Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Wondertime Magazine Sale

My wife's magazine, Wondertime, is on sale again at Amazon. You can subscribe for only $5 - at least for now. If you are a parent of a newborn to 10 or 12 year old, it's worth a read.

Wondertime's website is here.

Amazon's sale is here. (Click on the 'Sale' link in the middle of the page.)

Monday, September 22, 2008

Happy OneWeb Day

Happy OneWeb Day to you.
Happy OneWeb Day to you.
Happy OneWeb to the internet.
Happy OneWeb Day to you!

700 Billion Dollars in Slop

Last week, the Bush administration proposed a $700 Billion bailout to the formerly-free market.

Will this help banks? Help business? Help you? Who will get a cut? You probably already know.

Here's how it will be allocated. (Vegetarians watch-out!)

Friday, September 19, 2008

American Dream Chart

This is how the American Dream (AD) has fared over ten years.

American Dream reality is in the top chart.
American Dream concern is in the bottom chart.

Sorry, I cannot predict the future.

Monday, September 15, 2008

ReStore’s Decon Team stars on This Old House

Some of you know that I volunteer at the Center for Ecological Technology.

Part of their work is a ReStore located in Springfield which does deconstruction. Decon is when a building is taken apart and the pieces are reused or recycled - as opposed to demolition where a building is demolished and what's left ends up in a dumpster where perhaps, if we're lucky, only part of it might be recycled. The land owner is charged a fee which is usually less than traditional demolition, plus they get a deduction for donating materials. The materials are sold as used or excess in the ReStore. Voila!

After that intro, you'll be happy to know that our old favorite This Old House, which is based here in Massachusetts, is featuring our very own ReStore to start off their new season.

ReStore’s Decon Team stars on This Old House
Thursday, October 2 at 8 p.m.
Thursday, October 9 at 8 p.m.
Check local listings
Settle in with your popcorn and watch us completely dismantle a 1,900 square foot home in Weston, MA on the national season premier of This Old House! The ReStore decon team salvaged more than 85% of the home’s materials—many of which are being used in the construction of two Habitat for Humanity homes in Springfield. The popular PBS television series will also feature a visit to our store in Springfield in its second episode, broadcast on October 9.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Local Daily Hampshire Gazette Story

Here's an excerpt from another story in our local paper which might give you a sense of Northampton, Massachusetts.

The 'humane micropolis'
Northampton has evolved on its own terms

From this perspective, Northampton may be described as truly a "Humane Micropolis"- a humane metropolis writ small. It is blessed of course with a congenial physical setting, a diverse housing stock, a broad-based economy, cultural vitality, and a strong sense of community. And Northampton has long been energized and enriched intellectually through past residents like Joseph Parsons Sr., Jonathon Edwards, Sojourner Truth, Samuel Hill, Sophia Smith, E. H. R. Lymon, William Fenno Pratt, Calvin and Grace Coolidge, Mr. and Mrs. Frank Newhall Look, and their counterparts today such as . . . (fill in your favorites).

We are an educational town, an arts town, and a business town, but we are also a tolerant and welcoming community to people of various life pursuits, lifestyles, and life experience. The vitality of Northampton is not confined to its downtown but is discovered in its back streets and hidden neighborhoods like the Montview Town Farm near the Connecticut River levee, the African American Heritage Trail in Florence, the renovated mills along Riverside Drive in Bay State, or Water Street in Leeds. Regardless of neighborhood economic status, our side streets are graced with impromptu patches of wildflowers, sunflowers, tomatoes, blackberries and ferns, overshadowed by iconic oaks, maples, sycamore, white pine, and spruce trees. Our expanding system of rail trails encourages off-street exploration by bike or foot, while promoting fitness and casual neighborly chit-chat.

And this is a caring community, as attested by the faith-based and nonprofit services such as the Survival Center, the Grove Street Inn, the Manna meal program, and the winter cot program, When the Meadowbrook apartment complex was faced with gentrification, a coalition of housing advocates, the mayor's office, and tenants orchestrated a sale of the property to a new owner willing to continue affordable rents for many of its units. Village Hill, site of the former Northampton State Hospital, is now the scene of an ambitious redevelopment effort in which half of its 207 authorized dwelling units will be reserved for individuals and families eligible for "affordable housing."

