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Posts tagged “Arizona

Is having a Garden really cost effective? It is, but…

One of the more popular websites today is Reddit.com, which is a user generated behemoth. At any time on anyone of it’s many “subreddits” (sections devoted to specific topics) you’ll find someone asking for help and some really great answers.

As we speak there is a discussion in the frugal section where a user asked the question “Does r/frugal think that gardens are actually financially frugal?” The top comment is such great advice we wanted to share it with any of you would be home gardeners. Even if cost isn’t an issue for you it’s still sounds advice:

“It is, if:

  • You identify the plants you eat a lot of and are expensive and grow those. Eat a lot of potatoes? Probably not a good idea to grow them, because they’re so dang cheap. Like chives? Well, they are really easy to grow, and cut herbs are expensive in the store, so go ahead. . Raspberries are also super easy, and pretty expensive. My general rule is: grow leafy vegetables, herbs, and berries. Buy root vegetables and squashes, plus anything that doesn’t get enough heat here.
  • Find out what crops grow well and easily for you, in your climate. For me, beans are tasty, yes, but we just don’t get a big enough crop to make it worthwhile. However, I grow a lot of kale, because it just does fantastically here- in fact, since some self-seeded, I don’t have to do anything but harvest now.
  • Develop your soil’s fertility cheaply or for free. For example, I’m getting a truck load of composted horse manure from a friend for the price of gas. Compost kitchen scraps and lawn clippings, check out coffee stands and see if they’ll give you coffee grounds. All of these are free or nearly free sources of fertility that will make your garden really produce.
  • Don’t get carried away and buy a pile of tools. Really, unless you have a big garden, all you need is a shovel, a trowel, and maybe a rake and garden fork. You do not need to buy rototillers or other fancy and expensive doodads.
  • Realize that gardening is a skill, and may take some time to develop. Some people are fantastic their first year, but many have entire crops fail before they figure out what they need to do.

TL;DR: Find out what crops you eat a lot of, aren’t cheap, and basically grow themselves for you. Get free and cheap sources of soil fertility. Only grow what you will actually eat. Figure out how to minimize effort and time investment while maximizing yield.”

It’s great to see people who posses specific knowledge and skills share that knowledge with other people.

 

 

 

 


Scorching Phoenix Plans For An Even Hotter Future by PETER O’DOWD

A Metro Light Rail train rolls by the Devine Legacy apartment building along Central Avenue in Phoenix. The energy-efficient complex includes 65 "urban style" apartments.

Courtesy of Mica Thomas MulloyA Metro Light Rail train rolls by the Devine Legacy apartment building along Central Avenue in Phoenix. The energy-efficient complex includes 65 “urban style” apartments.

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August 14, 2012

It’s been a record hot summer in many cities across the nation. Phoenix is no exception. This Sonoran Desert metropolis already records more days over 100 degrees than any other major U.S. city. Now, climate models predict Phoenix will soon get even hotter.

A hotter future may mean a more volatile environment — and along with it, natural disasters, greater pressure on infrastructure, and an increased physical toll on city residents.

While some city planners around the country discuss ways to mitigate climate change, planners in Phoenix assume that change is already under way. Now, they are working to prepare the Phoenix metro area, and its approximately 4 million residents, for a new reality.

‘How Are We Gonna Live Here?’

The view is bleak from John Larsala’s front drive in West Phoenix. The tree in front of the house is dead, and the grass is dead, too. In fact, there’s no grass at all anymore.

On a household income of $18,000 a year, Larsala can’t afford the water charges required to keep his yard green. “All these trees are dying, because I can’t put water on it,” he says.

So Larsala’s children and their friends play basketball in the barren yard. That is, until June comes around and the blazing Phoenix summer finally forces everyone inside.

John Larsala struggles to keep his family cool during the Phoenix summer. The shade trees in his front yard have died because he cannot afford to water them.

EnlargePeter O’Dowd/KJZZJohn Larsala struggles to keep his family cool during the Phoenix summer. The shade trees in his front yard have died because he cannot afford to water them.

For three months, Larsala will shut the doors and windows tight. To save money, he soaks his kids in a cool bath and delays using the air conditioning until just before bedtime.

