A Think and Do Tank

From where I stand, Innovation is the name of the game.

How can we create an atmosphere conducive to innovation to better support the emerging sustainable economy in …emerging??

I’m envisioning an affordable, interdisciplinary Think and Do Tank, an innovation lab. As I contemplate this “Center for Innovation’, I can see there are several ways it could be configured to serve each region’s needs. This Think and Do Tank could well have an online presence that facilitates innovation.  Today, I’m going to focus on “real world” applications.

Some businesses, such as Google, pay their employees every week to spend 20% of their time on endeavors outside their “normal” jobs. These pursuits end up generating something like 80% of the innovative products Google develops.

The Think and Do Tank could be this kind of an asset for our community;… READ MORE >>

Safe in My Home-Time to Legalize Drugs?

Stealing Stuff, Security, and Trust of Neighbors

I recently heard Mark Fisher on NPR. The guy had his home broken into, and laptops and money stolen.  The real kicker, was the burgular went on Mark’s son’s Facebook page, and posted a picture of himself pointing to the money, while wearing Mark’s  brand new coat.

Mark learned about the system, and about himself. ” I don’t feel as safe any more.  I’ve lost trust in my neighbors. The system is overwhelmed, only 12% of burglars are sentenced.”

Two officers confided that they and their colleagues rarely press hard on burglary cases because the courts almost always let thieves go with nothing more than probation. Maybe that’s why four days after we handed over the photo, we were still waiting to hear from the detective assigned to the case. READ MORE >>

Major change is inevitable

I love this piece, so I posted it. Enjoy!! I got it from New Urban Network. Brian

Blog post by Charles Marohn on 14 Feb 2011
Charles Marohn, New Urban Network

As the United States economy remains hooked up to life support, it is natural for those gathered around the bedside to see hope in each flicker of life. We humans are optimistic by nature, which is certainly an evolutionary trait that has served us well in darker ages. Even so, unfounded optimism can prove disastrous, especially when it keeps us from doing the difficult things that need to be done.

This past weekend, my hometown paper ran an article detailing how the economic signs are starting to point up. This is a theme I see reflected recently in the Old Economy circles, that if we just build enough capacity and subsidize enough undertakings, we can revive 2005 back into existence. The beyond-wishful thinking in the piece was highlighted by this passage:

[Brainerd City Administrator Dan] Vogt said Brainerd is well positioned for an economic turnaround with available industrial land and electrical system upgrades for attractive and lower cost energy. Brainerd now has more load capacity for business and industry, Vogt said.

This is akin to the owner of a dying mall — one that is old, falling apart and financed with enormous government subsidies that are about to expire — looking at the growing number of empty spaces and saying they are “well-positioned.” Some see the glass as half empty. Some as half full. And some are evidently drinking stuff a lot stronger than water…. READ MORE >>

Renovate Your House, Transform the Neighborhood

Washing machines sit idle most of the time

Looking at the challenge of how to build our futures resilient and sustainable, my sense is the insulation in the burbs across America is woefully shy. Heating systems are not so efficient, heating ducts leak, appliances are not so energy efficient, and windows are not so good, to say the least.  These aren’t really economic problems until we hit global peak oil production.  Then the pain of rising prices, utility bills, and commuting will become increasingly excruciating,  is my guess.

What service would you like to provide to the neighborhood? Originally, the “dress” on House #1 was meant to conceal a gambling casino.

The cost of renovating a suburban home to a highly efficient passive (zero or low emissions) house is cost preventative in many situations.  My sense is most suburbanites will only be able to make these upgrades if they can bundle the costs as they add a second, third, four stories to their homes. To make this scenario work, the first floor will become mostly commercial, home occupation, and the floors above will contain rentals, offices or residential, maybe  multigenerational families with multiple contributions to the mortgage. The densities in the neighborhood have to be high enough to make the commercial successful.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the numbers for this “2-4 story smart density infill/renovation to passive home standards” will only work if these free standing suburban homes are joined to create row houses.  My guess is the cost challenge of upgrading from an R 13 or R19 wall to a R 40? is too great a hurdle. By creating row houses, I’m thinking the amount of exterior walls is greatly reduced. Good sound insulation is essential, but much less expensive than getting to R 40 (or whatever a passive/zero emissions house design requires).

