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The web may not be climate change-combat’s poster child, but it may be its knight in shining armor. On the one hand we know that outlet usage has increased a lot since the internet and its buddies (smartphones, bluetooth keyboards, ipods) burst onto the scene; on the other, it has saved trees, and more to the point, whipped global communication into a frenzy the likes of which the pre-internet world never dreamed of. Even more to the point, sourcing and spreading data has become a whole lot easier. But the connotations of data, once a word reserved for Dexter’s Laboratory, have changed, too. The Internet has infused it with a new sense of community, accessibility, and at the very least, made it prettier. The idea that the web community and data interact with each other as that data is being accrued is revolutionary for anyone wishing to tread lighter on our planet.

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We are reclaiming urban public space for people on PARK(ing) Day, Friday, September 16, 2011 from 9am to 5pm.  The designed “PARK(ing) spaces”, metered parking spaces converted into temporary green parks, will be located in front of Southport Grocery, 3552 North Southport Avenue.  The ‘park’ will feature a bicycle repair station, live music, and a lawn for dining and enjoying the day.

In 2009 and 2010, moss Design converted parking spaces into temporary public space, which will be expanded this year to highlight the need for bike infrastructure and open space in Lakeview.  Earlier this year moss Design unveiled a sustainable master plan, prepared for the Lakeview Chamber of Commerce and SSA 27.  Part of the plan was a call for more unique and accessible public open space.  This year’s PARK(ing) Day theme is a “Bicycle Comfort Station” featuring free food, live music, bike parking and repair, and relaxation areas.  Think of it as the mini-mart of the future.
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Moss reveals the Lakeview Area Master Plan to the Lakeview community and Chicago.  The master plan, in its entirety, is available here.

The Lakeview Area Master Plan (LAMP) will be revealed tonight, but there is one element that I think deserves special attention.

When research began on the project we were out surveying neighborhood inventory, like bike racks, streetscape environments, facade conditions, and public space.  After investigating we found that Lakeview contains only .2 acres of open space per 1000 residents (The ideal ratio is 2 acres per 1000 people).  This notion was reinforced during the public open houses and interview sessions when residents cried out for more public open space.  So where, in a dense, developed urban neighborhood do we find available land for public space?  We thought, let’s look for space on top of things and under things! Read the rest of this entry »

Our first LAMP public open house brought in hordes of West Lakeviewians for a fun filled day of activities, community visioning, and croissants.  Here is what you missed.

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We had a magical PARK(ing) Day installation yesterday!  It was great to see all of our fellow PARKers, and showed that we can do more with the right-of-way than simply store automobiles.  Proving once again, parks are fun, parking is not fun.

We could not have done this without our wonderfully generous sponsors; Southport Grocery, Uncle Dans’s Outdoor Store, Grand Street Gardens, Lake Street Landscape Supply, Farmers’ Market Nursery, Sam & Willy’s, and Alderman Tom Tunney.  Thank you so much for all of your support.

Photos and media coverage inside.

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We have been selected by the Lakeview Chamber of Commerce to prepare a master plan for the Lakeview commercial areas!!  Along with our consultant partners, PLACE, we will lead the sustainability and environmental review portion of the planning process.  We are using this year’s PARK(ing) Day to kick off our efforts.  So if you are a Lakeview-ian and have some thoughts about your ‘hood, come talk to us.  Stay tuned, we’ll have updates-o-plenty.

Parking. Its a sore subject here in Chicago.  In 2008 the City decided to privatize it’s 36,000 parking meters – in reality leasing an 8′ wide section of asphalt from the curb to the sometimes-present-bike lane – to a group made up of Morgan Stanley, Abu Dhabi Investment Authority and Allianz Capital Partners for a $1.16B. Since then, everyone in the City, nay, the world, seems to have developed a disdain to the selling off of public assets.  And rightly so.  Bloomberg News discovered just last month that we Chicagoans got royally hosed on the deal.  It turns out the private group will net $9.58B over the course of the 75-year term.  Oops.  This is more than twice what Alderman Scott Waguespack estimated the City would loose in profits when he denounced the deal and subsequently voted against it in the City Council.

This doesn’t stop the City from praising itself for the move, as Chicago’s CFO, Gene Saffold, touted, “The concession agreement was absolutely the best deal for Chicagoans”.  Going on to wax delusional, “The net present value of $11.6 billion in revenue over the life of the 75-year agreement is consistent with $1.15 billion the city received.”  Um, yeah.  You say this guy does the City’s accounting, eh.  Meanwhile, the Chicago’s Office of the Inspector General called the deal “dubious” since Saffold, “failed to calculate how much the system would be worth over 75 years.  The present value of the contract was $2.13 billion, more than the $1.15 billion the city received”, according to Bloomberg. Read the rest of this entry »

Even if real streets are not becoming any more hospitable to cyclists, the virtual ones sure are.  Today everyone’s favorite online map rolled out bicycling navigation as a native feature of Google maps. The bike routing is available in 150 cities, Chicago included, and also shows bike trails in addition to bike-friendly autoways.  As a test I looked up my favorite local ride, Northwest on Elston to the Milwaukee/Devon/Superdawg intersection to pick up the North Branch Trail (unfortunately, there are no trail labels on Google maps yet) for a mostly uninterrupted, 16-mile jaunt to the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe, which I just noticed is mislabeled as ‘Botanical’ on Google maps.  Conversely, I looked up the most death-defying bike route in San Diego, this bike lane abruptly ends at a freeway off ramp just north of Little Italy on India Street.  Biker Beware. Read the rest of this entry »

Tax season is the perfect time to bring up some good news and excellent reasons to make sustainable upgrades to your residential properties.  Two related tax breaks, both products of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, are available to all property owners.  The first – generically named the Residential Energy Property Credit – is the more general tax break which covers 30% of the cost (up to $1,500) for certain heating and cooling systems and water heaters, along with their related installation costs.  Also covered are energy efficient windows, doors, insulation, and certain roofing materials – installation is not included for these items.  In most cases qualifying products will have to bear the Energy Star designation. Read the rest of this entry »

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