“Whether you are inside or whether you are outside, the heat costs you money,” Larsala says.

When told that climate scientists predict the state will get even hotter in the future, Larsala is taken aback.

“It’s going to be hotter than what it is right now? Who gonna live here? How are we gonna live here?”

Sustained Heat Waves Ahead

Phoenix actually suffers from two heat problems. One is a product of growth. Desert nights don’t cool down they way they used to, because energy from the sun is trapped in roads and buildings, a phenomenon researchers call the “urban heat island effect.”

As Phoenix grows, so does the problem, says Nancy Selover, the state climatologist.

“We keep thinking we’ll probably see a night when we only get down to 100 as a minimum temperature, which is kind of shocking,” Selover says.

Standing outside in a low-income neighborhood near Phoenix, Selover points out that many households here are using “swamp coolers,” or evaporative coolers. These cooling units are cheaper than air-conditioning — but they’re also less effective.

If Phoenix’s temperatures rise, “it’s going to be pretty unbearable,” Selover says — and without adequate cooling, potentially deadly.

Phoenix’s second problem comes from global climate change. Researchers predict it will make droughts longer and temperatures higher in the region.

Data from the North American Regional Climate Change Assessment Program predict sustained heat waves above 114 degrees will be a yearly crisis in Phoenix by 2040. And each one, researchers project, will last a sweltering three weeks.

A Laboratory For What Works

Selover says these coming changes present Phoenix with an opportunity.

“As a desert city, Phoenix is kind of a laboratory for us to figure out what works and what doesn’t work, to try to mitigate those things.”

In the future, Selover says, “we may well have to live differently.”

Now, city officials are starting to think about what that new lifestyle might entail. One idea is to cover 25 percent of Phoenix with shade trees.

But some, like architect John Meunier, argue for much greater lifestyle adaptations.

Meunier studies pre-industrial desert cities around the world, looking for lessons to apply in modern desert cities like Phoenix.

Sitting at a light-rail stop downtown, he says creating sustainable futures in cities like this one has”everything to do with managing without having to use a lot of extra energy and power.”

To do that, Meunier says planners could encourage 10 times as many people to live around Phoenix’s light-rail stations. Getting more use out of the system would take cars — and heat — off the street.

These people would also live in taller buildings. Meunier says desert cities in Yemen, for example, take advantage of tall buildings to shade narrow streets.

“It’s crucially important. I mean, not being exposed to the direct sun’s rays makes a great big difference,” he says.

Instead of exposed front yards and backyards, older desert cities employ well-ventilated courtyards, Meunier says. Mediterranean cities paint roads and rooftops white to reflect sunlight.

It’s the way Phoenix has been built, Meunier says, that will make its residents vulnerable to rising temperatures.

“I’m not arguing that we should all live at a higher density,” Meunier says. “What I am arguing is that there’s a lot to be gained by having more of us live at higher density.”

Learning To Build Better

For Meunier’s ideas to become reality, developers will have to make the choice to build differently.

Some of them already have. Take the city’s light rail north about three miles, and you can get a close-up view of how buildings like Meunier envisions might actually work.

Felicia McMullen has lived in the energy-efficient Devine Legacy apartment building in central Phoenix since December.

EnlargeCourtesy of Mica Thomas MulloyFelicia McMullen has lived in the energy-efficient Devine Legacy apartment building in central Phoenix since December.

The Devine Legacy is a housing complex designed for people with lower incomes. Right next to the rail line, every window is dual-paned, and the building is also superinsulated. Together, those features make a typical Devine Legacy unit 40 percent more energy efficient.

Walking through the front gate leads you to a courtyard. Four-story buildings rise up on either side of you. There’s shade everywhere, and a breeze moves through the space. Even on a 113-degree day in Phoenix, it feels much cooler.

“Having a cool place to live is more important to me than food,” says resident Felicia McMullen.

Before she moved here, McMullen says she was sick and stressed. She sometimes spent $300 a month to cool her suburban home.

Now, McMullen says, “I don’t have that problem.” Her last electric bill was $60 — and the stress is gone.

Ernesto Fonseca, a planner who specializes in sustainable communities, helped test Devine Legacy’s energy use before it opened late last year.

