft of a plan is rarely, if ever, the last.

Loyola Corners – This shopping district that traces back to Los Altos’ early days may receive a makeover. Responding to safety concerns and complaints of lack of aesthetics, the city has employed landscape architect David Gates to draft a Loyola Corners beautification plan – repairing and adding new sidewalks, adding landscaping and repainting streetlights black.

The project is in the “very early stages right now,” Assistant City Manager James Walgren said.

SOURCE: Los Altos Town Crier » Behind the scenes.

Urban Farmer II – Vancouver Sun

Neophyte farmer Nicholas Read is spending the summer learning how to grow food. With the help of City Farm Boy Ward Teulon, who runs a network of 14 backyard vegetable farms in Vancouver, he hopes to learn to tell the difference between a seed and a weed. This is his second report.

Even this early in the growing season, some crops are ready to harvest. Spinach, radishes, a few varieties of lettuce, several kinds of salad greens and herbs are all ready to eat. That’s because these crops can tolerate a cool soil temperature; others can’t. It’s also why if you visit a farmers’ market now, you won’t find much else unless it’s been grown in a greenhouse.

read more @ the SOURCE: Vancouver Sun – Urban Farmer II.

Vertical farms and future cities

What do vertical farms, green roofs, soft cars, breathing walls, and Dongtan, China, have in common? They were all subjects of discussion at Friday’s Future Cities event in New York City, part of the four-day 2008 World Science Festival.

To a packed house, Columbia University microbiologist Dickson Despommier described his vision for feeding the planet’s burgeoning, and increasingly urban, population. The vertical farm takes agriculture and stacks it into the tiers of a modern skyscraper. Instead of stopping at the corner pizzeria for dinner, Despommier suggested, you could pluck a nice head of lettuce, maybe some corn, and some tomatoes for a big salad, all in your own building, on the way to your apartment. You can’t get fresher or more local than that.

SOURCE: Gristmill – Vertical farms and future cities | Gristmill: The environmental news blog .

State’s wildflowers rise to new role – OrlandoSentinel.com

A new grant is helping a budding industry in Florida take root. The $50,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture will pay for new equipment and marketing for wildflower growers, who are currently harvesting and cleaning tiny seeds as they build their young industry.

Now, with rising gas prices and shrinking water supplies, wildflowers provide a low-impact alternative for landscaping lawns. State transportation officials are gunning for the locally produced seeds to replace grass along highways — mowing is expensive.

For years the state has planted wildflowers along highways, but they usually don’t grow back so they’re replanted annually. Now the focus is on getting wildflowers to reseed themselves — something locally produced seeds help with — and preserving existing stands along the roadways. Areas with flowers require less mowing and can save money — it costs about $250 to mow a mile of highway.

State’s wildflowers rise to new role — OrlandoSentinel.com.

Jamaican wins Boston community design competition – JAMAICAOBSERVER.COM

JAMAICAN Gregory Minott and team members Troy Depeiza and Snehal Intwala won the US$10,000 prize for Best Design for Building in the Dudley Square Community Charrette and Design Competition.

The Boston Society of Architects hosted the competition in association with the City of Boston, the Boston Redevelopment Authority, Common Boston and the Roxbury Masterplan Oversight Committee, as part of the public programming for the American Institute of Architects’ 2008 National Convention in Boston.

SOURCE: JAMAICAOBSERVER.COM – Jamaican wins Boston community design competition –

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