To add to the complexity,…

Transform the Burbs, one service at a time!

What service would you like to provide out of your suburban home?

Imagine your neighborhood filled with home occupation services and businesses!

On Saturday, April 23, busloads of visitors are expected to descend upon Levittown for the unveiling of nine style renovations of local homes.

Rich Santer at 47 Pebble Lane will have a “House Dress, Family Games” theme where guests can play games for a fee.

Anita Thompson at 29 Winding Lane will host “Public Pantry” where guests can participate in a shared kitchen and purchase food from her kitchen and pantry. 

open for business

Transform the Burbs, open your business at home!

Jim Hudak of 20 Wood Lane in Wantagh will host “House of Signs” where guests will make their own signs to take home. 

Lisa Vanderberg of 2910 Carlyle Road in Wantagh will host “Family Time Restaurant” and partake in a museum setting of Levittown, with souvenirs, a café, and a house tour.

Polly Dwyer of 39 Old Oak Land will host the “House of Advice” where visitors can gain peer counseling, or hear a bedtime story.




Joseph Barsallo of 21 Wood Lane will host “Future Open Houses.” A map of Levittown and scale model will be on display for guests to see the future of Levittown… READ MORE >>

Industrial Farming + Drug Industry=Dumb and Dumber

Super Bugs-Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?

I’ve been hearing, for years, the warnings about our overuse of antibiotics. Super Bugs are on the list of Impending Bummers. A report published on Friday by the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases demonstrates the day our antibiotics become ineffective is growing nearer!! In fact, the day has come.

drugs in livestock feed

Industrial Farms + Pharma=Dumb and Dumber

It amazes me our capacity to turn a blind eye to self-generated threats. We can be Dumb and Dumber. But it’s good for the shareholders! And anyway the flavor Staphylococcus aureus gives to a steak is this side of heaven! (I made that last part up)

Drug-resistant Staph is largely the result of overexposure.

According to the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, nearly 80 percent of all antibiotics sold in the year 2009 were reserved for livestock and poultry, and in the case of Staph aureus, the chickens are coming home to roost.

The study tested 80 brands in 26 retail grocery stores in five cities across the country: Chicago, Fort Lauderdale, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and Flagstaff.

They found strains of Staph bacteria in a whopping 47% of the meat they tested.

What’s more, more than half of those contaminated samples were resistant to at least three different types of antibiotics, including methicillin and more common antibiotics like amoxicillin and penicillin…. READ MORE >>


I’ve started a list of good ideas that come about if we rethink the functions and interplay of our home and its neighborhood.  So far I’ve got 29 killer (If I do say so myself)  ideas.  The first 7 are home oriented, the last 22 are more neighborhood oriented. Add to the list via the comment area!

Home Design 

Granny Flat

Granny Flat Above Garage

#2. Rent Out “Granny Flat” Over Garage

The space above the garage is an opportunity for a guest room, separate residence, or a home office.  A typical garage is what, 20′ x 24 ‘? That is 480 sq ft.  I know I want to stay independent when I get older, and having my own space would be fabulous!

The space could work really well for a young person as well. They’re learning to be more independent and they have a bio-clock that likes to stay up late and get up late.

Maybe you’d like to move into the granny flat, and rent out the main house, staying in the neighborhood with long time friends.

Design  tips.

Going up stairs is a great way to stay in shape. Maybe at some point, … READ MORE >>

Creating More Time-It takes a Sustainable Urban Village!

How can we have more time?? How are we going to live lighter on the Planet??!! Significantly lighter??  SHARE YOUR IDEAS! (comment below, or go to Share Your Vision!)

more time anyone?

Creating More Time-It Takes a Sustainable Village!

Here’s my take.  If we were to create a great neighborhood, a convenient, mixed use, inspiring, supportive atmosphere, we would be richer.  If we could find ways to downsize our financial needs, we’d free up time; More disposable income, more time.

To be able to walk,  ride your bike, or take public transportation to work, requires a mixed use community. Now your family can let go of a car or two, and life becomes more affordable.

A mixed use neighborhood, with neighbors out and about, creates safer streets, so our children can get about without chauffeuring, freeing up time and peace of mind.

A short commute, or joining a meal share plan frees up and creates more time.