He considers the complex a small victory in what may someday be a more complicated effort to stay cool.

“People in extreme climates learn to live with it,” Fonseca says. “And that’s part of a resilient society.”

Fonseca thinks a lot about this idea of resilience. He says it means that people who live in Phoenix must do more than try to solve the causes of escalating temperatures — they must also learn to withstand the changes as they happen.

Because, as Fonseca says, “We don’t have a choice.”

Peter O’Dowd works with the public radio collaborative FronterasRead more from their series “Heat Wave.”


Housing prices are coming back, here’s a chart to prove it!

We can listen to reports telling us the housing market is coming back until we are blue in the face. At Cambridge Properties we are the leaders in Luxury Urban living but we’re also visual learners, so we made a graph.

 

 

What we find most interesting is that although most people are widely reporting that the uptick in housing is only due to investors picking up lower end properties, you can see that the trend in higher priced homes is going up as well.

This is good news for our clients, Cambridge Properties is the leader in Luxury urban living and it’s good to see our market is starting to come back as well!


Friday Fun Fact: Architecture used to be an Olympic sport! (the most boring sport ever We’re sure)

Not just architecture but also Architectural design as well as Town Planning… We can only imagine that tickets for these high energy event went fast. We can almost smell the drafting tables and pencil shavings, head over to wikipedia to see who holds the medals in each category.

If Architecture were an olympic sport today who would win? What country would take home the prize for most architecturally significant structures?


6 COOL NEW HAPPENINGS IN DOWNTOWN PHOENIX: By Taz Loomans www.bloomingrock.com

July 25, 2012

6 COOL NEW HAPPENINGS IN DOWNTOWN PHOENIX

by: Taz Loomans

Recently, I found myself talking to a few friends on separate occasions about how many cool new things are happening in Downtown Phoenix right now. We talked about how all these things are having a collective impact and gathering momentum for our Downtown. My friend Philip Beere today remarked on how Downtown has changed immensely in 10 years, going from almost no restaurants or places to hang out to all the places we see today. I’ve seen drastic changes even in the past five years, with a lot of mom and pop small businesses and community efforts taking hold. Plus I would say in the past year or so, things are picking up speed and the winds are definitely changing for the better in Downtown Phoenix.

Below are 6 cool new Downtown happenings that have been popping up a lot in conversations around me…

Peritoneum

Moving and installing this great public art piece to Mike Davis’s Ro2 Lot was a gynormous community effort in the middle of the summer. But now it’s become a welcome addition to the Roosevelt Art’s District, right next door to the next cool thing people have been buzzing about….

Songbird Coffee and Tea House

Songbird just opened yesterday, but people have been talking about it for quite a while. APlaces, Spaces and Faces Community Dinner was held there just this weekend. It is a very cute little coffee shop inside monOrchid, a gallery and co-working space in the Roosevelt Arts District – a great example of mixed-use!

Lawn Gnome Bookstore

Every time I visit another city, I make it a point to go to a bookstore in their Downtown. I’ve visited some great ones in Seattle, Milwaukee, London, and Chicago. I’ve been DYING for a 2nd hand bookstore to come to Downtown Phoenix and now we have one! Enter the Lawn Gnome 2nd hand bookstore. Welcome to the neighborhood friends!

Pedal Craft at the City

Pedal Craft at Kitchen Sink Studios earlier this year was one of the most exciting and successful events Downtown Phoenix has ever seen. It was all about bikes and art. The huge turn out at this event showed the growing presence of a bicycle culture in Phoenix. Now we have Pedal Craft take II at City Hall, very aptly showing the people in power this growing presence – wink, wink, hint, hint. More bicycle lanes please!

Murals All Over the Place!

There are murals everywhere in the Roosevelt Arts District, I mean EVERYWHERE. And it’s wonderful. These murals, more and more popping up all the time, give the place, well, a sense of place. These murals are becoming such a phenomenon that Roosevelt Arts District is quickly becoming a destination for visitors from all over the Valley. By the way, there’s nothing like a mural to make back alleys and parking lots actual places of interest for people to enjoy instead of forgotten, dark places where questionable things occur.