To suggest that Northampton has evolved organically without a preconceived plan is not to claim that planning is irrelevant here. We have had planning and zoning since at least the 1940s. And we have plenty of planning disputes today such as the proposed hotel near Pulaski Park, the landfill expansion, Village Hill, North Avenue Woods, and a possible new Rt. 91 interchange. But the planning and zoning process essentially is reactive to specific proposals and procedural in setting "rules of the game" for land use changes.

Massachusetts is unusual among states in not requiring zoning to be "in accordance with comprehensive plan" and that has perhaps been to our benefit. Planning here deals with needed infrastructure, including "green infrastructure" like conservation areas, bikeways, improved walkability, and tree planting. But fortunately, the funky pre-zoning neighborhoods in Florence, Bay State, and near downtown have been little affected by zoning which typically ratifies the status quo rather than create nonconforming use problems. Post-zoning subdivisions like the Ryan Road area are more akin to standard suburbs across the country than to the older parts of Northampton.

Northampton has mercifully been spared top-down, macro plans in vogue from the Garden City era to Urban Renewal in the 1960s. Unlike architect and developer-driven concepts of urban design, the Humane Metropolis has few aesthetic preconceptions. Ecology is "messy" and so are older communities like ours. But who wants to live in an "ideal community" planned by outside experts when we can live in the "Paradise of America" (aka "The Humane Micropolis"), a work always in process of adaptation by its fortunate inhabitants.

Rutherford Platt, a resident of Florence, is Emeritus Professor of Geography at UMass Amherst and author/editor of several books on cities and land use.

Local Daily Hampshire Gazette Story

Here's a nice local story.

A wedding ceremony and reception for the books


Staff WriterMonday, September 8, 2008

Newlyweds Priscilla Miner and Adam Novitt, left, enjoy their reception in the Forbes Library Reading Room on Sunday.

PELHAM - Adam Novitt met Priscilla Miner because she was reading an interesting book. It made it all the more fitting that they would get married in a library.

Naturally, they chose the Pelham Library, where Novitt was appointed librarian last year.

The reception was at the Forbes Library, after which they planned to pedal home on their tandem bike.

The pair met at the Woodstar Cafe, in Northampton, between last Christmas and New Year's Day. A graduate of the Conway School of Design, where she is now working, Miner, 34, was reading a reprint of the 1966 revitalization plan for lower Manhattan.

"I thought, oh my God, here's a girl that's not reading a book about urban planning - she's reading an actual plan," Novitt recalled.

Their first date was cross country skiing at Notchview, near Turners Falls, where a patron of the Pelham Library recognized Novitt, who had recently started working there.

"It was a kind of weird celebrity moment on our first date, a Valley celebrity moment," Novitt said.

"We keep bees together," Miner explained about some of the interests they're pursuing together.

Raising chickens is another, and Miner is now doing a job Novitt used to do, archiving maps at the Northampton Department of Public Works.

They got engaged on Miner's birthday at the Skinner House in June. Novitt picked the spot because the house can be seen from so many places. "So I'm constantly reminded of it," he said. "Plus, it's very Valley."

Why a library?

They started talking about getting married at the library, soon after.

"For both of us, the wedding is a coming-out party into the community, and libraries are really community centers," Novitt said.

"I love the idea that whenever we go back to the Forbes from now on, we'll have the great memory of having all of our family and friends there," Miner said.

Miner's father, the Rev. Canon Robert Miner, officiated at Sunday's ceremony.

Side Street Cafe in Florence catered, and the wine was from a vineyard in Connecticut at which Miner's grandfather John Miner had helped plant the first grapes in the 1940s. The Heritage Pops Orchestra played, and Bread Euphoria, in Williamsburg, made the cake shaped like a honeycomb.

Visitors to Forbes for the rest of the month can check out books Novitt and Miner recommended for the rotating book display there.

They include works about cat behavior, beekeeping, local politics and backyard farming - and the Erie Canal, where the couple will be honeymooning on a houseboat.