Join ‘The Tomorrow Plan’ this Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Join The Tomorrow Plan this coming Tuesday, November 22nd, for a strategic conversation in planning a sustainable future for Greater Des Moines. The Natural Living Community has been asked to help shape the future of Greater Des Moines. Let your voice be heard at a public conversation for The Tomorrow Plan, a 20-month process to craft a strategy for a vibrant and enduring future in the Greater Des Moines area. Your opinion will be influential in shaping the planning of our community for our generation and those that follow.

Profiles in Green: Sharing Good Energy with John Konior

It’s Monday morning and I’m sitting in a local coffee shop with John Konior, Assistant to the City Manager of Urbandale and one of the leaders in Central Iowa’s movement towards energy efficiency. Less than two months ago, Konior and his team launched, a website dedicated to sharing stories on energy efficiency in our communities.

Natural Beauty and Green Technology at Green & Main

What is beauty? Who “gets” it? Why have we, as a society, put so much stock in that which is “beautiful” that we easily ignore our health, finances, family and other valued portions of our life to achieve that which is considered beautiful.

Let’s take the Green & Main Initiative for example.

Confessions of a Fairgoer: Opinions on Sustainability

Last weekend, I had the opportunity to camp at the Iowa State Fair.

It was a perfect weekend to walk around the 435-acre fairgrounds (admittedly, that includes parking lots and all). The sun was out and there was a breeze to cool us off when the shade wasn’t available.

Profiles in Green: Jason Anderson and the Building of Green & Main

If you want to meet the man behind all that’s happening at the Green & Main project site, you’ll have to first wait for him to find a good pausing point from whatever project is currently tying up his hands. You must be patient as you get interrupted for a multitude of construction questions, and then make sure that you’re able to squeeze in a time between the meetings he holds with everyone involved in the project.

Profiles in Green: Cohousing from an Author’s Newbie Perspective

For those of us who remember growing up in the Midwest decades ago, the concept of cohousing isn’t far off from what we experienced in our typical neighborhoods. As for me, I grew up in the 60’s and the 70’s with hundreds (it seemed) of other kids running amok around a two-block square, and we needed “special permission” to cross streets into “other” neighborhoods. All the parents knew us and knew our parents and it wasn’t uncommon to be corrected by just about any adult who happened to be around to witness what we were up to.

Iowa’s First Cohousing Development: Putting the Wheels into Motion

This article is a follow-up to “Iowans and Cohousing: A Look into the Growing U.S. Interest in Cohousing and How Iowans are Responding” published in the July 2011 e-newsletter and on the Green & Main website. In Part II, read about a presentation given in Des Moines by architect, author and cohousing leader Charles Durrett and learn more about Turtle Farm Cohousing Community and those who support this initiative.

Profiles in Green: Whoa… I gained a LIFE!

Profiles in Green is an on-going series on how people incorporate or express sustainability in their lives. Today’s profile is by Johanna Hoffman.

Green Technology and the Economy

Our Monday postings include information on the integration of green technology and building science. The flavor of today’s posting is marinated with green jobs, the economy and how these jobs are developed for the short and long-term.

Cohousing on the Prairie: Frank Lloyd Wright and Community Planning

Like a number of other architects of his era, such as Daniel Burnham and the French early modernist Le Corbusier, Frank Lloyd Wright became interested in urban and community planning and gave it considerable attention throughout his career.

Iowans and Cohousing: A Look into the Growing U.S. Interest in Cohousing and How Iowans are Responding

“Traditional forms of housing no longer address the needs of many people. Dramatic demographic and economic changes are taking place in our society and most of us feel the effects of these trends in our own lives. Things that people once took for granted – family, community, a sense of belonging – must now be actively sought out. Many people are mis-housed, ill-housed or unhoused because of the lack of appropriate options.”

Cohousing Pioneer to Speak in Des Moines: “Cohousing, Community and the Value of Custom Neighborhoods”

Charles Durrett, an award-winning architect and leader in the North American cohousing movement, will present an overview of the cohousing concept of building community on Thursday, July 14 in Des Moines, IA at the Windsor Heights Community Center. The presentation is open to the public and is located at 6900 School Street, next to Colby Park (69th Street south of University Avenue).

The Built Environment and Memorial Day

The other day I was helping the teenage son of a friend pick weeds out of the backyard brick patio. I took that moment to tell Owen about stormwater management and how, even though we live in a built environment, we are not separate from the world around us. We are responsible for managing and engineering ways that are compatible at the very least – and assistive at the very best – in creating a sustainable way to exist and thrive in tandem with one another.

Historic Preservation and Green & Main

Sustainability has become a core component of modern-day historic preservation activism. Indeed, we now recognize that the two are integrally related: there is no building greener than the one not built. By finding ways to creatively reuse and adapt existing structures to modern-day activities, we not only “save” our history, but also reduce the need for new construction.

The D.M. Renovation Boot Camp and its Resident Rehabber

More often than not, when I don’t see Steve Wilke-Shapiro at the Indigo Dawn office, I see him at Mars Café in the Drake neighborhood. When he mentions to me, as he did this morning, that he hasn’t seen me lately, it means he hasn’t seen me at Mars. And today he looks a bit different—he’s growing a beard. In true rehab fashion, Steve takes a seasonal approach to his temperature control needs, adding insulation layers on an as-needed basis.

Sustainable Design: G&M’s First Workshop

What do we mean by Green Design or Sustainable Design? It includes a variety of areas such as community design, energy efficiency, water-use efficiency, resource conservation and indoor environmental air quality.

Design Well, Live Simply and Celebrate Wellness

Each day we have an opportunity to live the life we want to live, to explore, learn and grow. Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability, also known as LOHAS, is an ever expanding group – more of a demographic really – that individually and collectively makes choices in our growing world of accountability and impact.

Connecting Community During the Holiday Season

During the holidays, eco-minded individuals may find themselves overwhelmed with the environmentally wasteful customs of the season. Recapture the magic by creating new traditions that make meaningful connections for you, your family, and friends.

Have a Main Street Season

Recently a blog post from Des Moines Juice Staff Writer Brianne Sanchez made me rethink what local holiday shopping means to me. While one could emphasize the benefits of purchasing items produced in a 150 mile radius, I realized local shopping meant more than buying an ‘Iowa Made Product.’

Sustainability and Vision in the Greater Des Moines Region, Part 2

The trick—to reference my blog post of November 13th—is not to be overwhelmed by the enormity of any task. As a friend once said to me years ago, ‘How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.’

Collective visions are tough to come by, particularly in the face of competing needs, cultural and social commitments, economic infrastructures and layers of political policies. The facilitator of the meeting—a focus group on sustainability and the Des Moines region that was hosted by the Greater Des Moines Partnership—began with all things positive as the group members jumped in to the conversation, which flowed without pause.

Sustainability and Vision in the Greater Des Moines Region, Part 1

On Tuesday afternoon (yesterday) I attended a focus group on sustainability and the Des Moines region that was hosted by the Greater Des Moines Partnership. A wide variety of interested people were in attendance, from a regional mayor to small- and medium-sized business owners, architects, city planners and those interested in what green space meant for this region and its inhabitants.