Bodega 420

Holy cow what a cute little market! I love cute little markets like this and was remarking on one I saw in Bisbee just recently and on another I saw near Downtown Tempe. But, look, Downtown Phoenix has one too! This market was set up as a compliment to the now defunct Urban Grocery, and has become quite a community hot spot in the area. My friend Bob Diehl tells me the ice-cream here is to die for.

So there you go, Downtown Phoenix is finally getting a personality and becoming an interesting place! And I have a feeling that this is only the beginning…


I had a foreclosure, when can I buy again?

Foreclosures have become a way of life here in the valley. Most people think that with a foreclosure on their record they won’t be able to buy a house ever again, this couldn’t be farther from the case.

Fletcher Wilcox over at Grand Canyon Title has put together a pdf, “Renting VS Owning” that has tons of great information. In it, Fletcher talks about all the factors one should consider when thinking about buying or renting including a table showing when you can buy again after a foreclosure.

We think more people should produce great information like this. Fletcher created this little handout back in 2010 but much of the information is still valid. We like sharing this with you because we believe that an informed client can make better decisions.

 

 


Housing starts bright spot for cooling economy

  A ''for sale'' sign is seen outside a home in New York June 19, 2012. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

By Jason Lange

WASHINGTON | Wed Jul 18, 2012 12:07pm EDT

(Reuters) – Groundbreaking on new U.S. homes rose in June to its fastest pace in over three years, lending a helping hand to an economy that has shown worrisome signs of cooling.

The Commerce Department said on Wednesday that housing starts rose 6.9 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 760,000 units. That was the highest rate since October 2008.

“Housing is clearly in recovery mode, although the sector is much less important than it used to be,” said Jim O’Sullivan, an economist at High Frequency Economics in Valhalla, New York.

The housing market, which began to collapse six years ago, has been a relative bright spot in the economy this year, although it remains hobbled by a glut of unsold homes.

But since it makes up a smaller share of the economy than before the 2007-2009 recession, it can provide only a limited lift to the broader recovery.

In a cautionary sign for the housing sector, new permits for building homes dropped 3.7 percent to a 755,000 unit pace.

The Commerce Department said groundbreaking for single-family homes — the largest portion of the market — rose 4.7 percent, while starts for the more volatile multi-family homes segment rose 12.8 percent.

ECONOMY COOLING

On Wednesday, the Mortgage Bankers Association said applications for U.S. home mortgages jumped last week on a surge in demand for refinancing as the interest rate on 30-year mortgages fell to a record low.

Other data in recent weeks has shown signed contracts for home purchases rose sharply in May and rising home prices.

“Housing continues to be the one sector of the U.S. economy that is outperforming expectations,” said Michael Gapen an economist at Barclays in New York.

Housing starts in June were above the median forecast in a Reuters poll of a 745,000-unit rate, and readings for April and May were revised higher.

Still, the broader U.S. economy has looked much more wobbly of late, and if the recovery fails and the country tips back into recession, housing also would suffer.

U.S. stocks rose, lifted by a rebound in tech shares following Intel’s results. Shares in homebuilders were mixed. U.S. 30-year bond yields fell as safe-haven demand for bonds persisted despite the housing data.

In testimony to a Senate panel on Tuesday, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said the U.S. economic recovery was being held back by anxiety over Europe’s debt crisis and the path of U.S. fiscal policy. He repeated the message before a committee in the House of Representatives on Wednesday.

Bernanke has warned that planned belt tightening by the U.S. government in 2013 would likely send the country back into recession, and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner echoed those concerns on Wednesday, calling for reforms to boost growth and provide fiscal sustainability.

“What the economy needs right now is a very substantial, well designed program of support for economic growth,” Geithner said at the CNBC Institutional Investor Delivering Alpha conference in New York.

In his two days of testimony, Bernanke offered few concrete clues about whether the U.S. central bank was moving closer to a fresh round of monetary stimulus. He told lawmakers on Tuesday that policymakers meeting later this month would be looking for signs of any stall in the recovery of the labor market.

The pace of hiring in the United States slowed sharply in the second quarter, as did growth in factory output. Retail sales have also flagged in recent months.