What would you do with more Time? Work on the new career…..lifelong learning…professional development….time to contemplate?

Spending time lingering over a cup of tea, or a beer, with a friend, reading a book, spending more time with children, or working in the garden; maybe these make for a more abundant life for you.

To have an end of life strategy, an aging in place program where I can help the elders of my neighborhood, and in turn, when my time comes, be assured of helping hands nearby, these are qualities money can’t by, but time can.

The trend over the last 40-50 years has been to make the home the center of  life;  Our theater, our library, spa, restaurant, entertainment center,  a sanctuary, an isolated unit in suburbia; an increasingly bigger house connected to the world in a sprawl car dominated lifestyle.

My wife and I are a unit, a band of two, holding it together.  As we’re both self-employed, even our offices are in our home.

When I contrast that with the stories I hear of long established village life is Europe, it gets me to thinking.   How can I lower my expenses so I can have better choices?  How can I lower my eco footprint?  What would I be willing to share?

As I understand, in this European lifestyle, community life plays a bigger part of the home life.  The home is smaller, the living room in the nearby restaurant.  Many evenings are spent over a meal, enjoying the comradery of community.  Maybe it sounds kind of  gossipy and claustrophobic, and yet there is something alluring.

As we learn to live in balance with the planet, we’ll be learning to make choices that can give us more time and a higher quality of life!

My intention is for this website to become a living compliation of good ideas, what works, what makes sustainable real. SHARE YOUR IDEAS, STORIES!


Image courtesy of Virginia Tech


As we face higher gasoline prices again, we’re getting more practice in the emerging, post peak oil economy. Our ingenuity will kick in, our lifestyle will transform, all “good for people, the planet, and the polar bears”.  With this global warming dealie, time is of the essence; we can evolve faster, learn from our mistakes, share good ideas, and have fun! Share your ideas, dreams and ingenuity! We can make sustainable real!

I’ve started a list of good ideas that come about if we rethink the functions and interplay of our home and its neighborhood.  So far I’ve got 29 killer (If I do say so myself)  ideas.  The first 7 are home oriented, the last 22 are more neighborhood oriented. Add to the list via the comment area!Room for Rent sign

Home Design

#1. Rent Out a Room

Maybe one of your family boomerangs, and ends up back home. Maybe you just got sick and tired of trying to do it all yourself. Maybe you’re ready to change careers, go back to school, retire, or get divorced. Our suburban, rugged individual, nuclear family lifestyle isn’t set up to be as supportive as it can be. Just the opposite, sprawl and isolation throw up barriers.  So take a sledge hammer to it! Tear out a wall, add a door! make it a private entrance. Make life easier on yourself…. READ MORE >>

The Adventures of Polar Sam- A new weapon added to the arsenal

A polar bear, sent by his people to save their way of life, finds himself driving an ice cream truck around suburbia, on a mission to reverse global warming, one ice cream at a time


A New Weapon Added to the Arsenal

(previously…. Kid Suburbia and Doc Plaza are exchanging icy stares in a long running feud, a gunfight on the streets of suburbia… Off in the distance a familiar sound came floating through the air. They both picked up the sound of the ice cream truck jingle coming off of Pine Street. Kid Suburban broke the icy silence between them. “how bout I buy you a snowcone?”Polar Sam

“I prefer a Nutty Buddy” replied Doc, lowering his hands. “Eatin ice cream sounds better than pluggin your sorry ass”.)

Polar Sam’s Snow Cap Frozen Delights came slowing cruizin into view.  Two years ago, the Council had sent him to America, “If anybody is going to turn this global warming catastrophe around, it’ll be the Americans leading by example”, the Elders had told him. So here he was, driving around suburbia, “saving his People, one ice cream at a time”.

Up ahead he could see Doc Plaza and the Suburban Kid were at it again.   “Third time this week” Sam muttered to himself “I keep expecting to see blood, but every time ice cream seems to cool them out!  People are so weird.”

“What I’d give to be back North, sitting around an ice hole, contemplating the silence, waiting for lunch to show up.  But no, here I am in this monkey suit, sweating like a doomed glacier, without a ring seal within 3000 miles…. damn global warming!” Thank the Great Spirit they got the freezer unit going again in the cab….”… READ MORE >>

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