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Links for February 22nd through February 23rd

by Mel Starrs on February 26, 2010

in News

These are my links for February 22nd through February 23rd:

  • House 2.0: Dickon Robinson – "(Dickon Robinson) made some interesting observations about social housing, particularly so as he has been so intimately involved in it at Peabody. He recalled that the original council houses, built in the 20s and 30s, were only available to people who had jobs, and that they were regularly inspected by council officials to see that they were being properly cared for — these selection criteria were relaxed after WW2, when many families had to be rehoused. He then suggested that for some, social housing had become "deeply dis-empowering" because tenure was secure, rents were low and thus it "stopped you having to get up in the morning." He also spoke out against pepper-potting, the current practice of mixing affordable with private housing, the logic being to avoid building ghettos. He thought it hadn't been a great success and that, by and large, people were happier living with neighbours of similar social standing. Interesting thoughts, running counter to the prevailing mainstream"
  • two roads to solving the refurb crisis – part 2 « carbon limited – Great post from Casey – read both: "Here are my problems with using the SO to fund retrofit:
    1. It’s unfair – everyone pays, while only a small proportion of households get a retrofit in a given year
    2. It’s inappropriate – you’re asking the big energy companies to transform the energy market when their mission is the diametric opposite
    3. It’s a false market – government loves to let the market solve problems (quite right too!) but the supplier obligation isn’t a market, it’s just regulation. Large energy companies may be motivated to find the least cost option but not where the results would threaten their core business. This includes opening up the energy market to new players.
    PAYS on the other hand only affects those whose houses are refurbed and should keep bills steady rather than increase them. And done correctly, it could create a very large market of small and medium businesses, spawning competition and innovation."
  • Living with rats: Stop talking about the knowledge economy. Start building a wisdom economy. – As always, a thought provoking post from Julian Dobson: "The knowledge economy is competitive. The wisdom economy is collaborative. The knowledge economy assumes that if we can know that bit more than others, we will get what they have or keep them from getting what we have. It believes in dog eat dog. The wisdom economy says dogs do better when they hunt in packs. It sees knowledge as something to be shared and built collaboratively. It is highly suspicious of the intellectual property industry and the crowd of litigators and branding experts who hang on its coat-tails. Where the knowledge economy is amoral – your disadvantage is of no concern as long as I am succeeding – the wisdom economy accepts at a profound level that your disadvantage is my problem."
  • At last the Tories nail their planning colours to the mast – just in time for Bura@20 ! – The Regeneration Blog – Jackie Sadek comments on the Tory Green Planning paper: "Community engagement is really very hard to get right, particularly in areas of deprivation, and almost impossible in areas where there is wide disparity of household income. It just feels a bit naive; "Planning for Real" was always a little fanciful (almost hippie-like) and there now seems to be some sort of romantic notion that we can become like the people in "Passport to Pimlico".
    Frankly the Cameron claim that Open Source Planning "will mend our broken planning system" is really a very strong one. The claim that "it'll help to build stronger communities and help to mend our broken society too" is eye-wateringly ambitious indeed. The ideologue in me (still alive and kicking) would like to think it's worth giving it a go, but this policy is going to have to be implemented by people who really know what they are doing."
  • Argument Against Environmental Benefits of Locally-Grown Food – Not unbiased by any stretch, but some valid arguments: "The report explains that linear travel miles are not indicative of total energy use and therefore not necessarily a valid measure of the environmental impact of moving food over long distances. Instead of total miles traveled, the report states that the energy use per unit of food moved paints a more accurate picture of overall energy use…Shipping eggs across then entire U.S. by tractor-trailer to a grocery retailer is still the most fuel-efficient, eco-friendly option, said the report. This underscores the tremendous efficiency achieved through modern transportation systems and economies of scale. While the report did not examine all food products, it does conclude that “food should be grown where the agricultural resources and capacity are most suited to efficient food production,” rather than close to population centers."
  • Introduction : Future Venice – I found Rachel Armstrong via TED talks – this looks intriguing: "It is hoped that, since it is possible to design the metabolism of a protocell, a type of protocell might be engineered to capture carbon dioxide from a solution and turn it into its solid carbonate form to produce “pearls” of solid carbon dioxide. This system would form the basis for a new carbon-fixing building material. Early stage experiments to test this hypothesis are currently being conducted."